I’m in Australia for six weeks with work this summer, and while here I’ve been lucky enough to find a great judo club to train with.  Now I’ve never done any judo before, and I was really just hoping to find somewhere that would throw me around a bit, not injure me intentionally, and not mind training someone who wasn’t going to be there all that long. But the club I’ve found is fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone else who’s thinking of trying judo in Melbourne.

One thing that’s become very clear to me over the last few weeks is that I LOVE mats. Mats and sprung floors – that stuff is awesome.  The club here has a huge permanent dojo and while I know that for non-sport purposes it is important to also train outside, and on uneven ground and that it is really useful to know that you can take a fall on dirt and all that jazz, mats make things possible that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise – everything from receiving seoi-nage as a beginner (and hey, you have to be a beginner at sometime, don’t you?) to slightly more gymnastic warm-up drills than could be attempted on a different surface.   The key, I think, is that mats allow you to screw-up (and of course, fall) again and again and again and not get hurt.  And environments where you can make mistakes safely are GREAT learning environments.  So the first thing was:  yay! mats!

Second the club also has an incredibly experienced coach, Arthur Moorshead. On my first day he said, “I’ve been doing judo since I was 7, and now I’m 77.” Allright! That’s what I like to hear!

And last but not least, my club has three (3!) members competing in the Olympics (see, I told you they were good.)  They are: 

Mark Anthony
Cathy Arlove
Maria Pekli

I just thought I’d tell you about this so that you can cheer for them from your couch when they go up, and maybe because knowing a little about the competitors can make the whole thing more interesting. I’ll certainly be barracking for them – good luck, guys!

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