The Borders Judo Summer School returned to Innerleithen in August after a 2 year hiatus. And the word is that the course is as good and as enjoyable as it ever was. With numbers at a predictably low level due to it’s temporary absence, there was still enough Judoka coming from Dundee, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Newcastle, Sunderland and Scarborough to make the event lively enough.

And as befitting a course that has previously received the attention of Kodokan 7th Dan, this year’s course was blessed with first class tuition. Led by David Hammond, 5th Dan, the list of instructors was headed up by International Traditional Kodokan Judo President Bruce Bethers, 8th Dan, and included Paul Laverty and Alex Reid, two international kata specialists. The three day event also saw Jason Baird, a now highly experienced international competitor take the tatami.

The Borders Summer School has been running since 2002 and at it’s height had over 60 people on the mat. Always blessed with first class instructors, the event has been notable for it’s relaxed friendly atmosphere and lack of sectarianism, something foisted on Judoka by national leadership of the major national governing bodies. This year, despite edicts being issued to the contrary, there were participants from four organisations on the mat. Smiles all round were evident, as the Judoka retired to the regular watering holes that they had been missing for the previous two years.

The first day of the event opened with David Hammond leading a session that concentrated on body posture, with a look at Ouchi gari in particular. Bruce Bethers quickly added his voice to the proceedings as it became evident that the two instructors had similar concepts of technical judo.

The afternoon session was taken By Jason Baird, while Bruce, who was attending from the United States, took the afternoon off to see some of the sights of this beautiful part of the world. Jason, who has medaled both nationally and internationally at traditional Kodokan judo events, displayed his smooth newaza techniques.
Day two saw more dovetailing judo instruction from Bruce and David, with sode-tsuri komi gosh coming under the spotlight as the two exchanged ideas about the self-defence aspects of Judo. On the Saturday afternoon the mat was handed over to Paul Laverty and Alex Reid. The Borders course has always made room for some kata training and in the past has been fortunate enough to benefit from instruction from world kata champions. This was Paul and Alex’s first time at the course, however and they did not disappoint. With humour and skill they enthused the group with a whistle stop look at both the nage-no-kata and the goshin-jutsu. Hopefully the pair will return next year.

The day was rounded off in the evening when the group gathered in a local pub to relax and chat, with the now famed Borders course humour in full swing.
The third and final day was mostly taken up with preparation for and presentation of a Judo For All UK grading. A number of contests were held, with Sheffield’s Phil Strutt being promoted to 1st kyu, after a gruelling day of fighting. Three other adults managed to attain the grade of 3rd kyu, with a number of youngsters also gaining new grades.

There was still time for some tuition on the Sunday, however. Inevitably with Dave Hammond instructing, a number of shime waza techniques were demonstrated, but before that the warm ups brought a mixture of smiles and grimaces as the boom box came out for the Roxanne burpies and the Moby squats.

This event has been sorely missed over the last two years and with the British Judo Council and others interfering and demanding that their members do not attend, the numbers have been slashed, but the Borders Summer School remains the best non-sectarian judo event in the country. It is back to stay and anybody who wishes to come along and join in the fun will be welcomed.