On the weekend of February 18, 72 clubs and 700 people competed in the Randori Nationals competition, an annual event organised by the Jitsu Foundation. Entering as reigning champions, UCLU Jitsu’s consecutive four-year success was the result of an enthusiastic team and dedicated sensei, with our only real rivals being fellow London clubs of Queen Mary’s, Westminster and Archway.
Competitions are a stirring aspect of UCLU Jitsu: waking up at 5am before boarding the coach at 6am as part of a mad organisational rush to get to the venue in Walsall. It’s an intense, exhilarating weekend with a morning’s rigorous training followed up by competitions in which combatants fight in their weight and belt categories. Tension and excitement are rife, and there’s always the odd devious contestant who hides his weak knees from the medics. A day’s hard work requires an evening of hard play, and our Jitsu parties are legendary for their foolish madcap fancy dress (UCLU team made a glorious tribe of Spartans) with combatants supplementing lost energy with the odd beer or two.
Our sport, which is Shorinji Kan Jiu Jitsu is a martial art which incorporates several different styles based primarily on locks, strikes and throwing techniques. Two national competitions each year focus on different techniques. The Atemi Nationals held in November showcase your ability to disarm and counter an opponent wielding either a mighty fist or a weapon such as a knife, bottle or kosh (a stick or baton). The Randori Naionals are more judo-based, which means more ground work (wrestling). These are divided into gatamae waza (Japanese for ground work) and nage-waza (standing throwing). With the first of these testing your ability to pin an opponent to the floor for 20 seconds, the second is actually a more technical form: only green-belts and above enter into this competition. It requires you throw the opponent cleanly in order to score an ippon; a skilled throw in which both of your opponent’s shoulders hit the mat. While belts can class you into a pecking order of Jitsuka ranging in eight belt colours from white (lowest) to green (middle) and black (high), further grades and specifications such as black 1st to 3rd Dans exist. The open competition then allows people of certain degrees to compete against each other, including the Dans and high-ranking Judo belts with as yet low-ranking Jitsu belts.
UCL had a successful weekend, with special mentions going to Sensei Seye, Adam Coggins and Man Yiu Wong, and congratulations to the whole team for managing some incredible feats and showing some fantastic UCL spirit. Man-Yiu Wong, one of our green belts, was one of the few people who won both a silver and bronze medal. Equally Seye and Coggins (our sensei and purple heavyweight) won gold for ground and standing, and gold for ground respectively. This was despite our sensei suffering from a serious knee injury and only being able to limp around, which was especially amusing as he had to go up and collect awards on three separate occasions.
Totalling 14 medals, we took away trophies to add to our extensive cabinet and more than a few funny memories from the nationals. As much we students perhaps sometimes wish to forget last night’s foibles, the silly cardboard swords, tinfoil hats, unsuccessful challenges of senior Dan to a push up competition and certain members’ scandalous goings on will indelibly be ingrained in our memories, as well as the amazing fun and feeling of solidarity resulting from it all.
We’re always interested in new members, especially anyone up for a challenge! Our club training times are Tuesdays and Thursdays in Astor College (8pm-10pm), or Mondays in Bloomsbury Fitness (7.30pm-9.30pm) – we have an equal male to female ratio, and novices are very welcome!