Saturday, 24 July 2021

Judo club marks 40th anniversary by moving venue

ONE of Watlington’s oldest sports clubs is moving to a new venue.

ONE of Watlington’s oldest sports clubs is moving to a new venue.

The Friday evening judo club, which is 40 years old this year, is to meet at Watlington Memorial Club from today.

The move follows the uncertainty over its old venue, St Leonard’s Church hall, which may be sold to raise money for an extension to the church in Pyrton Lane.

The club had used the hall since it opened in 1976, having previously met in the old primary school, the Ann Brown youth centre (now Rainbow Corner Nursery) and Icknield Community College. Instructor Harvey Batten has run the club for six years following the retirement of his predecessor Bill Burnside.

Mr Batten, 51, of Springfield Close, said: “I didn’t want to see it fold or for an instructor with a different ethos to come in here because I liked what Bill had brought to the club.

“He encouraged you to fight hard but to look after your partner and help them as well, which I think is right. You don’t need to be as aggressive as some of the clubs encourage their students to be. In the long term, the students benefit.”

Mr Batten, who is a parish councillor, was among the club’s first intake of students. He said: “Judo was something completely different and a lot of the martial arts that we have now didn’t exist then.”

The club has enjoyed considerable success in regional and national championships and continues to be popular, regularly attracting more than 50 members.

Mr Batten said: “There always has been quite a good number for a town of this size. Winning competitions is nice but the important thing has always been the quality of the judo. We have had lots of kids starting when they are five or six who are still coming back, when they can, nearly 20 years later.”

His three children have all tried judo and his daughter Ruth still attends lessons at the club.”

Mr Batten said: “You don’t have to be great athletically to be good at judo. Quite a lot of the kids are carrying a bit of weight and it’s a good way for them to become more active.”

For more information, call Mr Batten on (01491) 612177.

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