We are a community club based in the South Hampstead and St John’s Wood area, London, teaching Judo and SAMBO to both children and adults.
Our training philosophy is simple: we practice grappling arts, and everything we learn is tested with a resisting opponent in a competitive (yet cooperative and friendly) environment. We strive to excel in each individual grappling art we practice (be it judo, sambo, wrestling, or brazilian jiu-jitsu) and, no less importantly, to develop as well-rounded grapplers, proficient in all the multiple dimensions of the grappling game.
We are affiliated to the British Judo Association, the British Sombo Federation/BCSA, UKBJJA, and the British Wrestling Association and the club is supported by the Tenants and Residents Association of the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate.
We are lucky to have an outstanding and highly qualified professional Head Coach, Glenn Spiers (a 5th dan, level 3 coach, also under the BJA) who also trains BJJ at Carlson Gracie London (holding a brown belt).
We also benefit from a talented and highly decorated (and fully qualified and DBS checked) SAMBO coach, Ilya Samorodov, who is also actively involved as a competitor in both SAMBO and in other grappling arts.
We take our community club role very seriously and are very involved with our club’s welfare matters.
Our classes take place in the beautiful Tenants Hall of the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, a unique, brutalist, Grade II* listed building. We are lucky to be endowed with excellent training facilities, consisting of an 8mx8m 50mm top quality Dollamur Flexiroll tatami finish mat, two Suples grappling dummies (called Rowley and Jams!), a climbing rope, and two large blue crash mats. Our mats are disinfected and steam cleaned every 4 sessions by our volunteers.
How we train
Training takes place in a safe and fun environment, and under the constant supervision of a highly qualified and enthusiastic instructor and, usually, one volunteer. Our classes are well attended and popular with both boys, girls, and adult beginners. We encourage all members to train in judo, SAMBO, BJJ, and wrestling! While the four sports differ in terms of technical detail, tactics, rule-sets, and even mind-sets, they are all hugely complementary. Most studies suggest that children under the age of 10 should not specialise in one single sport, but instead acquire a broad range of fine and gross motor skills, so join both our judo, SAMBO, wrestling, and BJJ classes!
The 5-7yo and 8-12yo groups are taught according to slightly different curricula. The little ones focus more on break-falls, games, groundwork, sweeps, and reversals, with only basic stand-up/tachi-waza techniques being taught. The 8-12yo group is expected to progressively develop the stand-up part of their grappling arts so as to become well versed in both stand-up and groundwork techniques. Children do not learn submissions before the age of 12-13, and around that age our coaches begin to focus more on transitions, chaining, and refined technical development (including for the purposes of competition). Regardless of the class you are attending, expect plenty of callisthenics, gymnastics, and body movement exercises, followed by technical drilling and friendly but meaningful sparring bouts (needless to say under constant supervision).
Adults are taught with two goals in mind. Firstly we seek to cater for recreational players, whether interested in technical development, fitness, or self-defense. Secondly we also cater for adult competitors. We understand that many of those approaching grappling arts in adulthood are most likely looking for the health benefits resulting from an active lifestyle, and want to continue developing as grapplers injury free. This is not (just!) a fight club: we learn both by drilling (again and again) and by practising what we’ve learned with resisting partners.
On Sunday mornings we run an 8-9 am open mat session. Open mat time offers a unique opportunity to meet with training partners in an unstructured session and practice aspects of one’s game that can sometimes remain unaddressed during regular sessions. Ne-waza transitions, a particular nagekomi or throw, no-gi grappling, parterre, ashi-garami, or ura nage/suplexes on our grappling dummies, or maybe revising a particular grading syllabus, ‘thatweirdthingthatJordanBurroughsdidinthesemifinals’, or maybe that bit more of calisthenics and stretching (with a cup of tea). Invariably our open mat offers an adrenaline rush that keeps you energised for the whole day.
We are a friendly club, and very much a London club, i.e. we are socially mixed and multicultural, informal and open, but also gritty and with a sense of purpose in what we do. If you are just visiting London for a few days and you’d like to train with us, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – you will feel at home.
Acknowledgements – We would not be where we are (and will never get where we want to) without the support and help of the following bodies, institutions, and individuals: Glenn Spiers (who started a club with 4 kids and 9 old judo mats in 2014 and brought it up to its current strengths); Sportivate; Sport England; the Tenants and Residents Association of the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate; Calrson Gracie London; Sensei Tony Sweeney; Ian Thomas & family; the BJA; the BWA.