We are a community club based in the South Hampstead and St John’s Wood area, London, teaching Judo and Wrestling (wrestling classes suspended until further notice) 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 are affiliated to the British Judo Association 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), as do some of us. We are currently benefiting from a generous Sport England grant, which helps us keep our mat fees low and affordable. We take our community club role very seriously and are very involved with our club’s welfare matters.
Our classes take place twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, 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 a large, 200mm, blue crash mat. 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 both judo and wrestling! While the two sports differ in terms of technical detail, tactics, rule-sets, and even mind-sets, they are both 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, wrestling and movement classes!
The 5-7yo and 8-12yo judo groups are taught according to slightly different curricula. The little ones focus more on break-falls, games, ne-waza, with only basic tachi-waza techniques being taught. The 8-12yo group is expected to progressively develop the stand-up part of judo and bjj transitions so as to become well versed in both tachi-waza and ne-waza/bjj. Children do not learn submissions. Wrestling classes are taught as per the BWA structure: expect plenty of calisthenics, gymnastics, and body movement exercises, followed by technical drilling and friendly but meaningful wrestling bouts (needless to say under constant supervision). Our kids are encouraged to attend the ‘functional movement class’ to increase agility, range of movement, and explosive power.
Judo adults are taught a mix of judo and bjj, and while adult beginners mostly spar from a suwari-waza/kneeling position (bjj style), more advanced players with decent ukemi are encouraged to start from a standing position. We like to think of ground-fighting as one of our (many) strengths. Wrestling is taught to adults in a highly technical way. This is not (just!) a fight club: we learn both by drilling (again and again) and by practicing 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, 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.