By Judo Batch of 2019
From RI’s Y5-6 campus, you take a wrong turn and wander into the unfamiliar (or once familiar) territory of the Y1-4 campus, lured by these mysterious groups of people carrying what seems to be bathrobes (also known as a judo gi).
You try to follow them deftly, only to see them disappearing into the high mountains of THE Y1-4 Gymnasium. Confused as you are, you trek up the stairs.
Therein lies the RI Dojo, home to all Raffles Judokas. You stand there, dumbstruck, not very sure of what you should do with the sight before your eyes. A large group of robed people stand in their stances, battle-ready. On the sound of the bell, they bow to each other before starting to fight for a grip. They grapple and they work through strategy after strategy, trying to bring each other to the ground.
Bam! One succeeded, throwing their partner high into the air and onto the yellow-blue mats. They fall, rolling neatly before standing up, only to be thrown again and again. Oddly, they seem to have smiles on their faces…
Some of them notice your entrance into their humble abode. Walking towards you, they gesture at your feet to remove your shoes and socks. You follow them and take a small bow at the mats before stepping onto it. One of them hands you a judo gi with a white belt and you put it on. At first, you feel hesitant. What they are doing seems to be a little scary and painful. Could you really do it too?
They begin rolling forward and you follow. As you roll, you feel your world turn upside down, then righting itself. It is not dangerous at all, you realise, feeling safer and more confident with each roll. Next, they teach you how to fall safely and painlessly by doing what they call ‘ukemi’ or breakfalls. They fall down and roll gently, using their hands to hit the mats in order to reduce the impact of falling. You copy them, and you realise, Hey! This is really fun! Doesn’t even hurt a bit… So this must be how they protect themselves from all the throws they do!
Curious about this new martial art that you have just experienced, you try to learn more about this exciting sport. You learn that, hailing from the mysterious faraway land of Japan, Judo is started by Jigoro Kano Sensei in 1882 and has now become a widely practised sport all over the world. Judo (柔道), which means “the gentle way” in Japanese, focuses on using minimum effort to bring down opponents larger and stronger than oneself. Without kicks and punches, Judo consists of tachiwaza (standing techniques) and newaza (groundwork), which can be loosely associated with throws and pin-downs respectively. Kano Sensei also emphasised the importance of respect: bowing to the mats before and after stepping onto it; to our partners at the start and end of every exercise and ensuring the safety of all who trains together.
Now, you’re indeed interested. You realise that you want to come again. Luckily for you, they have training 2-3 times a week.
Monday and Wednesday 3.30pm – 6.30pm
Saturday 8am – 10.30am
Off peak season:
Wednesday 3.30pm – 6.30pm
Saturday 8am – 10.30am
You’re still slightly worried about the requirements for the sport. Will you be too heavy? Too light? Not strong enough? No experience? Fret not! We have weight categories from under 48kg all the way to above 100kg! So, you will be fighting people of your own size. (Nobody’s expecting you to be Kano Sensei.) Furthermore, we train together with the Y1-4 Judo team so there’s a large range of skill levels, from total beginners (just like you) to cool SENIORS (LIKE US and you in future)
It was merely a brief glimpse into the world of Judo, but already, you cannot forget the sounds of breakfalls and the shouts of encouragement that filled the air. The camaraderie here was something you had not found elsewhere…
Interested to join this mysterious group of people? Want to effortlessly bring someone down to the ground? Chase your dreams. Join Judo. <3