Focus Judo Club members had cause to celebrate last week when one of their senior members was awarded the grade that every judoka aspires to.
Brian Gibson, from St Boswells, completed his technical theory to gain his 1st Dan black belt, 10 years after passing the practical part.
Brian, 44, originally from Dalkeith, took up judo at the local Yoshin Judo Club when he was nine and, after training continually through his school years, gained his 1st Kyu, brown belt at the age of 19. Shortly after this he had to give up training due to his work commitments as a bus driver, but on returning years later he began competing again with a desire to gain his black belt.
Then, at age 34, Brian successfully completed his competitive pursuit and finally gained his points for his black belt – all he had left to do was his theory and the new belt was his.
Once again, though, his work situation changed to permanent backshift hours so he was no longer able to practice and was ultimately denied the chance. Resigned to the fact that work and family had to take priority over everything else, he gave up judo for good.
Then, over nine years later and still technically a brown belt, Brian picked up a copy of The Southern Reporter and read an article about a friend who had gained his judo black belt at 41 years old.
Four days later, he was down at the Galashiels club, training again with only one goal in mind. After eight months of intensive training and rigorous study of the Dan grade technical syllabus, as well as the Nage-no-Kata (traditional formal judo), Brian has completed the process and is now officially a black belt.
Lee Allan, assistant coach at Focus Judo, told us: “It is difficult for Brian to juggle his judo around his work commitments, but he has still managed to make it every week.
“He’s had a lot of extra pressure with the build-up to his grading. It’s very hard to achieve and everyone at the club would like to congratulate Brian on gaining his black belt and commend him for all the hard work and dedication he’s put in over the past eight months.”
Three junior Focus players have also tasted success recently in the Ultimate Open at Meadowbank. Ewan Jones gained bronze in a very competitive 27kg category, Holly Shepherd performed very well in the 48kg category, coming away with a gold medal, and Monica Riddell fought in a tough 57kg category against higher-graded girls and came home with the bronze medal.
Anyone wishing to try judo can visit www.focusjudo.org for details.