The Young Judo Club founded by my parents John Nobby Clarke 6th Dan 1927-1990, Margret Clarke nee Schuller 4th Dan 1926-2004 is 60 years old this year, which has sadly passed unnoticed. An Internet reporter found out about this and interviewed me. He obviously went through the History of the Club, my parents and my own contribution all of which can be found on the net. I have had interviews like this on several occasions but this time he mentioned my Competition Record saying that I had won medals in Weightlifting, Olympic Wrestling, World medals in Judo, Sambo and Jiu Jitsu and then said what was the most memorial Competition I had won? He suggested it must have been one of my World medals BUT it was not. So what was it well it was my first Adult competition I entered which was the British Judo Council Open in 1967 where I won the 1st Kyu and the Open Grade event which was held in Maidstone. The 60’s and 70’s were the heyday of Judo in my opinion, why because there were just 4 Major Associations BJA, AJA, BJC Mac, BJC Otani all had a very large membership. Remember in those days the only Grappling sports that were National were Judo and Olympic Wrestling (Wrestling them days included Sambo) BJJ, MMA etc. had never been heard of
In those days it was quite common for Judoka to hold membership with all associations so all Judo Tournaments were well supported. The BJC Open was one of the big events of the year and at 17 being a Black Belt did not impress me but beating someone in competition did. It was a long time ago but my father Nobby told me to enter the Open, his logic was I would get beaten so knock some of the cockiness out of me. That did not work as I beat everyone all the Dan grades up to 4th Dan what it did make me realise I had the ability to win tournaments. This BJC Open was the first time someone my age had won the event and that record has not been surpassed. For next 4 years I won countless tournaments as a 1st Kyu but eventually my parents said to me you must take your Dan Grade as by being just a 1st Kyu you are belittling your opponents and the grading system. On hindsight they were right I did enjoy saying a Brown Belt could beat Black belts and now I am older I realise that this type of humiliation was not part of the Philosophy of Judo or of a Sportsman, so I took my 1st Dan at 21, 2nd Dan at 22, 3rd Dan at 23, 4th Dan at 24 in those days you had to compete and do Kata for each grade. Line-ups were common this where you took on about 8 to 10 players of your standard one after the other. I can not say I enjoyed kata but the grading syllabus made me learn them and I am glad I did because as I got older I began to understand why we do Kata and realised why Judo was so different to other Grappling Sports/Arts because of it.
So at 67 I am no longer involved in the Practical side of Judo. It is the way of life that younger people now take over and become the stars like I did in 1967. My involvement is as an administrator and occasionally I tell exaggerated stories on how good I was in the past to the very few who want to listen
Martin Clarke 8th Dan Judo
FIAS Sambo GrandMaster
IBF UK President