Reviewing the Past
I have been lucky in my Combat career I first competed in Judo when I was about 11 that was 1961, that was when Judo in the UK was still eyed with mysticism but it was something new, men, women and children wrestling in Pyjamas. My father Nobby Clarke was one of the first in the South of England to run tournaments for Men, Women and Children, I go as far as to say the first to run competitions for children. It quite ironic my father, years later said that our need to rely on children’s Judo could be the Sports undoing, to some degree he was right especially here in the South of England our Adults numbers decreased because Coaches concentrated on Children with hundreds of Judo Clubs appearing catering for children only, at one time we had about 7 Judo Clubs in Sittingbourne alone. The drop in Junior Judo and sport in general has seen many clubs fold and with very few adults doing Judo the sport is at a crossroads. The answer some say is to take Judo to the schools so the BJA have introduced Judo Coaches to schools where they give 6 to 8 week courses with the hope they will join clubs in fact the opposite has happened, in the child’s eye they have done Judo so why do it again, what they should have done is give them one lesson as a taster and then they may think I like this I want more or take the children to the club. This happened not just to Judo but other activities take my daughters Young Dynamics Dance and Gymnastics Club, she started this club at the tender age of 15 in that time she built the club up to a maximum of 100 plus members, the club entered competitions in Dance, winning many medals and trophies plus Bi Annually she would organise a show at the SCC. That has all finished this September her membership dropped down to 2 so sadly she has closed, and what was most frustrating I had a specialised Dance Studio built for her next to Nobbys Gym at Milton Regis Playing Fields, which is now not used. The Schools are encouraged to use their facilities better rightly so but with serious cutbacks on the way how long can after school clubs be financed? Outside clubs closing in all sports, at an alarming rate who will suffer?
Any way I digress as I started to say I have been lucky in that I have won many medals at Judo, Wrestling, Sombo, Jiu Jitsu, Olympic and Power Lifting but with all my wins including my World Gold I still get the same buzz, watching my pupils win medals that was and is a great feeling but an even greater buzz was watching my son John win medals. Sadly his competition days have come to end with the Clarke curse Knee troubles, I mentioned earlier I was very lucky but I forgot to mention some of the downsides spending most of my married life always short of money and of course injuries which have been to numerous to mention in the last two years I have had a knee and hip replacement but I still consider myself lucky. Yet I was hoping I could follow John through into the Masters division. It is not be hopefully after his cartlidge operation he will be able to walk properly but there is a possibility their could be a ligament tear, if that is the case time to retire from competition do not follow my example and try and keep going .
John has given me a great deal of pleasure, happiness and pride with his competition career winning hundreds of medal. His competition career stretch over 32 year period starting at 5 years of age, he won medals in Judo, Sombo, Wrestling, Kurash, Boxing, Belt Wrestling and Weightlifting, he represented Great Britain in Judo, Sombo and Kurash, his international medal success was in many disciplines, his best results were winning a World Silver in Sombo at 16 and a 7th Place in World Senior Championships. I think you will all agree a great career sorry it has to end .
Well Done and I am proud to call John Son and pupil