New Members



This document aims to give all the information needed by new members of the club. It is organised into sections so that people can focus on those sections which affect or interest them.


The club

Samurai Judo Club is a registered charity. All coaches, committee and volunteers are unpaid. The club belongs to the members. There is an AGM each year, usually in April or May, at which the committee chair, the independent examiner and the head coach report to the members. The committee and head coach are elected at the AGM. Members under 18 years are represented at the AGM by their parents, though those over 14 can also attend in their own right.


Mat fees, BJA membership and kits

Membership fees (mat fees): after the first free week, members pay their membership by monthly standing order, starting on the 2nd pf the month following when they began at the club. The standing order should be made out as follows:

Bank: Lloyds

Account name: Samurai Judo Club

Sort Code:  30-95-41

Account number: 01663840.

Date: 2nd of each month


£15 for a child under 18 years

£20 for an adult over 18 years

Alternatively, family membership costs £33 and covers all family members.


Please do not carry on paying weekly after the first few weeks unless there are special reasons, eg only coming very occasionally. If that is the case, please see the head coach to arrange this.


Any and all cash payments (usually weekly mat fees, kit purchases or competition entry fees) should go into the black cash tin on the front table and be marked down on the sheet on the red clipboard. The information that we need is the player’s name, a brief description of what the money is for (eg comp 23/3) and the amount.


After a week or two, you will need to take out a membership of the British Judo Association. This is initially a three-month free membership followed by an annual subscription membership and can be done via the website:

Alternatively, you can take out membership by phone: 0121 728 6920.


You will need the club name which is Samurai JC (please note, not just Samurai, which defaults to a club in Swansea) and the club number which is 555.


Please remember to renew your membership a year later!


The BJA also has a recreational membership. However, the recreational membership does not allow either gradings or competitions and so is not generally advised.


When the membership arrives, there should be a membership book and a plastic card with your details which needs to go in the front of the book.


Judo kits can be bought from the club – cheaper than in shops and better fitted – and we always have new kits in stock. Sometimes we also have second hand kits as well, which are mostly £3.



Judo has a grading system for the different colour belts.


Sho awards: these are for players under 8 years. There are a series of assessments carried out at the club. The BJA will then send a pack with certificates and so on, whilst the club will give the player a purple belt. Please return the purple belt when you move to the mon grade system or if you leave the club.


Mon grades: these are for players under 16 years. There are 18 of them:

1st mon: red belt, 1 yellow tag

2nd mon: red belt, 2 yellow tags

3rd mon: red belt, 3 yellow tags

4th mon: yellow belt, 1 red tag

5th mon: yellow belt, 2 red tags

6th mon: yellow belt, 3 red tags

7th mon: orange belt, 1 red tag

And so on through orange, green, blue and brown belts.


Kyu grades: these are the adult learner grades for players over 16 years, although players over 14 can get kyu grades instead of mon grades.

6th kyu: red belt

5th kyu: yellow belt

4th kyu: orange belt

3rd kyu: green belt

2nd kyu: blue belt

1st kyu: brown belt


Dan grades: these are the adult (minimum age 15) grades for advanced players.

1st dan to 5th dan: black belt

6th dan to 8th dan: red and white belt (in alternate blocks).


Sho, mon and kyu grades are awarded by the club.


Sho grades are awarded when the coaches feel the players are ready.


For mon grades, players need to satisfy a set of criteria which are published by the club. Currently these are as follows:


1-3 Mon (red belts)

Assessment of grade they are going for only.

No competition criteria.

4-7 Mon (yellow belts and bottom orange)

Assessment of grade they are going for only.

Competition criteria: participation in at least one club open event.

8-12 Mon (middle orange to top green)

Assessment of grade they are going for plus current grade.

Competition criteria: Performance at club events and participation in at least one event outside the club.

13 Mon and above (blue & brown belts)

Assessment of grade they are going for plus current and previous grades.

Competition criteria: Performance at events generally outside the club.


Participation focuses on effort and sportsmanship.

Performance focuses on skills shown and in some cases results.

Possible alternative criteria would be either qualification and activity as a referee or learning of (to demonstration standard) a kata.


Assessment of grade refers to the theory syllabus which is in a separate document and also on the BJA website.


Sometimes the coaches do the assessments well in advance of a grading and “bank” the results for later use when and if the player becomes ready for the grade.


Work ethic and behaviour on the mat is also taken into consideration, as is how often the player trains. Also we sometimes need to not grade a player too quickly if it rules them out of competitions appropriate to their level.


Kyu grades are awarded when the coaches feel the player is ready and after completion of the theory syllabus, and with similar competition criteria for younger seniors. For older players, the competition criteria will not be applied but possible alternatives such as kata may be used.


Older junior players convert to senior kyu grades, generally at 14 years of age or when the coaches feel they are ready. The conversion, which is free, is:

3-5 mon converts to 6 kyu

6-8 mon converts to 5 kyu

9-11 mon converts to 4 kyu

12-14 mon converts to 3 kyu

15-17 mon converts to 2 kyu

18 mon converts to 1 kyu.


There are two routes to dan grade. The competitive route involves gaining points from wins at competitions and gradings against the same grade or above. Only wins by ippon count and a player needs 100 points, so ten wins, for promotion, plus a “competitive skills” syllabus assessment. The technical route, for much older players, has no competitive element but involves a more demanding skills assessment including much more kata.


6th dan grades and above are given for services to the sport to players who have held 5th dan for a long period of time (usually over 12 years).


When players get Sho, Mon or Kyu grades, we will need their membership book so that we can sign it, and the appropriate fee, which goes to the BJA. The club and coaches do not make any profit on gradings. Sho awards are free.


Grades cannot be “lost”. If you leave judo for 20 years and then return, you return at the same grade you were when you left. A grade is for life.


As per the club’s ethos, grades have to be earned and are not given without being earned.


When changing colour belt, second hand belts can be swapped at the club for free or new ones bought for £2.


Finally, BJA videos showing the grading syllabus and some examples from international competition can be found here:


There are also some videos of lower grade techniques pon the club website.


Star Awards

The club also has a star award system for junior players, where certificates can be gained for demonstrating certain skills. There are five main star awards (one to five star) followed by a bronze, silver and gold. The bronze, silver and gold are very demanding and require a wide range of skills; in fact, the club has to date only awarded six gold awards in its 40 year history (Martin Whiteside, Anthony Todhunter, Ben Newbury, Karl Gaughan, Kate Walker and Olivia Turner), so a gold award is a massive achievement. To date, only one person, Ben Newbury, has gone a stage further still to the Double Plus Gold Platinum Ultimate Samurai Star Award.

Assessments are done from time to time, to fit in with other teaching plans. The assessments and certificates are free. We also now have the BJA’s Young Kata Awards, which the club helped to set up.



The first step on the competition ladder would normally be an event held at the club. The beginners’ competitions (players must be at least 8 years old) work by organising the players into groups of (usually) 4 players. The players in each group all compete against each other and whoever has the most wins gets the gold medal, then next highest gets silver and the other twp bronze, so that all players get a medal. When players become more experienced, the competition groups get larger so that not all players get a medal, but for the first few events they will all get one.



Normally the players in any category will compete within an hour or two of weighing in and receive medals as soon as they have finished, so it does not involve more than four hours or so out of the day. If it is an event outside the club, the weigh-in times will usually be on the entry form on the blue notice board, and it may be a longer day – the Samurai events are considered by most to be the best organised judo events in Britain, so others are not quite of the same standard. However, experience outside the club is important as players progress.


Senior events follow the same pattern.


In both cases, one of the club coaches will usually be in the coaching chair. You are very welcome to cheer your child on, but please don’t shout over the coach, who will need to be the person the child listens to during the contests.


It is a major feature of the ethos of the club that we do not put pressure on players to succeed, only to do their best and act in a sporting manner at all times.


PLEASE NOTE: the club sometimes puts reports of events and gradings into the Kidderminster Shuttle, so if there is any reason why your child’s name or photo cannot appear in the local newspaper, please let the head coach know.


Achievements at recent competitions are posted on the red notice board and the membership list contains a permanent record of players’ medals won, grade, star award and any other qualifications.



Samurai Judo Club is built on volunteering, and we welcome all volunteers.


For non-judo persons, there are three main ways in which you can volunteer at events:


1.   FIRST AID: we will always have an experienced first aider present at events, but qualified helpers are also welcome. If you have a first aid qualification, please talk to Emma Martin at the club about joining the first aid group. If you don’t have a qualification, the club arranges first aid qualification courses from time to time. The club will pay the course fees as long as the volunteers are prepared to help out from time to time at our events. Again, talk to Emma about this.

2.   TABLE OFFICIALS: you do not need to be a judo player to work on the table at any event, or even to (eventually) run competitions. Being familiar with the words and signals used is necessary, but this can be learnt quite quickly and there are always opportunities at events for new officials to be trained. Our club chair, who has only been on the mat once as a player in her life, took this route and ended up becoming the best judo competition organiser in Britain.

3.   KITCHEN: any help in the kitchen at events is always most welcome.


Volunteering at an event does not mean that you need to be there all day. We arrange shifts so that volunteers do only a few hours each, also to coincide with when their children are competing.


Judo players (minimum grade green belt) can also become REFEREES. This is a great way to achievement and the club has three international referees who have travelled all around Europe refereeing. A course is held each year to qualify referees, with lots of additional support and training.


Of course, if you have other specific skills that can be of help to the club, do please let us know!


Club rules

We try to keep club rules to a minimum. All of them are there for safety, hygiene or etiquette. The main 12 rules are in the welcome booklet which all new members receive and are as follows:


1.   Make sure some kind of footwear (not just socks) is worn at ALL TIMES off the mat. Do not step on the mat wearing shoes. Leave shoes on the walkway between mats and wall, not the one between mats and changing rooms as this is very busy (coaches excepted).

2.   Always have clean, trimmed toe and fingernails.

3.   Jewellery, watches, metal hair clips and body piercings are not allowed on the mat. (Covering up is not sufficient.) Spectacles may be left on the ledge. Long hair should be tied back with a soft band or similar.

4.   Don’t leave valuables in the changing rooms.

5.   If you come to the club already wearing your kit (or leave wearing it), have it FULLY covered up.

6.   Clean kits without rips are essential. Also make sure that the club badge is sewn onto your kit.

7.   Bow when coming onto or off the mat.

8.   Ask the coach before leaving the mat for any reason during a session so that we know where you are.

9.   Do not eat or drink on the mat. (Drinks may be taken during sessions on the edge of the mat).

10. Do not talk when lined up in grade order at the start or end of the session, it shows disrespect for the coaches.

     Also, this is the time when important information is given out, so please listen carefully, whether you are on or off the mat.

11. Please keep noise levels down when off the mat, especially when the coach is talking.

12.Always show respect for your partners and opponents.





We would add one other rule for parents: please do not “coach” your child when they are on the mat. Leave this to the coaches. It is confusing for a child to be trying to listen to two voices, often with conflicting advice, at the same time. It is also disrespectful to the coaches, the club and the sport.


More new members

Although we have around 170 members, we are always keen to increase our membership. Please tell you friends and even bring them along to the club on appropriate sessions. If there are places where you can display A4 or smaller posters of the club, let us know and we will supply you with these.


The Samurai Gym

Again, as you may have noticed, we have a small upstairs gym. Although primarily for use by players, the gym can be used by parents. However, please see a coach before going to the gym. All users must have completed an induction and players under 16 must be supervised.


The Samurai Judo Club ethos

Arguably, this should be the first item in this guide, but we have put it here to leave you with something to think about.

Just as Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, believed, we see judo as a way to improve fitness, character and understanding. We believe that everybody who steps on the judo mat can gain something from the sport and it is our role to help them towards that. As part of that, we believe it is important that players of all ages have goals and strive to achieve them. There are a series of sayings from great people on the blue notice board and we invite both adults and young people to look at these and consider them.

One of the unique aspects of judo is the coloured belts, which show a player’s level of achievement and skill. Higher grades should help lower grades, as they were helped when they were lower grades themselves; lower grades should respect higher grades, whatever their age, because of what they have learnt. Respect should be mutual but should also be earned.

Competition in judo is not essential but is a great way of setting targets for yourself which will help you improve in both mind and body – see the great quotes from people like Theodore Roosevelt (who was himself a judo player). A good sportsman should never like losing, but should do so with dignity and respect for the opponent, and should then go away and learn from the defeat and find ways to improve. Defeat is an essential step on the road to learning, so there is nothing wrong with losing, but it is important to try your best to win and, if you can’t win, then go down fighting right to the end.

Successful sports players also succeed in life – this has been proved time and time again. And ‘success’ does not just refer to the competitive gold medallist: success comes from setting a good standard for yourself and improving yourself as a result. It comes from always understanding that you have more to learn; and it comes from hard work. Anything that is truly worth achieving must involve hard work. And, as Muhammed Ali states, it is never impossible to achieve. As Winston Churchill showed, “blood, sweat and tears” will win out in the end.

Far better to dare mighty things than to rank with those poor timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. Theodore Roosevelt.

In skill opposed, in spirit united. Jigoro Kano.

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential … these are the things that will unlock the door to personal excellence. Confucius.

It’s funny: the harder I practice, the luckier I get. Gary Player.

A goal is not always something to be reached. It often serves simply as something to aim at. Bruce Lee.

 All our dreams can come true if we just have the courage to pursue them. Walt Disney.

Club Welfare Officer (also Club Chair)

Sarah Newbury – Telephone 07986 422335


Club email address:

Club website:


Have we missed anything? If there is anything missing from this guide, let us know and we will add it in!