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Wollongong, take a bow

Judoka from around Australian gathered in Wollongong last month to learn from some of the world's best.

The Illawarra International Judo Club hosted more than 50 Australian judoka, along with three very special guests - Mr Hirofumi Otsuji, the Deputy Director of the International Division of the Kodokan, Olympic gold medallist Mr Makata Takimoto, and Kodokan Instructor and Naga-no-kata specialist, Mr Kento Iwanaga.

Brought to Australia by Judo Australia's Kodokan Committee, with generous assistance from the Japan-Australia Foundation, the delegation delivered three coaching clinics as well as a grading session for judoka pursuing their first dan, or seeking to have existing dan gradings recognised by the Kodokan.

Head of the Judo Australia Kodokan Committee, Mr Alan Broadhead, (pictured at left with the guest instructors, Mr Takimoto, Mr Iwanaga, and Mr Otsuji) described the weekend (January 19-21) as a rare opportunity to work with Kodokan instructors on home soil.

The Kodokan Committee would continue to work with the Kodokan to bring Australian judoka to Japan, but this important weekend had given those who might not have the time or funds to travel overseas access to the combined wisdom of the Kodokan instructors.

Following an open technical session on the Friday night devoted to Nage waza, a second session on Saturday morning was dedicated to teaching Nage waze to young players, their coaches and aspiring coaches. A kata practice session on Saturday afternoon was followed by a Celebration Dinner at The Links Golf Club in Shell Cove.

On Sunday, the morning was devoted to a formal Kodokan Dan Grading, with applicants presenting their kata to the Kodokan for a higher grade, or ratification of existing Judo Australia dan gradings with recognition by home of Judo.

Shane Alvisio, Judo Australia's Head of Judo Operations, said the event was important for two reasons. It gave Club judo coaches from around Australia the opportunity to learn from highly respected Kodokan coaches, while also demonstrating to the Kodokan that the existing grading process as practised in Australia was robust and effective.

"We did that quite effectively," Mr Alvisio said. "The Kodokan coaches departed with a very positive impression of Australian judo, something of which we can all be very proud."

It wasn't just Australian judo skills leaving a good impression - the hospitality shown by Kodokan Committee chair Alan Broadhead and his wife Jenni didn't end at hosting the guests in their home.

"Alan and Jenni also made sure they experienced the local sights and attractions of the beautiful Illawarra region, so our Japanese visitors went home happy indeed," Mr Alvisio laughed.


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