History of Micklefield Judo Club

Formed in 1973 Micklefield Judo Club was started at the local Polish Community Centre by three inexperienced coaches, John Oke, Ron Cleere and Arthur Lovell. On the first Tuesday evening 90 + hopefuls, all wanting to start judo came to the centre, most expecting to be given judo suits! Practicing on a borrowed canvas topped straw mat, which billowed a cloud of dust with every ippon, the three coaches gradually moulded the youngsters into eager judoka keen to learn more and more about the Olympic sport. After a year or so and with the help of a loan (from a friendly bank manager) a new tatami (judo mat) was purchased and the borrowed one returned. The new tatami was traditionally Japanese and consisted of foam mats and a canvas stretched across the top fastened to wooden supports at the edges. Very smooth and excellent for fast foot sweeps it made the learning of ukemi (break-falls) compulsory. In the following years a team of young competitive players were feeling their way around events, taking in competitions from near and far. The chosen mode of transport was Ron’s converted furniture van with wooden seats, housing very quiet players going but high spirited winners on the way home.

In 1981 the club moved to its present location at Kingswood School, Hollis Road and shortly after in 1982 John Oke took sole charge of the clubs affairs as Ron moved on to set up Stokenchurch Judo Club some 15 miles away. Under John’s guidance the club went from strength to strength and by the middle 80’s the club started to travel abroad visiting, training and competing against clubs throughout Europe gaining a wealth of experience along the way.

The club continued to be successful throughout the late eighties and nineties until the sad and sudden passing of its guiding force John Oke in May 1998. The club was thrown into turmoil, but the senior players rallied and somehow retrieved the situation on the mat, while John’s wife Joan, continued to serve the club during this traumatic period keeping the off mat administration in order. Having satisfied herself that the club was back on track and in good hands with the current crop of coaches and volunteers, Joan eventually retired in December 2005.

In 50 years of existence the club has produced countless black belts along with many national and area champions. It has also produced or started the careers of players who have had success on the international stage with the roll of honour including World, European and Commonwealth champions as well as Olympic and Paralympic medallists.

In 2008 the club achieved Sport England Clubmark accreditation which was revalidated in 2011 and again in 2015. This reinforces the clubs long standing commitment to provide quality, accessible judo coaching at an affordable price, in a safe and disciplined environment.