Up Close: Sensei Steve Crowley works his magic at Stotfold Judo Club
By Layth Yousif
11th Feb 2024 | Local News
Sensei Steve Crowley is also a part-time magician and what he has achieved coaching at Stotfold Judo Club, is nothing short of magical.
When Steve first became involved with the club about 10 years ago, there were approximately a dozen juniors. Now, there are 30 regular juniors and some 10 seniors who practise at separate times on Wednesday evenings at the Pendleton Sports Centre. Members have been successful in many competitions and several are being trained for competing at the national level.
Steve, 48, holds a fifth degree Black Belt, and has been involved in national and international competition and coaching for some 30 years.
In 2012, he won a bronze medal at the Masters Commonwealth event.
He works as a local government officer and is married with two sons, both judoka.
He said: "The club is brilliant value so that cash is not a barrier to people having the opportunity to start the sport. Judo teaches respect and discipline and also instils fitness and confidence.
"Overcoming any difficulties in moving up through the grades and taking part in contests, helps teach mental strength and make youngsters more resilient to life's challenges."
Zoe Stacey of Langford, whose six-year-old Thomas is a keen member, agrees about the club's affordability. She said, "Stotfold JudoClub offers excellent value as the monthly subs are from just £12.50 and the classes run year round."
She has also become a member of the club's committee as she believes strongly in their ethos at a time when everything seems to be costing more and more.
Martina Tunney, whose two sons are both members of the club, says "Fantastic Judo club. A good environment to learn, practice and make your mistakes. Excellent coaches. A very friendly and welcoming club at all levels. My kids love going to their judo sessions."
Pupils improving judo skills are indicated by the colour of the belts that secure their judogi (judo suits). With seniors, they move through white, red, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and black, the latter is the sought after First Dan.
Judo was refined as a sport from the lethal jiu-jitsu used in hand-to-hand combat by Japanese Samurai warriors. It was introduced as an Olympic sport at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and is now practised by millions around the world.
Judoka score by throwing an opponent on their back, with force, by holding them down on the mat or by gaining a submission with a choke or armlock. The latter two are not taught to pupils under 14.
Two of the club's youngsters, (Hari Crowley and Shaina Rickman) aged 13 and 14, have been selected for the English Development Squad which aims to prepare fighters for entry into the Judo World Class Performance Programme, which can lead to competing in international events.
Shaina Rickman took home a gold medal from the British Cadets Championships in December 2023 as part of the English Development Squash . Also, this summer another young judoka, Elise King, won a national silver medal at a tournament for her age group.
Steve said: "We are looking for financial support because I believe some of our athletes need to go to more tournaments and it costs a lot of money, with travel and having to buy high-quality judo suits.
"I am hoping for sponsorship for our successful players."
Anyone wishing to support the club can contact him at [email protected]
And anyone interested in a three week trial at the dojo can email Zoe Stacey at the same address to arrange.