It is always interesting to watch Cameron’s judo and his performance in the November competition brought no exception.
Cameron’s first fight was against a formidable gentleman who didn’t get many attempts to throw young Cameron, and those he attempted – like the hiza guruma – were stepped off without too much real difficulty. Taking a high-collar grip, Cameron attempted ko-ouchi gari and uchi-mata with little conviction, and it wasn’t long before one of uki became vulnerable through one of his own attacks – a position Cameron was quick to take advantage of with a gaki, which lead referee Mike Stephens to call “Ippon!” awarding Cameron the first win in his first match.
In his second match, Cameron fought a player his own age who was slightly shorter than him. This time, our boy took a sleeve grip and a slow start was endured. Uki Ben tried the uchi-mata unsuccessfully and Cameron played unusually defensively until the first ‘matte!’ When Ben tomoe-nage’d Cameron, the throw had minimal power but partly worked nevertheless, with the kazuchi bringing Cameron to the floor over his uki until the ref stopped the match. Ko-ouchis were attempted from both players and then finally Cameron lost to a gaki which Ben did with his back to Cameron.
Cameron next fought against an uki called Robert, who was slightly heavier. Cameron took a high grip under the arm to defend against Robert’s brute-force pushing attacks and leg attacks – which largely failed because Cameron craftily managed to keep his long legs out of the way. A weak uchi-mata was enough to get Robert straight down onto the tatami: Robert hopped off the throw but Cameron’s rotation directed him downwards and allowed Cameron the upper hand. As Robert was turned over by Cameron, it looked like Cameron was trying to put a strangle on him. I don’t think he achieved that end though, although thankfully Cameron won the fight anyway (despite a shido for putting his fingers inside Robert’s gi).
James’s first match was quite an exciting one – and his opponent was certainly well matched – or so it seemed at first. James’s initial uchi-mata and gaki attempts failed when uki twisted away and out of them. The uki then tried an uchi mata himself and failed, giving James the opportunity of a strangle and arm lock – neither of which fully worked. After a matte, James’s attempt to throw uki was countered by ushiro goshi – a cunning move which sent James flying across the mat (rather dramatically, I thought) and then set up juji gatame, but one that was not applied strongly enough to hold and, ably, James twisted out of it and stood up. Our tori attempted harai goshi but was pushed off balance by uki; a wazari was awarded and, in the ground work which had transcended, James won with an armlock and a tap from uki.
James’s next component was an electrician whose favourite move seemed to be uchi mata. But that first waza did not work so, to follow it up, he tomoe nage’d James, which brought our tori onto his back and made him susceptible to a strangle – from which he escaped. When the fight resumed after a ‘matte’, James’s failed tomoe-nage landed him on his own back and uki was quick to apply the scarf hold and take victory.
James’s last fight was against a bearded uki called Perry. This was a fight where every move seemed to be being methodically calculated ad hoc. Commencing the fight were leg sweeps from both components; Perry’s ouch-mata failed as did James’s tani otoshi – and tai-otoshi, which Perry just stepped off. Another failed ouchi-mata of Perry’s put him in trouble in newaza as James tried to apply a strangle. After a ‘matte’ and ‘hajime’, Perry slid his leg alongside James’s to control tori’s leg movement, which knocked James onto the floor and gave Perry the ippon.
At the end of the competition, James was proud to be awarded the Bronze medal, especially because he was by far the lightest of the black belts, and one of the shortest. It was thrilling, of course, to see Cameron awarded the gold medal – a triumph he well deserved and indubitably one that reflects the practical-intelligence, flair and skill he exemplifies in weekly judo sessions.