ROOKIE martial artists took their first official steps into their chosen sport as a recently-founded sports club held its first grading.
Leigh Judo Club put more than 20 combatants, who have all taken up the sport from scratch since joining the club, through their paces required to gain their red belt, the first grade in judo.
The club, which was only founded five months ago, has seen around 40 people take up the ancient Japanese martial art, with coaching by Lowton former Great Britain junior international Luke Brown.
Lead coach Luke says he set up the club due to a lack of recognised venues teaching the Olympic sport in the borough, and is already planning a second red belt grading for members who are currently away on holiday.
Luke, 27, said: “We had a couple of seniors and around 20 juniors taking their grading, and many of them are already demonstrating techniques from much higher levels of the sport.
“It was really satisfying to see them doing so well, and our juniors as young as four learning and understanding the Japanese terms.
“Judo covers every one of the fundamentals of sport, from core stability and strength to fitness and skill, and it also teaches discipline.
“It’s great to see so many people taking up judo from scratch and shows the demand for that level coaching in Leigh.”
In addition to Luke’s expertise the judo players being graded received encouragement and expert advice from sixth dan Frank Jones and GB junior international Lewis Brooks.
The club’s efforts in bringing judo to Leigh has been recognised with three nominations at the Wigan Sports Awards, with places on the shortlist in the club of the year, coach of the year and unsung hero of the year categories.
The nominee for unsung hero is treasurer Michael Morgan, who has to balance his commitments to helping the judo group with his job in Libya in security.
For more information about the club, visit www.leighjudoclub.co.uk