Northbrook Judo Club holds a special place in my heart as it was where my journey in judo began at the age of 6. From the start, they instilled in me not only the technical skills but also the values of respect and etiquette crucial in judo. Winning my first gold medal at their club competition was a defining moment, marking the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. The club provided the foundation for my judo career, shaping me into the athlete I am today. Though I’ve moved on to the national center, representing Great Britain full-time, I’ll always cherish the lessons and memories from my time at Northbrook Judo Club.
From the young age of 8 when i first joined northbrook they held a special place in my life and in the development of my judo career. By teaching me not only techniques but discipline, self control and respect. From getting gold in their red belt rumble i had the motivation to aspire for  higher levels in the sport, to joining the GBR -23 national team and wining the Great British Nationals 3 times. Northbrook created the footing for which my career was based on. Even though moving on from Judo into amateur boxing they still hold a very special place in my heart and i will always hold dearly to the memories made here.
My time at Northbrook
Some of my fondest memories growing up were learning and training in Northbrook Judo Club with my brothers. Which provided a caring, safe family like environment that greatly benefited my developing childhood and teenage period, through the structure training and encouragement of completions.
They were nothing but supportive and encouraging on returning to the sport in my adult life after a break from the sport with the same warmth.
During my younger years, I was actively involved in judo, and I must say, I was quite skilled at it! However, as life got busier with work, socialising, and playing rugby, I had to let go of my judo career. Nevertheless, I still held a deep affection for the sport and found that the skills I gained from playing judo were transferable to rugby.

It wasn't until around 1998 that my interest in judo was reignited. It all started when my son, Tom, expressed his desire to try martial arts after watching a kung fu program on TV. Coincidentally, I came across an advertisement for a local judo club called Northbrook Kyu Shin Kai. Seizing the opportunity, I suggested to Tom that we give judo a try since it encompassed both martial arts and sport, promising to be a fun experience. Not wanting to be left out, my daughter, Katie, also insisted on joining us. And so, our journey into this newfound family activity began.

Initially, I spent my time observing the kids and helping with the mats at the club. However, one day Sensei Gary proposed a parent and children session, and I was convinced to participate. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and made the decision to revive my judo career, starting from scratch as a white belt in the senior class. It quickly became apparent just how unfit I had become!

Northbrook Judo Club, and judo as a whole, soon became an integral part of our lives. We became regulars at the Northbrook School in Bromley and Lewisham, attending training sessions three nights a week. Over the years, we formed lifelong friendships within the club and the wider judo community. We also had the opportunity to participate in various courses and tournaments across the UK and even abroad in France, Belgium, and Holland. Both of my children achieved their BJC Junior Black belts and represented the BJC National Squad, training at the Wolverhampton venue. I recall numerous trips up the M1 & M6, but I have no regrets. In fact, my son Tom even became the BJC Junior National Champion in 2005, while Katie secured the silver medal for two consecutive years. Some of my fondest memories involve traveling with the junior team in the club minibus to Hereford for these events.

As for myself, I steadily progressed through the ranks and eventually earned my 1st Dan black belt. I even obtained my level 2 BJA coach qualification and became a member of the Northbrook coaching team and club committee, focusing on fundraising efforts. I like to believe that I played a part in the club's achievements, such as attaining BJA membership, receiving a silver Club Mark at all venues, and winning the BJA Club of the Year award twice. However, I must acknowledge that these accomplishments were the result of a collective effort and a testament to the dedication and quality of all the members of the Northbrook Judo Club family.

My time at Northbrook Judo Club undeniably marked a significant period in my life. I firmly believe that judo, especially within the Northbrook Kyu Shin Kai club, played a pivotal role in my children's development by instilling confidence and teaching them respect for themselves and others. Personally, I am forever grateful to Northbrook Judo Club for providing me with the opportunity to become a qualified coach and a Black Belt Judoka. Without their guidance and support, such achievements would not have been possible.
Nigel Smith