top of page

Beginners' Quick Guide...

What do I need to know?

The first session is free then £3.00 thereafter (Medway Park JC members pay £2). No pre-booking or block pre-payment is necessary - you can just turn up and give it a try. We encourage new beginners to come along for a few weeks before committing to any additional costs e.g. suit or membership. New beginners are welcome to borrow a jacket and belt and should wear soft tracksuit bottoms (no zips) that cover the knees. Female beginners should wear a plain t-shirt under their jacket. Earrings, jewellery, watches and glasses will need to be removed.

Which session is most suitable for me?

Many of our sessions are open to beginners. Please take a look at our session information or click here to find out more about which one might be best for you.

Beginners' FAQs...

What is judo?

Judo was developed in Japan in the 1880s and has been an Olympic sport for over 50 years. It is a grappling sport in which the objective is to score points by throwing your opponent to the mat or by pinning them on their back for up to 20 seconds. Senior players can also apply strangles or arm-locks to the elbow in order to gain a submission. Players grapple each other by gripping their opponent’s judo suit (judogi). There is no kicking, punching or striking in judo. The emphasis in judo is on using your energy as efficiently as possible, using effective technique and minimal effort. In this way a judo player can defeat a much larger opponent. There is also an emphasis on working with your partner, allowing both players to benefit irrespective of individual differences.


What are the benefits of doing judo?

Judo is excellent for the development of all-round strength, flexibility, fitness and stamina, and an individual can tailor their training to accommodate their own needs and abilities. In children in particular, judo also helps to develop self-confidence, social interaction and discipline in a safe and fun structured environment. Judo also helps to build an awareness of self-defence.


How old do you have to be to practise judo?

The youngest age at which we generally start new beginners is six years old, but some five year olds may be suitable to start. Younger children often find the physical element challenging and may have difficulty maintaining concentration for the duration of a session. Occasionally we may allow a younger child to participate in part of a session, but this usually requires one-to-one support from one of our coaches. We have different sessions throughout the week that are targeted at different age groups, and which usually allow an older beginner to progress more quickly than a younger beginner. An adult may start judo at any age and training can be adapted to suit any individual.

What should I wear to attend a judo session?

For your first few sessions (before you decide to buy your own judo suit) you should wear soft tracksuit bottoms, without zips, that cover the knees. Female beginners should wear a strong, plain t-shirt that is long enough to be tucked into the trousers. We have a number of jackets and belts of all sizes that you will be welcome to borrow for the session. With prior agreement, you may borrow a jacket for a few weeks and take it home to wash it between sessions. Judo bottoms can also be borrowed if you do not have suitable trousers. Outdoor shoes should be removed before walking on to the carpeted area and shoes must NEVER we worn on the mat. Socks should also be removed before walking on to the mat (but should be left on if you have a verruca or athlete’s foot). You should NOT leave the carpeted area before putting your socks and shoes back on. Any jewellery, watches, glasses or other hard or metallic objects should be removed. Fingernails should be cut short and long hair should be tied back.


How much does it cost to attend a judo session?

The first session is free and each session is £3.00 thereafter. After four weeks we recommend that you consider becoming a member of Medway Park Judo Club. The session cost will then reduce to £2.00. There is no need to pre-book or pay for a block of sessions up front - you can just pay as you go. You can purchase 10-session or 20-session pre-pay cards if you prefer; we then stamp these each time you attend. While we can accept cash payments, card payments are preferred.


Who coaches the judo sessions?

All of Medway Park’s coaches are accredited by British Judo. Each session lead coach holds a Level 2 or Level 3 coaching qualification, has a current First Aid certificate, has attended a UKCC-accredited Safeguarding and Protecting Children course in the last three years and has undergone a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in the last three years. All coaches regularly attend Continuing Professional Development courses to maintain their qualifications. Medway Park Judo Club has been awarded the highest level of the Clubmark award, which demonstrates adherence to standards of good practice. All coaches are unpaid volunteers and many are also active at county, regional and national level. Our coaches include current senior examiners and referees, the current Kent Judo Chair, the Southern Area Vice-chair, the Kent and Southern Area male and female squad managers and a First Aid trainer.


Should I become a member of Medway Park Judo Club?

We strongly encourage new beginners to come along to judo sessions for up to four weeks before considering committing to additional costs such as a judo suit or membership. Current membership prices are displayed outside the club office and there are options for individual and family membership. Current annual membership fees are £12 for juniors, £18 for adults and £24 for family membership. If you choose to join, you will be asked to complete a judo club membership form and will receive a membership card. A photo will be taken of you for your membership card. Membership is renewed annually.


How much does a judo suit cost?

The current prices of white and blue judo suits (and belts) are displayed outside the judo club office. We generally have most common sizes of Blitz, Cimac and/or Adidas suits in stock. Please ask advice when choosing a size, as most new judo suits typically shrink by around 10% on first washing. If you intend to compete, it is recommended that you buy a white judo suit as many competitions do not permit the wearing of blue judo suits. Trousers and heavier, higher quality judo suits can be ordered on request and a full price list is available. We recommend purchasing judo suits from the club as our prices are generally cheaper than online prices, and you will generally be charged additionally for delivery when ordering online.

When should I become a member of British Judo?

If you intend to progress through the grades or compete, you must be a full member of the British Judo Association (BJA). Importantly, BJA membership also provides personal accident and public liability insurance for all judo activity. Soon after starting judo (within your first four sessions), you will need to take out BJA membership so that you will be insured should become injured or injure someone else. The BJA offer a free introductory 90-day membership that covers you for insurance. Current membership prices are available on the BJA website. The full BJA membership comes with a record book and allows you to grade or enter any BJA competition. If you do not wish to grade or compete, a recreational membership is available for a lower cost, and includes insurance cover. Remember to renew your membership as soon as (ideally before) it runs out; you will not be able to compete or grade, nor are you covered by insurance, if your membership lapses.

How do I become a higher grade?

You will need to be a full member of the British Judo Association (BJA) to grade. Please make sure your membership is current whenever you are ready to grade. You should discuss your next grading with your session coach. Gradings are conducted by coaches during sessions. The syllabus for your next grade is available from the BJA website under ‘My Judo’ > ‘Grading’ > 'Grading Resources' and you should make sure you learn what you need to know ahead of time. Grades for under-8s are called ‘sho’ grades, junior grades are called ‘mon’ grades and senior grades are called ‘kyu’ grades. The cost of a grading is £3 for under-8 sho grades and £15 for all others. On successful completion of a grading, your coach will need to see your membership card and sign your record book. On receipt of payment, the promotion will be submitted to the BJA.


How does the under-8s grading system work?

On becoming a member of the British Judo Association, you will receive a record book in the post. Under-8s can grade up to three times per year. Each sho grade is indicated by a white belt with a coloured stripe that runs the length of the belt. On successful completion of a grading, you will be presented with your next belt and should return your current belt to your coach. The order of the stripe colours is red, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown then black. Those achieving the highest ninth sho wear a red belt with a white stripe.


How does the junior (over-8s) grading system work?

On becoming a member of the British Judo Association, you will receive a record book and sports bag in the post. You will also be able to wear a red belt and we have a stock of these available to purchase (£3). Over-8s can grade a maximum of once every month up to 6th mon, then once every two months thereafter. Generally, only one mon grading can be taken at a time. Junior beginners aged 12 or over may be eligible for ‘fast-tracking’ during their first two gradings, and can be promoted three mon at a time. Each mon is indicated by a stripe worn on one end of the belt. The stripes are sent out by the BJA. When you have three stripes on your belt, the next grading will result in you changing the colour of your belt. For example, a third mon wears a red belt with three stripes. Successful completion of the next grading will result in promotion to fourth mon. A fourth mon wears a yellow belt with one stripe. The order of the coloured belts is white, red, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown then black. We generally have all coloured belts in stock for purchase (£3).


How does the senior grading system work?

Senior players start off as novices and wear a white belt. Successful completion of the first grading results in promotion to 6th kyu (red belt). Unlike juniors, senior players do not wear stripes on their belts – they grade one coloured belt at a time, with the higher grades having LOWER numbers (5th kyu is higher than 6th kyu). For the grades up to 5th kyu, one promotion per calendar month is permitted. For promotion to 4th kyu and above, the maximum frequency of gradings is once every three months. Beginners aged 15 years or older may be more suitable for promotion within the kyu grades than within the mon grades (see above).


I am interested in entering a competition. How does this work?

You will need to hold a full, current membership of the British Judo Association to compete. You should discuss which competitions are suitable for you with your session coach. You will need to wear a white judo suit to enter a competition. You will also need to be aware of the contest rules before entering your first competition. Most junior competitions are limited to players aged 8 and over. Competitions can be age-banded (similar ages fight together) or grade-banded (similar belt colours fight together). Players are then matched according to their weights.


Who should I speak to if I need more information?

You should speak to the lead coach for your session or the session administrator (in the judo club office) in the first instance. The Senior Administrator and Club Welfare Officer is Margaret Bridges and is available at the club Monday to Thursday. Any further enquiries can be directed to the club secretary, John Malkinson, who is available at the club most Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays or via email

bottom of page