Martial Arts

FORMER Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sam Skillcorn (née Lowe) is encouraging more youngsters to look at Judo as fitting way to improve their body and mind.

After narrowly missing out on competing at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Sam and husband Vince set-up Fighting Fitness Judo (formerly Pyrford Judo Club) in 2015.

Coach Sam Skillcorn with students Jack and Amelia

Since opening its doors, the club’s membership has increased substantially, with over 200 judo students now practising the sport on a weekly basis.

The News & Mail caught up with Sam at The Arbor Centre in Pyrford last Saturday to get the lowdown on the club’s rise to the fore.

She said: “Vince and I always knew that we wanted to keep our hand in when we eventually retired from competing, but you’re never quite prepared for when that time comes.

“We were asked if we would like to take over the running of Pyrford Judo Club, which had been running for 30 years by Graham Hoptroff.

“It was a bit daunting at first – to run our own club: however, we haven’t looked back since as we now coach up to 650 children across three centres and at 27 different schools each term,” she added.

Students Jack and Amelia put Sam’s coaching into practice

Following the couple’s decision to retire from competitive sport six-and-a-half years ago, the success of Fighting Fitness Judo is evident for all to see.

Despite competing at the highest competition levels, though, the duo – both third dan black belts – still had to gain their level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications. 

Since then, Vince has successfully gained a masters in advanced sport coaching practice. He is one of only a handful of people in the country to hold the award.

“For us, the main purpose of doing what we do is to make Judo, fun and accessible for all. 

“There’s no point trying to force a child to love any sport if they don’t like it, but similarly if they take to it, it’s important to give them all the encouragement to excel. That’s the ethos that we promote at Fighting Fitness Judo.

“Students take part in lots of different movement skills. As a result, they develop spatial awareness, balance and greater agility. 

After just four years, Fighting Fitness Judo has become a reputable name across Woking and further afield, with more girls now actively participating in the sport.

The club’s Judo players will also be competing in the Surrey under-16s and senior closed trials on 28 April in a bid to make the Surrey county squad.

For more information on Fighting Fitness Judo, or to take up a free trial, please go www.fightingfitnessjudo.com

For the full story get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail