For the second time this year I visited Birzai,a small town in the north of Lithuania and again visited the local judo club.
Birzai is the home of the Golden Score Judo and Football Club which has its dojo near to the high school and running track.
The dojo is very much old school. The tatami is traditional,not our modern mats and conditions are basic.
This recent visit I trained with the young judokas every day from 3pm until 6pm for a whole week!
The jukokas have a passion for throwing for ippon and do not seem to have a liking for newaza!
On this occasion the Senior coach was away on a training course and so I had the priviledge of working with the other coaches: Mindaugas Simones (1st Dan, Competitor in the 2003 World Championships in Osaka, Japan and 7 times All Baltic Champion) and Petras Jukonis (3rd Dan,Master of Sport, winner of 3 All Baltic championships, famously defeating Vladimer Putin in 1977,and trained at the Kodokan,Tokyo in 1995).
It was a great joy to train with these men who despite their world class achievements were very friendly and very humble.True old style judoka.
On the Friday I was given the honour to coach the advanced junior team on my own,very interesting as I only speak 4 words of Lithuanian.
On the Saturday I accompanied the team to Latvia to a Baltic Youth International championship in which the club won 2 gold and 2 bronze medals,a very good day.
As my time at Birzai was drawing to an end,both Mindaugas and Petras extended an invititation for some of Hull Judo Clubs experienced junior players to visit them for a week long training camp in 2012.I will be discussing this with our Management team to see if this is posible.
My thanks go to all the judoka in birzai for their kind hospitality and friendship.
Gerald (Oct 2011)