Bearsden Martial Arts Club has been running classes for children and adults in the area for over 30 years. Our chief instructor, Hugh Russell, has over 40 years of experience in various martial arts and currently is a 9th Dan Black Belt. He is assisted by instructors Eric Walton (3rd Dan Black Belt), Ross Walton (2nd Dan Black Belt) and John Marley (1st Dan Black Belt).
The club trains on Tuesday nights at Bearsden Academy and on Wednesday nights at St Joseph's Primary School in Milngavie. On both nights, child classes are from 7pm to 8pm, with adult classes following from 8pm to 9:30pm. Today we have 30 adult members, and 60 juniors. In addition to our training, the club has regular social activities.
New members will be made to feel very welcome. We actively encourage people of all grades to train together so a new member will get to train with everyone from other newcomers, up to Hugh. We have 14 black belts in the club at present which allows us to give 1-to-1 tuition with a black belt for new members to help them feel comfortable and get used to our training.
The club is part of the wider Shoto Budo organisation (www.shotobudo.org) which has clubs in Scotland, England, Ireland and Finland.
Shoto Budo as a martial art has its roots in Shotokai Karate but, reflecting the interests of the senior instructors, has evolved to incorporate elements of many martial arts, such as judo, jiu-jitsu and aikido. The over-arching principle is one of self defence and the emphasis is on self development and continual improvement so there is no competitive fighting element to what we do.
A typical practice may involve elements such as hitting pads, parrying, wrestling and takedowns. This is performed in a safe, controlled and supervised environment and is always appropriate to the grade of the practitioners. Speed and technique for experienced black belts will be different to that of the new comer and practice will reflect that.
Training with us has many benefits. There are improvements in overall fitness, balance, flexibility as well as the improved confidence and ability when it comes to self defence. A session of hitting pads is also a wonderful way to relieve stress after a particularly busy day.
Children can start training at five years old and will have two opportunities per year to grade and move to a higher belt. Depending on their progress, junior members can start training with the adult class and then at 18 can move up to the adult grades. Our instructors are PVG Disclosure checked.
Age, size and sex are no barrier to joining. You don't have to start young and you don't have to be the Incredible Hulk. We have members training in our adult class ranging in age from 14 to 61 and covering short, tall, big, small and all points in between. We welcome new members regardless of age. For example, Ross started at 6 years old, is now 23 and a 2nd Dan Black Belt whilst another member started after 50, has been training with us for about 18 months, loves the fitness element and now has an orange belt (the third colour after a beginner's white belt). We also encourage both male and female members to join and women joining will be made to feel welcome and not embarrassed in any way. Regardless of age, levels of fitness and flexibility or previous experience, training with the club will help you to improve and you will find yourself being able to do things you never thought possible.
In addition to the regular training nights, the wider organisation holds several courses throughout the year giving everyone an opportunity to learn from other instructors, train with different people and grade for new belts. At our most recent course, held in Larbert at the start of November, we saw four new 1st Dan black belts (Emma, 34, Scott, 43, David, 61 and Ashleigh, 18), two junior black belts (aged 14 and 16), a blue belt (Diana, 49) and an orange belt (Iain, "closer to 55 than 50"). Getting to a black belt is not a race nor is there a time limit. Of our new 1st Dans, Emma has been training for four years, Scott for nine years and David for 18.
Commenting on the club, Hugh finds training to be enjoyable as it helps fitness and flexibility whilst as a coach, he is rewarded by seeing club members develop and grow from beginner to black belt and onto coaching themselves.
Eric runs the Tuesday night junior club and "finds it very enjoyable that a wide variety of kids, from quiet and shy, to full of beans, can change over a relatively short time into competent and confident youngsters. It’s hard work keeping everyone on track for their progression to their next grade, but we try to make it a fun way of learning not only a Martial art, but the self-confidence, self-discipline, compassion, self-control and respect that come with this, which is great for the instructors and parents but more importantly for the kids themselves."
The cost for children is £14 per month and £17 per month for adults. This covers membership of Shoto Budo, insurance and training two nights per week. A newcomer can wear comfortable clothes such as shorts and t-shirt before buying any equipment, such as karate suits, pads and gloves which can be purchased through the club at a discounted rate.
If you a have New Year resolution to get fit and want to try something new, come along and join us. Your first night is free and there is no obligation to join. There is a contact form on our website and we can answer any questions you may have before you come.
More information is available at our website, www.bearsdenmartialarts.org, on Facebook at facebook.com/BearsdenMartialArts/ and on Twitter @BearsdenMAC.
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.