WINTER 2012 has started in dramatic style in the judo world for a Garioch father and son.
Two weeks ago Stuart McWatt became one of the youngest black belts in the sport in the UK at the age of 15. The Inverurie Academy fourth year has been on a judo mat since he was able to crawl and got his first suit at the age of three.
Under the tutelage of father Stuart at Garioch Judo, the talented athlete had gone through the seven stages from white to brown belt by the age of thirteen.
Stuart only felt ready for Black Belt Dan grading earlier this year and his dad also felt the time was indeed right to put him forward . After five fights at the November grading in Alloa, McWatt the younger was deemed worthy of the award of Black belt being one of four receiving the 1st Dan from 22 candidates.
Its highly unusual for anyone under the age of sixteen to be even considered for this level but Stuart has already chalked up considerable achievements in his judo career to date that it was perhaps inevitable that the modest youngster would succeed.
Currently ranked number one in the UK and Scotland, he is three times British champion and five times Scottish Champion and has competed extensively across Europe . Stuart has ambitions to compete in the Olympics, possibly not at Rio where he may still be too young , but the games in 2020 could be his focus for the future.
Stuart may have ambition in competitive Judo but dad Stuart has ambitions of his own and has recently opted to give up his sales career to pursue a teaching role full time.
He said: “For many years I have wanted to teach judo as a career and I now feel ready to give it my full commitment.
“For a number of years I have been doing part-time work as a performance coach for Judo Scotland here in the North-east and I sense the time is right to try Judo full time.”.
Stuart, who has been involved in the sport for 35 years, has plans to re-establish judo clubs in Alford and Mintlaw under the Garioch Judo banner in January.
He added: “I’m really looking forward to welcoming new entrants to the sport and hoping we can build on the success of Garioch Judo which is recognised as one of the top clubs in Scotland, not just because of young Stuart but because of the many talented athletes we have throughout the club who have had national and UK success in competition.“
Judo, is of course not just a sport which appeals to people of all walks of life and all ages but it provides a means to develop self discipline and respect for oneself and others. The sport helps in learning self confidence, concentration and leadership skills as well as physical coordination, power and flexibility and above all it develops a sharp reacting mind and fast, reflexive, co-ordinated actions.
Young Stuart, who is backing his father in his plans to expand Garioch Judo, said: “It takes time to do any sport but working with the top coaches in the North-east has helped me immeasurably and it would give others a head start if they get involved with Garioch Judo Alford or Garioch Judo Mintlaw.
“My dad has been instrumental in the success of so many of the members of this club that it’s great he is taking Garioch judo to other areas as I know how much he loves this sport and the time he dedicates to it.”