THERE was a great surprise for veteran Paul Jones at the Samurai Judo Club’s 35th anniversary get-together when he was awarded his sixth level black belt.
The 54 year-old is the first judo player in Wyre Forest ever to reach the grade, which is an honorary accolade for services to the sport.
Jones started judo in the early 1970s at the long since closed Kidderminster Judo Club, but moved on to Dudley Leisure Centre Club and then joined the Samurai in the early 1980s.
As well as qualifying for the British Senior Squad, he also began to go through the black belts and finally gained his fifth level black belt, the highest fighting grade in the sport, in 1992.
Two years later he had an even greater success when he won the silver medal at the European Masters Championships.
Still in training, he has now been acknowledged for his years of dedication by gaining the prized sixth level grade, which is a red and white belt, actually above black belt.
All of the respected veteran’s family have done judo at the Samurai.
On Tuesday and Thursday nights he can often be seen in contest with his sons – and still frequently throws them and others many years younger than himself.
His promotion leaves the club with four fifth level black belts – Ian Mills, Andrew Haffner, Paul Moss and Roy Muller – so hopes are high that another of them will eventually be similarly honoured.
In a nice touch, his belt was presented to him by John ‘Mac’ Maguire, who himself broke records last year by gaining his black belt at the age of 70 and having it presented to him by former student Jones.
Samurai’s annual get-together this year marked the 35th anniversary of its founding in 1979 by Andrew Haffner.
Few could have guessed that 35 years later they would be ranked inside the top ten British judo clubs, out of over 1,000 clubs, and that they would have their own purpose-built premises costing over a third of a million pounds.
The event was attended by 100 club members including around 30 black belts.
Anyone who wants details about the Samurai and their activities can call 07761 122977 or visit samurai.org.uk.