Recently retired from international competition, double Olympic champion and 3-time world champion Shohei Ono joined fellow Japanese superstar Masashi Ebinuma, also 3 times a world champion, for a training camp with a difference.
This is the 11th edition of ‘The Gathering,’ a judo education weekend focusing on technical development and learning. Participants are coaches, referees and athletes, all under the simple banner of ‘judoka,’ working together on the tatami for the purpose of improvement, for all. Aged 14 to 83 and with grades ranging from yellow belt to 9th dan, there is an inclusive air in Scotland which has produced the perfect environment for education to thrive. Judo Scotland and the Sport Scotland National Centre have collaborated successfully to build the event and the environment, year on year.
Sessions in 2023 have included the teaching of turnovers in ne-waza, tandoku renshu technique, traditional throws, tai-sabaki and more. On day 2, Kana Ebinuma joined the two world and Olympic medallists to lead a ne-waza session, bringing further new ideas.
On the first day, too, Ono joined in with a short randori session, setting the tone by enjoying the playfulness that randori can offer. Many judoka had the unrivalled opportunity to practise with him, memories they will never forget.
Past editions of The Gathering have included coaching from Japanese stars Nakanishi, Kashiwazaki, Katanishi, Fukumi and Tsunoda, while the European contingent has not been forgotten. Adams, Burton, Yandzi, Cusack-Doyle, Cowen and Randall have all delivered in Largs. Congratulations to the organisers for a job well done.