Mark realises his dream of opening successful judo club in Midlothian

Children in Newtongrange enjoying Mark's judo class
Children in Newtongrange enjoying Mark's judo class

A Midlothian judo coach is living the dream after opening up his own club which now has over 100 children involved.

Mark Taylor, a former Commonwealth senior bronze medallist, established his first classes for all ages in Gorebridge and Dalkeith in February this year.

But demand has been so great he is now holding classes in Newtongrange and Clovenstone too.

Currently Randori Judo have over 100 children involved in the sport for the first time.

Mark (42), who had to quit due to injury in his 20s before returning 20 years later, said: “It has been a lifelong dream to open Randori Judo club in Midlothian. Within the space of three months it has went from being a brand new club to over 100 participants and members.

"In order to manage all this I’ve enlisted the help of fully qualified assistant coaches and have also been supporting young volunteers to get involved and develop their coaching skills.

“We will continue classes during school holidays and are also looking for a venue to hold summer camps.”

Mark’s hard work has seen him forge links with active schools in the Midlothian area, hosting judo after school classes and giving children an introduction to the sport.

He also assists in the conditioning and fitness sessions with Arniston Rangers under 14s and is head coach of Edinburgh University Judo Club.

Mark was asked by Midlothian Council to facilitate a women’s self defence/fitness class and will be passing on the skills and confidence from Judo to the participants – this is to be held on Wednesday evenings at Gorebridge Leisure Centre at 7.30pm.

Mark said: “The long term goal is to have a permanent dojo within the Midlothian area. From this I would like to provide a permanent fixed venue for the Midlothian and outlying community to benefit from the health and wellbeing benefits of judo and other martial arts.

“The idea would be to have a main hub with dojo facilities to provide judo, karate, tae kwon do for the local community and local clubs.

"It would also be utilised to provide an opportunity for disadvantaged families to gain access to fitness and the mental and health benefits that this will afford.”

Mark has been in discussions with Olympic athlete Ashley McKenzie and has secured him to showcase his first ever Scottish Judo Masterclass at Newbattle Community Campus, May 27, 1pm for children and 3pm for adults. Booking details available on Randori Judo website or facebook page.

And he hopes this is to be the first of many such events and ventures.

In the meantime he is still working full time as a residential care manager with Glasgow City Council, running Randori Judo and training for his next competition which is the European Masters in June in Glasgow.

He added: “It’s been a busy first few months of the year and we are looking forward to what the next few months will bring.”