This weekend I attended the annual dinner for the Singapore Judo Academy, an event where members from clubs across the country get together, have a couple of drinks over a traditional Chinese banquet and celebrate our joint passion for the sport. The evening is also a time for us students to pay gratitude to our senseis for their dedication and teaching. This is applied across generations, as our club sensei honors their senseis, as we do their contemporaries. I am flanked by two of my senseis in the photo above.
While our Singapore judo club flourishes, the reality is that club memberships across the world are on the decline. This is perhaps most visible in the sport of golf where clubs are closing at the rate of knots, unable to attract new members due to hefty green fees and a general lack of time. Likewise, the old working men’s clubs are becoming an age old relic. In a time of low commitment and a life lived virtually, these places, once institutions of communal life, are losing their appeal.
Some of my fondest memories as a kid were down at the Karori Swift soccer club. We had great coaches like Steve Harvey (who ended working at OPRA 20 years later!) who played crucial roles in our development as young sportsmen. Then as a teenager it was on to golf on the weekends at the Karori Golf Club, playing morning to dusk with toasted sandwiches by Mrs Wheeler breaking up the day. The skills of sportsmanship and camaraderie learnt during this time were equally as important to my career as any degree. During my time in Australia I enjoyed nothing more than the opportunity to play golf with my then Chairman Jafeth Rodriguez and having a beer at the 19th (talking work of course!).
To discount clubs as irrelevant today is a great shame, as I continue to see their value, particularly as I try to remain active in my 40’s. For me, the Singapore Judo Academy and Brazilian Jujitsu Singapore have filled a space that only clubs can provide. As I have mentioned previously, my passion is performance and health, especially as it pertains to men, and clubs, especially sports clubs, offer so much in this regard:
- They give you a reason to train when you need that extra motivation (and as you get older, you need all the motivation you can get!).
- They provide a support network that extends well beyond the activity that brought you all together.
- They give you a place to play, and play is such a hugely important part of remaining active and healthy.
- They provide community where no one wants anything from you other than your participation.
- They give you the opportunity to interact with people of all ages; enabling you to share your wisdom and experience with those younger, and learn from those who have gone before.
If you are looking for ways to unwind and reconnect with the real world, I strongly encourage you to take a fresh look at joining a club. Rediscover, or just discover, your passion and find a group that can help you regain that youthful exuberance you had as a kid when you did things for fun and enjoyment. Life is to be lived and it is best lived in the company of others.
For those over 40 interested in getting involved with BJJ or Judo in Singapore please let me know. We are always on the look out for more like minded members to join our weekend warriors (and week day recovering!) troupe.