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Fresh-faced judoka from Marburg, Helsinki, and Cambridge on Monday morning

2023 Judo Friendship Week report

Cambridge, UK

This year, Cambridge University Judo Club hosted the annual Judo Friendship Week – a meeting of three clubs from Germany (Sportfreunde Blau-Gelb, Marburg), Finland (Finndai, Helsinki), and us, with one club hosting each year on rotation.

The week, 14-21 May 2023, featured 5 sessions of judo plus a packed timetable of social events. This was the largest friendship week exchange in its 40-year history, with over 30 visitors from abroad.

Our visitors arrived on Sunday for the welcome party. There were many familiar faces, but also many new inductees to the wonderful tradition that is Friendship Week.

Monday saw the week kicked off with a morning judo session, followed by a tour of six of Cambridge’s finest public houses.

People sitting around a long table at the pub, posing for the camera
Happy judoka socialising

On Tuesday, we began with a dip in the Jesus Green lido, which also has a sauna (though not as hot as those in Finland or Germany!). This was followed by punting, where we saw the assembly of the largest mega-punt the exchange has ever seen.

People in six punts, punting along the river Cam
The 6-punt wide ‘megapunt’

The evening judo session was one of the largest ever held at CUJC. There were over 50 people from red belt to 6th Dan training together on the mat — a beautiful example of the true spirit of judo.

Class of judoka posing for a photo
A very busy mat on Tuesday evening

On Wednesday, we stretched our legs a bit with a leisurely cycle to the nearby town of St Ives, with a short stop at Fen Drayton Lakes nature reserve. Back in Cambridge that evening, we introduced our Finnish and German friends to some traditional British cuisine with a curry night on Mill Road.

Cyclists cycling alongside the busway
On the road to St Ives
A group of people standing in a green sunny setting outdoors

Thursday featured a chilled-out morning and afternoon enjoying cream teas at The Orchard in Grantchester. Inevitably for judoka, games of physical strength and ingenuity followed on the grass. After a spot of judo later that evening, we finished the night off with cocktails at a basement bar, and then dancing at the Lo La Lo club.

A group of people in a green garden in the sunshine with some ploying physical games
Games on the grass at The Orchard

On Friday morning, there was free time for casual sightseeing in Cambridge (or sleeping in!). After some judo in the afternoon, we kicked off the goodbye party. That evening, in a ‘boat race’ between a mixed UK/German team and the Finnish team, the Finns retained the title of boat race champions for another year. More dancing ensued at the Vinyl club.

A gorup of people in a colourfully lit-up night club
A colourful goodbye party at Vinyl

Although some of our guests departed on Saturday, the festivities continued for everyone else. To make the most of the agreeable weather, we held a BBQ on Jesus Green after our usual Saturday training session.

During the week, we also saw two sessions taken by our visiting head coaches Titan and Juho, from Marburg and Helsinki, respectively.

Judoka training on the mat
Regular randori was a highlight of the week

The organising committee of the Cambridge friendship week this year wholeheartedly thank all those who attended, including the Cambridge judoka who helped with organising and running events throughout the week. We look forward to many more years of friendship and collaboration between our clubs!

-Artur, Adeline, Dan, Dean, Malcolm, Rob, and Nick

An almost-empty bottle of liquorice-flavoured vodka
A special mention to Koskenkorva, whose special liquorice-flavoured product (salmiakki) kept us going the whole week

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