Black belt milestone for visually impaired judoka John

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For John Sanders, getting his judo black belt has been a tale of dedication and commitment.

And for John, who has been visually impaired since a childhood accident at the age of two, the milestone is even more of an achievement.

The 41-year-old from Mansfield finally got his black belt 30 years after taking up judo, although he did have nine years away from the sport.

He said: “It is a sense of achievement and it really means a lot to me.”

John trains weekly at the Rainworth Judo Club, which is run by Sensei Karl Barker, and held at Joseph Whitaker School.

John has spent the past year training intensively for the grading, and had to perform his kata, which is a series of throws and breakfalls.

Karl said: “For anyone to get a black belt is a tremendous effort and demonstrates a level of commitment and skill. This is particularly so of John who has shown unbelievable levels of determination and positive attitude over the years.”

Rainworth Judo Club, which is a part of the British Judo Council, was established in 1989 by Sensei Barker, who at that time was a 16-year-old first Dan who lived and breathed judo.

Now 22 years later, Karl (now a fourth Dan) still runs the club, teaching Judoka from five years of age and above in contest skills, self defence techniques, Kata and general body fitness.

Karl and all his coaching staff are CRB-registered, licensed coaches that are registered and approved by the British Judo Council.

Friday night is club night from 6-9pm, with different sessions depending on age and ability.

Primary (five-nine years) and junior (10-16 years) sessions normally start at 6pm to 7.30pm and these are followed by senior and advanced junior to 9pm.

For more information about Rainworth Judo Club, which is affiliated to the British Judo Council, call Karl on 07950 231487 or visit