Leeds Sports Awards honour judo instructor still teaching at the age of 93

Among the gong recipients at the Leeds Sports Awards 2022 was Bill Root, who still teaches judo at the age of 93.

By Tom Coates
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 4:45 am

The martial arts veteran was one of three to receive an Outstanding Service to Sport award having dedicated over 60 years of his life to a sport he has an unwavering commitment to.

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His sessions are held on a weekly basis at Ichiban Dojo, which also had a victory to celebrate after coming out on top in the 'Club/Team: Participation 18+' category.

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Bill Root is still teaching judo at the age of 93. Credit: Alex Cousins / SWNS

When someone sustains their sporting lifestyle for such a lengthy period, it is only natural to be inquisitive regarding the longevity and to seek out their secret.

Bill's fitness formula is a simple yet effective one.

When asked what his secret was, he responded: "Everybody asks that! Moderation in all things is the main thing - keeping yourself fit and eating proper food."

A former boxer, he took up judo at the age of 29 and his passion grew at such a speed that he had opened Keighley Central Judo Club at 31.

He thought the closure of the club would spell the end of his judo days but a move to the Ichiban Dojo, ran by a former student, ensured he remained in the sport.

When asked whether his passion for judo was still strong, he defiantly said: "Oh yes! I thought I'd retire when I ran my club and I had to close it.

"One of my pupils at that time was Bob Jones, Bob was a pupil of mine 20 years ago.

"I got him up to his second Dan and he has the Ichiban martial arts centre in Leeds. When my club closed, Bob invited me down to coach at his club in Leeds. I've been there since it opened four or five years ago now."

Bill is a widower and a father-of-two and hails from London, although moved to the north after the London Blitz in 1941.

Judo is an unarmed sport derived from ju-jitsu and was the first Japanese martial art to be recognised as an official Olympic sport.

Although optimistic about the future of judo in the United Kingdom, Bill hopes it remains true to foundations laid by its founder Kano Jigoro.

Bill explained: "I think It's getting more westernised now instead of the original Japanese. I'm a strong believer of the Japanese judo, from the very beginning, from Professor Kano's judo.

"A lot of it now is not technique, it's strength more than technique."

He is also regional director of the British Judo Council and his seventh Dan grade puts him seven degrees above the standard black belt.

Ichiban Dojo is the current home of Bill's expertise and it landed an award of its own at the award ceremony due to its status as one of the fastest growing and most inclusive karate clubs in Leeds.

It can be found in Meanwood and offers training in various forms of martial arts, such as aikido, jiu jitsu and karate. In fact, they are ranked among the top 10 karate clubs in the country and at competitive level, they are targeting a trip to the WUKF World Championships in Florida.

More information on Ichiban Dojo can be accessed on their official website and if it is judo training being sought, Bill may be the one to aid the transition from rookie to master.