Martial arts club grapple with success

MBTC-07-04-12- Bedford Grappling Academy-. Scott ,Barford Ave, Bedford.''Wk 15
MBTC-07-04-12- Bedford Grappling Academy-. Scott ,Barford Ave, Bedford.''Wk 15

A SELF-DEFENCE club is celebrating its first anniversary after a successful year teaching adults and children how to build confidence .

Russell Dodds, 46, who has competed in three World Sombo Championships, originally set up Bedford Grappling Academy to encourage children to get involved in sport.

But since then the club has gone from strength to strength and it now offers training in different styles of martial arts to people of all ages.

Russell, who runs classes in Barford Avenue, Bedford, said: “It started as a kids class but then their parents wanted to come along. I have kept it family orientated and it has evolved into something for everyone.

“In my classes there is no striking and no kicking and that is why the kids like it because you can defend yourself by throwing your opponent. This means one of our pupils who is four years old will be able to go in for a throw against one of the instructors.

“I teach members if they get attacked to turn their backs and walk away, but they do have the ability to defend themselves if they need to.”

Each week the sessions focus on technique training in Judo, Sombo, or Combat Sombo. These contact sports involve a number of throws, takedowns, and grappling manoeuvres to immobilise an opponent.

During the class members will also take part in fitness building activities, and spend half an hour fighting on the ground or standing up.

The club currently has more than 20 mixed ability members aged between four and 63 years old.

Nine-year-old Ryan Harper, who joined Bedford Grappling Academy a year ago, said: “I like the classes because it is a great way to meet new friends and Russell is always getting different coaches in, which makes the lessons fun. It has improved my confidence quite a bit and it teaches you respect and discipline.

“I would like to compete in the European Championships and maybe even the Olympics one day.”

Classes are held on Saturday between 10-11.30am at Scott Hall Community Centre in Barford Avenue. For more information contact Russell Dodds on 07889146662 or visit