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Craig Arundel: the Voice of EdinburghJudo

If there are two things Craig Arundel loves, it’s judo and a live band playing country classics.

You will find Craig coaching at the club and within our partnership schools, running some of our kids' camps and supporting our players at competitions. If you haven’t seen him though, you’ve certainly heard him! If Neil Adams is “the voice of judo”, Craig is definitely “the voice of EdinburghJudo” with his ability to be heard loud and clear from the other side of a packed sports hall on a competition day!

Andrea caught up with Craig to find out a little bit more about him and his judo journey, from his very first session to becoming a qualified coach and sports massage therapist.

First up, when and why did you start judo?

I started judo when I was five years old and back when the club was based at Lorne Street. I went along one day with a friend from school and haven't left since. I don't remember much from Lorne Street apart from how cold it was, no matter the weather outside!

How has judo shaped you into who you are today from that first class at Lorne Street?

I've always had judo in my life, it's always been there. From turning up once a week to training every day, it’s a pillar that has given structure to my week. I quite like having a routine of knowing where I need to be and when I need to be there, and that’s why I will very rarely miss a session at the club that I can attend. 

It has also surrounded me with people who want to make everyone around them better. We are constantly pushing each other, whether it be in the gym to get that one extra rep, to pull the rower just a little bit harder or to finish a pint a little bit faster.

When did judo turn from your hobby to a very prominent part of your life?

I think I still treat it as a hobby. I know it's not, because it's now my job and it's a big part of my social life, but I've had jobs in the past that I had to drag myself out of bed for 5 days a week to go and do that 10-hour shift. I do take training very seriously but I also still like having fun with a games day or a bit of football at the club too.

Did you always want to become a judo coach?

I remember when I got my first job, in the very first interview one of the questions I was asked was, "What do you want to be doing? What's your dream job?". With a slight hesitation, I said "I want to be a judo coach".

The hesitation wasn't because I didn't want to be a judo coach, or had any doubts, it was because I really wanted to land that job first so I could leave school. I hated school, I just wanted to get away from it as soon as possible so I could then work to get to where I am today.

What was it like finally starting your coaching journey?

When the opportunity arose to work as a coach full time I jumped at it. I started coaching when I was 15 or maybe 16, on a Saturday morning with Karen. I think I needed to volunteer for my Duke of Edinburgh award at the time and I could use judo towards my volunteering hours, so it seemed like the smart choice.

What’s the best thing about coaching?

Watching everyone that you coach develop. I don't have the greatest of memories but there is a good amount of people that I have coached, and continue to coach, that had never done judo before. So watching the progress that they make by turning up day after day, week after week and even coming back from injuries is probably the best part of the job.

Is there anyone who has influenced you throughout your journey, who and how so?

I've probably been influenced the most by the people who bash me on the mat every day. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't still be turning up to this day.

I'm in a great position where I get to train with some of the best athletes in the country under the best coaches in the country and I've been coached by them since the first time I stepped on the mat. Since then, all everyone has wanted at EdinburghJudo is to make people better, both at judo and in life.

What is your favourite judo memory over the years and why?

Getting my black belt will probably be my favourite judo moment ever. It's something that every judoka works towards from the first time they step on a judo mat.

Also, the day that Big Sarah won her second Commonwealth Games gold medal. Everything about that day was mental, it was almost like being at Alton Towers with the emotional roller coaster of the day. From the elation of Sarah making it to the final, to the nerves as she went down a wazari and then back to the highest of highs when she threw her opponent for ippon.

You also have a sports massage business with your brother, how did that come about?

I've always wanted to have a couple of things working at the same time, but things that work together and allow me to be flexible within my days and weeks. With coaching, I mainly work in the afternoons so my mornings were free. I was speaking to my brother one day and we had the idea to start a business, so I got my qualification and we started CA Sports Massage together.

What’s on the cards next? Do you have any plans for the future?

Plans for the future, this is going to be hard… I don't even know if I'm making it to the gym tomorrow never mind past that! I still see myself coaching for a long time with sports massage alongside it. I think within the next year or two I'll be looking into becoming a qualified PT and working with the club to hopefully reach a wider audience of people to help them to become better versions of themselves through fitness, not just judo.

If you're interested in receiving sports massage treatment, check out CA Sports Massage here or speak to Craig at the club for more information!


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