For anyone who likes to keep fit, Draycott & Cresswell really do have an edge. Already with tennis, cricket, cycling, squash and dancing clubs active in our district, the latest addition is a Ju-Jitsu Fitness & Self-Defence Club.
Tara Burndred is the brains behind the new ‘dojo’ (a space for martial arts training), which you can find on the Blythe Business Park in Cresswell.
Tara is a third Dan black belt and World Council of Ju Jitsu Organisation champion, who has represented both Great Britain and England. In fact, she is the current world champion in her division.
In her own words, she has always wanted to run a dojo, and her ambition is “…not only to provide a space for adults who enjoy the pursuit, but to have the biggest jujitsu club for kids in North Staffordshire!”
Self defence too
The whole Cresswell project, titled ‘Tatsu Kai’ by Tara, was kick-started with grants from the Staffordshire County Police & Crime Commissioner’s Fund. Tara received more than £3000, which has helped her purchase equipment such as floor mats, punch bags and grappling dummies.
But why money from the ‘Crime Fund’? Tara explained: “I’ve been working for some years with neighbourhood groups, housing officers, local businesses and social workers, instructing them in self-defence. Sometimes such people can be very vulnerable when they go into unknown situations.
“So, I founded ‘Breathe UK’ which helps ordinary men and women learn ‘situational awareness’ and primary self-defence. The Staffordshire Police Commissioner, Matthew Ellis, was very impressed with the project – and that is what persuaded him to provide this grant.”
Though Tara and her family actually live nearly twenty miles away, she knew she wanted to set up her dojo on the business park as soon as she saw the space. In it, she says, she can easily combine self-defence techniques classes and fitness training sessions (in the ‘kairo kave’ style) with formal ju-jitsu courses.
“In fact,” says Tara, “it’s not a bad combination. Unlike fighting martial arts, or tae-kwando, the type of ju-jitsu that I teach is deliberately non-aggressive. I want to encourage lads and girls to stand up for themselves in a positive way, using techniques they can have confidence in.”
Working with Tara is Sharon Burnett-Mills, the only other qualifies Kairo instructor in north Staffordshire.
There are sessions right through the week, even on Sundays, and even children as young as five can join some classes.
And what of Tara’s own future in ju-jitsu? “After I had had a baby, even though I was forty years old, I thought I’d take up competition again last year – and I surprised myself by ending up as world champion!
“But, do I want to defend the title in 2015? I don’t know. I will keep competing this year; and see how it goes. This place keeps me busy!”
Tara’s fellow internationals in the England squad have been supportive; they even visited the dojo for a training session earlier this month.
Tara is on the look-out too for ideas for ways to utilise the space even more, so she welcomes suggestions for things like holiday sessions or classes for specific groups. There are even occasional first aid courses now at the centre.
To find out which sessions best suit your age and ability – or your children’s age and ability – just drop Tara an email or phone her on 07742 240973. You can also look at the Kairo Kave Facebook page.