Jack's still practising Judo at 90

For judo master Jack Hearn, turning 90 is not going to stop him pursuing his passion

Jack Hearn is an 90 year old Judo enthusiast.
Jack Hearn is an 90 year old Judo enthusiast.

Today the great-grandfather celebrates his 90th birthday and although he is retiring from his weekly judo classes, Jack has no plans to pack in his love for the martial art.

“What I am doing, I am going to retire from my weekly judo but I will still be doing weekend courses or lectures,” said Jack, of Cramlington in Northumberland.

“I am still going to practice judo,” he added.

The father-of-five has been practising judo for 62 years and credits the sport with keeping him young at heart.

“You cannot give up after 62 years, I love it too much,” said Jack, who worked on the docks in North Shields.

Jack was originally a racing cyclist until a doctor told him he had to give up after he had his appendix removed.

“In 1947 I had my appendix removed and the doctor said no more cycling, so I looked around and found judo and started that in 1951 and that was it, just a little club in North Shields but I took to it like a duck to water,” he said.

“I find it takes the stress out of life and keeps your mind active through the discipline of judo.

“It’s not all fighting and taking each other out, it teaches you respect and enjoyment in life.

“It is my passion I really enjoy it,” he said.

Jack is now regarded as the oldest active judo master in the whole of Britain at the highest grade, the ninth Dan black belt.

But he will not be able to attempt his 10th Dan black belt until he reaches his 100th birthday.

“I have to wait another 10 years before I can present myself for the next grade which is the final one, the 10th Dan,” said Jack.

“You must wait between each Dan, so I waited from my eighth to my nineth, it should have been nine years but I waited ten years.

“It takes another 10 years before you can do the next one,” he said.

Jack is also a much-loved judo teacher in the region and has travelled the world giving lesson in his beloved martial art.

“I have been all over Europe and I am going to Tenerife in December for five weeks and I will be teaching over there,” he said.

“When you have been at a thing for 62 years it is a lifestyle, it is not a sport any more.

“I have had a very good life, in particular around judo,” said Jack, who was a sergeant in the Northumberland Fusiliers, serving in Africa, Italy and Germany during the Second World War.

Today, to mark his 90th birthday, Jack’s family are throwing him a surprise party at Cramlington’s Concordia.

Daughter Carolyn Richfield said: “I think judo is something that has kept him going all these years.

“He always said he would not give it up.

“He just has such a great sense of humour and him and his partner Babs who is 93 still go on holidays abroad and dancing and they visit places they were during the war.

“I think he is fantastic.”

She added: “He’s done so much and he still does a lot.”

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