A JUDO club laid on a 90th birthday party – for their tutor.

Keighley man Bill Root can still throw people to the mat despite being several decades older than most of them.

He has been teaching the martial art for 59 years and is currently passing on his skills to 20 students every week.

He shows his class of ‘young ‘uns’ – who are mostly in their 50s – how to stay fighting fit in his role as senior instructor at the Ichiban Martial Arts Centre in Leeds.

Bill, who lives in the Fell Lane area, has no intention of stopping after a lifetime spent being active and rising to the top ranks of judo masters. He celebrated his 80th birthday by skydiving.

Bill, who was a keen boxer in the army, took up judo in 1958 at the age of 29 after a friend started classes in Bradford.

Bill immediately took to the sport due to its reliance on technique, and over the years rose to the rank of 6th Dan judoka - an instructor who is six degrees above a standard black belt.

Peter Black, who founded the Keighley footwear company named after him, invited Bill to teach judo to youngsters at the Central Youth Club – now Central Hall – in Alice Street, Keighley.

Bill went on to form Keighley Central Judo Club at the same venue, which he ran for more than 47 years, and he also taught judo at Malsis School in Glusburn and youth clubs across the district.

Bill said: “I had to go around youth clubs teaching judo on Bradford estates like Woodside, and at Burley in Wharfedale.

“I was out three nights a week teaching judo. The Keighley club was mainly to get youngsters off the street but we had all ages. Judo teaches discipline and having respect.”

The Keighley judo club folded a few years ago due to dwindling membership, but three years ago one of his pupils set up the Ichiban Martial Arts Centre and invited Bill to teach.

Bill is often asked how he stayed so fit and healthy at his age, and simply answers that it is a combination of eating the right foods, exercising regularly and keeping his mind active.

His wife Betty, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, died seven years ago, and Bill still lives in the house he bought when it was built in 1954.

The retired textile worker has two children, and a three-year-old grandchild Chloe who he looks after.

Bill took up boxing in his mid-teens, competing in local galas and then in the army. He has also been involved in other sports.

As a well-known figure in West Yorkshire judo circles, Bill referees and present medals at tournaments.