British Judo history

Gunji Koizumi and Trevor Leggett, from the Facebook group “British Judo History”

A quick post this time! My regular readers will be aware that I started Judo in the mid ’90s and took a 21 year hiatus. The ’80s and ’90s in particular were an interesting time when some older Judo figures from Kano’s day were still about. I graded a couple of times at the London Judo Society (LJS) that was Syd Hoare‘s club. I even attended the Budokwai back then a couple of times.

When I came back into the sport decades later I discovered the LJS had closed down, Syd Hoare, Trevor Legget and many others had passed away, and life had moved on. Such is ofcourse the way of things. It’s this “cycle of life and death” which really got me reflecting on the eventual cycle in everything. We all harbour reflections of our own mortality occassionally but it’s very visceral when you experience it in other areas like combat sport.

I came across a book by Mark Law (The Pyjama Game ) at this time which was very timely. It’s a fantastic read if you haven’t come across it before and it goes into some detail around how Judo came to be. Of particular relevance it covers how British Judo began.

Further research uncovered a Facebook group dedicated to British Judo history. The group is fantastic for reading about the experiences of older Judoka that used to train and compete across the country (sometimes even the world).

I wondered about where the locations were of all the original dojos in Britain and found information was somewhat scant. I’ve started a Google Map which I’m gradually starting to populate here: 

If you have any information related to British Judo history or if you have any locations worth plotting on the afforementioned map please get in touch!

I would like to one day create a simple website with a story of British Judo, complete with pictures and timeline. Something that just remains up, for free, with perhaps a kofi link for anyone to donate to keep it running. Get in touch if you want to get involved!

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