Edition No. 36. Winter, 2003. Today is
 

The Budokwai, London

TWOJ editor Bob Willingham pays a visit
The Budokwai was the first Judo club in England and is the oldest Judo club in Europe. It opened it's doors for the first time on 26th January 1918 and last month it opened it's doors to me. I was invited to come along to the Budokwai to see how much it has been updated (yet without losing its traditional feel ) so I could look around and finish with a practice.



A normal day at the Budokwai starts in the late afternoon with a series of three junior classes. It's nice to hear that these classes are fully subscribed. On the day I visited, Eric Bonti was taking some private junior classes in the small dojo. Running through a range of techniques in standing and ground work he made the class a lot of fun for the children (who were of various abilities) and included games with a competitive element.

The senior practice, in the main dojo, upstairs (past the changing rooms & sauna, and the weights room) started with the beginner's class at 6.30 pm. I wonder how many clubs in the country can boast both an 8th Dan and a 6th Dan teaching (Sid Hoare and Peter Blewitt respectively). The session went well with the players having the advantage of a fully sprung floor underneath the two competition size mat areas. The dojo now even boasts airconditioning which must make the practices during the summer quite pleasant.

The main practice starts at 7:30pm with Ray Stevens, Olympic Silver medallist, taking the Thursday class and Peter Blewitt taking the Tuesday class. After the obligatory warm up and Uchi-komi the Randori started. Of course at this point I was still taking photographs much to the frustration of the gathered players, all waiting to have a pop at the magazine's editor. Eventually the time came to get changed and step onto the mat. What a great practice I had with a full range of ages, abilities and fitness levels. So it was possible to adjust my practice to suit my fluctuating stamina! With players on the mat that go from former European Champion Danny Kingston and World Masters heavyweight Silver medallist Danny Murphy through to a range of Kyu grades there is more than enough choice for any good club player.

On any given night there could be any number of past and present champions practicing.

My friend Alun (an orange belt) enjoyed the practice as much as I did, and he stayed on for both senior sessions. There was a great sense of camaraderie yet desire to work hard during the practice and I would recommend anybody seeking a good senior practice to visit the Budokwai. The club has a vast range of experience and knowledge on hand, with people like Tony Sweeney 8th Dan attending most evenings.

Club visits can be arranged by phoning Ray Stevens on 02073701000 to discuss.

Monday 8:00 to 9:00pm Roy Inman technique
Tuesday 7:30 to 9:00pm senior session
Thursday 7:30 to 9:00pm senior session
Friday Danny Kingston 7:00-8:30pm technique training (small dojo )
Saturday Ray Stevens 4:00-6:00pm general randori

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