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Archives will cover information about old members, early Judo and historical items.  It is important to remember that Judo is a 'live' sport and that new members and up and coming players are just as important (if not more so) than past 'heroes'. However for the sake of completeness and posterity - it is important to archive as much information as possible for reference purposes.

Please note that some of the source material is very old, pictures are faded or indistinct. While every effort has been made to improve the quality of the material - there is bound to be some loss of definition in old portraits.

Judo Personalities -  - Past personalities

Taken from 'Judo' Magazine  - first published by 'Judo Limited' of Croydon. the last editor Alan Menzies has given permission to use this material.

A-D     E-K     L-R     S-Z

Japanese new Year

The Judo Man’s Great Escape!

Japanese new Year (and other meals!)

An article by Dickie Bowen - circa early fifties?

All who had the good fortune to meet Mr. Teiza Kawamura during his stay in Britain will, I am sure, join the “exiles” in offering our sincere congratulations to him on his recent promotion to the grade of 7th Dan.    Kawamura Sensei, apart from teaching most days at his University, is a permanent teacher of the Kodokan Kenshusei. He still retains keen memories of Britain, and is apt to become nostalgic at times—particularly on foggy days! With his great knowledge of British dialects he has much fun at odd moments by suddenly bringing some obscure gem of cockney wit into the conversation. Mr. Kawamura, apart from being a top-grade Judoka, is also an expert skier, swimmer (15 miles), skater and physical training instructor; not forgetting, of course, that he is above average in football, baseball, table tennis, basket ball, hockey and several other sports.

One of the highlights of the month for three of us, George Whyman, “Pepper” Stepto and myself, was a visit to Mr. Kawamura’s home at Kichijoji, on the outskirts of Tokyo. His wife, an excellent hostess and cook, produced a beautiful meal—capped by a pot of tea, an English habit Mr. Kawamura has adopted. Later, we sat round talking over old times and looking through the Sensei’s vast collection of photographs making ourselves thoroughly homesick. A very enjoyable afternoon.    Near the end of December, Mr. R. Kano held the Kenshusei’s Annual Dinner. This took place in a typical Japanese restaurant; low tables, tatami covered floors, kimono-clad waitresses and no chairs. The dinner was Tempura—various types of fish (deep fried in batter) and rice, followed by a sweet, fruit and green tea. Adhering to Japanese etiquette, all speeches were made before the meal—three languages were used, Japanese, English and French, and all present had to say something.

After the meal, again in accordance with Japanese custom, we had to provide our own entertainment; each person in turn had to do some­thing, tell a joke, dance, mime or sing. Mr. Daigo nominated one unfortunate wretch, and the fun began. All of us went through several emotional phases; first the horrible hollow feeling when one realizes what is going to happen; the panic period when the memory is probed for the words of a song; and then when your name is called, a sense of utter doom. Embarrassment is next as one stands up and opens one’s mouth to struggle through some quite inadequate, half-remembered school song, but when it is finished and you are sitting down, how relaxed one feels, listening to the applause, thinking—” Well, after all, I do have a pretty good voice, and really it is most unfortunate that I am too modest to sing more often.” At this point one has the privilege to name the next victim—who is invariably engaged in a serious conver­sation with his neighbour (perhaps a frenzied conversation would be more descriptive). Yes, great fun.

 New Year’s Day is a great occasion in Japan. All bills and other debts are paid—well at least the really outstanding ones. Every house is cleaned from top to bottom a day or two beforehand: various decora­tions are placed round the home, particularly at the gateway and over the main door, and many women are seen wearing the traditional hair­style. No work is the rule apart from a few shops. People rise early, and many go to one of the big Tokyo shrines to pay their respects, later returning home to eat various traditional New Year dishes—bean soup, toasted rice cake wrapped in seaweed, black beans and many other types of foodstuffs. During the day friends may pay a visit, badminton is played, and also a card game involving poetry. Many women wear kimono—usually their best one, which is sometimes very beautiful. Really it is a day for quiet celebration with the family or friends.

I spent my New Year’s Day with two good friends—Dr. Fujita and Mr. Hurahashi. Mr. Hurahashi’s mother performed the Tea Ceremony, at least an abbreviated one, for my benefit. This ceremony, once per­formed in China, but now confined to Japan. is a very intricate ritual, which has deeply influenced many aspects of Japanese culture. After this fascinating demonstration we were served some of the traditional foods—raw octopus, various types of raw fish, dried cuttlefish, prawns,  

 

The Judo Man’s Great Escape!

Webmaster’s note - This cutting entitled ‘End of an Era’ was found recently. Not sure of the source. Although describing the LJS it has some interesting insights into the early Judo lives of some of the Budokwai personalities mentioned in archives – Percy Sekine, George Chew, Eric Dominy.

It all seems long ago. Perhaps because it was a long time ago. The war was in its final year and one of them was a RAF parachute instructor in India, the other busy in a prison camp in Germany digging the tunnel by means of which he finally escaped and reached home. The former was one of those very rare beings, a pre-war Budokwai member who is still active. The latter is also fairly unusual nowadays, a still active wartime member of the Budokwai. A third person comes into this story. He is also a still active pre-war member of the Budokwai. At the time of which I am writing he was in a German prison camp for shot down RAF flyers. Although he vanishes from the story quite early he was the catalyst which made it all possible.

Let me introduce the characters in my story. George Chew was the parachute instructor in India. Eric Dominy and Percy Sekine were in the prison camps in Germany. In 1943 Eric and Percy were in Stalag 383. As the result of an earlier escape they found themselves in adjoining cells working out how and why they had been recaptured and how to do better next time. There was a hole in the dividing wall between the cells through which it was possible to talk, and talk they did. The subjects ranged widely and naturally got on to sport. What did you play? Eric ran successfully for a famous club. Percy’s sport was Judo. Never heard of it! Explanation, Percy was going to start a class in the camp gym. Would Eric join it? Yes he would.

Naturally he did not do so, it was easy to say ‘Yes’, but fate stepped in. The Germans were fed up with escapes and had an idea. Why not bring all those with ‘bad’ escape records into one hut in the middle of the camp? Too far for a tunnel and easy to keep an eye, or many eyes, on them. The result of this security move was a mass escape of the occupiers of the ‘security’ hut and a delay in the start of the Judo class. In due course the escapers were recaptured, sentences served and the hut reoccupied. Now the Judo class could and did commence.

The theatre workshop made a few Judo jackets out of mail bags which Eric spent hours repairing. The class averaged 6 or 8 and ran successfully for about a year when Percy, who was an airman in an army camp, was moved. Only Eric and two others continued training, without an instructor, until shortage of food forced the medical officers to ban all sport. This was followed, shortly afterwards by Eric’s escape.   

­Home, Eric joined the Budokwai and visiting Percy’s parents, first heard of his great friend, George Chew. Finally Percy came home from his camp which had been overrun by the Russians who did not appear to be in a hurry to free them. Last, George returned from India. In the latter part of 1945 the Budokwai bulged at the seams. Old members returned from the forces and it appeared that every soldier, sailor and airman who had been taught self-defence or unarmed combat wished to learn Judo. Percy taught the beginner’s classes at the Budokwai and Gunji Koizumi suggested that George and Eric form an overflow club. They did and this is how London Judo Society was formed. ‘G. K.’ became the first President.

The selection of a name caused considerable problems. Their President suggested local names such as Vauxhall Judo Club but Eric thought that would be limiting as the club expanded. Finally he suggested South London Judo Society (SLJS as it became known), suitably local with the hope that the club would become large enough to justify the dropping of the word South in due course. This is what was done some years later.

The club was founded in 1946 in the gym of the police section house at Gilmour House. Strictly it was a police club but visitors were allowed and paid six pence* (old pence) a session dojo fee. There were no annual subscriptions. Judo outfits were always a problem. In these early days none were available from Japan and Eric spent days visiting forces surplus sales and shops buying up ex.-naval hammocks which an old lady stitched and cut into jackets. Soon after Eric, on a teaching visit to Leeds University, found a shop in a side street which sold miners pit pants. SLJS bought huge quantities of these because they converted easily into judo trousers. An M.P. asked in Parliament why there was a national shortage of pit pants. The answer, although he did not know it, was that they were being used for Judo. At the time that SLJS was founded, however, judo suits were very hard to obtain. With G. K. ‘s permission Eric and George collected a dozen judo jackets and belts from the racks at the Budokwai after training every Monday evening and returned them before practice on Wednesdays. Does any old Budokwai member remember wondering why his kit was sweaty, dirty or in the wrong place when he looked for it on a Wednesday evening?

After about a year premises were found at St. Oswald’s Place where the club finally occupied three floors, each of which contained a dojo. The first Dan grade was Bob Scala closely followed by John Chaplin. John was also their first home grown international. In this early period a team was produced which won the national inter-club tournament organised by the Budokwai. The final was at the Royal Albert Hall. was while we were at St. Oswald’s Place that we dropped the word south from our name and became the now familiar LJS.

Quite soon the club started to hold its annual display at the Royal Albert Hall. At one early display the ‘House Full’ boards went up outside the Hall and Eric had to give up his official chair for a spectator with a ticket for whom no seat could be found. All went well at the Royal Albert Hall until the management decided that the club could not come into the hall until 3 pm for an evening event. This did not provide time to lay the mats a frame and a canvas was required in those days, so an alternative venue was required. There followed two rather disappointing years at the Grenada Theatre, Kennington, but then Crystal Palace was built George and Eric visited the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre and met the manager, Emlyn Jones. We accepted his offer to show us round and were amazed when he produced gum boots. These were necessary’ We ploughed through mud and water and toured the incomplete building Emlyn chose a date some months after the hail should be completed which was agreed. he knew his workmen, they just made his date which was about six months after the scheduled completion date and even then the Festival took place in an incomplete building. He asked how much w thought we should pay. Eric suggested £50 and 10% off the tickets sold by the box office. This was agreed and remained the fee paid by U for many years. Finally our Festival of Judo took place a week before the Hall was officially opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. A full house saw a great show which was televised. The programme include the then famous National Judo Tournaments for Dan grades and for 1st and 2nd Kyus and for junior club teams. This annual Festival, twice televised, continued for several years, the later events including Karate, Kendo and Aikido. They ceased when the management demanded that our date should be surrendered for an Olympic practice. We reluctantly agreed. However, those concerned will never forget that first event at Crystal Palace. The ground was soaked and cars had to be towed out of the mud in the car park with tractors. Should any reader hold National Judo Tournament medal won that first year, treasure it. The really were made of gold and silver. Those Tournaments were the first competitions which could be called a national championship and so they remained for several years until the BJA organised an official championship.

In recent years George and Eric became disgusted with the exploitation of children by Areas, clubs and parents who all put the winning of medals far before the welfare of the children. LJS ceased to organise competitions and very few members took part in competitions held elsewhere. It was often said disparagingly, that LJS was a social club. The founders were proud of that title, saying that they hoped their members, particularly junior members, would continue to train because they enjoyed Judo. Not because they wished to add to their medal collection. This has not always been the case. One year a Southern Area team, consisting solely of LJS members, won the Inter Area Team Championship and, on another occasion, a Southern Area team with eight LJS members out of ten won the Inter Area Junior Championship.

George Chew and Eric Dominy ran London Judo Society together for 40 years. They brought Kenshiro Abe and later Senta Yamada from Japan to teach at the club. The managers of both the Royal Albert Hall and Crystal Palace National Sports Centre said that the Festivals of Judo were the best organised events to take place at their halls. In later years the founders were happy to run the LJS quietly except for the national gradings which have been so successful for many years. When George emigrated to Australia in December 1985 and Eric retired they left a successful judo club with a very large junior section and flourishing Tae Kwon-do, Shorinji Kempo and Aikido clubs associated with them.

How did they manage to work together for so long? Easy. They always supported each other in public even if, privately, they did not agree. Whenever one of them suggested a policy or change in policy the other put up every argument he could think of against it. In this way every aspect was usually considered. It worked, it worked for 40 years.

They were both delighted recently that Sydney Hoare was prepared to carry on the club they had spent so much of their lives building up and they retired happy in the thought that LJS would live to see another 40 years.

*Half a shilling, an apprentices weekly wage then was nineteen shillings.

By Eric Dominy