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History Volume III - memorabilia

Chairman's report 1956

Budokwai 50th Anniversary

Chairman's report 1956



The past twelve months have witnessed the most important events in the history of the Budokwai. Our move from 15 Lower Grosvenor Place, where we had been since 1918 — a period of thirty-six years — was undoubtedly the turning point in the development of Judo in this country.

Unprecedented interest in Judo began at the end of World War II, and within a year or two, both dojos at Lower Grosvenor Place were filled to capacity. Something had to be done. The Committee was certainly not asleep. As Chairman since 1947, I can report that fully five years before our lease was due to end (it ended in 1954), our Committee spent considerable time and energy searching for suitable premises which, you will recall, were simply not available, or if they were, only at fabulous price or premium.

Early in 1954, we accepted an offer of £1,000 (less £355 redecoration costs) to vacate Lower Grosvenor Place by 25 March. Mr Koizumi performed a miracle in arranging temporary Headquarters at 115A Ebury Street. They were not all we could desire, but served adequately as an interim measure, affording dojo space so that training and practise would not be interrupted.

Then he performed a second miracle when he found a disused school building a little distance away in Kensington. This proposition involved the Committee in very many hours of consultation and far-reaching recommendations. Negotiations for these premises necessitated the formation of a Board of Trustees to hold the property on behalf of the Budokwai (which cannot itself hold property), and appropriate alterations to our Constitution were proposed and agreed by members at a Special General Meeting held at GK House on 13 September 1954. In this connection, we are indebted to Mr Francis D Offer (our solicitor) for his valuable help.

The acquisition of the lease at an annual rental of £750 and large-scale renovation and redecoration that the premises demanded, required considerable cash. This was provided by the scale of securities that had been invested profitably for us through the good advice of Mr R I Marx of Vickers da Costa & Company. The plans for the renovation and redecoration were drawn up and supervised by Mr Clifford Derwent, ARIBA, to whom we are extremely grateful, not only for the excellence of his work, but also for his welcome and generous contribution of £60 towards the Fund for the ultimate purchase of the premises.

We moved into GK House at No.4 Gilston Road, SW10, at the beginning of July, when the workmen were still very much in possession of the building. By mid-September, the work was completed, and at an impressive ceremony held in the dojo on Saturday afternoon, 19 September, His Excellency the Japanese Ambassador performed the official opening with a neat Hip Throw on Mr T Kawamura! Mr L Hicks came up from Bristol to unveil a portrait he had painted of Mr Koizumi, which he presented to the Budokwai. This very excellent portrait will remain one of our cherished possessions. Since then, our membership has steadily increased. Courses and special classes have proved a popular feature. Mr Kawamura's 'Brown and Black Belt instructional sessions' on Sunday afternoons, followed by an hour's hard training, has been attended by the leading Judokwai in the country, and its success is reflected in the markedly higher standard of attainment all round.

It can be noted with pride that the international team — five and two reserves — that represented Great Britain in the 1954 European Championships held in Brussels in December were all Budokwai members, save McDermott of Scotland who trained at the Budokwai! We are all indebted to Mr Kawamura and also to Mr T P Leggett for the time and hard work they contributed to the training of the international team that did so creditably.

It is perhaps a fitting moment to reflect upon the splendid work accomplished by Mr Kawamura during his short stay of two years, which regrettably ends in April.

As someone remarked, he has raised the standard of British Judo 'by several years'. He has travelled far and wide in the UK giving his services to clubs. He has commanded universal admiration not only by his superb Judo skill, but by his excellent method of teaching, and he has made a strong personal impression upon all with whom he has come into contact. In the Budokwai, he is more than a teacher to us. He is a friend, and it is as a close friend and as a great teacher that we shall miss him when he leaves. I have previously expressed on behalf of the Committee, and I do so again with pleasure, that it is our earnest wish, circumstances permitting, that he will be able to return to us for a longer time altogether.

Mr T P Leggett's services to Judo have been recognised and rewarded by the Kodokam, on whose behalf Mr Risei Kano, President, asked Mr Koizumi to confer the rank of 6th Dan upon him. Mr Koizumi carried out this happy mission at the Dojo on Sunday afternoon, 6 March 1955, in the presence of Mr Kawamura and some 20 Brown and Black Belts. I know all members of the Budokwai, and indeed of Judo everywhere, wish to join me in congratulating Mr Leggett and thank him for his special services during the past year. He is now the first and only non-Japanese to be awarded a 6th Day — a unique and splendid achievement.

Messrs Nakanishi and Ono need no introduction to Budokwai members. Mr C Nakanishi, 4th Dan, of Waseda University, Tokyo, is a Professor in London and a recently elected member of the National Grading Panel of the British Judo Association. Mr T Ono, 3rd Dan, is on the BBC staff in London. Both have assisted in general training, practising hard and regularly. We are glad to have them with us and are grateful for their excellent help.

We are soon to lose 3 of the leading members of our international team: Messrs Alf Grabher, George Whyman and Dennis Bloss, who have left for a year's special Judo training in Japan. We all wish them success and good luck,

Once again, we achieved success with our 37th Annual Display, which was held at the Royal Albert Hall on 12 June. A varied and sparkling programme particularly pleased those who had seen other displays. They saw something new and different. This is and must always be the aim of the organisers of Judo shows for the public. We were the pioneers in this field and, using imagination, we will continue to make a success of these full-scale displays that bring great credit both to Judo and to the Budokwai.

In September last year, GK left for a holiday in Japan — his first visit to his home in 50 years. He has returned looking as fit and young as ever! We all delight in having him back and look forward to hearing his interesting and inspiring experience. In the pride of our new home, in the prospect of a successful and prosperous future, we owe an inestimable debt of gratitude to GK. He founded our Club. He saw Judo through the lean and difficult years, and he brought it to the state of progress that we share and enjoy today. Much work has to be done, however, if we are to continue to carry successfully our greatly increased overheads and commitments, and if we are to accumulate a reserve Fund with which we can eventually purchase our own premises instead of paying away a heavy rental every year. This can be achieved. By keeping the standard of Judo high, by each one of us making a personal effort to bring in new members, and by contributing a measure of our time to the welfare and running of the Club, we shall assure the Budokwai a long and successful future.

In closing my report to you, I want to thank all members of the Committee for the exceptional amount of work successfully undertaken during the past twelve months. There are others outside the Committee who have also contributed magnificently to the furtherance of Judo and the betterment of the Budokwai. I feel confident that now firmly established in our new home, we shall grow from strength to strength and continue to maintain the highest standard of Judo in the country.


Budokwai 50th Anniversary 1968

Budokwai 50thprog.jpg (738077 bytes)                         poster bdk50th.jpg (76425 bytes)

Programme  and Poster for Anniversary Show

(Thanks to John Mewett)