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History (written pre merger with BJA)

I first took an active interest in the "Mystical Japanese Art" of Judo in the 1950s, when I was living in Leicestershire. It wasn't long before I realised that this "Art Form" was, in fact, a sport that could be enjoyed all the year round.

I discovered that it could be both a team sport as well as a sport for the individual who could progress at his/her own rate in order to achieve his (or her) own personal maximum capability. I learned, also, that this activity was an excellent means of instilling into participant's self discipline, self-control and a healthy respect for one's opponent and fellow Judoka.

It was a means of subjugating the over-confident yet, at the same time, it could breed a healthy measure of self-confidence in the timid and those who had little faith in themselves. It soon became apparent to me that these characteristics could play a very valuable part in developing important aspects in the education and development of young people.

Another added advantage was that this sport could be continued when the individual left his/her current establishment of full-time education because Judo clubs throughout the country would welcome new members who would be made to feel "at home" immediately.

This was very useful to know particularly when a young person left home to attend College/University or take up employment away from home. Being aware of my feelings with regard to the contribution that an interest in Judo could play in a young person's education.

One can imagine my delight when, in the early 60's, I was asked by one of the major National Judo Associations in this country to form a special section for schools within that Association. Filled with enthusiasm, I wrote to all the major national education bodies to which this idea might be of even the remotest interest and arranged a meeting with their representatives. The outcome of this was that although the idea of a Schools' Judo Organisation was warmly applauded it was concluded, justifiably, that such a Schools' Association could not have their backing unless all the major British judo organisations were invited to support it.

The result was that I called a further meeting and this time the three main National Judo Organisations were invited to attend and add their combined support. This occasion proved successful! The Amateur Judo Association of Great Britain, The British Judo Association and The British Judo Council all had equal representation by qualified schoolteachers on the newly formed NEC of BSJA.  The date was April 1963.

In addition to the Judo Organisations, the Central Council of Physical Education, the Ministry of Education and the British Association of Organisers and Lecturers in P.E. also had representation on the NEC. It was stressed that the BSJA should be absolutely "Non Political" and would remain an autonomous body run by an elected National Committee of practising, qualified schoolteachers, as it still is to this day!

Our first survey carried out in order to ascertain the number of young members in the Association in 1963 revealed that there was a total of two hundred and fifty boys representing schools in London, Devon, Somerset, Kent, and North Yorkshire. Yes...all boys! (At this time girls' Judo was "frowned upon" in certain quarters because it was felt very strongly that this was not a sport in which girls should partake!). It was not long, however, before the BSJA was "infiltrated" and such was the demand that in 1966 a special "Girls' Section" was formed within the BSJA.

This section was governed by a special committee of ladies and in addition to these teachers, as well as representatives from the BAALPE (British Association of Advisers & Lecturers in Physical Education), the CCPR (Central Council for Physical Recreation) and the Ministry of Education, the P.E. Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was also represented. After the success of the special courses, which were run in order to encourage teachers and schools to take an active interest in the sport, and, after the tremendous success of the BSJA National Championships, membership snowballed, particularly as education authorities became aware of the numerous benefits, which the sport could offer.

In May 1975 the BSJA was invited to affiliate to The British Judo Association. This had the encouragement of the Sports Council. Meetings were held between Officials of both Associations to arrange conditions of affiliation, which would be acceptable to both parties. After many such meetings, held in order to iron out the necessary constitutional adjustments, an agreement was reached whereby the BSJA would retain its autonomy and yet enjoy the benefit of being an affiliated member of the BJA. In 1977 the BSJA was affiliated to the British Judo Association.

Although the BSJA still retains its autonomy it should be noted that when our young members reach the age of International Competition it is necessary for all those who are chosen to represent the BSJA in International events to obtain a BJA licence. This is the ruling of The International Judo Federation and The European Judo Union, by whom the BSJA is recognised, through the BJA, and under whose auspices these events are held. Each year the BSJA conducts its own National Trials to select the Teams to represent the Association in International Competitions, both abroad and at home. It is very pleasing to note that some of our young International competitors of previous years have moved on into senior status to become members of the BJA's National Team representing Great Britain in top level events including the Olympic Games at which they have won medals.

By the early 80's the BSJA had an active membership in the region of one hundred thousand young people... approximately one third of these were girls. To date we have a current membership covering one thousand three hundred and eighty Establishments of Education in areas throughout Great Britain. The enquiries for information and requests for applications for membership continue to flow in to our enthusiastic and dedicated Membership Secretary.

This is indeed an encouragement, which proves that the BSJA continues to progress. Due to the support, enthusiasm and dedication of its members, helpers and officers, both past and present, the BSJA is recognised Nationally and Internationally as a first rate Schools' Judo Organisation and, to date, it is the largest of its kind in the world.

The very essence of the sport seems to forge a bond of mutual respect between the participants, not just nationally but worldwide. I certainly owe a great deal to Judo not only because of the enjoyment and satisfaction it has given me but also because of the splendid people with whom it has brought me into contact and the many valued friendships, which it has been my privilege to enjoy.

THE FOUNDER BRIAN G.W. SAUNDERS, MBE.


 
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