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
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.