Behind The Scenes at British Judo Throughout Covid-19

It has been a long seven months for the sport of judo. Since the coronavirus pandemic caused widescale lockdown back in March, we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep our sport together.

It goes without saying that we are dealing in unprecedented times and we can only thank our members for their amazing support throughout this year. Our members health is, and always will be, our number one priority.

We are trying to support our members in the best way that we can during these times. With our current renewal rate of 10% across the past six months, there have been a lot of changes that we have had to contend with during this difficult time, but here is a summary of the initiatives that we have introduced to help keep our members engaged:

  • Free Grading: We offered all members the opportunity to grade at home or in their clubs free of charge so that their progression within the sport is not halted. We saw some great examples of clubs utilising this opportunity to great effect with their club members.
  • Membership Extension: All members and clubs who kept their membership in-date throughout the lockdown period have received an extension of between 1-4 months. All members that received an extension to their membership will be able to log into their Dojo profile to see their new expiry date. You will not receive a new membership card to reflect this change in date.

  • Covid-19 Information Hub: Our Marketing and Communications team created a Covid-19 Information Hub which has seen plaudits from the likes of Sport England and Sport & Recreation Alliance as a great example of having a centralised location for all Covid-related communications and advice.
  • Closure of Destination@BritishJudo Programme: The Destination@BritishJudo programme was unfortunately closed in September due to Covid-related effects. Financially the programme didn’t prove viable enough to continue and we made the tough decision to close the initiative and signpost all students to their local judo clubs.
  • Athlete Masterclass Competitions – We have run several athlete masterclass competitions which have seen over 600 entries across the four masterclasses which is fantastic! Special thanks go out to the likes of Stewart McWatt, Eric Ham and Wayne Lakin for hosting the classes.
  • Diversity Group Launch – We have recently recruited a number of members to form our very first Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group. Led by Board Member Claire Lish, the group will seek to further develop strategy on equality, diversity and inclusion, focusing on gender, ethnicity, economic background, disability and sexuality, and aims to engage with members, athletes, clubs and areas. We thank all of the members who took the time to apply.
  • Club Engagement – Since the start of the lockdown period, our Development Officers have made over 800 phone calls to British Judo clubs to provide support and guidance throughout the past six months.

  • Online webinars – We have tried to converse with as many different stakeholder groups as possible through our online webinars. Over 600 members accessed our online sessions live with members unable to attend being able to access the recordings on our “Covid-19 Information Hub”.

  • Club Grant Scheme – We recently launched our Club Grant Scheme, supported by Sport England, designed for all registered clubs within the BJA’s English Areas. Each club can apply for a one-off grant award of up to £500.00. The grant will be available to support revenue funded activities such as coaching and member costs, also running costs.
  • Membership Pack – We have revamped our membership offer to include a free British Judo drawstring bag for both new and renewing members along with an informative booklet detailing how to get the best value from your membership as well as your standard British Judo membership card. Record books will also be included for new members.

  • The Final Block Podcast” – We launched British Judo’s first official podcast series of six episodes, each covering a different judo subject each week. The podcast recently received it’s 500th listener so we thank all of the members who have taken the time to listen to series one, with a number of exciting episodes planned for the follow up series.
  • Matside Magazine – We have released the entire back catalogue of Matside magazines available to download by members, regardless of when you joined the Association as a member.

  • “Judo Heroes” campaign – We ran a successful campaign celebrating the incredible work of our members throughout the Covid-19 crisis. A total of 16 Heroes were named by the British Judo community throughout the four-week campaign.
  • Member Mental Health & Wellbeing – Following a number of sad losses to the British Judo community, we have worked to put together a Mental Health & Wellbeing section on our website for anyone struggling during the pandemic. It is a working page that will be updated frequently with new resources and materials.
  • Safeguarding – We have revamped the Safeguarding section on our website with a cleaner, fresher look with resources easier to find along with an updated version of SafeLandings, British Judo’s document that outlines child protection policies and procedures for the Association and all of it’s home nations: JudoScotland, Northern Ireland Judo Federation and Welsh Judo.

A lot of countries are experiencing the pandemic at different paces and as such, you will have seen some European countries returning to contact and competition judo. The virus is once again on the rise in this country so the Government are currently holding firm on their stance regarding the return of combat sports. Please be patient with us on this matter. We are in weekly communication with both the DCMS and the Government Offices as we try to relax some of the restrictions that we currently find ourselves with. We are hoping that at some point we can receive a thumbs up for Under 12s (similar to Scotland) to return to full judo which will go some way to helping us kick start the sport once again.

In the meantime, please keep adhering to Government advice regarding social distancing and as soon as we receive further guidance from the DCMS, we will ensure that our members will be the first to find out! As always, we are here to help so should you have any concerns at any point, we are only at the end of a phone call or email! Stay strong!