Budokwai Judo Club celebrate the planting of a new tree commemorating Gunji Koizumi

Senior members of The Budokwai celebrated the planting of a new tree commemorating Gunji Koizumi, ‘The Father of British Judo’, with a ceremony in Roper’s Garden on the banks of the Thames on Sunday, June 12.

The original tree died during the lockdowns and British Judo and The Budokwai should be grateful that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, prompted by club chairman Peter Blewett and veteran member Ian Miller, for acting so swiftly to replace it. The site of the tree, in a pleasant sunken garden, barely a mile from the club, has a plaque commemorating Koizumi, who was the leading figure in establishing The British Judo Association in 1948.

At the ceremony, Tony Sweeney, the Club President and Olympian, read out some of the final words Koizumi had written before his death in 1965.

During the 1948 Olympics, staged in London, Koizumi convened a meeting at the Imperial College Union in South Kensington of all the known clubs in the country, with the Japanese himself providing money for the establishment of the national governing body.

As Michel Brousse wrote in his International Judo Federation book ‘Judo for the World’: “British Judo holds a special place in the history of world judo, both unique and typical of the emergence of judo in Europe. The specificity of the history of early British judo is due to the country, to the context and to the pioneering vision, the unflagging energy of the key figure: Gunji Koizumi.”

A few days after the BJA was established, the European Judo Union was also set up, guided by Koizumi, and the IJF was created in London three years later.

Stay up to date with the latest British Judo news on our website or our social channels on Facebook or Twitter