Since judo was permitted to return, Japan Arts Centre Judo Club has thrived thanks their “tackling inequalities” project in association with Sport England.

Upon relaunching in their local community, Jo and Chris Hunt set about implementing a series of four-week beginner courses, designed to get new members on the mat.

With 26 new junior members stepping on to the mat for the first course, it is safe to say that they aced it! All members have been retained and are looking forwards to the club resuming their full schedule of sessions in September.

Amongst the new members, approximately 50% were young muslim girls, which is an audience that the club had not previously targeted.

With the club now embedding itself with the local community, Jo and Chris are planning further meetings with the neighbourhood policy team this month to discuss how they can recruit more children involved in anti-social behaviour.

There was one particular occasion during their first beginner class that stood out for the team at the club.

“Throughout our sessions, there were groups of children hanging outside the open doors for the dojo. During the classes, they would frequently throw stones onto the mat and generally disrupt the session each week.”

“Several coaches had lively conversations with the group and the young lad who was seemingly instigating the group. However, this lad attended one of our classes the following week and asked to give it a go!”

“By the end of the class, he was so enthused that he wanted to fight at the next Olympics! It is a long way to go but we feel that we are starting to make a difference in our local community! 

“As the classes have been running at full capacity, we have several kids on the waiting list, so we have decided that we will run another junior four-week course starting in September alongside an adult beginner course.”

The club would like to thank their coaching team, who have all worked tirelessly both professionally (many as keyworkers), and also as volunteers  to keep the club running throughout the pandemic and the time they have committed for free for this new project:

Lead Coach  Chris Hunt – National Crime Agency Officer,

Professor Pierangelo Gobbo, Scientist at Bristol University,

Dr Adrian Upex  Consultant at Bristol Children’s hospital, despite the extreme pressures the NHS are experiencing , Adrian has till managed to squeeze in time to coach, he often  arrives at class straight from the operating theatre !

Bernat Galiana  Gonzalez – Nuclear Energy Engineer

Robert Winkworth – Business Entrepreneur

Jo Hunt – Business Manager & Club Manager

Richard Stevens – Retired Engineer

Anja Babic –  Medical student and assistant coach who has played a vital part in the project in  inspiring young girls to participate

Steve Wells – Their CWO who has engaged with the local children to encourage them to give judo a try

The club would also like to place it’s thanks to Joy & David at Faithspace Bristol, where the club is based. Faithspace has given great support to the project and promoted the benefits of Judo within the local community.