Blackpool Keidokwai are toasting 75 years of judo this year with an anniversary celebration on Sunday 5 February with an open randori session followed by a get together.

The Keidokwai started in 1942 when RAF Corporal named George Chew was stationed in Blackpool as an RAF trainer and as he had been a member of the Budokwai in London started a judo club in the seaside town called the Kubukai. He was joined by a police sergeant, later to become Superintendent, Andy Rutherford, and the club was renamed Keidokwai which very loosely translated means “The Fighting Spirit of the Police.”

In an interview with the original ‘Judo’ Magazine George recalled the time:

“RAF service during the war found me with Fred Kauert organising the RAF Kubukai at Blackpool. We arranged a large display at the Tower Circus for RAF personnel. I still cannot understand how we managed to get Messrs Koizumi, Leggett, Mossom, Lyons, Barnes, Dell, Kaye and others to travel to Blackpool during the war-time. It never ceases to amaze me for at that time we were only corporals and some of the above had scrambled egg on their caps.” George went on to become British Team Manager and an international competitor in his own right after the war.

The club continued to grow and was one of the original clubs who formed the British Judo Association in 1948. The club continued to organise Tower Circus demonstrations with another one, in 1962, receiving good reviews in the local paper

In 1964 Tony Macconnell was engaged as the club coach for 12 months and Richard Barraclough and Steve Pullen trained at the club with him. Two new members had joined the club in 1960 – Dennis Taylor, now the Club Chairman and in 1961, Harry Holt (North West Area Treasurer and Council Rep) and both are still associated with the club.

The club produced many National Squad and international players, among them such noted player as John Lee. However, along with many other clubs the Keidokwai had problems with getting and keeping reliable coaches and, for a period, lost its way. This has now been remedied by appointing Gary Burt to that position and the club is once again, with the help of a number of new young coaches, players are reappearing on the competition mat with a fair degree of success.  So the future looks bright.

The celebration starts at 2.30pm through to 5.00pm with an open randori session at Revoe Gym followed by a Social Get Together at the Guard’s Club.

You can find out further info below and all members of the Keidokwai look forward to seeing you there

Many thanks to Blackpool Keidokwai for the above write-up on the club’s history

Photo: Members of Blackpool Keidokwai with 2015 European Under-23 Champion Amy Livesey after her masterclass last year