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About the Sobell

Judo in London

Established in 1973, the Sobell Judo Club stands as one of the oldest judo clubs in the country. Since its 50+ year legacy begun, it has served the community by providing a place for all to learn judo in a friendly and welcoming environment; enabling all to become the best versions of themselves and achieve their own goals, whether it be to get fit and have fun, or to take their judo to the highest level.​

Originally founded by Alan Fromm, Sobell is now led by one of original students, Sampson Sampson, a 9th Dan judoka who has dedicated his life to judo and martial arts. Sampson and his team of highly qualified judoka follow a well-tested and structured educational system that enables anybody to step into the dojo and learn judo no matter who they are. With both beginners and international competitors all sharing the tatami at any one time, the Sobell Judo Club provides the perfect environment for anybody to learn or further develop their judo.

50% Standup, 50% Groundwork

The Sobell Judo Club is one of the only judo clubs in the country where you will learn both leg grabs and a large amount of ne-waza (groundwork). As a member of Judo for All UK we practice traditional judo; this means that the teaching philosophy and competition ruleset we follow strongly encourages the use of judo techniques that have been removed since judo’s inclusion in the Olympic games - such as leg grabs.

We believe that due to constant rule changes, modern judo has become diluted to the point of non-recognition and is now a less effective fighting form. We therefore support the teaching, practice and development of judo along the Japanese tradition, working to re-ignite judo as an effective fighting form through the allowance of traditional techniques, leg grabs and by placing a 50/50 split between tachi-waza (stand up) and ne-waza (groundwork) to ensure that all of our students are learning judo in its most complete and effective form.

Further to this, we maintain many of the traditions that have been forgotten by modern judo such as only permitting white judogi in the club and engaging a formal bow before and after every session as a sign of respect to one another.

Modern Mind

Although we practice traditional judo, this is does not mean we are stuck in the past. Whilst we aim to keep traditional judo alive, we are still in touch with modern judo, however approach it with a traditional lens.

This means that all of our students learn 100% of judo, in all its forms to ensure that they are fully equipped and well prepared whether they attend either a traditional or an Olympic oriented event. The Sobell Judo Club is therefore a rare gem in the landscape of British Judo as it provides a unique melting pot where the best of both traditional and modern judo come together​.

Our Philosophy

We follow Prof. Jigoro Kano’s — the founder of judo — primary belief that judo is more than a martial art. We believe that judo is a catalyst to bettering oneself and society as a whole. We maintain that anybody, regardless of age, race, religion or background should be able to practice and learn judo as an education and work towards becoming the best versions of themselves in an environment that brings all together as equals. We fully support each personal goal a student may have, whatever that may be.

This philosophy extends to our use of judogi, as at the Sobell, we only permit the use of white judogi. By ensuring all participants are wearing the same coloured judogi, we create a unique environment where all are seen as equals, each on the same journey together, practicing in a place of mutual benefit and mutual development. Additionally, the use of white judogi ensures personal hygiene is always maintained.​

We maintain judo’s founding principle — Serikyoku Zenyo. Translated into English, the principle stands for ‘Maximum Efficient with Minimum Effort’. Initially used to describe how technique and skill could defeat an opponent, the principle is also a guide to be applied to all types of endeavours encouraging the full utilisation of one’s spiritual and physical energies to realise an intended purpose and therefore encourage all to make the best use of both their body and mind.

Aims and Objectives

The primary objective of the Sobell judo club is to foster and develop the study and practice judo along traditional lines as set out by Prof. Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo.

To adhere to traditional values whilst remaining open minded towards new ideas and innovative methods to further develop the teaching and training in judo.

As a member of JFAUK and the WJF, we gather and deploy all our resources to provide access and support to all judoka in their journey to further their judo education.

We recognise the rights of all judoka to meet with fellow judoka regardless of their origin, race, gender or religious belief in order to practice, develop and enjoy all the benefits of Judo.

To give all a safe space to learn judo, stay fit, meet like minded individuals and have fun.

To advance through a structured programme towards judo excellence.

To work with any existing judo clubs and organisations wishing to advance traditional Kodokan Judo

To provide access to courses, workshops, tournaments at club, area, national and international levels.


The Sobell Judo Club London is a member of Judo for All United Kingdom (JFAUK), the National Governing Body for traditional judo in the U.K. JFAUK is a member of the World Judo Federation (WJF), the international governing body for traditional judo, backed by 52 countries worldwide; and is also a member of the Federation of Martial Arts (FMA). In simple terms, this means that all of our members have full legal cover to practice and participate in judo. In addition, all of our gradings and qualifications are handled nationally by JFAUK, and supported internationally by the WJF.

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