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Sobell founder passes away

We are deeply saddened to report that the founder of the Sobell Judo Club, Alan Fromm has passed away and it is with a heavy heart that we bear this news. Alan was a true inspiration to hundreds of judoka throughout the years and the reason we exist today. His vision, philosophy and ethos is ingrained within our walls and we hope that we can continue to uphold his legacy for as long as we exist.

In 1973, The Michael Sobell Leisure Centre opened its doors to the Public as a place for all in the local community to get involved with sport. Alan Fromm, a 3rd dan black belt at the time saw an opportunity to bring the joy of judo into North London and with that vision, he founded the Sobell judo club.

Using the Sobell Judo Club as his base, Fromm introduced judo and Japanese ju-jitsu into the sports curriculum in North London Schools, providing an opportunity for growth and education for young enthusiasts in the area. Although both martial arts were introduced, judo proved to be far more popular and in a short space of time, the majority of schools in North London became registered to the Sobell Judo Club under Alan’s guidance. As the popularity of judo in the local area grew,  Alan soon became a full-time instructor imparting his wisdom to all who stepped through the doors of the Sobell. His dedication and passion earned him much respect in the community as hundreds visited his tatami to learn from him.

Following the success of the Schools program. Alan made the decision to introduce evening sessions at the Sobell Judo Club, extending his judo sessions in London to adult students and providing an opportunity for more enthusiastic and advanced students to engage in more serious training, firmly establishing the Sobell as a key pillar in the community.

Under the guidance of Alan Fromm, the Sobell Judo Club quickly became a standout dojo amongst other judo clubs, successfully dominating regional and national champions in both shiai (sparring) and kata (forms). Further to his successes on the tatami, Alan still found time to cement his teachings on paper and eventually published his own book:’ Judo - The Gentle Way’ to ensure that his students could not only practice their bodies, but also their minds.

In the mid 1980s, following cutbacks in education and sports in general, judo was cut from the national school sports curriculum and the school sessions at the Sobell Leisure Centre were brought to a halt. The cutbacks affected Alan’s teaching which resulted in his decision to leave the Sobell and form his own organisation, Seishin Budo, outside of London. The club was thus left in the hands of his proteges Sampson Sampson and Simon Mazullo. As time passed, Simon also made the transition to run his own club closer to home in Barnet and Sampson was left to run the Sobell Judo Club as its head instructor. 

To this day, Sampson runs the Sobell with his team of instructors and closely extends the vision and philosophy first taught to him by his sensei, Alan Fromm.

Thank you Alan for your life in judo, your passion, your wisdom and everything you gave to us. We will do you proud.


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