Club History

The Sobell Judo Club was established by A.W. Fromm, (See photo in the gallery below) soon after Michael Sobell Leisure Centre was opened at its current premises in Islington, in 1973. From its very beginning, the Sobell Leisure Centre had a purpose built dojo for martial arts training. JigoroKano-sProf Jigoro Kano

A.W. Fromm, was a 3rd dan black belt at the time of the founding of the club. He upheld traditional Kodokan judo and followed the teaching of Kenshiro Abbe, who was the founder of British Judo Council. The British Judo Council (BJC), was established in 1958 as an organisation under the leadership of the Abbe sensei. At the time of the founding of the BJC, he was ranked and recognised as a Kodokan 7th dan. He served as president until 1964, and returned to Japan. After his departure, Masutaro Otani, continued to advance Sensei Abbe's teachings and served as the president of BJC until his death 1977. At the time of his passing away, sensei Masutaro Otani was a Kodokan 8th dan.

Thus, the Sobell Judo Club was founded on the very principals that were laid out by Professor Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, and Kensiro Abbe leading the way in Britiain.   

Alan Fromm, introduced judo to the sports programme of North London area schools as part of the schools sports curriculum. He was proficient in Judo, Kendo, and Ju-jitsu. In time he also began to introduce these at the dojo. However, judo proved to be the most popular and attracted all the schools in North London to registered at the Sobell Judo Club. Alan Fromm, became a full-time judo instructor and gained much respect and popularity within the community. Judo soon became a popular activity in Islington and North London. Hundreds of students trained at the Sobell during this period.

Following the success of the schools judo program, Alan decided to introduce evening sessions, teaching judo to juniors and adults alike. This further allowed more enthusiastic and advanced students form schools to enjoy the opportunity for more serious training, in the evenings.kenshiro-abbe-sKenshiro Abbe Sensei

Under guidance of Alan Fromm, Sobell Judo club very quickly began to standout amongst other judo clubs successfully winning and dominating regional and national championships in contest as well as kata. Two of the most successful students to come through the Sobell Judo club, under Alan Fromm, were Sampson Sampson and Simon Mazzullo.

The two joined Alan and helped the club grow. They also took a leading role in teaching and running of the classes. Many successful judoka trained at the Sobell and helped it success. We can not name them all but another name that stands out from this period is Roland White. All the above named judoka have gone to run their own clubs and currently hold high ranks in judo.

In the mid 1980's, following cutbacks in education and sports in general, judo sessions for schools at the Sobell Leisure Centre, were brought to a halt. This affected Alan Fromm, who left to form his own organisation, the Seishin Budo. The Sobell Judo Club, was thus left to Sampson and Simon to run. Later on, Simon also left to run his own club in Barnet, leaving Sampson to run the Sobell Judo Club.

Up to this period, that spans to over 10 years of teaching and practice of judo. hundreds of students had gone through training at the Sobell with many reaching high grades. Some joined and helped Sampson manage and run the club.

Bob Bushnell, at the time was a 1st dan student, who stepped forward to become the club secretary, a position that he continues to hold till today. While Sampson continued to teach and compete at various levels, Bob Bushnell managed the day to day running of the club and its affairs. 25 years on, Bob Bushnell, has become a highly skilled instructor and holds the grade of 5th dan.masutaro otani-sMasutaro Otani Sensei

During this period, the club continued to grow and increase in membership. One of the most significant factors for this success can be attributed to the special role played by Sampson Sampson, the chief instructor at the Sobell Judo club. Sampson’s skills in teaching, technical excellence, his dedication to his students, and continued ability to outshine in competition even in his late 40’s, has certainly inspired and motivated everyone, from students to masters to follow him. This is a significant fact contributing to the success and the growth of the club. The success of the club and it positive affects on the children and the community around it has also affected many parents and friends who volunteer their support for the club and help to fulfil its aims and objectives.

From 2005 onwards, despite the success and the growth of the club, there was a growing feeling of isolation from other clubs and judo organisations that seemed to be departing from the basic traditional values of judo. In addition, new restrictive rules, outlandish and unreasonable demands such as irrational changes to the syllabus, limiting the authority of the instructors, sowing further confusion over the nature of judo imposed by the BJC, led to the Sobell Judo Club's decision to abandon and rejected the BJC’s policies.  This was a unanimous decision of the leadership and members of the Sobell Judo Club led by Sampson Sampson. Soon after, Sampson founded the JFAUK (Judo For all UK) re-establishing the traditions of judo, restoring authority and respect for the instructors and introducing a syllabus that helps instructors advance in teaching judo excellence.

The Sobell Judo club was a founding member of the JFAUK. Since joing the JFAUK, the club has trebled in numbers, has expanded, establishing 3 new clubs in North London.

For further information on Traditional Kodokan Judo and developments see JFAUK.

Some images from Club's History

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+44 (0)207-607-1607
Sobell Judo Club
Sobell Leisure Centre
Hornsey Road, Islington,
London, N7 7NY, UK


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