I was first approached by Richard Bowen around 2004 when he was looking for an institution to house his extensive collection of books and archival material dealing with the history of judo in the UK and Europe. This led to the founding of the Bowen (Judo) Collection at the University of Bath, where I was working in the Department of Sport Development and Recreation. Through meeting Dicky I was inspired to continue his historical research, and also to seek to add to the collection through encouraging generous donations of material from other important judoka, (people who study the way of judo). Dicky was a Vice-President of the Budokwai, a society for the study of martial ways, based in South Kensington, London. 2018 marks the centenary of the creation of the Budokwai by the founder Gunji Koizumi. Therefore it seemed appropriate that during 2017 I focus some of my scholarly activity on exploring the early years of the society.
Judo-related research is extensive around the world. There are specific university departments, degree programmes and conferences. Individual academics research and publish on all aspects of judo from physiology, match analysis, and biomechanics, through to culture, philosophy and history. The International Judo Federation has membership from 200 nations. There are beacons of excellence in judo research particularly in Japan, Brazil and Poland.
This year I will present two papers to respected international conferences on topics related to the history of the Budokwai, drawing largely on items in the Bowen (Judo) Collection. The first entitled 'History of the Budokwai, London; The Adoption of Kōdōkan Judo in the Early Years' will be delivered to the 4th European Science of Judo Research Symposium & 3rd Scientific and Professional Conference on Judo: Applicable Research in Judo, to be held in Poreč, Croatia. In this paper I focus on the influence of westerners, William Steers and Ernest Harrison, on the adoption of judo as a primary activity by the Budokwai around 1919.
The second paper entitled 'Chivalry, Culture and Koizumi: The Origins of the Budokwai, London' is to be delivered at the 50th Memorial Conference of the Japanese Academy of Budo (2nd International Budo Congress), held in Osaka, Japan. For this important international conference, my paper focusses on the role that the Budokwai played in promoting Japanese culture in London, and particularly concepts of bushido, the moral code of the old Japanese samurai.
The Bowen Collection offers future generations a source of continued interest, study and academic research. It remains a unique and significant fount of our cultural heritage.