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How to Start a Judo Club

How to Start A Judo Club

Just like any endeavour in life, starting a judo club can be filled with excitement as you take a step out to make your dream a reality. You may be the type of person who, from the moment you set out on your judo journey with just a white belt until this very moment, has been filled with an unwavering enthusiasm for martial arts. But enthusiasm can only take you so far, and that’s why it’s important to know some hurdles that you’ll have to climb over before you can open your own judo club. This guide will help lay down a foundation for how to develop your club, offering suggestions and tips on how to brainstorm what you’ll need to start your own dojo.


 Step 1: The Planning Phase

Before you set out to create your own judo club, you should plan out exactly how your new club will operate and where it will be located. You’ll need to decide which teaching style you’d like to pursue for your members, either recreational or performance training. Let’s look at the most important things that you’ll need to consider during the planning phase:


Assess the Demand for Starting a Judo Club in Your Area

The most important thing that you should do is to assess the demand for starting a judo club in your area. Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of planning something big for our lives, we forget to think practically about the situation. However, take a sober approach to planning your dojo by considering first the community in which you’d like to establish the club.

When you’re looking to start a new judo club, ask yourself this question: “Will my club meet a need in my city?”

Are there other judo clubs in your area? And if there are, what makes your club unique compared to theirs?

The British Judo Association has a club finder application on their website, and this can help you see all the local clubs in your area. Before you start, this may be one of the most important forms of research that you conduct. You can glean information on how saturated your area is, and learn about other towns and villages which would be a better fit to launch a judo club in.


Begin to Market Your Business

Whilst still in the planning phase, you need to ask yourself how you’re going to market your business and to which clientele you will primarily focus. Are you a former champion in your martial arts discipline? Or are you well-known in your community for being great at training up and coaching martial artists?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you can leverage your reputation to bring in dedicated athletes who want to train so that they can enter competitions. This might be the perfect way to market yourself to new members to gain your first clients.


Training Style: Recreational or Performance Training

Another question that you should ask yourself is whether you want your club to focus on recreational or performance training. Recreational training offers many new members an introduction to martial arts training.

On the other end of the spectrum, performance training is a high volume training style which requires a lot of commitment from the judoka. As a result, if you prefer to focus on performance training, you may find it difficult to build up a dedicated and diligent clientele when starting out.

Both recreational training and performance training curriculum can coexist within the same club, but as you start out, it may be best for you to find your niche in either of these two styles.


What Are the Goals of Your Club?

Whichever style of coaching you choose, whether rigorous performance training or easy-going recreational training, the primary goal of your club should be centred on the principles of judo: the mental, moral, and physical shaping of students in the “judo lifestyle”. Dr. Jigoro Kano, the creator of judo, once said, “Through training in the attack and defence techniques of judo, the practitioner nurtures their physical and mental strength, and gradually embodies the essence of the Way of Judo.”

Other than adhering to the goals offered through the sport of judo, there are many ways to set goals for your club. If you are interested in setting long-term goals to secure the future of your club, then you should check out a very helpful resource on Sport England’s Club Matters website. You’ll find everything that you’ll need to set goals for your club, including financial and sports orientated goals, so that you can best serve the members of your club.


Gaining Support and Affiliation

Also, check in with your local governing body through the British Judo Association. That would be the best starting place as you seek to gain local support for your club. Here are two other types of organisations that you should contact before starting your club:

  • Local Authority-Reach out to your local authority, which may have a sports or leisure department. They can help you as you hire sports facilities to run your sessions.
  • Active Partnership-Throughout England, Active Partnership helps local partners create a collaborative, systematic approach to physical fitness. Check them out to gain more information.


Establish a Realistic Pricing Scheme

One of the most important things that you’ll need to decide upon before starting your club is how much you are going to charge. Your prices need to be competitive, taking into consideration your competitors’ fees, whilst also providing you with enough funds to pay for the expenses at your gym.


Step 2: Facilities and Equipment

After you have laid out the vision, values, and goals of your organisation, you should begin looking for a venue to host classes and competitions. When you’re looking for a venue, do some research, and scour the area for different schools, training centres, and even other martial arts gyms in the area which could make a splendid home for your dojo. Begin writing a list of different available rental places where you could begin your dojo.


The Equipment That You’ll Need for Your Dojo

Once you found a place to host your first session, you’ll need to outfit your training centre. Whether it’s mats or sparring gear, judo training involves a certain degree of protective equipment. Let’s look at the most important things that you will need when starting your judo club:


Martial Arts Mats

The first piece of equipment that you should look into will be martial arts mats. Most people don’t recognise the importance of training mats in their dojo. You simply walk over mats or train on them without a second thought. But they actually provide the first form of personal protective equipment, allowing your athletes to fall properly and prevent injury.

Here are the three best types of mats that you could use for your new judo club:

  1. Judo Mats– Judo mats are incredibly durable, offering heat sealed welded corners and superior impact absorption ability. These mats are a masterpiece of engineering, made from polyurethane foam, and wrapped in a slip resistant vinyl coating with a tatami surface texture for increased traction. They will easily handle the rigours of regular use, and will offer the same level of cushioning ability for years to come.
  2. Rollout mats-Rollout mats are a great mat to use because they offer rapid deployment for martial arts training. Simply roll the mats out, and join them together with easy-to-use Velcro connectors. Rollout mats are made from XPE foam, which offers great impact absorption when compared to EVA and PU. Available in large sizes, these mats are the best investment to make if you need to tear down the mats in your gym after every session.
  3. 40 mm Martial Arts Mats with Tatami Surface– These 40mm jigsaw mats are a cost-effective way to outfit your gym, whilst also offering superior fall protection. Set up is a breeze with these mats: all you need to do is join the connector pieces together in order to create one large mat. These mats are also reversible, which offers you the ability to differentiate between training and safety areas of the mat.

All Other Equipment

There are lots of different equipment that you can purchase to help make the lives of your athletes easier. For example, you may want to offer your athletes the ability to purchase judogis, loose-fitting judo uniforms to be used on the mat. Also, invest in some belts for the athletes to track their performance and build their confidence.

As well, purchasing strike pads and sparring dummies are great things to have at your dojo. Any piece of padding that an athlete can use to limit exposure to strikes and kicks can help them prevent injury. Sparring dummies are great to have, as they allow you to practice chokes, locks, and throws on an opponent with no training partner.



If you’re just starting out, there might be a long journey ahead before you can see your dream become a reality. But if you’re dedicated, and you want to make sure that you establish a judo club that is going to last, then make deliberate, intentional choices right now to make that happen. Speak to a representative from the British Judo Association and find a local governing body which can help you set up your club. Shop around and find the best venue for your needs. Last, outfit your gym with the superior martial arts mats offered through British Martial Arts Mats.

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