The Kamloops Judo Club was founded in late 1956 by citizens of the Kamloops Japanese Community, and with help from the Buddhist Church. Yosh Yoshida ,
Kaz Yokoyama and Frank Maeda were then black belts, who started teaching in Kamloops; creating the Kamloops Judo Club. In 1956, Henry Uyeda joined the club and is currently the head Sensei with many years of dedication.
The Kamloops Judo Club started participating in the basement of the Kamloops Buddhist Church, then moved to different halls throughout Kamloops between 1956 and 1975. Often the conditions in these halls were less than optimal for the practice of Judo. Past members can remember the buckets placed to catch dripping water or the workouts during bitter cold winters. At that time approximately thirty people each year practiced Judo and the idea of finding a permanent Dojo or practice hall was ever present.
Mr. Art Keenan tried to improve the conditions of the old Dojo and sought help from many service clubs. Without success, Art developed a proposal to construct a Japanese Cultural/Martial Arts centre on school district property. The proposal was presented in January 1973 to the School District No.24 Board of Trustees and stated the club would build the centre at no cost in return for maintenance, repairs and utility costs. The building would be used by the schools during school hours and by the club during off hours. The proposal was accepted by the Board and approved by the Department of Education.
As the enterprise involved great financial responsibilities, a decision was made to incorporate under “The Society’s Act”. Incorporation as the “Kamloops Judo Society” was granted on October 26, 1973. Construction of the centre began less than a year later with the sod turning on Monday, September 16, 1974. With the help of volunteers, Yosh Yoshida built the Kamloops Dojo and opening ceremonies were held on Saturday, May 24, 1975. The Dojo is still one of the best judo facilities in B.C. where students receive high quality instruction in a pleasant environment.
The “Koenkai” (parents group) is another essential part of the Kamloops Judo Club and has been in existence since the early beginnings of the organization. This group of supporters was started in 1957 and has been one of the secrets to the great success of the club. It is the Koenkai who, along with the instructors and students, have worked hard to make the goals of the club attainable. The Koenkai has donated countless hours to help raise funds for the building of the Dojo, the trip to Japan, the routine costs of running the club and bringing different instructors to Kamloops. After 28 years of support from the Koenkai, it was separated due to the aging citizens. Without the Koenkai, the Kamloops Judo Club would never have taken root and grown. There are far too many of these people to mention here, but they all deserve many thanks for their time and dedication.