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Early Days (by Don Cruse - one of the four founders of Kodokwai)

When I arrived in Edmonton from England by train in June 1955, my first place of residence was the downtown YMCA, and I was delighted to find a judo club already in operation, meeting there once a week and being taught by Marshal (Marsh) Hopkins, (shodan) an RCMP officer. Among the members were Vic Hunt, Doug Bone, Ray Kelly and Martin Fayers. Doug and Martin were both from England, and Martin like myself had been a student of Gunji Koizumi at the London Budokwai, which brought me two immediate friendships.

The club continued operating at the Y until 1958, when Marshall Hopkins was posted out of Edmonton, and Vic, Doug, Ray and myself decided that we wanted the club to be open all week long, which meant moving out of the Y and into a private facility. We found a suitably large but rather old building just north of the railway tracks on around 96St and 105A Ave, and set about turning it into a dojo. We also legally incorporated the club under the name Kodokwai (combining Kodokan and Budokwai) and began to operate it full time.

In order to attract new members we obtained the loan of a flatbed truck, fitted it with tatami and entered it into the Summer Klondike Days parade along Jasper Avenue for two years in a row. One of our members, Michael Harvey, was a sign painter and did an excellent job of decorating the truck. It was good advertising.

I don’t recall exactly when or why, but we did move the club once to an upstairs location in an office building on 106 Ave and 107 St. The first of the founding members to leave was Doug Bone, who went on to Japan for further studies. Then Ray Kelly left to help found and teach at the U of A judo club, Some time later I went through a period of ill health (pernicious anemia) which hospitalized me and caused me to lose the nerve endings in my feet, and with it my sense of balance. This left only Vic Hunt*, who after a while understandably decided to move the club back into the YMCA.

My own introduction to judo had been through the study of Buddhism, initially through the work of the London Barrister Christmas Humphries, who I had first begun to read when I was 14. When I arrived in Canada from England at age 21, I was already a convinced Buddhist, and, like Doug Bone, I had originally thought of Canada only as a kind of stopover, leading me to Japan to further studies in both Zen and Judo. Another London lawyer intervened however, and it was the experience of reading Owen Barfield’s work Poetic Diction (I had always been fond of poetry) that sent me back the other way seven years later, first to meet with him at his office in Fleet Street, and then on to spend two months studying Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy at the Goetheanum in Switzerland — Steiner’s work had been one of Barfield’s principal sources of inspiration, and was itself in part based upon the Buddhist eightfold path. So I never did get to Japan.

Don Cruse.

Note from C. Suen:
* Vic Hunt is one of the founders of Kodowai Judo Club. Vic Hunt remained the sensei of Kodowai and taught judo at YMCA until he passed away at age 59. Don Cruse is one of the four founders of Kodowai Judo Club. He came to Edmonton to celebrate Kodokwai's 50th anniversary in 2008.