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.
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.