Judo in Barbados dates back to around 1960. Beach goers on Sunday mornings would have seen men practicing this ‘unusual looking ‘sport on the sand. The demonstration of skills including, flexibility, efficiency, balance, movement, strength and timing was directed bythe now deceased Harold ‘Buck’ Bovell. Other famous names associated with this early introduction of Judo to Barbados were Winston Carew, Ashton Dyall, Gladstone Seale, and Darwin Bellamy. They fashioned their skills from books they acquired and trained on a small mat made from bagasse and sawdust. They later moved indoors at Par Green in Chapman’s Lane, Baxter’s Road. Around 1963 the first Dojo “Shindokan” was founded in Youth Town, Tudor Street.
The sport Judo in Barbados made significant progress with the help of Dr. Teddy Cummins, a Barbadian who returned home in 1962 from studying in Canada. During his time abroad, he was introduced to Judo by Frank Hatashita (5th Dan) at his club in Toronto and became one of his students. On his return to Barbados, enthusiastic about Judo, he recognized it was already being practiced on the island albeit at an informal level. He decided to make his contribution to the further development of the sport.
With the help the late Victor Bowen, he established the Harrison College Judo Club in 1965. As growth of the sport dictated, he invited a Judo expert from Canada, Mr. Paul Johnston to assist with grading. His intention was to lift the standard of the sport. During that period Dr. Teddy Cummins and Mr. Paul Johnston established a club at “Speedbird” house Independence square, Bridgetown called the Barbados Judo Institute. Mr. Paul Johnston conducted the first grading on the island allowing many of the founding group members to attain their various Kyu grades. Following that achievement, Dr. Cummins was successful in bringing the various clubs together under one governing body by establishing the ‘Barbados Judo Association’ in 1966 at ‘Speedbird House’ Independence Square, Bay Street. The Barbados Judo Association then moved to a location next to the Bay Street Fish Market, Browne's Beach and finally to the National Stadium in 1975, where it still exists today.
Dr. Cummins used his international contacts to assist with the technical development of the sport, by inviting several experts in Judo to Barbados at various times, from places such as Canada, USA and Europe. Among the invitees were Graham Heron (Shodan), Pierre Cannaccini (Nidan), and Professor Nakamura (Schidan). In the interest of the longer term development of the sport on the island, the Association felt that a more permanent solution was necessary. Mr. Kenneth Freeman (6th Dan), a Canadian, now deceased was invited as a Technical Director, with responsibility for the development of coaches and referees. On occasion he was ably assisted by Mr. Francis Charles from Martinique with the black belt grading.
Judokas such as Darwin Bellamy, Hoskins Caddle, Harold Bovell, Victor Watson, John Brewster, and Ed Bushell also Dave Lavine, Leslie Barker, Gladstone Seale, Winston Carew and Aston Dyall were among those who attained different levels of black belt under Mr. Freeman’s stewardship. During Mr. Freeman’s involvement with the Association, he founded the Marine Gardens Judo Club (1984).
During this critical developmental stage, persons like Darwin Bellamy made tremendous efforts at encouraging students to practice the sport. On numerous occasions he could be seen transporting the children to and from training, as well as taking their Gis to be laundered so that they could be clean for the next training session. He was also, responsible for the many demonstration programs at that time. These programs were conducted at various venues on the island like Spencer Plantations, Spring Hall Sugar Factory, in Speighstown and during Crop Over Festivals.
Between 1966 to 1974, Dr Teddy Cummins was the President of the Barbados Judo Association. During his presidency, he invited a 5th Dan from Canada, Mr. F. Hatashita to conduct clinics for local players. Dr Cummins was also instrumental in forging affiliations with the local Olympic Association, the Caribbean Judo Confederation, the Pan-American Judo Union and the international governing body, the International Judo Federation (IJF). One of the local tournaments was named after him the ‘Teddy Cummins Judo Tournament’ in (2003). He was truly instrumental in changing the landscape of Judo in Barbados.
The second president (1974) of the Barbados Judo Association was Mr. John Brewster (deceased). He was introduced to Judo by Mr. Darwin Bellamy in 1972. Mr. Brewster later became the first local international referee and an International Judo Federation ‘B’ Referee (1976) wearing the pan-American Judo Union Badge. He was also involved in sports administration at the highest level, being a Director of the Barbados Olympic Association from 1982 – 1990. He was the Barbados Olympic Association Treasurer from 1986 – 1990. John Brewster also served as Chef – de – Mission for the Barbados contingent to the Pan-American Games in Caracas (1983) and the Central American and Caribbean Games, Santiago, Dominican Republic (1986). The tournament on the Barbados calendar, ‘John Brewster Grappling’ tournament bears witness to the appreciation for his commitment, dedication and his willingness to share his knowledge and information.
During those early years even though development appeared slow it remained steady. Consequently, the Association was able to prepare athletes to represent Barbados in various countries regionally and internationally. These countries included Martiniqué, Trinidad, Venezuela and Canada. On each occasion the athletes represented Barbados credible even though no major medal was won. However, in 1975, Mr. Gladstone Seale won a gold medal in the open division, in Venezuela at The Caribbean Judo Championship.
As the sport of Judo took shape, many clubs sprung up in various parts on the island. Some of these clubs included: Shindokan Judo Club, Barbados Judo Institute, the Lodge school Judo Club (1975), St. Lucy Secondary School Judo Club (1975), Bushido Judo Club, Bujin Judo Club (1977/78), Savage Judo Club(founder John Brewster 1979), YMCA Judo Club (John Brewster 1978), Harrison College Judo Club, founded by a teacher Valentine Bowen a Judo Expert. Other Clubs such as Marine Gardens Judo Club (1984), Samurai, West Terrace Gardens Judo (founder Roy Davis), Pinelands Judo Club (founder Glenroy Murray), Keikath School of Martial Arts (founder Hoskins Caddle), Rising Sun School of Martial Arts (founder Roy Davis) and Phoenix Judo Club (founder Glenroy Murray).
researched and written by Roseclair Weithers