The Bulletin - Editor’s comment Bulletin 8 April 2003
Welcome to the eighth edition of the 'Bulletin' In this edition we publish part two of a historical article on the origins of Judo and the links with Japanese politics and society—’Making Way’
News - The Society held a Kagami Biraki film show in January 2003 at the Budokwai. Please look at the web site for details of future events—there will be further film shows, kata courses and our AGM in April.
The website is now reachable on www.KanoSociety.com as well as www.KanoSociety.org so connection should be easier.
We look forward to seeing you all at the AGM.
Regard to all Diana Birch
Leonard Hunt—Larry Ralph
Leonard Hunt (1908 — 1994)
Len Hunt, 7th Dan, passed away peacefully after a short illness on Wednesday 6th July 1994 at the age of 85. During the last years of his life fellow Dan grade Larry Ralph took Len around all the clubs who still wanted to benefit from Len’ s instruction besides taking him to all the major judo events Len continued to take interest in. Larry writes as follows:
Len was a very popular man. A gentleman of the old school. The sort of judo man you would read about in books. He was still practising and teaching judo at the age of 81. When I say ‘practising’ I mean just that - he never asked for or gave any quarter.
Len had practised and taught judo for some 60 years. He started in 1927 at the age of 18 after reading an advertisement on the back page of a boy’s magazine known as ‘The Magnet’. With a photograph of the then very famous Yukio Tani the advertisement was for a ‘Judo/Jujitsu’ club run by a Mr W.H. Garrud in Golden Square, London. Mr Garrud had been taught by Yukio Tani and another famous Japanese of that time, ‘Raku’ Uyenishi. It was not long however before Len had joined the Budokwai and was receiving instruction from Yukio Tani himself who was Chief Instructor and Gunji Koizumi. Koizumi was the founder of the club and became known as ‘The Father of Judo in Europe’.
Len was awarded his 1st Dan black belt in 1936, a year after T.P. Leggett was awarded his. A black belt was not easily obtained in those days and it was indeed a great honour. Len was to later become an Instructor at the Budokwai and later still at the old London Judo Society situated south of the river Thames in Stockwell.
It has to be said that Len’s forte was newaza in which in those days many Ju-jitsu techniques such as leg locks, wrist locks and certain neck locks not now permitted in judo were then allowed. Even without such techniques in modern judo Len’s new waza was extremely effective as many a younger, stronger and fitter judoka was amazed to find. When he was in his late 60’s Len was invited to a number of National Squad training sessions to show his extensive range of newaza. Not satisfied to just teach he invited Squad members to, not so much practice, but to compete against him. They were astonished to find he could strangle, arm-lock or immobilise them almost at will. Around the clubs it was common for wrestlers to visit to gain experience from the newaza practice. Many of them were quite heavier than Len who at just 10½ stone and 5’ 7” tall would soon have them in trouble. He took great delight in pitting himself against such athletes.
During World War II Len was in the Army and based in Egypt. It was not long before he started a judo club there for other servicemen and in his off—duty periods taught the locals. In fact, it is said that he introduced judo to the Egyptians.
As a young man Len had other sporting interests.’ He played amateur football for Clapton in the old Ishmian League which was the equivalent of the Premier League in amateur football.
As for his judo I would go so far as to say Len Hunt was probably the best newaza teacher in the country and he could always reinforce his teaching by proving its effectiveness himself. He always said that most of his techniques were as taught to him by Yukio Tani himself and if young aspiring judoka have any doubts about the effectiveness of the old style, they just have to see for themselves. Fortunately his newaza was recorded on film and video.
In the latter years Len practised and taught at Romford and Hornchurch Judo Club which is one of the oldest clubs in the BJA. He was very proud of the fact that he was made President of that club which has a trophy named after him.
Trevor Leggett - reminiscences
Trevor Leggett 1914 - 2000
Trevor Leggett was a familiar and much-loved figure at both the Buddhist Society and the Summer Schools, Not only did he attend our annual residential celebration of the Dharma but he also gave talks in both weeks, latterly despite failing health and sight. Between classes he would typically be found sitting amid an interested and enthusiastic group answering and asking questions, always curious. He would make a point from the teachings by recounting stories from his life or from his wide and varied readings, always with humour, liveliness and affection. He would have been 86 years old by the time of this years’ Summer School.
Mr Leggett was a multifaceted man, gifted in many ways. When still a young man he could have become a concert pianist; but his father, a prominent musician, dissuaded him, feeling that he would not have been able to earn a living. He took up the law instead, but after qualifying he found his interests taking him elsewhere. He trained in judo and learnt Japanese. Being in Japan when war broke out he was interned. It is said that he taught even his guards judo.
After the war he joined the overseas service of the BBC at Bush House, eventually becoming head of the Japanese service, which broadcast regularly to Japan. When struck down by a serious illness, he was advised to give up judo. He refused his doctor’s advice and was instrumental in transforming the way judo was taught in this country He was given an award by the Japanese government for his contribution to the introduction of Japanese culture to England. He was feared as a teacher of judo for his toughness and his gruelling classes. There was another side to his character however, and that concerned his devotion to spiritual development and its many paths.
In the fifties he suddenly gave up serious judo training and devoted the rest of his life to writing and the spiritual way. He learnt Sanskrit and eventually produced a substantial original translation. He is perhaps best known for his Zen and the Ways and The First Zen Reader, both classics in their own way and yet to be surpassed. Despite failing health he continued giving talks at the Society and around the country He set up his own website just a few years ago and was full of enthusiasm for modern technology, particularly as so many people could be reached by it. He recently brought out a book of his stories, nearly all from talks given at the Society and was full of plans for future publishing ventures. He was an inspiration to all who had contact with him, and of those there were few whom he did not in some way influence. He not only taught the way, but lived it; and through that living of it, all who had contact with him were strengthened by it.