Richard Bowen (Judo) Collection

Scope and Content

Description of the collection

The material is presented in the order given below. It covers the period from ca 1873 to 2005.

Section A, Biographical: this contains a very small amount of material relating to Bowen's military service and to his early judo achievements.

Section B, Budokwai: this documents the origins and history of the first judo club to be established in the UK. It includes a sequence of general management committee minutes covering the period from the club's foundation in 1918 to 1954 and a series of members' signing-in books dating from 1935 to 1988. The section also contains correspondence and papers relating to a wide variety of training events, instruction courses and martial arts displays organised by the Budowkai. Material relating to the physical premises of the Budokwai and to the administration of its financial affairs is also presented here.

The Budokwai, the UK's oldest judo organisation, was founded by Gunji Koizumi in January 1918 as an amateur society for the study and promotion of 'the Japanese form of culture, sport and self-defence known as judo in such a way that its growth shall be dignified, permanent and free from professionalism'. As well as offering instruction, providing training facilities, officiating at contests and giving displays and demonstrations all over the country, the Budokwai, which means 'the way of knighthood society', also sought to facilitate a better understanding of the mental and physical traditions on which judo is based.

Section C, Research: This is the largest section in the catalogue. It comprises a wide variety of material ranging in date from 1873 to 2005 collected together from different sources by Bowen during his research into the history of British judo. The section is divided into three main sequences based on Bowen's original ordering of the material. All three of these sequences contain an eclectic mix of original documents, newspaper cuttings, notes, publicity posters, correspondence and papers relating to all aspects of British and European judo; its origins and introduction, the techniques used in teaching and in competition, the development of an organised network of judo associations and its elevation to Olympic status in 1964. The section also contains some material relating to the routine management of the Budokwai.

Section D, Societies and Organisations: this contains material relating to five judo and sports-related bodies with which Bowen was either personally involved or contacted in connection with his research into the history of judo. It also contains a small amount of material relating to judo training events in the UK and in Europe organised by G. Koizumi and the Central Council for Physical Recreation.

Section E, Publications, Programmes and Posters: this is composed of material relating to the promotion of judo and other martial arts. It includes incomplete early sequences of several judo journals from the UK, Japan, Europe and North America, and a fairly comprehensive series of display and event programmes and posters from the period 1921-1989. It also contains Bowen's collection of judo-related press cuttings and material relating to Bowen's own writings on judo.

Section F, Correspondence: this contains diverse letters written by and addressed to Bowen between 1966 and 2005 in connection with his research into the history of judo.

Section G, Photographs: this contains approximately 100 photographs assembled by Bowen in the course of his research work. The photographs range in date from ca 1925 to 1986 and document judo demonstrations and displays, Budokwai social occasions, international judo competitions and judo summer schools. They also include formal and informal portraits of judoka.

There is also an index of correspondents.

Administrative / Biographical History

Outline of the career of Richard Bowen

Richard (Dickie) Bowen was born in Belgravia, London in 1926. His father was English and his mother was from Wexford, Ireland. His early training was in bacteriology and, after serving in the army for nearly four years, he worked as a laboratory technician. Generally physically active, he had become a proficient skier during his military service and on his return to London Bowen was keen to find an occupation to maintain and improve his physical fitness. In January 1949, on the recommendation of a colleague, he took up judo and joined the Budokwai, the UK's oldest judo club, where he received expert instruction from Gunji Koizumi, Percy Sekine, Trevor P. Leggett and Teizo Kawamura.

In 1956 Bowen was selected to represent Britain at the 1st World Judo Championships, an open weight competition held in Japan. He subsequently spent three and a half years training at the Kodokan in Tokyo. As part of the Kodokan's Kenshusei, an elite group of mostly Japanese judoka, including Matsushita and Watanabe, Bowen was regularly taught by Daigo, Osawa and Kawamura and received occasional tuition from Mifune, Samura and Kotani.

Bowen's close, life-time association with the Budokwai, as a judoka and instructor, and as a committee member and Vice-President, continued when he returned to the UK. He also became actively involved with the British Judo Association (BJA).

Access Information

Not all the material in this collection may yet be available for consultation. Enquiries should be addressed in the first instance to: The Archivist The Library University of Bath Claverton Down Bath BA2 7AY


Telephone: +44 (0)1225 383464

Acquisition Information

The papers were received in January 2004 and May 2005 from Mr R. Bowen and Mrs A. Bowen.

We are very grateful to the Bowen family and Mr Mike Callan for their assistance in making this material available.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue providing full details of the archival (unpublished) material is available in PDF format on the University of Bath Archives and Research Collections website.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Paper and photographic material.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Lizzie Richmond, Library and Learning Centre, University of Bath, 2008 .

Separated Material

Over 400 published works are associated with the archival material. These are catalogued separately on the University of Bath Library Catalogue. Please consult the Archivist for details relating to access (published works can be made available for consultation in the Archives and Research Collections reading room on request).

Conditions Governing Use

Applications should be made to the University Archivist.

Custodial History

Bowen had always been interested in the history and early development of judo in Britain, and in 1990 this interest took on a more definite form when he embarked on a project to document the people, techniques and styles connected with 'the old judo' that Bowen felt may otherwise be forgotten. Over ten years later, with the help and support of friends, acquaintances and fellow enthusiasts, he had painstakingly accumulated a substantial UK 'judo archive'. It was Bowen's intention to publish a history of Judo in the UK, this was achieved posthumously in 2011 with the publication of 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain: No. 1: Reclaiming of Its True Spirit Indepenpress Publishing Ltd 2011 and 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain: No. 2: Reclaiming of Its True Spirit Indepenpress Publishing Ltd 2011


Law, Mark The Pyjama Game: A Journey into Judo Aurum Press Ltd 2007

Bowen, Richard 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain: No. 1: Reclaiming of Its True Spirit Indepenpress Publishing Ltd 2011

Bowen, Richard 100 Years of Judo in Great Britain: No. 2: Reclaiming of Its True Spirit Indepenpress Publishing Ltd 2011