Tora Judo team
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Interview with Steve and Paul from Tora Judo Kai

Can you tell us a bit about Tora Judo Kai?

Tora Judo Kai has just celebrated its 30th Birthday in September of this year. The club was formed in 1993 by Sensei Dave Chappell 6th Dan, who himself started Judo in 1954.

The club was taken on 17 years ago by Dave’s son Sensei Steve Chappell (5th Dan judo 4th Dan Jujitsu) and has gone from strength to strength.  Over the years we have been privileged to work with many different clubs and sensei’s who have all collectively worked hard together to Transfer Tora Budo Kai into what it is today.  Tora Judo Kai brings together a group of like-minded community Judo and Ju-Jujitsu schools in Bristol. 

Tora Judo Kai is now a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), registered with the Charities Commission.  We have a written constitution which describes how the charity is to be run which is headed up by elected Trustees and supported by a team of Committee Members.  Tora as a charity has been designed around a firm belief in its values, which were originally created by a collaboration workshop of coaches and committee members. It is these values that have harnessed the work of the club, these are the unique selling point of the charity and create our DNA. The values of Respect, holistic approach and a kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement guide how we run the club and train students.

Tora currently teaches students of all ages and abilities in multiple areas of Bristol. The teachings of Sensei Dave Chappell the founder still permeate through the clubs

How have you made Tora Judo more inclusive?

Tora Judo opens its doors to any person who wants to learn, either as a young student or an adult that would like to get fitter or learn self-defence. The teachings of the instructors are designed around the students and there is always more than one way to teach a technique or philosophy around judo training at all levels. Having values that we live by, helps us teach all people, no matter of age, ability of skill level. As a club we ensure our values are real and that values with no meaning, have no value. Our values develop our culture and in turn make us an inclusive charity, there for all students, whether that be for a short time or a life time commitment. Tora is made to be a club of many people, great credit has to go to the instructors, committee and trustees for making the club what it is today

Can you describe what happened on the fundraising day and who came to the event?

The event that raised money for Bristol Autism Support was held on September 16th, 2023, which was the day we celebrated our 30th anniversary of the club being open. The day was attended by martial artists from various clubs as far as the midlands and across to Reading to support our special event. The day began with a judo event, followed by a kickboxing and karate session and finally all the instructors took turns is showing techniques from various different arts. A special thanks goes out to all participants and instructors who attended the event. The annual awards were given out at the event with special guests such as Mrs Vivienne Chappell, wife to Dave the founder and mother to Steve Chappell and Sensei Roy Hancock the most senior grade at the event.

What inspired you to fundraise for Bristol Autism Support?

As a charity, we have taken it upon ourselves to raise funds each year for other charities that are in or local community. Each year a charity is picked that has some connection to the club. Previous charities that we have raised money for are Bristol Mind and Bristol Dementia Alliance. Autism is an area we have close links with within the charity and the Bristol autism support group very much marries to our own values. In the end , it was easy to pick such a good charity to support local people and to give back.

Our purpose is to have a fun charity day and raise money and awareness for others to help our local community, if we can achieve both, we as a club are very happy. Raising awareness to our students is a big opportunity for us to fulfil our approach of being a valued member of society and develops our vision of a holistic approach. 

Why would you encourage parents and carers of autistic children to consider giving Judo and try?

I would advocate for anything that helps the person, not just judo. We are one option of physical activity that can help with self-confidence, Communication, respect, and a holistic approach and a desire for continuous improvement, whatever the level or ability. We open the door to a sport that sometimes can’t be easily accessed by students with autism. I would encourage people to consider judo for the above reasons, but our main aim is not to develop an Olympic champion, our aim is to support students in their journey, whether that be a for a short time or longer. it’s all about the person, we are here to help our community and have some fun along the way.

What I have found to be true, especially within martial arts, is that if you get the right instructor, with the right team around them, if they are open to challenges and have an open mind to teaching, anything can be achieved,  nothing is impossible, we see that every day.   Judo can open a whole new world for people and what we have at Tora that is really special is a family culture and we look after each other. None of what we have done over the last 5 years, raising money for multiple charities could have been achieved without the support of our families, the Tora family and our leadership team so well done to them all.