Judo was introduced in Bhutan in 2010 as a club at Pelkhil School. Most Bhutanese had never heard of this martial art before. The school promoted Judo among the students from other schools in Thimphu valley. This helped to rapidly increase interest in Judo grew and in the following year, Pelkhil Judo Club was established.
The first sensei was Michihiro Yamasaki, who did the hard work of establishing the foundations of Judo and generating excitement among the students. He was with the club for almost 3 years. Sensei Yoshihiro Horiuchi took over from 2014 until 2016. He was appointed by JICA Bhutan. Assistant Coach Pema Dargay coaches all the new members.
His Majesty the King was a keen practitioner of Judo as the Crown Prince. In 2011 during his visit to the Kodokan Judo Institute he received an honorary black belt. His Majesty also expressed his keen interest to spread Judo throughout Bhutan.
With the generous support from His Majesty and HRH Prince Dasho Jigyel U. Wangchuck, the President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee, interest towards Judo has grown slowly but steadily in Bhutan. In 2013, the Pelkhil Judo Club was upgraded to the Bhutan Judo Association with affiliation to the BOC. The certificate of affiliation was issued in 2015. As an opening event, the Nepal national team was invited to Bhutan for a joint training camp and friendly tournament.
The BJA has approximately 100 regular members from 5 years olds to adults. Many more participate when they can. Participants include both boys and girls. Membership is open to all not just Pelkhil students. At present our members are from 17 Thimphu schools. Students train 3 times a week for about 90 minutes each session. The judo gi or dress is provided for free by the BJA. Students are responsible for keeping it clean and returning it in good condition.
The BJA conducts at least 2 national tournaments in a year. There are also at least 2-3 friendship tournaments with teams from Nepal and India and our teams will soon compete in Singapore and Japan as well. In 2016, our team will participate in the Children of Asia Games in Russia.
The BJA runs two dojos in Thimphu. The primary dojo is located at Pelkhil School and the new dojo has been opened in North Thimphu.
A small monthly fee of Nu.200 is charged for the program. Interested individuals are requested to contact the school office to find out about schedules and timings.
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