I first started Judo in 1955 things have changed dramatically, obviously equipment has got better, our organisational skills and Coaching has improved and the Internet and TV can work as a bonus. The one thing that I feel has changed the Martial Arts scene is the amount of different Martial Arts Organisations there are all trying to collect a ever decreasing amount of people interested in the Martial Arts. Now I have nothing against multitude of Martial Arts Organisation, interpretation on what we Martial Arts practitioners do is boundless and freedom to experiment should always be encouraged. Yes there are a lot of organisations whose claim of expertise is somewhat spurious but many are not. Now I have tried adapting some Combat disciplines, I invented the CombatSombo system which I registered as a Trademark this has had some success not as much as I had hoped. Why? Because maybe I am too rigid in my standards, some 30 years ago I started Shiai Jutsu, which means the competitive art, this involved Striking and Grappling. Having tried various rules I gave up because I thought it would not take of, how wrong I was. Cage Fighting was the extension of Shiai Jutsu and look how popular that has come although not the direction I would have gone. The system nearest to my Shiai Jutsu is Combat Sambo, which combine Striking and Grappling you compete with a jacket and most importantly it is done on a Mat
My experience over the years has taught me people want forms of autonomy to decide their own path. So when I came to form the British Sombo Federation in 1980's, I soon convinced the BSF EC to move to an organisation, which was based on Associations/Organisation’s not individual and Clubs. This has worked extremely well extremely well with none of the infighting and politics found in other Martial Arts Organisation’s. The BSF expects certain standards from every organisation, which are basic to most organisations. They must be have been in existence for a minimum of 12 months and must have a minimum of 50 members, The Association must have a constitution, Must have Insurance Cover, Must have Child Protection Policy, Must have Equity Policy, Must have Health and Safety Policy. This way they can retain their own independence with Coaching, Grading’s, and Competitions etc.
With the International Budo Federation I operate a similar system but I also allow individuals and Clubs to join but still give them a lot of independence for example if a Club has joined and a Black Belt registered Coach I allow them to grade their own pupils on what ever syllabus they like up to 1st Kyu Brown Belt and allow them to keep all their grading fees for themselves or their club. My Black Panel or I do all the Dan Grading’s on a Syllabus I set, so the Kyu grade standard may differ from club to club but the Dan grade standard is constant, plus I give 20% of the licence fee to the clubs. Now this can make a big difference to club finance for example the BJA will be charging next year £10 for each grading to be registered. By using this system Clubs still have some form of independence and Cash in the process
Martin Clarke 8th Dan Judo
Chairman British Sombo Federation
President IBF UK