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The passing of Budokwai legend Hana Sekine

9 Jan 2021 10:20

 John Goodbody    David Finch /

Hana Sekine, the only child of Gunji Koizumi, the founder of The Budokwai and British Judo, passed away on January 8. She was 100 years old and, until a few weeks before her death in St. Vincent’s Nursing home in Hammersmith, had remained amazingly lucid and alert.

Hana was married to the late Percy Sekine, the former British international and team manager, who had founded the Judokan in west London in 1954, where Hana worked as secretary and behind the club bar.

She was brought up by her parents Gunji and his wife Ida, initially in Ebury Street, close to The Budokwai’s original premises at the back of Buckingham Palace. She was largely educated at the neighbouring Grey Coat Hospital School and began judo aged 15, reaching green belt.

During the Second World War, Hana worked as a nurse in north London as well as in a café, which had been converted by her parents from the lacquer shop in Victoria which they had run in the 1930s. Lacquer, reading and cooking were subjects that interested Hana all her life.

She married Percy in 1947 and, two years later, had a son, Douglas, who survives her. The Judokan, situated in two disused squash courts behind a block of flats in Hammersmith, where the family lived, was a successful club for 50 years. It attracted a host of Japanese instructors as well British internationals, such as Denis Bloss and Dicky Bowen. It closed in 2004.

Hana cared for Percy in his declining years before his death in 2010. In her late 90s, she was looked after by a carer, Adela Mediavilla, and by several former Judokan members, who regularly visited her for reunions, two of whom had bought the flat so she could live rent-free for the rest of her life. Hana was an honoured guest in 2018, when the gala dinner was held in Kensington to celebrate the centenary of the founding of The Budokwai and the start of British Judo.

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  • Hana Sekine (JPN) - © David Finch,
  • Hana Sekine (JPN) - © David Finch,
  • London Budokwai (GBR), Gunji Koizumi (JPN) - © The Bowen Collection at Bath University

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