This weekend saw the long awaited exchange between JFAUK and Bulgaria take place. The U.K. and Bulgarian teams first met in Thessaloniki in 2014 at the Matsuura International Cup, which saw the teams face of against one another across various categories during the tournament. Since then, a strong friendship built on mutual respect has been formed due to the teams regular encounters with one another on the WJF international circuit. After much talking the Bulgarian team, led by Kayolan Kolev, was invited to the U.K. for a weekend of not only judo, but socialising and integration.
After arriving on Saturday night a welcome meal took place at a local restaurant in North London preparing the judoka for Sundays training Session.
On Sunday, Potters Bar Judo Club played host to the session, which saw both JFAUK Judoka, and other British judoka from different governing bodies travel to Hertfordshire to join our Bulgarian friends on the tatami. A 6 hour session focusing heavily on movement, set up and transitions in both tachi-waza and ne-waza took place, with many ideas being shared between the two international teams. Following from the days session a BBQ took place to give all judoka a chance to socialise with one another.
On Monday, although a training session was scheduled to take place, our guests decided that they would like to take the opportunity to visit central London as this was their first time in England. Therefore, they were taken on a a short but sweet tour of London led by JFAUK President Sampson Sampson and JFAUK Chairman Bob Bushnell.
Although the weekends exchange may be over, the relationship between JFAUK and Bulgaria is only just blossoming. The ideas, philosophies and training principles between the two nations are clearly aligned and although there may be competition between the two teams on the WJF international tatami, respect and friendship is the strong foundation on which this relationship has been built on. We look forward to seeing our friends in a few weeks time at the 2018 WJF European Championships in Greece, and look forward to the many more fruitful opportunities that will follow from this event, in particular a return visit to Bulgaria scheduled for next year.
Thank you to our guests for making the effort to visit us in the U.K. and thank you to all judoka, officials, friends and family who helped to accommodate our friends and give them a warm welcome.