5th April 2021

Dear students of Soke Clark, past and present

The past year has been one that nobody could have predicted with the arrival of a worldwide pandemic causing irrevocable damage to individual people, families, and untold businesses. It has and is still having a dramatic impact on all our daily lives. Everyone has faced trying times. Heartbreakingly, far too many organisations, gyms, dojos, sports centres, and other businesses in all sectors have had to close their doors for good.

Over the past seven years the staff and Directors, along with a handful of loyal volunteers, have worked tirelessly in the quest to modernise our Organisation and in particular refurbishing the Headquarters in Liverpool. The Federation has spent in excess of £15,000, in an attempt to make the building a suitable, and in particular, a safe venue for all our students to train and enjoy. Unfortunately, we have had no co-operation from the owner of the building, Peter Rimmer, since Soke Clark died. In fact, during this pandemic period, he has totally ignored our approaches with regards to any issues and concerns regarding the safety and upkeep of the building despite numerous emails and recorded letters.

When we re-entered the building, after twelve months off, we were faced with a horror story! The roof was leaking into the Dojo and onto the Tatami and also into the changing rooms. The resulting damp throughout the building had turned to mould on all the furniture and equipment. The paint was peeling from the walls due to the gutters falling off and water ingress soaking the walls. The smell of damp and mould was not only repulsive, but it would also have had a detrimental effect on the health of anyone entering.

As Directors of our Organisation, we have always taken our responsibilities seriously and worked hard for the benefit of the members. We were left with no choice other than to consider the future viable use of the building with regard to the Federation. Taking into account all the aforesaid implications we had to make some extremely hard decisions as we felt that we could not allow our members to return to this unsafe environment. The cost to put everything right, into a building we were purely renting, without any financial help from the landlord, would have been an unfair and unrealistic epic financial burden to place on our members.

Therefore, it is with much sadness and deepest regret that the Board of Directors can confirm that we have closed the Clark Centre.

We can however, put all your minds at rest, despite ill-informed published comments. The Directors are committed to ensuring that the “World Ju-Jitsu Federation” not only survives but expands into the future. We can confirm that the restructuring of our Federation began some time ago, enabling us to modernise and invest in our students’ future, in order that we can take Soke Clark`s legacy and his Ju-Jitsu system forward.

We have safely stored all the historical items, equipment, weapons and Tatami and are actively sourcing an alternative modern headquarters, in order that once the ongoing pandemic has receded, we can rise again like a “Phoenix rising from the ashes” and fittingly, as it is Easter, be resurrected. Soke Clark discussed this progression with many of us, on numerous occasions, explaining the reason for selling the building four years prior to his death. Tragically the pandemic has forced us to make these difficult and important decisions earlier than anticipated. It is also extremely sad that students, both past and present were unable to make one last visit to the Clark Centre, which has always been regarded by us all as an iconic building in our illustrious history. 

Personally, along with many more of you, past and present, I have many fond memories of the Clark Centre, training on Tuesday mornings with Soke Clark, completing all my gradings from 1st to 7th Dan, being part of the Coaching Team and eventually being part of the Management Team. It was this Management Team which enabled the Federation to survive after the death of Soke in 2012, but for this timely intervention the Clark Centre would have closed in 2013.  So now in 2021, I am sure you will understand, for me and my fellow Directors, that it was a heart-breaking decision which had to be made with the head and not the heart.

However, in the words of Beryl Miao, “it’s just bricks and mortar, his spirit and legacy lives on, spirits, emotions feelings and memories can never be taken away”.

The past must be remembered, but now it is even more important we look to the future. The WJJF is 100% in the hands of its members.  So, we ask you to support your Federation, be part of its progression so as and when we recover from this ongoing global pandemic, we will emerge on the other side stronger than ever.

The future is bright, we have numerous plans in the pipeline for the future, you will only hear about these on our official platforms, website Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.

Kancho Robert Hart

On behalf of the Board of Directors