The Zen Judo style was founded by Shihan Dominick Mac McCarthy 8th Dan Zen in1974.
Shihan McCarthy trained for many years in both judo and karate and the Zen Judo style is based on the original Kyu shin do Judo style founded by Sensei Kenshiro Abbe 7th Dan who founded the British Judo Council in 1958 with Sensei Bill Woods 2nd Dan. Abbe Sensei went on to form a number of schools or ryu the most widely known being his style of Akido.
After the sad death of Shihan McCarthy in 1995 it became for the Zen Judo Family which he had started to remain under one sensei and there was a fragmentation of the original clubs.
The main Zen Judo clubs in the U.K. formed themselves into two groups partially based on geographical region. Most of the original Zen Judo Family clubs from the South of England around Petersfield have remained with The Zen Judo Family (ZJF) and the group of clubs which had there base in and around Nottingham broke away to form The British Zen Judo Family Association (BZJFA) in January 2000 under Shihan Andrew M. Millard 6th Dan Zen who had been the Zen Judo Family Technical Director and Custodian..
The American Zen Judo Family had been set up in 1991 by Sensei H.B. Keo Cavalcanti 6th Dan Zen and later The Spanish Zen Judo Family came into being in 2001 under Sensei Batolome Canellas Cardona 4th Dan Zen.
It should be pointed out that over the years a number of clubs have broken away from the main Zen Judo organisations and have gone it alone but still use and teach the Zen Judo syllabus.
Over the past few years the organisations have grown much closer together again and maintain close links, with students training at each others clubs and grades being recognised by all organisations. This www.zenjudo.co.uk website acts as a central point for all Zen Judo clubs and to that end tries to promote cooperation and training between all students of Shihan McCarthy's style of judo.
Shihan Dominick Mac McCarthy was born in 1918 and trained in a number of martial arts. He was 47 years old when he started training in the Kyu-shin-do style of judo. He broke away from Kyu-shin-do and formed the Zen Judo Family in September 1974 with the hope of preserving the kyu-shin-do style by keeping the same syllabus and still using Japanese names for the throws, because at that time there was a lot of pressure to westernise Judo.
Shihan MacCarthy attained the level of 8th Dan and died in 1995 aged 77 years. It is worth noting that he was still instructing at the Petersfield dojo, the home of The Zen Judo Family the week before he passed away.