It is common knowledge that to achieve greatest results and to demonstrate maximum abilities all athletes without any exception need to be totally devoted to their sports. At the same time sports always entail significant costs for creating training opportunities in accordance with the latest standards, participation in competitions and providing athletes with all necessary facilities. When these two conditions are met, it is possible to prepare athletes for world and Olympic competitions and, very importantly, to continuously attract young talents to our national team. Financial support and care for athletes both by the government and community play crucial role in achieving this goal.
Vladimir Putin suggested creating a powerful club for leading Russian judokas and coaches. Sport providers and judo enthusiasts from St. Petersburg took his words “Let us fight!” as a call to action. Vladimir Putin agreed to become an Honorary President of the club. At that time, he was the Vice Mayor of Saint Petersburg. Having the title of Master of Sports in judo and being a champion of Leningrad, he was very interested in the situation around his favorite sport. Back then, promising athletes had to finish their career before they could fulfill their potential.
Club boards of founding members and trustees included a lot of honored, famous and influential people. That is why the club receives huge financial support that helps provide athletes with all necessary training facilities and allows them to take part in Russian and international competitions. The head and Director General of the club is Arkady Rotenberg, Master of Sports in judo and sambo, Honored Coach of Russia and Honored Worker of Physical Culture of the Russian Federation. His working life was always related to martial arts: he started his career as a coach and then became the head and the director of sport schools and communities.
One of the founders’ organizational meetings took place in a Japanese restaurant. When they discussed the club name, the restaurant chef suddenly suggested an idea: “You can name the club YAWARA, it is a synonym for Ju and means ‘flexibility’ and ‘gentleness’.” All that remained was to add NEVA to mark our city and a symbol of the WAY. In fact, YAWARA is one of three fundamental principles underlying lots of different martial arts. This term combines gentleness with plasticity, spirit with body. Comprehension and achievement of YAWARA is the key to concentration, combining and using all spiritual and physic power, and ability to predict moves of a rival.
The club founders were aimed to prepare the team for successful participation in world competitions. To make this possible they involved the strongest Russian judokas. They also created European-like financial conditions for athletes in order to prevent talent drain to foreign clubs and to encourage them to join our national team. Moreover, the idea of Yawara-Neva club was to provide multifaceted material support for best Russian athletes, including outfit, a training and recreational camp, studying in Japan, monthly money remuneration, and a reward system for successful participation in high-level competitions. Our club also strives to help our prominent athletes who glorify our country continue fulfilling their potential when their sports career comes to an end. These people prove themselves to be strong and successful athletes who have the authority in the world of sports. It is very important to help them get settled in life after finishing their career.
Club members participated in a European competition for the first time in 1999. At that time the club included judokas from St. Petersburg and Dagestan. During the preliminary competition the Yawara-Neva members were defeated by the athletes from a German club, but gained valuable experience.
The core of the club team was formed step by step by involving leading athletes and coaches. Amongst them there were such prominent judokas as Tamerlan Tmenov, Vitaliy Makarov, Alexander Mikhaylin, Anatoly Laryukov, Evgeny Stanev, Magomed Dzhafarov, Yury Styopkin, and others. They were followed by promising young athletes who trained alongside judo aces, prepared for big events and finally became a part of the club.
The club made a serious statement for the first time in 2000. During the preliminary competition for getting into the final as a result of tough struggle our team dropped the Liberty club (Romania), the winner of 1999, out of the European Cup tournament. After defeating the Istanbul club (Turkey) Yawara-Neva got into the final and fought for the main trophy for the first time with the multiple European Cup winner Abensberg club (Germany) which hosted the tournament. Abensberg won only by one point. The 3:4 score speaks for itself.
Today Yawara-Neva is a powerful and prominent club with its history, achievements and motto: “One for all, all for one.” There were four European Cup winnings in its history. The club team won the tournament in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005.
The club collection includes a silver trophy of 2006 and a bronze trophy of 2003. Yawara-Neva won two of four Russian Federation President’s Cup tournaments with the participation of the strongest teams from all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Germany and other countries (in 2000 and 2003).

ph13The first trophy. European Cup, 2001.
In 2001 at the initiative of the Honored Coach of Russia Anatoly Rakhlin the women’s team was formed. Its core included athletes from the School of Higher Sports Mastery (St. Petersburg), such as Tea Donguzashvili, Tatyana Ivanova, Natalia Yukhareva, Lyudmila Bogdanova, as well as talented judokas from other Russian cities. As of today women’s Yawara-Neva team won the European Cup tournament twice (in 2002 and 2004) and got silver and bronze rewards.
President’s Cup, 2000.
Over the years our athletes got a lot of glorious victories both in European and world competitions.

Training camp for preparation for the European Cup competition, St. Petersburg, 2007.
ph72There are different medals for continental and world championships, Olympic prizes from Sydney and Athens, and various rewards for different stages of the World Cup. It is no coincidence that six men’s team members and three women’s team members became the main candidates for the Russian Olympic team 2008 and prepared for the competition in China. These are T. Tmenov and A. Mikhaylin, R. Gasimov, Kh. Taov and I. Pershin, M. Dzhafarov, E. Stanev. Russian women’s team is led by T. Donguzashvili, N. Yukhareva and L. Bogdanova.
Club athletes’ training is carried out in accordance with our national team’s training plans. Club coaches and experts help our athletes achieve good results, look for young talents and closely follow their progress. Club coaching staff consists of experienced judokas who have the title of Honored Coach of Russia, such as A. Rakhlin, A. Miller, A. Bekuzarov, and others. Moreover, our club provides continuous athletes’ health monitoring, high-quality medical examinations and, if needed, medical consultation and assistance in Saint Petersburg clinics. The club also offers a recreational camp at the seaside where our athletes can relax and recuperate. Club athletes visited Japan several times where they studied and trained at Kodokan and other leading judo centers.


Kodokan, 2001.
Today Yawara-Neva is a powerful and prominent club with its history and achievements, and a leader in European club judo. Much of the club success as a promising sport project is owed to constant support of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. He has had several meetings with the athletes and follows their achievements. Mr. Putin loves judo from his youth, he is a highly experienced expert and a true master. In fact, he managed to turn into reality the key idea of this martial art formulated by its founder Kano Jigoro: “The purpose of the study of judo is to perfect yourself and to contribute to society.” Our Honorary President takes interest in Yawara-Neva, closely follows club affairs, issues and events, cares for it and visits club competitions as often as possible.
V. Putin and M. Ponomarev at the club practice
The club aims to improve athletes’ skills, look for talents, keep leading position among European clubs in an increasingly competitive environment, attract young promising athletes and engage club veterans who contributed a lot to the success of Yawara-Neva as coaches and experts.
Our club will continue developing, strengthening its team and maintaining its leading position. Our partner Association for the development of combat sports ‘Otechestvo’ (Eng. Motherland) has already made a contribution to these objectives. The aim of this organization is to look for young talents and to provide necessary facilities for skill improvement.