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Sport England Approval To Permit A Return to Play For Styles Without NGB Representation

We know for numerous clubs that practice style(s) outside of a Sport England NGB that the thought of having to remain at Phase 0 (socially distanced, zero contact training) until June 21st at the earliest has been an incredibly difficult realisation to arrive at. We know it’s further impacted by some clubs with access to a phased return of contact training, and others who are having to make use of ‘neighbouring’ policies from closely associated disciplines. All in all, it’s far from ideal.

With this in mind, we’re very pleased to say that following complex discussions with Sport England’s Return to Play team over the past few weeks, we’ve now been given permission to issue a temporary policy that will allow all styles currently without a formally accepted Return to Play policy the opportunity to resume at Phase 1 and 2 (as relevant) at an organisation level.

Exactly Why This Is Important And What It Means?

Until now only a very small number of styles and disciplines which have a Sport England approved NGB have been granted the ability to have a Return to Play (RtP) policy reviewed and approved. These styles are;

  1. Boxing
  2. Brazilian Jui-Jitsu
  3. British Ju Jitsu
  4. Taekwondo
  5. Judo
  6. Wrestling
  7. Kickboxing
  8. Aikido
  9. Kendo
  10. Karate
  11. Krav Maga

(Please note that at time of writing, some of these disciplines are yet to have their RtPs formally approved)

With more than 100 disciplines and styles represented by BMABA alone there is clearly a huge section of the independent market that until now has had no firm way of out Phase 0, zero-contact training.

The confirmation we have received from Sport England today (15/04/21) now permits us to publish to our members a specific policy framework that will act as a temporary RtP policy document. This will allow all currently unrepresented styles access to the DCMS phases of return and the wider risk mitigation measures seen by the above referenced policies.

This will enable all styles of martial arts we represent the ability to resume contact training at Phases 1 and 2 (per the DCMS guidance) whilst any formal reviews for RtPs are assessed by DCMS.

What Styles Would Be Able To Use BMABA’s Guidance?

Only styles without a DCMS approved Return to Play policy would be able to make use of this guidance policy document. It is not an approved Return to Play policy – we have agreed with Sport England that as the process for this to happen is lengthy, whilst we continue to work toward this on a few differing disciplines, a temporary and immediate document that ties together official guidance for styles without representation would be much more beneficial.

Where any approved Return to Play policy exists and has been signed off by DCMS, this policy must be adopted. BMABA’s policy will be permissible as a temporary measure for as long as no NGB policy exists. To the best of our knowledge, we have removed the styles below – all of which we register and insure – to exclude disciplines which have a direct RtP for their art.

Aiki JuJitsu
Aiuchi Ju Jitsu
Aiwakai Karate Do
Ashihara Karate
American Kempo
Ba Ji Quan and Tai Chi
Bataireacht (Irish Stick Fighting)
Bokh (Mongolian Wrestling)
Brazilian Ju Jitsu (BJJ)
British Combat Judo
British Folkstyle Wrestling
Bujinkan Budo
Bujinkan Budo Tai Jutsu
Bushi Kempo
Canne de Combat
Catch Wrestling
Ch`uan Fa
Ch`uan Shu
Cheibi Gad-Ga
Chi Gong
Chinese Kickboxing
Choy Li Fut
Choi Kwang Do
Close Protection Training
Close Quarter Combat (CQB)
Combat Hapkido
Combat Hopak
Combat Sambo
Conflict Management
Cuong Nhu
Dacayana Eskrima
Daido Juku Kudo
Daito-ryu Aiki Jujitsu
Danzan Ryu
Drunken Fist (Zui Quan)
Eagle Claw Kung Fu
Enshin Kaikan
Feng Shou
Filipino Martial Arts
Fitness Orientated Kickboxing
Folkstyle Wrestling
Freestyle Jujitsu
Freestyle Karate
Freestyle Karate Jutsu
Freestyle Kung Fu
Freestyle Kickboxing
Freestyle Taekwondo
Fu Jow Pai
Goju Kai Karate Do
Goju Ryu Karate
Gongkwon Yusul
Goshin Jutsu
Goshin Ryu Kempo Jujitsu
Haidong Gumdo
Han Mu Do
Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA)
Historical Fencing
Hung Ga
Huyen Langlon
Hwa Rang Do
Iinkai Judo
Isshin-Ryu Karate
Jado Kuin Do
Japanese Shotokan Karate
Jeet Kune Do
Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido
Jun Fan Gung Fu
Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do
Kaiai Jitsu
Kali Silat
Karate Jutsu
Kaze Arashi Ryu
Kempo Jujitsu
Kempo Ryu
Ken Fat
Kenshin Karate
Ki Aikido
Kick Boxing
Ko Budo
Korean Kickboxing
Koryu Uchinadi
Krav Maga
Kuk Sool Won
Kung Fu
Kung Fu To’a
Kyokushinkai Karate
Lathi Khela
Lau Gar
Lau Gar Kickboxing
Lau Gar Kung Fu
Lee Style Tai Chi
Leopard Kung Fu (Bao Quan)
Malla Yuddha
Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP)
Martial Arts Based Fitness
Martial Arts Wrestling
Military Martial Arts
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Monkey Kung Fu (Hou Quan)
Muay Boran
Muay Thai
Nearu Martial Art
Nihon Goshin Ju Jitsu
Ninpo Taijutsu
Niten Ichi-Ryu
North West Chinese Kickboxing
Pa Kua
Pa Qua
Personal Protection
Physical Intervention
Pradal Serey
Qi Kwan Do
Qwan Ki Do
Quan Fa
Reality Based Martial Arts
Russian Martial Arts
Sanjuro Martial Arts
Sankukai Karate
Seiki Juku Karate
Self Defence
Self Protection
Shaolin Kempo Karate
Shaolin Kung Fu
Shaolin-Tsu Kempo
Shito-Ryu Karate
Shindo Jinen Ryu
Shorinji Kempo
Shorin-Ryu Karate
Shotokan Goju Ryu
Shotokan Karate
Shuai Chiao
Shuai Jiao
Shukokai Karate
Soo Bahk Do
Sport Boxing (Martial Arts Based)
Sport Karate
Sport Sambo
Submission Wrestling
Tai Chi
Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Jutsu
Tang Soo Do
Thai Boxing
Tiger Claw Kung Fu (Fu Jow Pai)
Tora Kai
Traditional Aikido
Traditional Italian Martial Arts
Traditional Karate
Traditional Wado Ryu
Unarmed Combat
Viet Vo Dao
Wado Ryu Karate
Wing Chun
Wing Chun Kung Fu
Wing Tsun
World Tang Soo Do
Yoseikan Budo
Zen Shin Karate

Has This Decision Been Approved By Sport England?

Yes, it has. Throughout the pandemic we have steered toward only releasing guidance which is factual and to the best of our knowledge accurate. When Return to Play policies were mandated before styles could resume contact training, rather than publishing what we thought might be permissible, we’ve established direct contact with Sport England’s Return to Play team and have secured confirmation that;

  • Any club from any association can make use of DCMS approved Return to Play Policies, meaning if an NGB policy has been approved, any club can make use of it without being a member of that organisation.


  • That we may release an interim BMABA Return to Play policy that will act as a general guidance policy for all styles we represent currently without an official Return to Play policy in place.

It’s important to stress that this policy document does not supersede or replace the DCMS approval route. Following our complex discussions, Sport England have recognised the need to allow styles without a formal NGB a route back to contact training and understanding that an approved DCMS RtP might never emerge for some styles, they have agreed that a general policy document will allow our clubs the opportunity to resume on a standardised framework. This does not grant exemptions from what is currently permitted with other Return to Play policies, but it does allow clubs who currently have no policy to work from access to this framework and the associated privileges.

We have a full policy document in the works at the moment which will clarify this, but as an interim measure, we’re happy to share a heavily redacted email between the Return to Play unit at Sport England and our CEO, Giovanni.

What we are keen to stress is that this does not offer us any authority to exceed the current Phase 0, 1 and 2 DCMS guidance’s but rather, it allows us to create a policy framework that will allow clubs and styles currently without an approved NGB plan the opportunity to resume alongside their peers in styles such as Karate and Kickboxing in the interim.

What About Styles With A Sport England NGB?

If your discipline has a Sport England approved NGB and there is a DCMS signed-off Return to Play policy in place, you must follow that policy instead of our interim policy framework.

What About Wales, Scotland And Northern Ireland?

We’re watching closely in respect of what’s occurring in neighbouring nations and hope this precedent set with Sport England will allow us similar privileges in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is currently an incredibly complex picture, so we will be providing detailed, individual guidance for the devolved nations in the days ahead.

Where Can I Find The BMABA Policy Document & When Will It Be Ready?

To view the release of this document, and to access the policy, click here.

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