Judo schools share the wealth

Four Whitehorse judo clubs and one from Juneau each took in at least one division win at the Northern Lights Judo Championships held on Saturday at Ecole Emilie Tremblay in Whitehorse.

Four Whitehorse judo clubs and one from Juneau each took in at least one division win at the Northern Lights Judo Championships held on Saturday at Ecole Emilie Tremblay in Whitehorse.

Even Hiroshikai Judo Club (HRK), with just one student competing, won a fight division and a judo knowledge category. Yellow belt Jadon Leenders took first in the male U11 to U13 and first in intermediate judo knowledge divisions.

HRK sensei Robert Bellon took second in male brown-to-black belt and tied for third in open male.

“Right now I don’t really have my club up and running, but he’s still considered my student,” said Bellon of Leenders. “I go to tournaments with him and help coach him.”

The hosting Northern Lights Club (NLJ) was one of two to take two combat division wins. Mattias Sembsmoen captured first in male U11 and Melia Hudgin took first in female U11 to U13. Hudgin also won the novice judo knowledge category and novice ukemi (break fall). Yellow-orange belt teammate Paige Poelman won the intermediate ukemi division.

Whitehorse’s Shiroumakai Judo Club (SHK) threw-down for the top spots in male yellow-to-blue and the open male, won by Jason Celik and Richard Zebruck, respectively.

Golden Horn Judo Club (GHJ) was golden in the youngest division, with Ronan Clutton winning mixed U9.

Three judokas from Juneau’s Capital City Judo Club (CCJ) travelled to the tournament and sensei Jay Watts took first in the brown to black division.

“This is a top-notch organization,” said Watts, of Judo Yukon, the sport’s governing body in the territory.

The championship did not lead to much movement in the Judo Yukon Champions League Cup, the competition between the four local clubs in which they accumulate points through the season. NLJ remained well in front, reaching 95 points with 20 participants. SHK remained in second with 55 points, accumulated by 14 participants.

However, when it comes to the Best Performing Club trophy, which takes into account total participants, HRK is in first. With just two participants having competed so far this season – Bellon and Leenders – the club has won 10 points, putting the school at a higher average than the rest.

“You’re a winner for even showing up, is the message I start with,” said Bellon. “You try to get to the student’s level, not your level. Just prop them up a little bit, make them feel good after every work out and that will turn into a good performance.”

The next Judo Yukon event will be the Yukon Open at the start of May. Three Alaskan clubs, bringing a total of 16 judokas, competed at last year’s open. It was the first time since the early 1990s that the tournament was international.


Mixed U9

1st Ronan Clutton (GHJ)

2nd Sam Bugg (GHJ)

3rd Anya Bellon (GHJ)

Male U11

1st Mattias Sembsmoen (NLJ)

2nd Tai McClelland (NLJ)

3rd Trent Baird (NLJ)

4th Everett Schwarz (NLJ)

Female U11-U13

1st Melia Hudgin (NLJ)

2nd Paige Poelman (NLJ)

3rd Judy Russell (SHK)

Male U11-U13

1st Jadon Leenders (HRK)

2nd Columbus MacKinnon


Male yellow to blue 20+

1st Jason Celik (SHK)

2nd Sean Stark (SHK)

3rd Dane Vasseur (NLJ)

4th Keith Cox (CCJ)

Male brown to black 20+

1st Jay Watts (CCJ)

2nd Robert Bellon (HRK)

3rd Marc-Andre Lavigne


4th Patrick Murphy (CCJ)

Male open 20+

1st Richard Zebruck (SHK)

2nd Patrick Murphy (CCJ)

3rd Keith Cox (CCJ)

3rd Robert Bellon (HRK)

Judo knowledge (novice)

1st Melia Hudgin (NLJ)

2nd Tai McClelland (NLJ)

3rd Mattias Sembsmoen (NLJ)

Judo knowledge (intermediate)

1st Jadon Leenders (HRK)

2nd Paige Poelman (NLJ)

Ukemi (novice)

1st Melia Hudgin (NLJ)

2nd Tai McClelland (NLJ)

3rd Trent Baird (NLJ)

Ukemi (intermediate)

1st Paige Poelman (NLJ)

2nd Jadon Leenders (HRK)

Contact Tom Patrick at


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