Judo Yukon gets new hold on life

Judo Yukon's last season ended with neither a thud nor a whimper, it just quietly dissipated.

Judo Yukon’s last season ended with neither a thud nor a whimper, it just quietly dissipated.

Due to “commitment problems” the organization was unable to send athletes to represent the territory at July’s Judo Junior Nationals in Calgary.

Making matters worse, Judo Yukon’s Selkirk Elementary School club closed down after its sensei, who was also the school principal, took another job.

However, it has been a busy start to the season for Judo Yukon over the last few weeks as the organization gets its new season on track.

After the dissolution of the Selkirk Judo School, Judo Yukon has bounced back with the opening of two new schools, at Holy Family School and Ecole Emilie Tremblay, bringing the organization’s total to four in the Whitehorse area. Just in the last week, Judo Yukon has also held its annual general meeting and had a visit by technical adviser and 7th degree black belt John Huntley, up from Kamloops, BC.

“We had a lot of fun and introduced new stuff to a lot of them,” said Huntley.

“All the (Yukon) instructors at the individual clubs get along very well – you don’t see that when you get down to the southern part of the country,” added Huntley, who conducted his first Yukon clinic in Faro in 1968.

While here for the AGM, Huntley also held a clinic on Sunday, taking Yukon judokas through many of the new techniques and rules that have evolved in the sport.

“Judo, like any other sport, is always in a state of flux – there’s always new stuff coming out,” said Huntley. “I covered new referee regulations for competition.”

“We are lucky to have someone with such a depth of knowledge,” said Dan Poelman, president of Judo Yukon. “He’s been involved with judo for 50 years. He has a lot of enthusiasm so he gets everyone riled up and excited about judo.”

With as strong of a start to the season as this may be, there are still long-term obstacles for Judo Yukon to overcome.

“We have the other stumbling block that this location is booked through the city and we can only be here during school times,” said Sensei Aaron Jensen at Shiroumakai Judo club at Vanier Catholic Secondary School.

“Our junior program kind of fell through the cracks (last summer). We only had one junior that was of the right age and level to go, (to the Junior Nationals) that’s Eric Vasseur, and he’s at the bottom age group.

“We were hoping there’d be four or five athletes, but unfortunately, through the season, those athletes either fell out because of injuries or attraction to other sports.”

New members are welcome throughout the season at the club and, once a member, students are welcome to attend any of the clubs.

“We’re all under the same umbrella: Judo Yukon,” said Poelman.

“We’re trying to promote and train our advanced students. So there could be a couple new black belts by the end of the school year.

“We’ll have to assess and see what we can do when the summer comes around. There are summer camps for judo as well, so maybe we can send a couple kids to that as well to keep them motivated.”

More information can be found at http://judoyukon.whitehorse.ca.

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