The Yukon judo community was at Elijah Smith Elementary School in Whitehorse on Jan. 11 for the Northern Lights Judo Tournament hosted by the Northern Lights Judo Club.
A total of 50 judokas participated in the tournament, competing in 22 divisions including both ground and standing categories ranging in age from U8 all the way to adult.
Joining the host club were judokas from Golden Horn Judo Club, Shiroumakai Judo Club and Hiroshikai Judo Club.
Robert Bellon, president of Judo Yukon, said the tournament went well with participants staying safe throughout.
“It went really smooth and I like that our injuries were to a very minimum,” said Bellon. “That’s always our big concern. We have St. John’s Ambulance there — we like to have them there but not have to use them. That part went really well.”
As the second Yukon tournament of the year, it was the first or second opportunity for many of the Yukon’s youngest judokas to compete in a tournament. The ground divisions, Bellon explained, are a way for those newcomers to the sport to participate.
“We do the ground (divisions) for the people that are not good with their ukemi, which is breakfalls, so we put them on the ground to give them experience,” said Bellon. “It gives them experience for tournaments — just that added pressure and butterflies and all that — to actually compete and get scored and reffed and try and keep within the rules.”
How a judoka reacts in a tournament setting can often have a big impact on training.
“The thing that always stands out is the individual that actually loves judo and comes back,” said Bellon. “You know more after the first class after the first tournament. Now they’re taking the workout a little more seriously. Now they’re listening more. That normally comes out … and that’s what I love about a tournament — you can find out the person that’s competitive. … As a coach, that’s what I always look for.”
With Whitehorse in the midst of a cold snap, weather did have some impact on the tournament. Close to a half dozen judokas from the Hiroshikai Judo Club in Carcross who were registered were unable to compete after cars wouldn’t start and carpools couldn’t be arranged.
“Considering (the weather), the turnout was good for the numbers we actually had,” said Bellon. “We have like 85 kids registered in judo and we had 56 people (registered for the tournament), so that’s a pretty good turnout.”
The next local judo tournament is the Yukon Judo Championship on May 2 at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse.
Before that though, a contingent of judokas will be going to the Arctic Open in Inuvik on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 competing under the banner of Judo Yukon.
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com