Judoka leave fear on the mat

Event aims to build interest in community, prepare for tournaments

Shane Magee | DEH GAH GOT'IE KOE/FORT PROVIDENCE
January 22, 2015
Patrick Kippax places a medal around William Tanche-Hanna's neck at the end of the NWT Judo Championship on Jan. 17 in Fort Providence. - Shane Magee/NNSL photo

Patrick Kippax places a medal around William Tanche-Hanna’s neck at the end of the NWT Judo Championship on Jan. 17 in Fort Providence. – Shane Magee/NNSL photo

While everyone left with a medal, organizers hope the judoka who attended the NWT Judo Championship in Fort Providence also went home committed to the sport.

More than a dozen participants from judo schools in Hay River, Yellowknife, Fort Simpson and Fort Providence were at the championships held Jan. 17.

NWT Judo Association president Mario Desforges said win or lose, the matches were meant to be fun and build experience for future competitions.

“We have to grow judo across the territory,” he said.

He said they’re trying to build self-confidence among the participants.

While he estimated there are 400 children involved in judo across the territory, he said not enough stick with it and continue training to be able to qualify for events.

Desforges said he hopes to get judo back into the Arctic Winter Games, which takes place every two years.

Judo was included until 1984, he said.

As well, the territory doesn’t have as high a participation in the Canada Winter Games as he’d like.

So, with events like the championship, the goal is to build interest.

“It’s a privilege to host it,” said Patrick Kippax, who started the Fort Providence judo club in September 2014.

They have between three and five people turning out and hosting the championship aimed to draw people out to watch and maybe want to join.

Nevaeh Gargan was the only one from the community at the championship.

She said judo is fun, better than playing her Nintendo DS.

Kippax, the Deh Gah School physical literacy coordinator, said he took part in judo when he was young and it taught him mental toughness and how to overcome obstacles.

The championship began by sorting the males and females and then sorting roughly by weight and experience.

Because some of the attendees were of a lower skill level than others, the first few matches were done at knee level so the children could learn how to control their falls.

By lunchtime, the children were competing on their feet, with a whole lot less trepidation.

Dean Harvey, sensei of the Fort Simpson judo school, brought three judoka to the event from the village.

“I like that the kids were eager,” Harvey said. “I didn’t see any fear. You sometimes get that. I think one stayed at home because he was worried about that.”

After the championship, Harvey said the club members will keep practising.

He also has seen lower attendance numbers at the village judo club, less than half of the 20 that used to come after school last year.

“It’s been much quieter this year because of some kids ageing up into other sports and I’ve been less aggressive in going out there to recruit and collect kids,” he said.

“So we’ve kept it small this year.”