The Kokoro Judo club is back on the mats for the first time since last year.
This is great news for Kokoro Judo’s sensei Ian Briggs, who said the closure, which came into effect in March 2020, was tough not only for him but the whole club. A forester, Briggs loves the physicality and movement of judo as it helps keep him in shape.
“I found out through COVID the reason I stay in the good shape I am is to be on the mats. When I wasn’t on the mats my physical condition wasn’t as big of a priority,” said Briggs, who is a second degree, or “dan,” black belt,
The first class occurred Monday, with a handful of students including Tai St Pierre, Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School’s distance learning coordinator. St Pierre, who has an orange belt, has taken judo for the past three years after previously practising Hapkido, which is similar to judo except it’s Korean, not Japanese.
“A lot of the techniques overlap,” St Pierre said. “I like the discipline, it helps actually keep me in shape. It’s something that is dependable where I can’t say ‘I’ll do it on another day.’ I’m on a strict schedule.”
St Pierre is hoping to pick up where she left off and earn her green belt in the coming weeks, while making new friends at the same time.
Briggs said now is the perfect time for beginners to get into judo. Those interested are invited to attend a class on Monday or Wednesday at 7 p.m. for free to get a feel for it or call him at 250-706-9794 for more info.
However, he advises: “There is a commitment, it’s a lifestyle. If people sign up we expect them to show up.”
Jeff Hermiston, of 108 Mile Ranch, took him up on the offer Monday. His children had been members of the club before the pandemic so he decided to give it a try once the adult classes returned.
“It’s physical and you can clearly do it throughout the winter,” Hermiston said. “You learn how to fall and not break yourself which is good in a town with ice everywhere.
Hermiston enjoys it so much he intends to stick with it, saying he looks forward to learning the throws.
Briggs also got involved after his children started taking judo, in 1998, because “he didn’t like watching much.” After the former instructor retired in the early 2000s, Briggs took over running the club with the help of people like fellow blackbelt Dan Ko.
For him, judo is a way to keep learning and perfect the art, he said.
“I love being a continual learner. With judo, there’s always more to learn and someone to teach you more,” Briggs said.
“There’s no kicking or punching so it was a good thing to put kids into. There is attack and defence in judo, of course, it is a fighting martial art, but we felt it was a safe place to put our kids because we weren’t teaching them to kick or punch but instead throws and control.”
Classes for children this year won’t start until early October and will depend on COVID-19 numbers. Those taking part in judo this year need to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask on the mats, though Briggs said the masks can come off when the students start working hard.