Students of Kokoro Judo Club 100 Mile House travelled to the Edmonton International Judo Championship last weekend to test their mettle.
100 Mile’s Maxi Springmann, William McKenzie and Jason Page travelled to West Edmonton Mall last weekend, among 900 judokas from across Canada and America competing in the three-day tournament. McKenzie, 16, and Page, 47, lost their two matches, while Springmann, 14, went on to bring home a bronze medal for the club winning two matches and losing a third.
Springmann said he beat a fellow orange belt in an even fight and then was defeated by a brown belt who weighed 93kg to his 74 kg.
“My third and final match would decide if I would get bronze or not. I was fighting someone bigger than me again but he was only one belt higher. It was a one-and-a-half minute fight with me winning 1-0,” Springmann said.
This was the first tournament for Kokoro Judo students since the COVID-19 pandemic. Sensei Ian Briggs couldn’t join them in Edmonton, but was proud that 100 Mile was being represented.
“It feels great. We’re a competitive club and we’ve always sent kids around North America,” Briggs said ahead of the tournament. “I’m super disappointed I couldn’t go and coach them. Judo is a competitive sport, especially when you’re young, and you can’t really understand judo totally until you’ve competed.”
Springmann and McKenzie agree they love the competitive nature of judo. The tournament was a first for McKenzie, a yellow belt.
“You got to training and at first you go ‘ah, judo is backbreaking’ but then you get out and you’re like ‘why don’t I like going there?” Springmann said. “You really have more energy after than when you started.”
Page competed in the newly introduced Ne-waza category, otherwise known as ground-fighting. Briggs said Ne-waza contestants start on their knees and rely on wrestling and pinning their opponents, rather than flipping them, to win.
As a former jujitsu practitioner, Page said he made the switch to judo this year to practice a martial art that is just as much mental as it is physical. He sees it as a great way to stay active and wanted to test his skills now that he’s earned his yellow belt.
“I wanted to see what the competition is like around Canada for my age, my weight and my belt,” Page said.
Page said he was happy with how the weekend went despite his two losses. His first match lasted for 2:30 against an orange belt, which he said was an intense but good match. His second match, against a blue belt who was six inches taller, ended in under 10 seconds with a single grapple and throw.
“I was very cognizant of the fact my opponents were not just doing judo to stay in shape like I am. When you bow and see someone suddenly coming at you with everything they have, your plan just goes out the window.”
Page said he likely won’t compete again but looks forward to watching young judoka like Springmann and McKenzie continue to compete.