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Kelowna Judo Club makes an impact at latest judo tournaments

The Kelowna Judo Club is at it again.

Making an impression at two recent Okanagan/Kootenays judo tournaments, members of the Kelowna Judo Club came away with a ton of medals and a lot of pride.

“The Okanagan Open”, hosted by Kelowna Judo took place a couple weeks ago, with seven local Okanagan clubs participating, from Salmon Arm to Revelstoke to Penticton.

Kelowna Judo hosted a very successful event, attended by over 70 judo participants meant to strike the “grass-roots” of judo, those that it may be their first judo tournament, or they can’t afford to attend the big Vancouver tournaments.

<who> contributed </who> (l to r front): Shyanne Stewart, Wylie Lemay, Sam Stewart, Sarah Clarke, Sloane Betker, Peyton Betker (l to r back): Kyle Gysler, Marko Sajdak, Paul Proudly, Kathy Hubble

“I think everybody should be allowed to participate in a judo shiai,” said coach Kathy Hubble.

Co-coaches Stu Leatherdale and Kathy Hubble organize this event every year so that even the littlest of judoka can participate, or the judoka that maybe don’t have the money to attend big Alberta or Vancouver tournaments.

“It costs a lot of money for transportation, accommodations, and entry fees for the big tournaments and often we see many judoka not able to participate because of this,” said Hubble “Or the bigger tournaments start at yellow belt, so therefore the white-belt never gets a chance to compete…We organized this so that ANYBODY can compete, and have a fun time doing it!”

The day starts with a warm-up, a mini judo practice led by black belt Sensei from all over the Okanagan, and a quick rules seminar for the parents and kids, so they understand how everything works in a judo tournament. Then the fights commence, and participants can fight as many or as few matches as they prefer.

“We just match them up together close to their weight/height/belt and ask how they’re doing throughout the day (ie: if they want to fight more of less).This really gives every single judoka a chance to do it at their own pace and in a low-pressure environment.”

“It’s so fun at the end to see all the exhausted but happy faces, and when they get their medals, it’s exhilarating! Most of them, this is their first medal so they’re ecstatic!” said Hubble. “We appreciate so much all the help that all the Okanagan clubs give, offering their black-belt Sensei up to help with the day, all of us cooperating to spread the love of judo!”

All black belts are volunteers in judo clubs, and 90% of clubs in B.C. are non-profit clubs.

You can see a video of this shiai here.

The following Okanagan tournament was the B.C. Open held this past weekend and hosted by the Vernon Judo Club. Most of the Kelowna Judo members attended and made a huge medal haul! Gold medals went to Sloane and Peyton Betker, Sarah Clarke, Autumn and Malcolm Czarnecki, Shyanne and Sam Stewart, Kyle Gysler, Paul Proudly, Nic DeKergommeaux, Wylie Lemay, and Kathy Hubble. Silver medals went to: Sophie DeKergommeaux and Marko Sajdak.

“I was very impressed by every athlete’s amazing sportsmanship and grace displayed out there,” said coach Hubble. “And we had so much help from coaches Scott Betker, Nikki Terada, and Ken Pratt, cornering the athletes to their podiums, and helping with showing etiquette as well”

“I saw one little girl crying from getting thrown and losing a match, and our judoka (who won the match) went straight over there afterward to console her, and hang out with her till they were laughing again. Now they’re friends and that’s what judo is all about.”

For more information on Kelowna Judo Club, visit their website here.

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