How many judo clubs in the North can say they’ve been able to learn from two Canadian Olympians in the span of a month?
Judo Nunavut can and their second opportunity came late last month in Yellowknife.
Six judoka from Iqaluit made the trip over to join their colleagues from the NWT and Yukon for the annual Arctic Open competition, which ended on Nov. 26. In addition to getting a few matches, the judoka were also able to take part in a workshop with Sergio Pessoa, Jr., a member of the 2012 and 2016 Canadian Olympic teams. It followed in the footsteps of a clinic with former Olympian Nathalie Gosselin in Iqaluit in late October.
Torsten Diesel was one of the coaches who made the trip over and said it was great to have another chance to learn from one of Canada’s best.
“We got to learn from someone who has been at the top of the sport for a long time,” he said. “He’s like a role model because you can actually see someone who has achieved his goals.”
The workshop with Pessoa dealt with several aspects of what a judoka needs to know, such as grips, throws and attacks.
Diesel said the club in Iqaluit is a bit less experienced than others and any little piece of advice they can get on how to improve is welcomed.
“We’re just recreational and there’s still so much for us to learn,” he said. “Any time we can get to learn about the competitive aspects of judo being taught, you have to take them.”
Whenever an experienced judoka is teaching, said Diesel, it’s important to take what they’re teaching and pass that off to the younger judoka.
“It’s always how much you can remember after it’s done,” he said. “You just go back and work on the skills you were taught and have it become part of your routine. They know best how to become better and any chance we get to learn something new is always appreciated.”
The workshop was just one part of the weekend as there were also matches that took place on Nov. 25. Younger judoka got the chance to get some match experience while the adults competed in more ground-based matches with some matches against Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners, under judo rules, of course.
Diesel said that was an experience.
“Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a grappling martial art and fighting them makes our ground game better,” he said.
But the biggest thing Diesel said was important about the trip was the chance to see other judoka from around the North and get different perspectives on what’s happening in other places.
“When you’re working at home, you’re always seeing the same people, especially for us in Iqaluit,” he said. “The competition is one thing but learning from other clubs and meeting other judoka is very important because you get to work with different people. You may miss out on opportunities if you don’t get the chance to do events like this.”