Capital City Judo Club has found a gentle way to improve itself as a team, earning third place at the 54th Annual Alaska State Judo Championships in Anchorage in May, while learing about themselves as individuales along the way.
Judo, a Japanese sport that dates back to 1882, translates as “the gentle way.” Judo may seem far from gentle to the observer, but the graceful movement and ease of throws and hold techniques helps make the practice of Judo “gentle”. Judo is both a national and international sport with strict guidelines; it is also an Olympic sanctioned sport dating back to the 1964 Olympic games held in Japan.
Sensei Jay Watts, Marcus Schaufele, and Bryan Olson took 20 CCJC athletes to the year-end tournament held annually in Anchorage, joining twelve Judo clubs from across the state of Alaska and Canada. Although individual athletes compete one-on-one they also gain points that accumulate for an overall team score.
The ultimate goal of a judo tournament is learning,” sensei Jay Watts said. “You learn about yourself athletically and emotionally. I watch our students learn to control their fear and learn to become a better judo player. Win or lose, the result is the same. You come back to practice on Monday to improve yourself as a judo player and as a human being.”
To prepare for the tournament, students attend local classes at the Mendenhall Mall. Sensei Watts, Olson, and Schaufele begin each class by having students line up to bow in. Class starts with an intense warm-up that involves falling and gripping techniques to teach students proper safety and movement before sparring. Following warm-up, students practice basic skills to improve upon their Judo and then start a round of Randori (free exercise), which includes throwing, holding, and take down techniques. To cool down, students often play a game involving what they have learned for the day. Before bowing out, students gather and answer questions about the history of Judo and its founding, and are reminded of ways to build themselves, become stronger leaders, and progress as individuals and as a team.
Translating that practice into actual contest is much different.
The Alaska State Tournament is unique in that it is a celebration of a year’s worth of work for the judoka. It honors the competitor, the sensei, and the student athlete. Students with exceptional grades receive a medal for their academic prowess. Awards are handed out to a variety of competitors–– to those who have made advancement to the sport of Judo and to newcomers who have worked particularly hard.
CCJC athlete Phillip Huntley stated judo was about making positive choices and Rory Hamilton described her experience as improving in discipline, technique, and focus.
In addition to a third place tournament finish the team competed in eight divisions and brought home 5 firsts, 3 seconds and 5 thirds.
Patrick Murphy took first place in the Masters Division (male).
Clare Boily took second in Juvenile A Division (female). Boily expressed that judo has “offered her the ability to protect herself.”
Juvenile A Division (male): Chris Coulson, 2nd Place
Juvenile A Division Lightweight (male): Phillip Huntley, 3rd Place; Tristan Walker-Andrews, 3rd Place.
Intermediate 2 Division (female): Kylie Lager, 1st Place; Rory Hamilton, 3rd Place.
“You don’t always go against the same people every year,” Lager said. “So you are always nervous because you don’t know their moves. Tournaments help you learn new moves.”
Intermediate 2 Division Heavyweight (male): Mitchell Laudert, 1st Place; Aristotle Perdon, 2nd Place.
Intermediate 2 Division Middleweight (male): Kye Scholes, 3rd Place.
“Competitors are really strong,” Scholes said. “So now my focus is to learn counters to their strength. It was a really fun experience, and I had to overcome my nerves.”
Intermediate 2 Lightweight (male): Toby Minick, 1st Place; Josh Lawrence, 3rd Place
Bantam 2 Division (female): Makena Perdon, 1st Place
Participants not receiving an individual medal but part of the third place team include: Luke Fortier, MJ Johnson, Kenneth Neville, Patrick Phillips, Naavah Spady, Salix Woodgate and Cody Weldon.
Tristan Walker-Andrews, age 12, also received a scholar athlete award; Sensei Jay Watts tested and was awarded his National Referee Certificate.
Capital City Judo meets on Mondays and Thursdays at the Mendenhall Mall during the summer from 6:00-7:30 pm. For class listings and schedule visit www.capitalcityjudo.com.
“The tournament reinforced that people in Judo are wonderful people,” coach Patrick Phillips, a brown belt and Judoka for over thirty years, said. “And that is across the board of all the clubs and people that you meet. Its a super experience to bring the kids to Anchorage and watch them having fun. Even with the emotional roller-coasters, it’s a growing time for all the attendees.”