I was 12 years old.

I was facing a young girl, about my age, with a whole lot more experience in Judo than I had.

However, I had the male ego in full swing and thought no way could this girl toss me.

Moments later, I was flying through the air only to land on my side, slapping the mat as my instructor had taught. Looking up, I couldn’t help but notice the smile on her face.

So much for the ego as a defensive move. I later learned what she had done was a classic hip throw called koshi-nage.

Recently, I sat down with three of four Yukon instructors to talk about the state of Judo in our territory, reminisce over some history, and what goals they were working on for the future.

Dan Poelman, Aaron Jensen, Robert Bellon and Michael Bellon represent over 100 years in training and teaching. Together they exhibit a kind of unity not often seen in the martial arts. With all these years of training experience among them, and a willingness to work together, Judo has a very strong future in the Yukon.

Each teaches their own classes, but all are part of the same umbrella organization called Judo, Yukon. This ensures an overall consistent level of instruction not centred around one particular person and allows the group to be able to test up to first degree black belt within the Yukon.

Judo Yukon is affiliated with Judo Canada. Visiting instructors are brought up by the main organization and all clubs participate.

Over the years, Judo has been taught in many of the communities but at the present time is only located in Whitehorse.

Currently, classes are taught at Golden Horn School, Holy Family, Ècole Emilie Tremblay, and Vanier Catholic School. It is the only martial art offered in so many locations by so many teachers.

Chuck Mackenzie has to be considered the father of Judo in the Yukon. A Yukon Sports Hall of Fame member, he has represented the Yukon at the Arctic Winter Games winning two gold ulus as well as competing at many other events over the years. Mackenzie taught hundreds of people Judo and three of the four instructors teaching today trained under him.

They consider Judo in a transition period. Like so many other activities in the Yukon, Judo has had its periods of growth as well as periods of stagnation. This year seems to be one of transition from less activity to more involvement.

When I asked the instructors why they continue to volunteer and teach, each of them said they wanted to give back to Judo what they received as students themselves.

Listening to them, it became obvious that Judo had helped shape their lives in a possible manner. They feel the philosophy, training and competition is good for both children and adults.

Some of their goals over the next few years is to develop a group of competitive practitioners of various ages to send to Outside competitions.

Years ago, Judo used to be part of the Arctic Winter Games. Now the clubs would like to see it back and are hoping that, with the support of the other participating countries, the sport of Judo will once again be involved in this uniquely northern competition.

For more information about this exciting and affordable martial art, go to www.sportsyukon.com or send an e-mail to poelman@klondiker.com.