THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENTS OF JUDO IN MANITOBA
Judo, in its earliest forms in Manitoba was closely associated with the traditional art of Jujitsu. Since Judo is derived from Jujitsu, it must be said that Judo, in a very embryonic stage, was taught in Manitoba in the early 1920's. Mr. Pete Rousseau, an 87 year old resident of Elgin Avenue who was an all-around athlete and amateur boxer for many years remembers studying Jujitsu around 1920 or 1922.
In the late 1920's, Taro Miyake, a Jujitsu man, turned professional wrestler arrived in Winnipeg. He and Mr. Tachibana, who ranked about brown belt in Jujitsu, gave a demonstration in the old police gym on Rupert Street. Following this, they opened a dojo (club) in the O.B.U. (One Big Union) building on Carlton Street near the Free Press.
In 1937, Glen and George Pridmore, two St. James policemen, formed a "Judo" club in the Central "Y". At this time, the word Judo was very popular. Coincidental with the 1936 Olympics, a huge tournament was held in Seattle in honor of Jigoro Kano. His death in 1937 made headlines around the world and suddenly every Jujitsu man was a Judo black belt. The war years (1939 - 1945) only compounded this situation.
Two examples are Jack Matheson and Jack Trott. Jack Matheson was a professional boxer before the war. He took a six week unarmed combat course and was presented with an army black belt. Jack Trott, a C.P.R. police
superintendent, took a R.C.M.P. course and was awarded a "Mountie black belt" because he had wrestled in the 1936 Olympics.
Soon after the war, on October 3, 1947, Glen and George Pridmore again founded a "Judo" club that has continued on in an unbroken line to the Manitoba Judo Institute of today.
Although the name was "Judo", the game was Jujitsu. There were three styles of play: The first was like the sport Judo but dirty, the second was like wrestling in that the opponents circled each other, looking for holds, and the third was like Karate.
In those days, there was a great deal of hatred for the Japanese on the part of the general public, so Judo etiquette was ignored. The exponents of this early form of Judo shook hands, as in boxing, instead of the traditional bowing. Since Judo gis (jackets) were unobtainable, Glen Pridmore designed a pullover type jacket with a deep V-neck and a belt that went only once around. Most of the men wore either swimming or wrestling trunks.
In the autumn of 1948, Tommy Mitani first visited Pridmore's club at the Central Y.M.C.A. Mitani, later on in that year, brought two brown belts, Jimmy Matsuo and Jimmy Iwabuchi, to help out with the club and also to aid the "Y" members in staging a large demonstration.
In the fall of 1949 Pridmore moved to Calgary. In 1950, soon after Pridmore's departure, Tom Mitani established his influence on the development of Kodokan Judo in Manitoba. Tom Mitani was strongly involved in the reorganization of Canadian Judo during this time. Attempts were made to branch Judo throughout Winnipeg in 1950. For example, Ron Fulton, Jack Kelly and Jimmy Iwabuchi founded a Judo club at Carpiquet Barracks. At this same time, Tom Mitani, Jimmy Iwabuchi, and Ron Fulton formed a club at the R.C.A.F. base. These men also worked out in the R.C.M.P. barracks on Sunday mornings. All these clubs lasted about one year.
In 1951, Tom Mitani pulled the Judo club out of the "Y" and moved it to the R.C.M.P. barracks on Portage Avenue. A new Y.M.C.A. club was organized by Bob Demby, soon to be the first Caucasian Black Belt in Western Canada, and Dave White, however, it did not last very long. Soon after, they joined Mr. Mitani at the barracks and Ron Fulton remained to form and organize a self¬defense class at the "Y" in December of 1951. Over the years it was slowly changed into a Judo club.
In 1952, the first formal and authentic Judo club, "The Manitoba Judo Institute", was formed by Mr. Mitani, with the help of instructors Harold Shimane and Noboru Shimizu, on the seventh floor of the McIntyre Block on Main Street. It was a very modest beginning for the club, for the area was no larger than 12 x 20', and only two or three members could work out at one time. The facilities were very poor, for the students practiced on old mattresses with some type of canvas covering. With an expanding membership, the club moved to the fourth floor of the same building to an area which was approximately three or four times the size. There the club remained until the middle of the 1950's.
In the early years of the Manitoba Judo Institute, (more popularly known as the Manitoba Judo Club) there were no financial resources with which to sustain the club, except through membership fees. Often, social events were held to raise funds, but mainly the life of the club depended on the donations and contributions made by members of the Japanese populace. A major benefactor of Judo in Manitoba was Mr. Kuwada, a contractor and owner of Kuwada Construction. A black belt, who had received his training in Japan, Mr. Kuwada was interested in promoting Judo in the community. In the years when the Judo club was suffering from financial difficulties and was unable to pay its rent, Mr. Kuwada would contribute money with which to pay the rent. Mr. Kuwada was also responsible for the cleaning and renovating of the other building which the club was to occupy in future years. With the incorporation of the MBBA, Mr. Kuwada was named honorary president, and will always be considered as one of the Manitoba Judo Club's foremost promoters and supporters.
By the mid-1950's the Manitoba Judo Institute moved frequently to various locations in an attempt to become less isolated to the public. It was the objective of the club to become more familiar to the public and more accessible, while attempting to expand facilities for the student. After moving from the McIntyre Block the club became situated on Sargent Avenue on the corner of Spence Street. After occupying the building for approximately one year, the club moved to a small building on Ellice and Burnell, which is presently known as the Tumbleweed Grill. The Judo club was conveniently located across the street from the Goodwill Radio Shop owned by Tom Mitani, and could be opened easily and often for instruction. However, the facilities proved to be inadequate because of an expanding enrollment, the lack of floor space, and the faulty heating system.
By the late 1950's, the Manitoba Judo Institute moved to 329 Donald Street, where a boxing club had been situated. The facilities were very bad, the area was very dirty, and it needed a lot of cleaning. Again, it was the desire of the club to obtain a larger facility since the Judo enrollment continued to climb. After moving to 374 Donald, the club felt they would not receive enough publicity because of the isolation from the public's eye.
In the early 1960's, the club moved to Main Street, across from Consolidated Motors. The location proved to be good for membership but the club was faced with the same familiar problem--it was too small an area, it was too dirty, and it was too noisy a place to hold classes. While searching for a location which would solve the latter problems, the club occupied a spot on McDermot Avenue near Main Street. It proved to be one of the better spots for club operations, since the area, once used by the ballet for practise, was very large. The only setback to the location was the apparent isolation to the public, and it did not draw an increased membership.
For the best interests of the club, it was decided a more popular site must be chosen, and so it was that the club moved back to 329 Donald Street. The facilities were renovated, and the area was repainted, but as before the club was very filthy and the dressing room areas were too small. Because of the poor facilities, and the filthy conditions of the club area, many of the instructors
refused to teach. Membership began to decrease, and the rent became too high, so within a couple of years the club was forced to move. In 1968, the club moved to the present site at 374 Donald Street, and since that time it has been flourishing. Mr. Kuwada, was responsible for the major renovations of the area, and the building of the dressing rooms at the club.
It should be emphasized that the Manitoba Judo Club was the first authentic Judo club for many years in Manitoba. It has provided the leadership and promotion for Judo development in Manitoba since its inception and in the years that followed. According to Bob Demby, past president of the MBBA and first Caucasian Black Belt in Western Canada, the Manitoba Judo Club, "was the first and only club for many years in the province. It is the club that laid the foundation for Judo, developed Judo in Manitoba, and has remained the most significant Judo contributor in Manitoba. "
Over the years, the Manitoba Judo Club has produced a number of talented Judoka, including numerous black belts. Members of the Manitoba Judo Club have always done well in all major regional tournaments held in the province. They have consistently produced talent of a national calibre, and have demonstrated their prowess at the annual Canadian National Judo Championships. Such names as Moe Oye, Bob Demby, Henry Fast, Telly Mercury, Warren McAdam, and numerous others should be noted for their capabilities and competitive abilities over the years.
The Winnipeg Judo Club was established by Mr. Tug Wilson in September 1961. Mr. Wilson started Judo in 1951 at the London Judo Society, (London, U.K.). He also studied at the Budokwai under G. Koizumi and was a member of the Metropolitan Police Judo Club.
The club has produced about eight Black Belts and, until the recent decline of senior talent, always did well in major tournaments. There was a dearth in the Winnipeg Judo Club's competitive activities, 1963 - 1966, due to Mr. Wilson's political policies.
In 1965, 1966, and 1967 Professor Katsuyoshi Takata, 7th Dan, made several visits to the club. His presence had considerable influence on the club's insight relating to martial arts' philosophies and practices.
Tournament in 1962 and was a Silver Medalist in the 1971 Canadian Winter Games.
Judo started in Brandon in 1964 when Harold Starn, a Shodan, became physical Education Instructor at the Brandon "Y" in that year. Mr. Starn was an ex¬British Commando and received his Judo training in Burma during the second World War. He later furthered his studies in England before coming to Canada.
Approximately seventy students turned out for this first session and this was quickly reduced to about 25 members before the first year of training ended. Eighteen members of this Judo Club travelled to Saskatoon for a Shiai and a grading session at the end of the first year. Mr. Gene Taylor, instructor at the Saskatoon "Y" graded 16 of the Brandon Judo contestants to the rank of yellow belt. However, the tournament went poorly for Brandon, as the Saskatchewan team, consisting of three brown belts, went through Brandon's entire team. In those days, a Judo player went out to compete, and continued to compete without rest until defeated.
Brandon throughout the years has generally boasted strong Judo teams, but recently there seems to be a lack of popularity for the sport in this city. In 1961, Clay Hutchinson, one of the past instructors of the Judo Club, was promoted to Shodan (lst degree Black Belt) and became one of the first non-Winnipeggers to become a Black Belt in Manitoba. The Brandon Judo Club is presently being run by Bob Allen.
During the 1960's, Judo Clubs sprang up in many small centres, usually where military personnel were stationed, for example, Gimli, Shilo, etc. In 1967, Judo expanded to the Northern part of Manitoba with the founding of a Judo Club at The Pas. The club was started by a Mr. Robbin Mathews and is presently being run by a Mr. Terry Kennedy.
Judo started in Portage La Prairie, in the fall of 1954, at the Recreation Centre located in the Air Force Base. The first instructors of Judo were three Air Force men who received training at the Manitoba Institute of Judo. One of the instructors obtained a book on Judo and the club was in operation from then on.
The Portage Judo Club has been self-supporting and in operation since 1954, at various locations throughout the City of Portage La Prairie, occasionally back at the Air Force Base, or in the school gyms. The Club has been represented at the Canadian Championships at least six times. Bill Chiponski, present instructor at the Judo Club, has won the Bronze Medal twice in the Canadian Championships. At the present time, the club is operating in the basement of the Mayfair Hotel.
Judo Practiced Today
Today, Judo is practiced by a wide range of the populous in Manitoba. The Black Belt members of the Manitoba Judo Association include many facets of Canadian society.
As a point of interest, the following list of occupations for the various Black Belt members of Manitoba is included:
- Bob Allen - Civil Servant, Brandon, MB
- Stan Brock - Farmer, High Bluff, MB
- Bob Carriere - Manager, Brandon Inn Brandon, MB
- Bob Demby - Social Worker
- Henry Fast - Teacher
- Ron Fulton - Baker
Clay Hutchinson - Manitoba Health Services Commission
Brian Jones - Air Canada ground crew
- Norman Kendrick - Member of Armed Forces
Henry Kuwada - Contractor
Warren McAdam - Electrician, CNR
- Keith McLean - Superintendent, Manitoba Hydro
Jack Meakin - Salesman, Kimberley-Clark
Aristotle Mercury - Lawyer
Alex Ollman - Optician
- Moe Oye - Vice Principal
- Ray Phillips - Advertising Artist
- Roy Plumptre - Supervisor, Standard Aero Engine
- Harold Shimane - Carpenter
- Richard Williamson - Teacher
- Richard Wilson - Manager, Detective Agency