According to Judo Yukon, Yuki Yokosawa is an accomplished international competitor who competed for the Japanese National Team. She won a bronze medal at the 2003 World Championships, silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, and a gold medal at the 2004 Fukuoka International Women’s Judo Championships.
Lisa Nakajima is a member of the Judo B.C. board of directors. She was Senior National Champion in 2013, and is a nine-time Canadian National Championships Medalist (2004-2013).
Both are instructors at the Steveston Judo Club in Richmond, B.C. and are NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) certified.
Events included a female-only session Friday at Elijah Smith Elementary School, a Little Ninjas session and competitive Canada Winter Games (CWG) team session at the Yukon Regional Training Centre (YRTC) and an afternoon session at Elijah Smith Saturday.
Another CWG team session was held at YRTC Sunday, followed by an event at the Ghùch Tlâ Community School gym in Carcross.
The Star spoke with Yokosawa and Nakajima after the Saturday session at the YRTC.
Nakajima said “It was great to have, especially the competitive guys and girls going to the Canada Winter games … it’s great to see them out on the mat. They’re definitely advancing it. They’ve come to a lot of B.C. events this year and I’ve seen them improving throughout the year, so it’s wonderful.”
Yokosawa added “It’s good to see lots of different techniques. Hope they learn something from us and then hopefully they can use (them) in the tournament.”
Nakajima explained the goals of the CWG team session.
“They have basics but I think just adding on to their basics so a little bit more combinations, learning gripping, which is something that’s really hard to do when you’re not at the higher-level competitions. The gripping is something that’s really difficult when you’re in smaller communities, I found.
“Also great to have the little kids, too,” she added. “To see how many young people there are and hopefully they can grow together and you have more of these competitors as well.”
Yokosawa added “They’re good. They only have basic, so we just add more detail and just small technique so that they can develop.”
Nakajima added “Refine it a little more.”
When asked if the two instructors had been to the Yukon before, Nakajima replied “I was in the Yukon once before at the 2007 Canada Winter Games as an athlete … it’s exceptionally exciting to work with this group of athletes because I know exactly where they’re headed to. It’s a really great event, fun event. I think one of the big things at this event is the team competition … you barely have any opportunities to have a team competition, which is really fun, since judo is an individual sport.”
This was Yokosawa’s first time in the Yukon.
“It’s very cold. But not too cold. And I am having fun.”
Nakajima added “I just wish all the athletes good luck in the upcoming competitions. Maybe we’ll see some of our techniques. That’s when you know you have success. When you see other people doing it.”
Liam Gishler, 15, was one of the CWG team members participating.
“It was good. I like the technique.”
Regarding the instructors, Gishler said “It was great to have them, for sure.”
Gishler said he learned a lot, including “a couple of interesting turnovers and a throw to a different throw.”
Gishler added he’s excited about the upcoming Canada Winter Games.
Judo Yukon head coach Aaron Jensen said the session was “very good. It’s just a pleasure to have these high-level competitor and coaches and the nice thing is that they train together regularly, so they’re used to working together, so when they demonstrate things it flows, a perfect example of what judo’s supposed to be.
“It’s not always possible to bring two people up at the same time but this just kind of fell into place and thanks to the Northern Lights fund to give us some extra funding to be able to make it happen.”
“We’re taking them to Carcross tomorrow to share with the communities, which is part of what Judo Yukon does. It’s not just all about the city of Whitehorse … we try to have grass roots programs in the communities,” he added.
Jensen outlined Judo Yukon’s busy future plans.
“We go next weekend to the Sask. Open in Regina.
“(The) following weekend we’re going to Abbotsford to the Pacific International.”
Both events are sanctioned by Judo Canada.
“Four out of five of our Canada Games team are wrestlers. They’re going to the Arctic Winter Games (in Wood Buffalo, Alta. Jan 28-Feb. 4). Within two weeks of that, we go to the Canada Games (in P.E.I. Feb. 18 to March 5). So we’re busy.”
“This spring, we plan on bringing up Mr. John Huntley, who’s our technical advisor. He’s out of the Aberdeen Judo Academy in Kamloops. He’s a seventh-degree black belt.”
Huntley has been coming to the Yukon since the 1970s.
“We brought him up in ‘96,” said Jensen. “And then he’s done various NCCP coaching courses for us. We hope to bring him up more for leadership.”