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Brief History
Kodokan Judo
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(Extracts from the Speech and Presentation by
Brian Mitani on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary, 1992)

My recollections of Seidokwan go back to when I competed in my first Canadian Championships here in Montreal in May 1967. It was held at the University of Montreal.

Not long after the championships I relocated to Montreal to work at Northern Electric. The club was located at 305 Decarie North, and had just moved there a 1 year ago.

I was quite impressed with the club as they had many high ranking Judoka, and they had a raised tatami floor.  It was raised and set on giant automotive car springs which meant you could take great leaps in the air and come down on a forgiving tatami.

My back would really appreciate those mats now.

When I first arrived I felt like a young pup among the elder statesmen like Mr. Okimura, Yosh Ogura, George Yamashita, J-M Latraverse, David Ban, Harry Payne, Owen Prince, Stan Peat, Jean Charest, etc. etc. But when Gerry Hirose and I were reminiscing about this the other day and it suddenly occurred to us that they were only our age at that time!  So, in reality they were still pretty “young” :).

Also, at that time Don Niiya was recovering from his knee operation, and he was the motivator and team leader at the club. Don had a big Chevy car that he used to drive many of the younger guys all over the province to tournaments and usually also took a group to the CNE or Ontario Open in Toronto, where he also made arrangements for us to sleep over at his in-laws.

Those were the good old days.

305 Decarie had many special and memorable memories. There were however the spartan practise sessions in the winter with no heat, which we often explained as being an integral part of the oriental mystique associated with Budo training. We later found out that the dojo was above the refrigerator compartment of the meat packing plant below.

Also, located down the hall from the Dojo was a bustling business called Janico, run by Jacques Tan who would drop by for some randori before working late on some engraving jobs.

Then there were the new arrivals from Japan, like Hiroshi Nakamura, Minoru Suzuki, Masayuki Hisataka, Terry Farnsworth and Jacques Tan.  Terry and Jacques were “pseudo” Japanese as they had both spent time training in Japan.

That’s when the training sessions started to get tough, perhaps not by todays standards, but in those days we thought we were being whipped pretty bad. The exercises got tougher, the training longer, and our social life was nil.  But those were the good times.

In those days we had a senior men’s class, a ladies class, and a junior class.

Along with Mr. O (short for Okimura Sensei) Don Niiya, and David Ban there were several instructors at “305”, each came with their own style and with their special contribution. Perhaps my best recollection of “305” are the many judoka I practised with and learned so much during those years.

  • Mr. Okimura (Mr. O was Mr. O).  Forever the philosopher and guardian of the true spirit/meaning of Judo. Judo is more than just smashing the opponent into the tatami

  • Mr. Don Niiya: (Mr. Harai-goshi) he was always patient and the ultimate motivator and the best “pied piper” of Judo I’ve ever seen.

  • Mr. Hiroshi Nakamura:  (Mr. Osoto -gari), he was solid with great balance, his osoto may have looked simple but it was deadly, many of us suffered dizzy spells after taking some hard ukemi

  • Mr. Minoru Suzuki: (Mr. Stare) Suzuki-san had a ferocious stare and seio-nage…..once had a good match with Peter Tilsner, one of the tough guys at the time.

  • Mr. Akio Nakamura: (Mr. Personality) over powering presence / booming voice and mischievous smile and full of energy.

  • Mr. David Ban (Mr. Technique) forever the student, always watching and trying to perfect his techniques……amazing hane-goshi and he was a small man too.

  • Mr. Yosh Ogura: (Mr. Patience) he was one of the first to show me how tia-otoshi worked

  • Mr. J-M Latraverse: (Mr. Handshake) known for his vice like handshake, and his simple but perfectly timed sasae-tsurikomi ashi.

  • Mr. Jacques Tan: (Mr. Cat) forever young and nimble, he always landed on his feet

  • Mr. Doug Rogers: (Mr. Gentle Giant) huge guy but techniques looked smooth and effortless but watch out doing randori

  • Mr. Bunrey Miyake: (Mr. Congeniality) always approachable and ready to be an uke, all the ladies like to practise with Bunrey.

  • Ms. Diane Lamoureux-Nakamura: (Madame Kata) perfect ukemi and posture and quick hands

  • Ms. Sharon Heslop: (Dynamic Duo of kata) Diane’s partner for all the kata

  • Mr. Terry Farnsworth: (Mr. Gritt) didn’t think much of hard training but at competition time he came to win. Lasting memories of Terry F. is his left hand kumi kata and took delight in regularly pounding my fat right ear.

  • Mr. Gerry Hirose (Mr. Focus) no half ways with Gerry, my judo buddy/chum in the old days ….. dragged me to the dojo on my down days, somehow we kept our sanity

  • Mr. Andre Turcotte: (Mr. Hands) Andre had huge hands and strong too, he could pick you up without bending his knees.

  • Mr. Hans Kerber (Mr. Smiles) he had a great left seio-otoshi, always smiled during the practises no matter how hard they got.

There are many more judoka over the years and I can go on forever……. but to name a few;  Gary Hayashi, Gerry Okimura, Bob Seto, Guy Muramatsu, Rejean Hamon, George Steele, etc. etc. we had great times.

I have tried my best to recall everyone who contributed to the success of the club over those years. I know I’ve missed out many important persons and I’m going to apologize now because I could go on forever, and my memory is “fading”,

Last but definitely not least I have to mention the many ladies who practised at “305”. Forgive me for only mentioning some by name …Claire Lamoureux, Pam Hilliard, Lisa Steele, Luise (Monica) Bauer, Kathy Elliot, Manon Gosselin, Martine Lefebvre, Kathy Poisson, Dorothy, Lorna, Marie-Therese, Sandra, etc. etc. (We will have to wait for another time to hear their memorable stories

40th Anniversary Award Presentation to Mr. George Yamashita

I have always had the utmost respect for George-san a quiet and soft spoken man who has gone about the business of teaching the junior programme at Seidokwan for the past 35 years.

He has persevered through the cold years at 305 the cramped and unsettled years at Victoria Ave, the lean years at the CEGEP de Vieux Montreal, and now at Sunnybrooke. His knowledge and dedication to Judo has ben proven by the many students who have come through the Junior programme and you can be sure that all the students have earned their grades.

I have only been teaching the juniors for the past 2 ½ years and I’ve learnt that is no easy task trying to control a group of 8-16 year old kids.  Today the kids programme is the true heart of the club. and the future of the club will depend on these kids, and with is help and his hard work I’m sure the club will continue to grow. This award is presented to George in appreciation for his many year of service to the club. 

40th Anniversary Award Presentation to Mr. Iver Simonsen

Iver, or as some refer to him as the “Danish Viking” or the “Great Dane” because of his fearsome handshake and ashi waza, Iver joined Seidokwan after he graduated from McGill where he started Judo with Mr. Okimura.

When Mr. O retired, he passed the “reins” to Iver and he has been President for over the past 10 years…..like so many of those who have been associated with the club he has contributed not only his time but has many time financially supported the club through the rocky periods. His hard work and dedication to the club has been the reason for its continued success.

He is truly a Judo man as he seldom has a week-end for week night free as he teaches classes not only at Seidokwan but also in Laval and TMR.

He’s looked after the dual role of president and treasurer for many years and I don’t believe he has been given the recognition and credit for his contribution to Judo and in particular to the Seidokwan.

So this evening on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary we would like to honour Iver for his contribution to the club.




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