PORT HARDY—Local residents now have the chance to get hands-on in martial arts with the formation of a judo club in the town.
Students will be in the able hands of Chris Bezaire, a constable with the local RCMP detachment and a teacher with a considerable pedigree in the art of judo.
Bezaire has practiced the martial art for more than 35 years and holds a 4th-degree black belt. A former member of the national team, he trained in Japan before going on to fight in Europe.
Prior to coming to Port Hardy, Bezaire was the head coach of the Campbell River club, a trainer for the Vancouver Island team and a member of the provincial coaching team.
Judo is a Japanese martial art and Olympic sport founded by Jigoro Kano, who developed the art from jiu jitsu roots. With its primary focus on grappling, holds and throws, Judo practitioners aim to use their opponents’ own momentum against them.
The sports aspect of the art was developed from judo’s emphasis on hands-on training as a way of allowing practitioners to test and develop their skills.
“(Judo’s) great for hands-on people,” explained Bezaire. “It’s all done with a partner.” He said that a motivated person could be grappling on their first night’s training.
He explained that while competition is encouraged for younger practitioners, it is not mandatory for all students. “We start out slow — you work at your own pace,” he said.
Judo has a belt system, similar to karate, and with Bezaire’s experience he can grade students all the way up to brown belt in-house.
Classes are held on Monday and Wednesday nights in Port Hardy’s Civic Centre, with juniors in the 8- 12-year-old range from 5 to 6 p.m. and the senior group taking to the mats from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Those interested in attending should wear sweatpants and a sweat top for their first lesson.
“(With judo) you get hands-on training, you test your skill against a partner and you make great friends,” said Bezaire. “It’s a great way to build self-confidence and fitness.”