NDG’s Shidokan Judo Club is celebrating 40 years of success this summer, a feat that begins and ends with the man who started it back in 1970, Hiroshi Nakamura.
“He’s here 60 hours a week, he’s always on the mat. From recreational courses to national team practices, he’s always here,” said Vincent Scotto, head of administration at the club.
“His experience makes him more complete than anyone else in Quebec.”
Born in 1942, Nakamura spent the first half of his life training at the esteemed Kodokan Institute in Japan, the headquarters of the worldwide judo community.
After befriending Canadian Doug Rogers at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Nakamura moved to Montreal at the age of 26 in 1968 to develop the sport in Canada. He opened his first dojo in Dorval two years later.
In 1973, the first incarnation of the Shidokan Club opened in a garage at the corner of Prud’homme and de Maisonneuve in NDG, before moving to its current location on Notre-Dame-de-Grâce in 1985.
Since then, Nakamura has been named a member of the Order of Canada after coaching Canadians at the Olympic Games five times (1976, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004) and training two dozen Olympic athletes.
Today, he says he enjoys training beginners as much as national team members, and he credits the success of the local club on his willingness to always accept a large number of young athletes wanting to take up judo.
“It’s like a pyramid effect,” he said. “You train a large number of people, from 6-year-olds to 14-year-olds, and then maybe 10 per cent of them will become champions. If you don’t do it that way, you won’t ever find those champions.”
Now in its fortieth year, the club is doing better than ever.
It offers beginner, intermediate and elite classes, as well as family classes on the weekend, and all of them have been running at full capacity for the entire year. It’s the only club in Quebec to offer year-long classes.
“My objective is to train people so that they can compete in international competitions, or at any level they would want,” said Nakamura.
Shidokan also runs summer judo day camps for younger kids, hosting 200 borough children for six weeks this summer.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the club will be holding five different activities this summer to raise funds and promote the sport.
A special clinic is being held at the Centre Sportif de Côte-des-Neiges on July 27, where enthusiasts will have the opportunity to be trained by judo great Isao Okano.
Photo: Jesse Feith