Victoria Judo Club - British Columbia Canada
The Victoria Judo Club has been a grappling mainstay on the island for over half a century. Founded in 1957 by sensei Yeiji Inouye (9th dan), the club has for most of its life operated as a non-profit, with an elected executive and volunteer instructors, resulting in some of the most affordable and varied instruction off of the mainland.
Located at 3130 Jutland Rd in the city of Victoria, the club currently rents a matted classroom in the old Burnside middle-school full-time, along with the school's gymnasium during practice time. Roll out grappling mats are set up and put away in the gym for every class and cover over 1000 sqft, with an additional mat purchase being considered. This space could easily be given a 9/10, but the gym is not rented full-time, meaning Friday practice is held in the much smaller classroom (~500 sqft). There has also been an issue in the past of not renting the gym for summer training, but this mistake has not been repeated in recent years.
Equipment wise the club impresses: the roll out mats are relatively new, having been purchased within the last two years, and top quality. Two brand new crash mats are available for throw practice, and the club has a large collection of venerable (old) kata training weapons (boken, knives and wooden guns). On top of all this, the equipment is regularly cleaned to avoid any incidence of infection. Plus there's beer in the fridge (Canadian beer, none of that american piss).
All instructors in the club are volunteers, with a couple regular senseis handling the meat of classes and over a dozen well respected blackbelts cycling their own technique lessons throughout the year. This leads to exposure to a huge base of techniques and has provided much competitive success. The club regularly has fighters place in regional tournaments and in the past few years has sent fighters to the nationals, the pan-americans, the worlds and the paralympics. Randori, both standing and ground, occurs every class without exception.
There are junior classes taught twice a week through the school year by a steady teacher (less of the guest teachers like in senior class). Ages range from 5 to 12, with the bulk of students being around 10. The size of these classes has varied throughout the years, averaging at 20 kids a semester, although there have been times where many more were training together at once. The class still manages to hold a 1-to-5 teacher student ratio, however, and the youngin's get to both improve their judo and enjoy themselves here.
Kata instruction occurs simultaneously with regular instruction and is taught in the small classroom by a blackbelt regarded as the best kata instructor in BC, Sensei Bob Sherman (5th dan). Striking instruction is non-existent and weapons are restricted to blackbelt katas.
When it comes to atmosphere, the VJC comes up to a standard other clubs would be proud to match. The instructorship and executive are made-up of parents, teachers, cops, soldiers and professionals from all walks of life who run the club because they care. Highly ranked naval officers can be seen rolling with college kids, army cadets with PHD professors, police officers with high school teachers and even visiting blackbelts from rival clubs in the city... It's hard to get more accessible and friendly than this while keeping up a top level competitive spirit. All in all, a highly recommended club.
-300$ per term, 250$ for students, 200$ for juniors
-Two terms a year: September through December and January through August.
-Term 1 price includes annual Judo BC/Judo Canada membership and insurance.