Odawa Judo Club (Ottawa, Canada)
Hey folks! I based my ratings on the guidelines posted here:
RATING AND YOU - READ THIS BEFORE POSTING YOUR REVIEW - No BS MMA and Martial Arts
I've been attending Odawa Judo for a few months now. I'm not a Judo expert (I'm just a yellow belt) but I've done a bit of JJJ and BJJ in the past and I've also attended a variety of other MMA and Muay Thai schools so all of this is influencing my ratings. Right off the bat you should know that this is an officially registered non-profit community club affiliated with Judo Ontario and Judo Canada; the dojo space (a very large church basement) and all the equipment is donated. The head instructor is a black belt with 40 years of competitive Judo experience and he's also a nationally certified level 2 Judo coach. Because it's a non-profit club, it only costs 25$/month! There's no commitment and no contracts; everyone pays by cash or cheque month to month. The only other cost involved is a Judo Ontario membership for insurance purposes.
I give it a 10 because, for those who are interested, we do full contact ne waza randori (ground fighting sparring) and/or full contact tachi waza randori in shiai style (sparring from the standup position with tournament-style rules) at every training session. The only safety equipment involved are the mats.
I give it a 7. The only equipment we use are mats; they aren't brand new but they are of good quality, they are all clean and none of them have any rips or tears or anything else that would make them risky. They were a donation from the Trillium Foundation and are the same mats you would find at any Judo shiai (tournament). Other than the mats, the club will happily lend clean used gis (uniforms) to any new students who don't have their own. The only catch is that students have to clean them after their training and bring them back to the next class. (Seems pretty reasonable!) The gis are donated by current and former club members as well as judokas from commercial schools around town. If a student wants their own permanent gi but they can't afford to buy a new one, the club can sell them one of the used gis for 25$. (Most of them are good quality double weave gis.)
I give it a 8. The club runs out of donated space; training happens in the VERY LARGE basement of the Knox Presbyterian Church on Elgin street. Not only is it very large but it's also brightly lit and very clean. There are separate changing rooms for men and women, complete with toilets, urinals, sinks and showers. The buiding itself is old so the change rooms aren't modern but they're definitely clean and have everything you need. The club has enough space and enough mats to accomodate very large groups. No one ever bumps into anyone else while rolling around and it would be pretty easy to have to full shiai (tournament) areas set up in that one basement.
I give it a 10. Every class is led by the head instructor who is a black belt with 40 years of competitive Judo experience and who is also a nationally certified level 2 Judo coach. He has been a Judo Ontario board/committee member for over 10 years and he's also a certified Judo referee. During every class, every student gets personalized attention from the instructor. The head instructor also brings in guest instructors or guest sempais (assistant instructors / head students) from other clubs from time to time; these are usually very experienced black belt instructors or brown belt and black belt competitors. Class sizes are very small so every student gest personal attention at every class.
I give it a 10. There's a very welcoming, family-like atmosphere at this club. There's a wide range of ages but everyone gets along. There are no meat head douchebags. I'd say that everyone is easy-going while still taking it seriously and that most people can quickly get into competitive mode to prepare for tournaments but they do so in a supportive way. Parents of the younger students and significant others of the older students generally watch classes while chatting and snacking together. Everyone helps to put away the mats after every class. People carpool to tournaments together. It's very welcoming and, especially because it's a non-profit club intended to serve the community, it's open to everyone.
I'm giving it a 1 because Bullshido doesn't have a "not applicable" option. Judo does not include striking so there is not striking training in these courses.
I'm giving it a 9 because attending tournaments and getting pretty decent results is fairly common for this club. (We recently sent 5 members to a tournament and came back with 5 medals; 4 silver and 1 gold.) Members of the club attend tournaments everywhere between Toronto and Montreal and even in the northern parts of the US. I didn't give it a 10 because I'm too new to know how the club does at the national level and I don't believe anyone from the club has made it to the Olympics. That being said, I know that at least one member was part of the junior national team when he was younger. (FYI: Competing and attending tournament is encouraged but certainly not mandatory.)
Again, I'm giving it a 1 because Bullshido doesn't have a "not applicable" option. Judo does not train with weapons.
Getting in touch with Odawa Judo Club:
(The Facebook page is more up to date than the website.)
A few other thoughts . . .
I can't emphasize this enough: It's only 25$/month!
Right now, the membership base is very small because the club doesn't advertise at all. On the one hand, this is a good thing because class sizes are small and we all get very personalized attention. On the other hand, if a few people skip class one evening, that means that there might only be a few kids with a bunch of adults or a few adults with a bunch of kids. In my opinion, that's a chicken/egg type of problem that will easily disappear as the club acquires more members so, in the meantime, if you know anyone that would like to try martial arts at a very affordable price, please let them know about this place because, since the club doesn't advertise, it's very unlikely that they'll find out about it on their own.
Like I mentioned before, this is a registered non-profit club that serves the community. If you have any equipment you'd like to donate to the club, the club can give you a receipt for tax purposes. Ditto if you wanted to sponsor the club; donated money would probably be spent on renting a van and paying for gas in order for students to attend an out-of-town tournament together, or it would be spent on upgrading the mats if/when the time comes.
Good stuff, I'm always happy to hear about non-profit clubs subsisting and spreading Kano's way affordably. Everything you said sounds reasonable, however this does not warrant a 10:
A 10 in aliveness is full range sparring, which includes standing and ground striking (see here). A 9 in aliveness for a hard sparring judo school should be more than fair, and I would have no trouble believing it.
Originally Posted by Keej613
Other than that, very good review. I like the sound of the club; I'll make sure to stop by if I'm ever in Ottawa.
I went and tried this club out. The problem I found was that the childrens class is mixed with the adults class. So you're potentially doing randori against an 8 year old. Sometimes there were no other adults. I know the club is fairly new (since its moved) so hopefully it builds up and gets more adults to be able to hold seperate classes.
The RA Centre is around $40 a month and holds adult only classes which have a good turn out. Its the next least expensive Judo in the city. Its more of a recreational club that doesn't really do competitions though.
Last edited by xstyle; 2/18/2014 8:50am at .
My mistake. I agree with your take on it.
Originally Posted by The Cap
Yeah, that's the chicken/egg problem I mentioned in my OP. Small club + no advertising = small classes that can't really be divided. If a few people are no-shows on any given night, it changes the dynamics of the class completely. That being said, I see it less as a problem and more as an opportunity; if a few adults signed up and attended regularly, I think that would solve the issue altogether. When there's enough people in attendance, we only randori against people in our same (general) weight class and, for whatever it's worth, I've never been forced to randori with kids (though I sometimes willingly do it just for the sake of making the kids laugh). Whenever those nights happen, I usually do all of my training and drills (practice directly with sensei if there are no other adults) and then ref the kids' randori.
Originally Posted by xstyle
I really think this place is a diamond in the rough just waiting to be discovered. There are loads of people in town who want to train in martial arts but had to quit their BJJ or JJJ or MMA courses because they couldn't afford the monthly costs and/or they couldn't commit to a 6-month/1-year contract. For guys like that, especially the ones that are still interested in doing something full-contact and competitive, this is a great opportunity. I'm no superstar athlete but I was able to get a silver medal at my first tournament thanks to this club and our sensei's training and coaching. I'll probably print out some posters and go flyering in the area to drum up some support over the weekend. Someone also posted an ad on Kijiji:
Apart from that, if you guys can think of any way to spread the word without spending any money, it would certainly be appreciated!
Hey guys! Just dropping in to give a quick update since I wrote this review:
I'm not sure if it was this review or the Kijiji ads or just natural word of mouth but a handful of adults have signed up over the past few months and now we have a small but steady stream of men ranging in age from 25-40 years old regularly attending classes; some are brand new white belts, others are intermediate yellows and oranges, we have two green belts (one of which is almost certainly going to become a blue before the June) and the sensei's son, a competitive brown belt, drops in semi-regularly to whip us into shape (especially before tournaments). Some of us are in great shape and others are in terrible shape. ;) A lot of guys come in on their own and many others bring in their sons to train with the other kids. So if you've been thinking about trying it out but were reluctant because of numbers, now's as good a time as any to give it a shot! Hope to see some of you guys out there!
On a related note, like I mentioned earlier in this discussion, we're a non-profit charity-funded club. A lot of members come to us because they don't have a lot of disposable income for these types of hobbies. As such, our sensei collects old gis and lends them to our students (kids and adults alike) until they can afford their own. Because of the influx of adults, we're now *very* low on adult-sized gis. So, if any of you have any old jiu-jitsu, judo or aikido gis that you wouldn't mind donating to us, our sensei will gladly make arrangements to take them off your hands. His contact info is posted above and, though I'm not 100% sure about this, you could ask about a tax receipt for your donation; we're a registered charity so I think he might be able to do that for you.