History of Judo in Canada

(Based on article from Langley Judo Club)

Judo was founded in 1882 by the late Professor Jigoro Kano. It was derived from the ancient art of Ju Jitsu, to be used as a means of mental and physical education, utilizing maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Judo did not find its way to Europe until the early 1900’s and not until the 1920’s did it find its way to Canada.

The first official judo Club in Canada was the Vancouver Judo Club (Tai Iku Dojo) established in 1924 by Mr. Steve Sasaki. Mr. Sasaki was trained in Japan and was the top judoka in his province before immigrating to Canada in 1922. The club was originally located in a patron’s living room on 500 block Alexander, before moving to a building on 500 Powell. Adults paid 30 cents, boys 10 cents and girls 5 cents. These charges did not meet the costs and much was absorbed by Mr. Sasaki and his patrons.

Judo gained popularity quickly, especially with Japanese Canadians. With the assistance of Mr. Sasaki “The Steveston Dojo” was set up under the assistance of Mr. T. Doi and Mr. T. Yamamoto. It was to be the first of many satellites of the TAI IKU DOJO.

In the years that followed he continued to organise clubs: in Mission, assisted by Mr. E. Hashizume, Mr. C. Kunimoto and Mr. Y. Mori; in Haney, assisted by Mr. T. Mitani and Mr. K. Ryoji. As Mr. Sasaki’s organisation grew he sent his vice-president Mr. S. Nakamura to assist a club in Chemainus. Mr. Nakamura then further established a club in Duncan which was assisted by Mr. Aihoshi. It was at this time a branch was also established in Woodfibre, assisted by Mr. Tom Tamoto. Following quickly were branches in Kitsilano, Fairview and a training centre for the RCMP taught twice weekly by Mr. Sasaki.

In 1932 and 1936 Dr. Kano visited the Vancouver TAI IKU DOJO and for some time Sasaki traveled with him as he instructed around the world. The growth of judo was to continue primarily along the coast until in 1940 the spread of judo was halted as a consequence of the second world war. All branches of the now “Kidokan” were shut down and members transferred to relocation camps.

Many were sent to Tashme with Mr. Sasaki. There as a close group, they practiced hard together; it helped them to forget their situation.

After the war the government encouraged relocation throughout the country. Many of Mr. Sasaki’s students went on to spread judo across Canada (their original dojo in parenthesis):

Mr. Okamura, Quebec (Kidokan)
Mr. M. Takahashi, Ottawa (Kitsilano)
Mr. Sanata, Toronto (Chemainus)
Mr. Mitani, Brandon (Haney)
Mr. Y. Senda, Lethbridge (Haney)
Mr. Y. Mori, Vernon (Mission)
Mr. Y. Yoshida, Kamloops (Chamainus and Tashme)

After the War, the black belt association and the organisation grew, being accepted into the International Judo Federation in 1956. Since that time judo has continued to grow and expand throughout all parts of the country.