Okotoks judoka chosen to represent home

Alberta Winter Games: Max Brown shines at the ‘gentle way’

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 06:00 am

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An Okotoks mom will have a different seat than she is used to when she watches her son in the judo competition at the Alberta Winter Games on Feb. 7 in Canmore.

Amanda Brown will have to watch her son Max from the stands rather than from the side of the mat as a coach. “I will be watching his matches on Friday, but after that I am marshalling (as a volunteer)” Amanda said. “As a parent, I have to watch from the spectators’ section. It is difficult for me because as a coach I am usually right at the side of the mat. This time, I am going to be with the rest of the family, cheering him on from the bleachers.”

Amanda is Max’s coach with the Hiro’s Judo Club, but at the Games, she will be a volunteer while Max will be instructed by the Big Country coach in Canmore.

Max, 13, qualified for the Games, by winning the under-40kg weight class at a Big Country (Zone 2) qualifying competition in Lethbridge in December. He went 2-0 in Lethbridge against Big Country judokas (judoists).

Max qualified by downing a pair of Airdrie judokas.

He downed his first opponent by throwing him to the mat and holding him for 25 seconds to earn an ippon — the equivalent to a pin in wrestling.

“I used a ‘tai otoshi’ to throw him to the mat,” said Max, a Grade 8 student at John Paul II Collegiate. “That’s when you turn into your opponent, stick your leg out and throw him over your leg.”

However, getting an opponent on the mat is only part of the job. He still had to hold his opposite number for 25 seconds to get the ippon.

“They all struggle hard but a ‘kesa katame’ is a good hold for the pin,” Max said.

He then clinched his spot on the Zone 2 team when he threw his next opponent directly to his back to earn the ippon.

“I was grateful that I had a chance to go to the Winter Games in the first place,” he said. “Winning, well I am just really happy.”

He said his goal is to get on the podium at the Games.

Max started taking judo across the pond in London as a five-year-old. He continued the martial art at the Big Rock Judo Club after moving to Okotoks four years ago. He has since joined the Hiro’s Judo Club in Calgary and has earned his orange-green belt.

It’s a sport in which there is ultimate respect for the opponent.

“Judo means, in Japanese, ‘the gentle way’,” he said. “It’s not a sport when you are trying to hurt your opponent. It can get rough, but no one is trying to hurt you and you don’t have to be strong. It’s technique.”

Strength doesn’t hurt though.

Max is doing push-ups, chin-ups and core exercises to build his body for competition. He trains a minimum of six hours a week.

Meanwhile, mom got the judo bug as she watched her child take up the martial art.

“I joined judo a year after he did in the U.K.,” she said. “I thought it looked like a lot of fun.”

She is now a holder of a blue belt and is a junior instructor at Hiro’s.

“The appeal is the fact that judo isn’t based on strength or being aggressive, there are specific goals to get your opponent off balance — there’s a technique,” she said. “I always like the relationship with people. The respect for your opponent.”

Max has plenty of respect for where he lives. He had a not so-difficult decision prior to going to Lethbridge.

He could have competed for a spot for Zone 3 because he trains in Calgary. However, Calgary isn’t where his heart is.

“I have lived in Okotoks for the past four years so that is (where) I want to represent,” Max said.

Max will compete on Feb. 7 in Canmore. The Games will be held Feb. 6-9 in Banff/Canmore. For more information on the Alberta Winter Games go to www.2014awg.ca.


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