Saturday, 25 February 2012

Jiu Jitsu in Canada

     I'm supposed to take the weekend off but I can't resist posting something - especially when it comes to an important part of our Canadian martial arts heritage! The photo above (courtesy of Shihan R.W. Forrester) is of the Jiu Jitsu class at the Hatashita Judo Club in Toronto where Jiu Jitsu in Canada had its beginning.

     The two gentlemen seated at the front from left to right are - Frank Hatashita, the man who put Judo on the map in Canada and Ron Forrester, the "Father of Canadian Jiu Jitsu".

     The tradition of having head instructors seated in chairs while their students knelt or stood in rows beside or behind them can often be viewed in old photos from the Japanese and Chinese martial arts. It is a sign of respect.

      I still recall entering the door on Queen St. and walking up the stairs, and at the top of the stairs, the counter to the left, where you could often find Sensei Hatashita or his wife. You had to sign in at the counter. (When I first joined, I paid 75 cents a week for my lessons!)
     Then you followed a long and narrow aisle past the rows of tatami (mats) to the back where the dressing rooms were situated. I remember my surprise at finding heavy white judo uniforms tied to the ceiling with black belts the first time I walked into the dressing room. The smell of tatami mats and cotton uniforms soaked with sweat; the sounds of decades worth of breakfalls on the mats, the sounds of the traffic down on Queen Street when we had the windows open during the hot summer months - these memories also come to mind when I see this photo.

     I invite you to join me in a little quiz concerning this photo. You don't have to be in the martial arts to play! Just guess the year that this photo was taken. I'll leave you with a hint - the correct year falls in between 1964 and 1972 inclusive. Guess the year, and if you wish, post your guess as a comment. I'll post the answer on March 31!


  1. I'm never too old to learn something new. Sure, it would have been better if I had started when I was 46 or 35 or 10, but here I am -- I celebrate my half-century mark at the end of November. Kids Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in Connecticut

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment - and congratulations! It's good to hear from the BJJ side of the family.


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