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Local judo sensei becomes Canada’s first female international instructor

Local judo sensei becomes Canada’s first female international instructor
Jennifer Parker of Pincher Creek is the first woman to become an internationally trained and certified judo instructor.
Jennifer Parker of Pincher Creek is the first woman to become an internationally trained and certified judo instructor.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Jennifer Parker
Jennifer Parker with Slaviša Bradić-Brada, International Judo Federation academy member, after obtaining her international judo instructor certification.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Jennifer Parker
Jennifer Parker with Slaviša Bradić-Brada, International Judo Federation academy member, after obtaining her international judo instructor certification.

Local judo sensei becomes Canada’s first female international instructor

By Mia Parker
By Mia Parker
April 3, 2024
April 3, 2024

Two weeks ago, Canada added Jennifer Parker as the first woman on its list of internationally trained and certified judo instructors.

Jennifer, the head instructor of Pincher Creek’s Barracuda Judo Club, received this certification after a 12-week theory course culminating in a practical session in Dunavarsány, Hungary. There she was tested on fitness and knowledge of judo techniques.

“One of the things I love about judo is there’s no shortcuts in it,” she says. “You can’t just show up and be amazing.”

Jennifer’s own journey in judo has been defined by decades of studying and practicing, “always chipping away at trying to learn and improve” herself.

Having the International Judo Federation judo instructor certification means Jennifer can be a resource to other local instructors and participate in international tour events.

The training covered not only the technical side of judo but also muscle physiology, exercise theory, and judo history and rules.

This is also a stepping stone in her trajectory as a judo referee. Currently, Jennifer holds continental certification, meaning she can be invited to referee any Pan-American tournament. Being recognized internationally as an instructor is a major stride towards refereeing international tournaments.

“I can’t believe I’m the first woman to do it,” she says, noting her inspiration from the women instructors and coaches who came before her.

 

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As Judo Alberta’s gender equity committee representative, Jennifer’s first project after receiving international instructor certification was organizing the annual girls camp, a two-day overnight training camp for young girls in judo.

“Judo is an interesting sport. When you are on the mat, you are alone in the race, but you’re still part of a larger team,” she says. “So it’s important to have a welcoming and inclusive environment where women and girls feel safe, to start judo, to try judo, to stick with judo and to excel in judo.”

Though male teammates vastly outnumber women through most of the sport, girls camp offers sessions where girls can learn and grow in a space that’s made just for them. This year’s camp focused on healthy choices and workshopping specific techniques and Kata, meaning judo in its pure form.

“This is a safe environment where girls can come meet other girls from around a bunch of female coaches that are there to help out,” Jennifer says. “It is about support and friendship and the values of judo.”

When women first started practising judo, they did so in secret classes. Jennifer had the opportunity to meet one of these women who pioneered girls’ participation, Keiko Fukuda, and reflects on her as an inspiration. She was one of the first female students of the inventor of judo and the highest-ranking woman in history.

“Somebody had to go first, and somebody had to be the only girl and somebody had to change in a closet because there wasn’t a woman’s change room for her,” Jennifer says.

“All of these people had tenacity and perseverance and they shared their skill and helped judo grow. So I am so grateful to them for paving the way.”

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

Two weeks ago, Canada added Jennifer Parker as the first woman on its list of internationally trained and certified judo instructors.

Jennifer, the head instructor of Pincher Creek’s Barracuda Judo Club, received this certification after a 12-week theory course culminating in a practical session in Dunavarsány, Hungary. There she was tested on fitness and knowledge of judo techniques.

“One of the things I love about judo is there’s no shortcuts in it,” she says. “You can’t just show up and be amazing.”

Jennifer’s own journey in judo has been defined by decades of studying and practicing, “always chipping away at trying to learn and improve” herself.

Having the International Judo Federation judo instructor certification means Jennifer can be a resource to other local instructors and participate in international tour events.

The training covered not only the technical side of judo but also muscle physiology, exercise theory, and judo history and rules.

This is also a stepping stone in her trajectory as a judo referee. Currently, Jennifer holds continental certification, meaning she can be invited to referee any Pan-American tournament. Being recognized internationally as an instructor is a major stride towards refereeing international tournaments.

“I can’t believe I’m the first woman to do it,” she says, noting her inspiration from the women instructors and coaches who came before her.

 

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As Judo Alberta’s gender equity committee representative, Jennifer’s first project after receiving international instructor certification was organizing the annual girls camp, a two-day overnight training camp for young girls in judo.

“Judo is an interesting sport. When you are on the mat, you are alone in the race, but you’re still part of a larger team,” she says. “So it’s important to have a welcoming and inclusive environment where women and girls feel safe, to start judo, to try judo, to stick with judo and to excel in judo.”

Though male teammates vastly outnumber women through most of the sport, girls camp offers sessions where girls can learn and grow in a space that’s made just for them. This year’s camp focused on healthy choices and workshopping specific techniques and Kata, meaning judo in its pure form.

“This is a safe environment where girls can come meet other girls from around a bunch of female coaches that are there to help out,” Jennifer says. “It is about support and friendship and the values of judo.”

When women first started practising judo, they did so in secret classes. Jennifer had the opportunity to meet one of these women who pioneered girls’ participation, Keiko Fukuda, and reflects on her as an inspiration. She was one of the first female students of the inventor of judo and the highest-ranking woman in history.

“Somebody had to go first, and somebody had to be the only girl and somebody had to change in a closet because there wasn’t a woman’s change room for her,” Jennifer says.

“All of these people had tenacity and perseverance and they shared their skill and helped judo grow. So I am so grateful to them for paving the way.”

 

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