17 Wing member grapples for Gold

News Article / July 11, 2017

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By Martin Zeilig

Master Corporal Brent Thompson won the gold medal in the under-100-kilogram weight category in the Master’s Division at the 2017 Canadian National Open Judo Championships, held May 25–28, 2017, in Calgary, Alberta at the Olympic Oval. He has a third degree black belt in judo, and noted that, at 91.5 kilograms, he was the smallest competitor in his division. He won all four matches that day. “I won the gold medal match by a wazari, a half-point, in overtime,” he says. His opponent was a civilian competitor from Montreal, Québec, who placed second at this year’s Eastern Canadian Judo Championships.

Master Corporal Thompson works in planning in the electrical and mechanical engineers section at 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba. As an Aboriginal Canadian, he is a regional co-chair of the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group. And, being Canadian, he plays intersectional hockey.

He began learning judo as a seven-year-old living with his family in Thompson, Manitoba, because his parents “made me go into the sport,” he says. “My older brother and sister wanted to join the local judo club and my parents said, ‘You’re going, too.’”

He moved to Winnipeg to attend secondary school in 1992, and credits Alwyn Morris, CM (Member of the Order of Canada), with keeping him in judo. A member of the Mohawk nation and a Canadian sprint kayaker, Mr. Morris won a gold medal in K-2 1,000-metre and a bronze medal in K-2 500-metre with his teammate, Hugh Fisher, at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, according to online information. “That achievement of his winning a gold medal was a driving force in me pursuing my judo career,” Master Corporal Thompson says. He’s come a long way since then.

And on his path to excellence in the discipline, he says, “I’ve also been supported by the Forces in my judo endeavors.” He was named 17 Wing’s Athlete for the Month in 2014. “That year, I was a bronze medalist at the Senior National Judo Championships in the under-90-kilogram category,” he said. “I was also a gold medallist in 2011 for Team Alberta in the Master’s division at the Judo Nationals in Edmonton, when I was posted at CFB [Canadian Forces Base] Edmonton.”

The word “judo”, Japanese in origin, means “the gentle way”, according to the Judo Alberta website, which reads, “Judo is many things to different people. To some, it is a sport, an art, a craft, a discipline, a recreational or social activity, a fitness program, a means of self-defence or combat, and a way of life. Judo is unique in that people of all ages, sexes and abilities can participate together in learning and practising the sport. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Judo is the safest contact sport for children under age 13. Judo is the most widely practiced martial art in the world, and Judo is the second most practised sport worldwide (soccer is #1).”

Over the years, he has trained under a number of top Manitoba provincial judo coaches including Moe Oye, Gary Sova and Mark Berger, the current provincial team coach with whom he still trains. He now trains with the Nakamura Judo Club, headed by assistant provincial team coach Airton Nakamura.

“I just love winning, and the camaraderie of judo,” Master Corporal Thompson says. “It’s family oriented.”

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