Here’s a perfect example of how seriously Brian Smith takes his judo.
The 16-year-old Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club member won a match by default at the Canadian junior judo championships this past weekend in Lethbridge but seemed more disappointed than if he had lost to the same fighter.
The victory came in what should have been his second match of the competition, after a competitor from Quebec was unable to take to the mats due to injury.
“It really ticked me off, because I just wanted to fight,” Smith said. “You don’t learn anything by winning matches by default and that wasn’t what I wanted at all.”
In the two fights he had, Smith acknowledged the competition was as tough as he expected.
“It was really hard,” he said. “I made two mistakes in the two fights and I lost because of it. These guys are that good.”
In his first match against a competitor from Alberta, Smith was caught circling the wrong way and was thrown with seio nage, a type of shoulder throw. The second fight saw Smith attempt a foot sweep only to be taken down when his opponent countered with a sweep of his own.
“It was a beautiful throw,” Smith said with a tone of admiration in his voice. “It looked like I might have a chance at getting him but he came back perfectly.”
Going into the event, Smith was expected to go through a few growing pains — he was the youngest competitor in his under-90 kilogram division and was also making his first-ever appearance at a national-level event.
“It’s like (Saskatchewan high performance judo coach) Ewan (Beaton) said before my first fight, just go in there and have fun and do your best,” he said. “I learned a lot this weekend, it was a great experience and hopefully that will help me a lot when I get back there.”
One thing he hopes will be a lot different — even non-existant — will be the pre-tournament butterflies.
“That’s exactly what it was like,” Smith said when asked if his first nationals experience was similar to his first competitive judo experience. “My first fight I was standing on the mat thinking ‘whoa, I’m at nationals’. It was pretty overwhelming.
“Everyone was telling me going in to just think of it as another tournament, but I was still really nervous,” he added.
With his first nationals experience now out of the way, Smith plans to continue his training through the coming year with the aim of being more than ready for the 2001 junior national championships.
“I know now what it takes and what I have to do to compete at that level, so hopefully I’ll be able to do a lot better next year,” he said.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald April 1, 2000