Huntsville’s Jeff Allen has amassed many medals in his short judo career and he’s setting his sights on more.
Allen continues to hone his judo abilities in preparation for the national championships in Calgary.
Allen has been travelling across the province to train with the best in Ontario and his eyes set on bringing home a medal from his venture out west.
He says in order to be the best one must train and compete against the best.
“I’ve been training with the Ontario judo team,” says Allen. “I know the top level clubs and I find guys who are at a very high level to train with because it will help you get better.”
The national championships are being held from May 11 to 18 at the Calgary Olympic Oval and Allen has been working out with athletes in a variety of cities including Toronto, Brampton, Hamilton, Barrie and more.
Allen is fighting in two divisions, the senior plus-100 and Masters plus-100. The senior division features athletes aged 18 and up while the Masters are for those aged 30 to 35. Allen won the masters division at last year’s nationals and is aiming for a repeat, although with fierce competition he says a top three finish would be a solid achievement.
Allen is also aiming for a top three result when the world championships come around this fall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“It’s nice to go out and represent your hometown and Ontario too,” says Allen. “I want to do well at nationals,” he says. “Then I want to place at worlds and bring home a medal.”
Last year Allen competed in the world Masters championships and finished eighth. Not too shabby a result. This year Allen competed at the Elite 8 in Montreal featuring the top eight judo athletes in each division. And although he lost in the bronze medal round, Allen was happy with how he performed.
He’s also set to compete in two tournaments in April. First at the Peel Judo Championships in Woodbridge on April 2 and then at the Tora Judo Club annual invitational tournament on April 30.
Allen, who trains out of Phil Makela’s Huntsville Judo Club, has amassed multiple gold, silver and bronze medals in various competitions since 2013. Recently the Huntsville club hosted its own tournament.
“It was good,” says Allen. “We had a pretty good turnout for the kids and we had an adult division, I got gold in it.”
Allen also got gold in Barrie at the Crown Hill Martial Arts Winter Invitation in January. His son Lucas also competed and earned silver at Crown Hill.
“It was awesome,” says Allen. “I love coaching him.”
Lucas is also a solid coach in his own right and is often front and centre yelling encouragement to his dad.
“The cool thing is we were at the Elite 8 fighting and he was on the sidelines,” remembers Allen with a big smile. “All the team Ontario coaches and team Canada coaches were there and they were listening to him and what he was saying to me. At the end the Judo Ontario coach, who is also a Judo Canada coach, came up to Lucas and said you really know your stuff, we really enjoyed listening to you yelling at your dad and telling him what to do.”
For the man who started judo as a hobby to do with Lucas, the sport has brought forth a passion for competition and many highlights. His first competition in 2013 was a great experience even though he didn’t place says Allen. That first year, as a brown belt, Allen was pitted against former Canadian champions.
“I like staying in shape and it’s fun to see how much better you can get and what new skills you can learn,” says Allen. “It’s a good group of people. It’s like a big family, it doesn’t matter if you’re here in Huntsville, in Toronto or even Orillia, everyone is really respectful and always willing to teach or show you something new.”
Judo is a traditionalmartial art and it breeds appreciation for one’s fellow competitors, says Allen. He says at competitions fighters will cheer each other on and there is tons of mutual support at competitions.
As judo features throws, hold-downs, armlocks and other submission moves and doesn’t include punching or kicking, this helps with keeping the goodwill at a high level.
“It’s a clean sport, it’s not dirty,” says Allen. “It’s strategic, it’s like a chess game and you’re trying to plan ahead for your next moves.”
Although Allen has some sponsors signed up, there’s always room for more support. Those who want to sponsor Allen can send an e-mail to email@example.com
They could soon be sponsoring both a national and world champion who will need to make room for the new honours. Considering Allen’s late start in the sport makes the accomplishments all the more amazing.
“My trophy shelf is getting pretty full,” he laughs. “I’ve won 30 medals and I try to stay as active as I can . . . I’m still learning and I’m still trying to get better.”