To understand the reality of training with TSI judo at UiT, one must go all the way back to the original philosophy and the ways in which the discipline originated in the first place. Derived from Jiu-jitsu or Jujutsu, Judo emphasizes the concept of self-development in a much wider spectrum than purely physical self-defense, highlighting the application of the principles of gentleness and maximum efficiency with minimum effort as a way of living, transversal to one’s character and behavior. It is no surprise then, that when Jigoro Kano founded the discipline, he gave it the name of Judo, using the part Do (meaning “way”, “road” or “path”) instead of Jutsu (“art” or “means”), in a clear effort of tying it with the much broader Chinese concept of Tao (“key”, “doctrine” or “principle”), with which it shares a common origin, and to move away from a simplistic perception of the discipline.
These core values are very much ingrained in the club’s methods of teaching nowadays and every student is reminded of the fact with the ritual salutation at the beginning and end of each training session. Everyone present, (including the highest-ranking instructor), vows towards the picture of Jigoro Kano overlooking their endeavors from the wall. Nevertheless, while it is true that understanding the values of softness and gentleness is essential to training here, make no mistake: this is no feeble or impractical self-defense style. It is precisely because of the danger and bluntness the techniques imply that one must ensure students keep the right mindset before, during and after training. Learning how to avoid your opponents’ attacks, leaving them in a powerless position and stepping in to throw them off balance turns out to be a highly effective way of fighting, which allows for the takedown of significantly stronger foes regardless of your physical build.
Founded in 1979, the club was born only two years after the establishment of the Tromsø sports club (TSI) in 1977 and admitted under the agreement that the former would take care of procuring its own training area and equipment. The original members were Rosalie Evans and Hans-Petter Saxi, who made it possible for the club to exist by arranging a training space in the IMR bomb shelter building and applied for university money to buy all the necessary equipment. Back in the day, regular trainings as well as special parent-and-child and self-defense trainings were held by the club, and it was only 1983 when the first black belt promotions were held for TSI Judo. Simultaneously that same year, the club had to move its training grounds to the HSL faculty’s bomb shelter building, the room in which they still train as of today.
Since then, around 15 black belt promotions have been held over the years as well as trainer, referee and kata judge courses. Tournaments and summer
camps are also commonly held in collaboration with the Tromsø Judo Club. TSI Judo is home to the highest-graded woman in Norway and maintains very high standards for their coaches. Moreover, very recently the club made it into the International Judo Federation’s World Judo Day account as the northernmost club in the world, and proudly stands as a platform where both Norwegian and international students foster new-found friendships and partake together in a singular understanding of work and life, all the while learning how to defend themselves and those who they love. There are no prerequisites to join the club and, being present at the DebutUka at every semester start, it is very easy for all to give it a try and perhaps discover a new hobby. You need only bear in mind that getting thrown is something that will happen not eventually, but from the very beginning and for real – but have no fear, the mats provide sufficient cushioning against impacts and with all the proper falling techniques you are going to learn, the tricky and icy walkways of Tromsø’s winter will have nothing on you!
Text: Marc Legua Mira