Mason Bruneau spent last Friday evening training and preparing for competition, but this time, he won’t be the one stepping onto the mats.
Bruneau and trainer Phil Beaupre will be taking a contingent of young judoka to Fort Providence this week for a territorial competition. The day’s events will bridge the gap between practice at home and a real competition.
“It’s like a dry run,” said Bruneau. “I’m there as a chaperone and also to teach the clinic.”
Beaupre said the idea is to teach the young athletes the basics of competition, from the weigh in to the actual match.
“We want to get them used to going through the process, so it’s like a practice and a competition together,” he said. “Sometime, maybe next year or the year after, there are plans to have all three territories come to Yellowknife for a pan-territorial tournament, and we want them to really know what to do.”
This event, however, will draw competition from Hay River, Fort Simpson, Yellowknife and the host community of Fort Providence. Beaupre said he expected between 20 and 30 young athletes.
One of the things Bruneau hopes to impart on the athletes coming up behind him is the need for good preparation. When asked how he gets ready for a fight, he said he trains, and then when he’s done with that, he trains some more.
“We do technique training and weight training, but there’s a lot of mental stuff too,” he said. “I just try to focus and calm myself down. That’s what really works.”
Beaupre said the mental endurance needed for the sport can be the toughest thing for athletes to acquire, and also one of the most difficult to explain to them.
“We’ve been working a lot on visualization,” he said. “Seeing the move, the throw, pinning them, in your mind before doing it. Trying to get them to really believe in themselves, to know they can win, before getting out there.”
Bruneau, one of the NWT’s star judokas, took a step back from the sport last year, but is headed back to the mats competitively later this month. He will be fighting in Regina and is looking forward to it.
“I’ve been on the sidelines for a year,” he said, adding that the event in Fort Providence may not be for him specifically, but will help him get back into the swing of things. “But I’m ready to make a comeback and get back into it.”