Sarah Miller is the Trent Judo Club’s first female black belt.
The 21-year-old Trent University nursing student received the promotion to shodan — first degree black belt — from sensei (instructor) Tom Hino at a ceremony at the Trent Athletics Centre on Monday night (December 10).
Practitioners of judo, known as judoka, are ranked according to skill and knowledge of the art, with their rank indicated by the colour of belt that they wear.
The original ranking system was introduced by Kano Jigoro, the Japanese educator and athlete who founded judo in 1883. Ranks are divided into two broad categories, kyu and dan, with the shodan black belt being the first of the 10 dan ranks.
“This black belt promotion is truly an honour,” Miller says. “I began judo at three years old. I was taught discipline, courage, modesty and respect for my fellow judoka. I started competing at four years old, I learned very quickly that it’s not easy to win; in addition, losing is sometimes harder.”
Miller competed at the 2012 Canadian Judo Championships, where she earned a bronze medal.
Sensei Paul Teleki assisted Miller in obtaining her black belt as her uke (in Japanese martial arts, a uke is a skilled training partner).
Teleki began his martial arts training in 2003 while living in Japan and working as an English teacher. In 2015, he received his black belt at Hino’s club and has obtained nationally recognized coaching certification.
Hino, who opened the Trent Judo Club in 2011, explains that Miller’s promotion is significant because the ratio of men to women in judo is often one sided.
“Sarah’s black belt promotes positive role modelling for the girls in our junior classes to be equals among genders,” he says.
Hino also says Miller was able to obtain her black belt despite her heavy workload as a Trent University student.
“Judo training can go hand-in-hand with academic success for all levels of study,” he says. “Last year we had a masters degree student who got his Ph.D. as well as his black belt, and went on to become a professor at Queen’s.”
Led by sensei Tom Hino, the Trent Judo Club is run out of Trent Athletics Centre and is open to all members of the community. Youth and adult programs are available. For more information, contact Tom Hino at 705-876-1784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.