Seikido classes expanding throughout District

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer
abradbury@fortfrances.com

The Rainy River First Nation gym was abuzz on Saturday morning as 18 seikido students took tests to move up from white belt to the next level of yellow stripe. Later that afternoon seven more students would test for other higher belts. Seikido Master Hayley Broadbent started teaching classes in the area in 2019 and will likely be expanding in the new year.

Seikido is a martial art that combines aspects of the Korean martial art of taekwondo and the Japanese martial art of aikido.

“Our offensive style is international taekwondo. So every student that graduates will have a black belt in international taekwondo,” Broadben said. “It’s the core of our curriculum and then we use aikido techniques for the defensive portion.”

Broadbent started Rainy River First Nations Seikido Taekwondo Club in 2019. When she first moved to the region with her family there was no Seikido program available in the area. Broadbent had started training in the martial art in the 90s but stepped away. She got back into it in 2012 along with two of her children. Despite having trained for years she was required to start again from a white belt after a 15-year absence. After spending time learning in Southern Ontario before moving to the Rainy River District, Broadbent and her kids were disappointed to find there was not a Seikido program here.

“When we moved up here, we had all stopped. They tried just taekwondo and they’re used to so much more in the curriculum so they were bored,” Broadbent said. “Then they tried judo and it was ok but they really missed seikido.”

The inspiration to start their own club came when Broadbent’s daughter, Tashie, visited their old club in London and told the grand master that they needed a club in Northern Ontario. Shortly after Broadbent received an email from the grand master asking why they hadn’t started a class.

Broadbent responded with a long list of excuses, among them the fact that there was no one with a black belt, and no qualified instructors.

“I gave him a big list, and he said, ‘Set up a seminar, I’m coming up there, you guys will have a club.’ and so we did. We follow his guidance and he checks in with us regularly to make sure that we’re doing everything the way it’s supposed to be done,” Broadbent said.

“When we started the club we were under the supervision of Grandmaster Gagel in London, so he would come up four times a year and make sure we’re teaching the techniques properly and that we’re maintaining the class and the records properly.”

Seikido has been gaining popularity across the District. Students recently took part in a grading exercise, to advance beyond the white belt level. – Allan Bradbury photo

Broadbent and her two oldest children didn’t have their black belts when the classes started so they continued to train and the club operated under the authority of their Grandmaster Gagel from London. In September of 2020 Broadbent and her two oldest kids tested for their black belts, shortly thereafter the club was incorporated as its own entity taking over responsibility at a local level.

The club has seen many ups and downs since its inception especially with the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, things are on the upswing.

“We reopened in September, and probably had the biggest response we’ve had so far. We had over 25 students register. We currently have a roster of 47 students,” Broadbent said. “In January we will have classes in Rainy River, Big Grassy and Manitou.”