While people often see kata as an “easier” form of judo, Erin Reim, 19, is there to prove them wrong.
Erin spent her whole life in a dojo. She started training at 5 when her father, Max Reim, decided to sign her and her brother up for judo classes. She quickly fell in love with the sport and started competing when she was 11. It wasn’t long before she started to stand out as a great athlete, winning numerous medals in the U15 category. When she was 15, training injuries forced her to slow down. She decided to switch to kata competitions when she was 17, as it is known for being easier on the body, while still being intense and challenging. At first, it was simply a way for her to stay in judo and obtain her black belt. A little over 2 years ago, she was partnered with Dymitrio Samoilenko, who’s still her partner today. The partnership was definitely a good one, as we can see by their results: they’ve won 2 gold medals during national championships and even more in provincial championships; they’ve ranked 9th and 7th during World Judo Kata Championships in 2016 and 2017, and they’ve won a gold medal a few weeks ago during the Pan-American Judo Championships in Costa Rica. Erin was just as surprised as everybody else by her success: “When I started training in kata, I had no specific goal in mind other than getting my black belt. Then I started winning, and it just kept happening. It still hasn’t totally clicked in; sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s all actually happening.”
Unlike some other young members of the national team, Erin didn’t follow her parents’ footsteps. While being a former athlete, Max Reim never trained in judo; he competed in tennis, wrestling, football and water polo. “As a former athlete, I can understand what she’s doing. While I’ve never competed at such a high level, I’ve always been very active and I’ve tried many sports. Seeing my kids in a dojo made me realize what a tremendous sport it is. Judo made my kids grow into what they are today, and when I look at Erin, I’m very proud and impressed by what she’s done. Her mother, who’s never been an athlete, quickly understood the importance of sport in Erin’s life, and she’s also inspired by her accomplishments.”
When she’s not working on her form on the mat, school is a priority for Erin. She’s studying commerce and will be attending McGill next year, but that won’t stop her from competing in kata. “One of the many things I love about kata is that trainings aren’t as intense as in shiai, and it allows me to study and find a good balance to live a healthy life. It’s all about the little details and aiming for perfection; it makes us work on different aspects of judo and progress is very hard, but it’s also very enriching. It made me more focused and determined, two qualities that are definitely a big plus in other aspects of my life. I really love it, and I’m not planning on going back to shiai.”
Erin and her partner will be defending their national title in Calgary this week. The kata tournament will take place on Thursday, May 17th, starting at 9 am. For more information about the 2018 Canadian Open Judo Championships, visit www.judonationals.org/.
Written by Sarah Mailhot for Judo Canada