Aaron Pfeffer

By BERNIE BELLAN
Thirty-six-year-old Aaron Pfeffer has been training as a judoka since he was six years old. His very first coach was Mark Berger, former Olympic Bronze medalist (1984), also a former PanAmerican Games Gold medalist.

The son of Shelley and the late Harvey Pfeffer, growing up Aaron attended the Talmud Torah and Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate (until the end of Grade 10), followed by two years at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. He went on to acquire a Bachelors degree in kinesiology. Aaron now works as a property manager for Black & Armstrong Realty, but in his spare time he continues to pursue his passion for judo.
Aaron is the holder of a third-degree black belt in judo. (He explains that there are 10 degrees you can achieve as a black belt.) He says that his competitive career in judo “climaxed in 2006” when he “won the national championships in Winnipeg.”

 

Aaron (in blue) at the Canadian National Championships in 2006 flipping his opponent to win the Gold Medal

In speaking with him, I note that Aaron was also a former Jewish Athlete of the Year (in 2005), although he now says that his greater accomplishments in the judo world came later – including competing in the Maccabiah Games in Israel on three separate occasions. In 2005, he won a Bronze Medal in judo at the Maccabiah Games.
Aaron’s first national championship actually came in 1997, he says, when he was 15. In 1999 he won the Western Canada Games championship. His coach all those years was the aforesaid Mark Berger who, Aaron adds, still coaches the Manitoba team (even at the ripe old age of 65.)


About a year and a half ago, Aaron explains, he decided to take his passion for judo to a different level when he opened his own school, called Pfeffer Judo Club. Located at 1000 Notre Dame Avenue (just off McPhillips), Aaron has been holding classes twice a week – on Sunday afternoons (1:00 – 2:30 for kids and 2:45 – 4:15 for adults) and Tuesday evenings (6:00 – 7:30 for kids and 7:45 – 9:15 for adults).
“I started (the school) with nobody”, Aaron says. Now he has 26 students – including 16 kids and 10 adults, and his school “is growing all the time”, he adds. I ask Aaron how he recruited the students and he says it was “all word of mouth”.
“As they get to higher levels a couple of the adults” (all men, by the way, although the kids’ class has a healthy mix of both boys and girls) “have been competing in tournaments and have met with a lot of success,” Aaron adds. His own nephew, Jack Pfeffer, has won give gold medals competing with other kids at various tournaments, while two other youngsters – Benji and Seth Munroe, have also won gold medals.


As far as adult students go, Moishe Lewis won gold recently in his first-ever tournament in Brandon. (Interestingly, it turns out that a heavy proportion of students in both the kid and adult classes happen to be Jewish. The night that I visited Pfeffer Judo Club, I met

Adult students at Pfeffer Judo Club (note: while there are no women as of yet, there's no reason women can't join)

three parents of five different children, all of whom are enrolled in the Hebrew Bilingual program at Brock Corydon School.)
While there are already a decent number of students in both the kid and adult classes, Aaron says there’s always room for more. For that matter, “if it came to that,” he notes, he’d be quite willing to add additional classes should demand dictate.
I ask him how much it costs to join his club. “Fifty dollars a month”, Aaron answers. “It’s a good deal – twice a week”, he points out – for a little more than five dollars a class.
“We push the kids, but they have a lot of fun”, Aaron says. “It’s a great way to get in shape” and, as he further explains, the progression level of most of the students is quite rapid. He points to Moishe Lewis who, he says, just started in the judo club about a year ago but who has already won a tournament and now has his yellow belt (the first stage of advancement in judo).

If you would like to know more about joining Pfeffer Judo Club, you can refer to Aaron’s website: www.pfefferjudo.ca or call Aaron at 204-615-1836.

 

 

 

kids (up to age 12) at Pfeffer Judo (interestingly, many of the kids are from the Hebrew Bilingual program at Brock Corydon School)