Norm Beauchamp Courtesy photo
Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
CHESTERVILLE – When Norm Beauchamp was a little boy, his older brother, who was learning Judo, would come home and show him the moves each day. When Beauchamp’s brother quit Judo to learn karate, he again came home to teach his brother. The two boys even started a homemade dojo in their neighbour’s garage. Then at 15 years of age, Beauchamp was introduced to a new martial art called jiu-jitsu that was just hitting eastern Canada. He and his brother earned their black belts in three years.
For Beauchamp, he was able to train with world kickboxing champion Bill Wallace down in Memphis, Tennessee, in a club owned by none other than Elvis Presley himself. “Turns out Elvis was doing karate and he owned the club that Wallace taught and trained at,” said Beauchamp. In those six weeks, Beauchamp, in addition to his training, was able to earn his yellow belt in karate. “It was unheard of to have a guy come in six weeks and actually do kickboxing and karate,” he explained. His yellow belt was even signed by Elvis, his bodyguard Ed Parker and Wallace.
A year later in 1976, Beauchamp earned his black belt and in 1977 he was chosen to represent Canada in the European Tour where he had the opportunity to go to England, France, Germany and Belgium for the Jiu-Jitsu Exchange. In 1978, he fought again for Canada in Greece and along the way won a number of Canadian and Quebec tournaments. Currently, Beauchamp is a member of the World Kobudo Federation which at the time had 43 countries affiliated and holds an annual convention around the world. Since 1993 when he joined, Beauchamp has only missed four of these conventions.
“I’ve participated in seminars in France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden and Russia,” said Beauchamp who recounted some of his favourite highlights of his career. He’s also had the opportunity to teach in those same countries, of which his week teaching in Russia in 2006 particularly stood out. Beauchamp recalled how he chose one of the larger students to fight, a fight he quickly won. After the applause dwindled, Beauchamp found out he had chosen a bully of the class, allowing him to earn “instant respect.”
Beauchamp won the world championship in sport jiu jitsu in 2000 in Vienna and later in his career debuted in kickboxing at the age of 47, helping Canada to dominate in the Ireland versus Canada tournament.
It’s not a surprise that the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame approved his nomination in under a week, a process which usually takes a few months. It might be a surprise to find such an accomplished martial artist in Chesterville. “I moved to Chesterville with my first wife [in 1988],” said Beauchamp. “There happened to be a great old farmhouse on Emma St. and once we found out it was a rural community we knew it would be perfect for us and our kids. Everybody keeps care of everyone else.”
Beauchamp worked as a volunteer firefighter for nine years and then in 1993 started a club at NDDHS for the next seven years. In 1999, he bought the old Legion and on Jan. 4, 2000 he opened the first commercial club in North Dundas.
“We started with 40 members and now we are close to 150. Per capita we have the most successful club in the world,” joked Beauchamp. “We have 10 per cent of the population so statistically speaking, Chesterville is on the map.” The club boasts up to 35 black belts, which may not be much for a city like Ottawa but is fantastic for North Dundas, he said. “The average time getting the black belt is about seven years, twice a week. It’s not like other clubs where it takes three. But the thing about Chesterville is our retention is super,” he explained.
Beauchamp found out he was being inducted into the Canadian Black Belt Hall of Fame in August. The ceremony will take place in Gatineau this weekend and it is no surprise after his 45-year career. “To be inducted with the legendary people of Canada in the martial arts is just absolutely amazing. I’m very honoured and it’s surreal that this is happening to me,” said Beauchamp.
He was nominated by his own instructor, who he still learns from even as a seventh degree black belt and as he teaches the eager students of North Dundas. Beauchamp will be able to share this honour with some of his colleagues and students who have been invited to attend. “I love teaching because I want to give people the opportunity in the martial arts world that I received. To be able to travel to Europe, and the United States, which was my first country at the age of 17. Martial arts has brought me the world.”