Sunday, 02 September 2012 23:00

Why "Judo for All"?

There are many notions of “judo for all”. Some regard it as an extension of or the judo aspect of “Sports For All”. Others use it loosely to promote judo or use it as memorable term in marketing the idea or simply as means to satisfy the equal opportunity requirements of the funding bodies, aiming mostly to increase participation in judo. Actually, almost everybody uses this term to portray their organisations’ attractive and inclusive attitude towards new participants.

 However, our interpretation, a view that we feel is largely ignored, arises from the ideas inherent in Judo itself. Judo is a pedagogic system, with a structured educational methodology that teaches theory and practice in a usable and accessible form to everyone who practices it. It introduces and highlights values and principles to bring about social well-being and addresses social issues through enlightening, affecting the behaviours of individuals and groups.

Judo has universal application in all societies and rejects all elitism and bigotry. Thus, the concept of “Judo for all” emanates from within the very concept of the way or the path that judo takes and not from a need to get more people on the mat. Central to this understanding is to realise what judo is. It is not a sport or a mystical Eastern philosophy; it is a system of physical education and practice that provides a path of learning to learn; to be efficient in ones efforts and to bring positive effect to the lives of others in society. As in all other education systems that are designed for the grassroots, judo can only deliver its potent and effective affects through creating a level playing field and an egalitarian atmosphere best suited for learning and healthy competition.

Although, since 1960’s judo has been introduced into the Olympics as a sport, and this has brought wider popularity for judo as a sport, nevertheless it founder, Professor Jigoro Kano, himself on the board of the Olympic committee, representing Japan, opposed the introduction of judo into the Olympics. As popular as judo has become, the bureaucratic organisations that are necessary to regulate the Olympic sport, have willingly, and with self interest allowed themselves to be portrayed as the voices and representatives of judo. While clearly, their interests may even contradict the very concepts of Olympic founders, they certainly do not follow Judo and its principals. It is rather the reverse, they advocate an antithesis of judo and the teachings of its founder.

To portray judo as a sport, as some do, is as ridiculous as portraying medical science as a popular anatomy game. Nevertheless, some will enjoy this as a game as a past time and others will demand return on their investment in funding the a spectator sport. However, this has nothing to do with judo, its origins, its aims and its urgent necessity in the current world or its future!

Like any other education system Judo also uses examination, grading and certification as recognition of standards achieved and as a mechanism to encourage its participants to aim for advancing to the next and higher levels. Contests and tournaments are merely an extension of this education system. It follows that the “sporting” aspect, that may include winners and losers occupy the least amount of space. As such “judo for all” is against all elitism and against the glorification or encouragement of the “winners” and rejects the belittlement of the “losers”. All participants must be made to feel safe and be allowed to enjoy a level playing field to exercise and learn from their experience, gain and enrich their knowledge and improve their abilities to manage changing environment and different opponents and to enjoy fraternity and friendship cultivated in the dojo as is practiced on the mat every day.

Judo for all, rejects all bureaucratic domination and interference in judo, putting at the centre of its life the relationship between the teacher and student, raising high the role of the sensei and master, as a guide and a teacher and not a coach or trainer. It follows that every instructor or sensei is also a student. The relationship between the sensei and the student is a trusting relationship that can only be built through time and experience. It has social and personal dimensions with transparent checks and balances that can only be fulfilled so long as the judo is seen as part of the community and not alien to it.

The social responsibility, etiquette, behaviour and the codes of conduct as well as the community role and responsibilities, imposes checks and balances on the sensei, the student, the club and the association far more powerful in practice than any law of the land or rules imposed by any bureaucratic organisation.

The voluntary association of the members of Judo For All, irrespective of their affiliation to various national or international bodies, does not imply a loose association, lacking order or without discipline; it merely implies a more conscious participation in a movement that enjoys initiative and discipline in a coherent and balanced way. It creates a consistent learning environment that generates leaders and leadership qualities amongst members of the wider community.

Simply put, “judo for all” aims to bring positive change to society through enlightenment of the individuals irrespective of their age, race, gender and the ability of those who practice it by empowering them to overcome their own weaknesses.

Judo For All, will function as a platform and an educational initiative supporting all those who wish to engage in traditional Kodokan judo.

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