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By Sydney Anne Wall – Judo Brown Belt
In high schools around America, the most popular sports among students are football, baseball, or basketball. In most other countries however, these are not the favored sports among students. One sport surely to be found in schools around the world is judo. “Judo is the second most practiced sport worldwide next to soccer” (“Black” 3). Many schools around America have already introduced judo to their school programs and have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm demonstrated by kids (“British” 1). Judo should be a sport offered in all American public schools because it reduces bullying, promotes physical education and teaches mental well-being.
Judo was developed in Japan by Dr. Jigoro Kano in 1882 from the ancient samurai martial art of jujitsu. From a young age Jigoro was bullied by his peers because of his small size. He practiced jujitsu to learn self-defense but found it to be too violent, which is why he developed judo, which translates from Japanese to “Gentle Way”. Afterwards, Jigoro spent most of his life actively engaged in promoting athletic activities all over Japan (Watson 97).
Since its inclusion in the 1964 Olympic Games, judo has become the world’s most popular combat sport (“British” 1). Judo can be considered more a sport than a martial art because it does not involve any kicking, punching or striking. Because of its defensive nature, judo is one of the two sports approved by the Boy Scouts of America (“Black” 2). It is an ideal sport for all ages, genders, as well as a wide variety of disability groups.
Judo has taken a firmer stance in American society as a way to improve the lives of Americans (Brouss 107) over the past decade. In Los Angeles, Jigoro Kano himself introduced judo to the area on one of his numerous trips around the world to disseminate his sport. For a sport like judo to remain popular in a country, it has to correspond to the mentalities, times and culture of the host country. Many famous Americans such as actor James Cagney and actress Hillary Wolf, who is a 1996 Olympian, practiced judo. Even president Theodore Roosevelt became a brown belt during his administration (“Black” 3).
In the year 2012, the national sport and martial art of judo will become compulsory in Japanese schools (Judo 1). However, this is not exciting news for the Japanese students because “between 1983 and 2009, there have been 108 fatalities in Japanese school judo” (“Judo” 1). The deaths in school judo classes are five times higher than any other sport (“Judo” 2.). Now with judo being mandatory rather than an option, many parents are concerned for their children’s safety.
However, there is a significant difference in serious brain injury in the youth between the United States and Japan. The USA Judo’s Sports Medicine Committee points out there have been no traumatic brain injury deaths attributed to judo for all participants under the age of 18 (“Judo” 2). “According to the British Judo Association, there have been no deaths or serious brain injuries in judo in the British Judo Association” (“Judo” 2). Even ringside boxing doctors are astonished by the amount of injuries that have been taking place (“Judo” 1). Based on these results, one can conclude it is not the sport causing the injuries itself, but the way it is being taught and performed by teachers and students.
Fortunately, mesures are being taken to prevent these injuries from continuing. The Japan Judo Accident Victims Association has founded a clear mission to stop the accidents from happening (“Judo” 2). Mikihiro Mukai, the head of the instruction department at the Kodokan Judo Institute, made the clear statement that “if there is even a single death or severe injury, that meathod is inadequate” (“Judo” 2).
Just as in any school, there are always problems that arise among the student population. One of the the most significant issues facing most schools today is bullying. Judo however, has been proven to decrease violent behaviors such as bullying and bad attitudes. It teaches valuable lessons about self disipline, anger management and respect for ones self and others.
In schools all over the world, judo has been taught to help students manage conflict and tension between one another (Brouss and Matsumoto 148). The ethics of respect that judo teaches fit perfectly with any antibullying strategy (“British” 1). In doing judo children learn the essential empathy that helps to prevent violent behavior and bullying (Lance 1).
The controlled and disiplined training halls, known as dojos, remove bullies from their position of power in schools. Judo coaches emphasize that what students learn in class should only be used in the dojo and not to be used on someone for anything other than self defense. The conviction that social values and behavior patterns can be taught through physical activity is what makes judo a revolutionary sport (Brouss and Matsumoto 119).
The objective of judo is to provide children with an enjoyable physical experience that will encourage them to continue on to a healthy active lifestyle. In schools, the method of approach to taching judo is based on the development of the student, rather than judo solely as a sport (Webber and Collins 16). Its place in schools is justified on the grounds that it is a way of providing a balance between competitive and non-competitive activities (Webber and Collins). “Judo was developed as a way of improving the person both physically and emotionally” (Lance 1). It has made multiple contributions to the health, well-being and quality of life to many people. “According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Judo is the safest contyact sport for children” (“Black” 2).
Initially, many children turn to judo as a form of exercise, but then fall in love with the sport and stick with it. Judo helps one to lose weight, get in shape and learn self defense (“Black” 2). The physical training aspect of judo focuses on improving ones posture and agility (Watson 97). However, Jigoro Kano stated that the object of physical training in judo is not only to develop the body but to enable a man or woman to have perfect control over the mind and body, and to make him or her ready to meet an emergency, whether it is a pure accident or an attack by others (Webber and Collins 120).
Jigoro Kano saw judo as a way to improve society by improving the members of it (Lance 1). The intellectual, moral and physical educational motives and goals of judo go well outside the sport itself. “Judo can be a way of life” (Brouss and Matsumoto 147). The ulimate goal of judo is to always strive for perfection as to be able to contribute something of value to the world (“Black” 1).
Judo has a strict code of ethics and a humanitiarian philosophy to its system (“British” 2). The goals and philosophy of judo can be used as a basis for self improvement, social change and social contribution (Brouss and Matsumoto 146). Judo’s two major priciples are mutual benefit for all and maximum efficiency with minimum effort. These principles can be applied to everyday life and can be seen from the respect shown between rival opponents.
Judo strengthens the students mind, self confidence and benefits a childs growth as a person (“Judo in the world today” 2). Jigoro’s approach to educating and training students was to instill self confidence (Watson 94). The lesson that students learn about working hard to get promoted translates well into general life (Lance 1). These traits of respect, confidence and being hard workers can be seen in any judo player around the world. The admiration and compassion they have towards one another, even encouraging rival competators, is nothing short of amazing. “Judo players are citizens of the world and behave as such” (Brouss and Matsumoto 136).
Judo should be a sport offered in American public schools because of its proven ability to reduce bullying, promote safe physical education and teach mental well-being to all of its pupils. Over the past 131 years that judo has been around, it was evolved into one of the worlds most popular sports. Putting judo into public schools would not only benefit the students, but also give it the foothold it needs to become one of the most popular sports in our nation. The benefits of judo on its students has already been proven, now all it needs is the chance to get started.
Black Belt School of Judo. 2009. 31 October 2012 <http://blackbeltschoolofjudo.net/about_us>.
Brouss, Michel and David Matsumoto. Judo in the US. Berekley: North Atlantic Books, 2009.
Excellence, The British School of Judo. Schools Judo. n.d. 31 October 2012 <http://www.judoexcellence.co.uk/index.php>.
Judo in Japanese Schools-Is it doing more harm than good? 2008. 31 October 2012 <http://themartialartsreporter.com/judo-in-japanese-schools-is-it-doing-more-harm-than-good/>.
Judo in the world today. July 2008. 31 October 2012 <http://www.judo-ch.jp/english/world/us>.
W, Lance. Judo in Schools, the Benefits. 9 March 2009. 31 October 2012 <http://judo4parents.com/2009/03/judo-in-schools-the-benefits/>.
Watson, Brian. The Father of Judo: A Biography of Jigoro Kano. New York: Kodansha America Inc., 2000.
Webber, Ken and Malcolm Collins. Creative Judo Teaching. London: Kyudan Books, 2005.
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