Friday, April 4, 2014

Judo Values

Gunji Koizumi, the father of European Judo, wrote in April 1954, some 60 years ago, about the values in judo in an article entitled, “Live and let live”. In this blog we consider the relevance of his words today.

In today’s modern society it is impossible to miss the speed at which technology, industry and lifestyles are changing. Civilisations are progressing rapidly and these developments are incessant and inevitable and can be reflected in the world of sport. So judo has changed over time. Koizumi, describes how judo in 1954 was growing into an organisation that demanded rules and regulations - far from the origins as a ‘formless form’. 

The growth in participation opens up the opportunity for differing opinions to enter the judo world. This was taking place 60 years ago and is no different among today’s judo family. People may train Judo for mental development and stimulation, recreational enjoyment and social factors, exercise and health, for self-defence, or indeed as a dynamic modern competitive sport.

Koizumi describes how these different incentives are born from urges within individuals that were thought at that time to be mainly influenced by age. He was of the opinion that at a young age judo is mainly appealing for emotional satisfaction; then at the age of physical prime our focus shifts to a more competitive nature, before at approximately 30 years, when our physical capability is diminishing, our interest shifts into that from a more mental perspective.

We believe that there are more factors at work than age in influencing an individual’s motives in judo, those of most significance being an interaction with their surrounding environment and their previous personal experiences.  A person’s characteristics and experiences along their judo path have a significant impact on their judo values; differing judo values result in differing views as to how judo should develop.  This of course means it is difficult to find the all embracing progressive solution that Koizumi deemed necessary - however it seems that 60 years ago he may have been onto something. 

How many times have you heard (or even some of you may have said) how much better judo was back in the day? That the traditions of judo must be upheld and protected from modernisation of the sport? That competing was harder back then? 

Of course, sometimes you would be right, and sometimes, you are looking through rose-tinted spectacles. It is also interesting to reflect on whether Kano-shihan was trying protect judo from modernisation, or in fact the opposite.

The fact is that there is no single answer to pleasing everybody; but judo can be inclusive of all motives, judo can provide something for everybody if everybody works to support each other. Jita Kyoei.

This does not mean to change your values to suit another, as long as you hold on to your values and learn to pass them on and promote them they will remain and be safe. It means to work as one to embrace all values born through judo, to promote the fulfillment that judo brings to anyone that seeks it. For the judoka, an understanding of this lesson may be better achieved through reflecting upon the fundamentals taught in practice. These being the importance of the body working as one to be effective in movement. If all of us with different motives work together as one to include and promote all aspects of the way, we as a judo family will be stronger. As Koizumi stated: “man is no judge of man, live and let live”. 

We ask you to think over your judo values, how you came about them and what you are doing to pass them on. We ask you to consider whether you share the respect for other people’s judo values as you do your own, even if you may not fully understand them. 

Recently we had the sad occasion to attend the funeral of legendary coach, Don Werner of Pinewood Judo Club. Afterwards Dr Callan was asked by EJU Level 5 Graduate, and England Team Manager, Matt Divall, what he had learnt from the days events. He responded;

"Good coaches teach judo, great coaches teach values. 
Good coaches build systems, great coaches build cultures."

(Callan, 2014)

As a coach are you just teaching technique, or are you building people, and teaching values. In your dojo, is judo more than a sport?

We work to help coaches shape and reflect on their values, through our delivery of the EJU Advanced Coach Award and Performance Coach Award, together with our colleagues at Anglia Ruskin University. Find out more here…

Good luck to you trying to instill good judo values to younger members of the judo family.

Thanks to our friends over at Judo Klub Samobor for the great photo.

[Ref: Koizumi, G. 1954. Judo, Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin. April. p 21.]

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