Sunday, November 9, 2014

Judo and Education

“The three objectives of physical education, fighting and spiritual growth are expressly sought in judo. By practising judo, the student will be able to acquire the benefits of physical education, become versed in methods of combat, and concurrently nurture their intellect and morality.” (J. Kano)

This quotation is from one of the oldest lectures given by 29 year old Jigoro Kano, on 11 May 1889, which considered the contribution of judo to education. I think it is as relevant to consider this today in the second decade of the 21st century.

The traditional terminology of sensei has been replaced in many cases by the term, coach, or trainer. In some western European countries, there is a distinction made between a judo trainer and a judo teacher. In other cultures the term coach is used as a catch-all. The characters that make up the word sen-sei, ๅ…ˆ็”Ÿ are often translated as “one who has gone before”. This is a particularly relevant translation, if you consider the martial ways, or budo, as a path. So your judo sensei, is one who has trodden the path before you.

If we think of this from the perspective of the sensei, we are guiding our students along the path of judo. Along that journey we are told that our students will become versed in methods of combat and also nurture their intellect and morality. So I suggest that our role is to keep them safe along the journey, lead them the right way, and help them in the attainment of the three objectives of a physical, intellectual and moral education.

There are plenty of resources for the judo teacher to help them become a better physical educator, and to help them teach methods of combat. There are books, and videos, about a huge range of topics, all relating broadly to helping create a better physical specimen. There are also countless examples of resources of a technical and tactical nature, all designed to help the coach teach methods of combat. In my experience, most coaches spend most of their preparation time in this area, essentially focusing on the physical education side of their role.

There are much less resources which help the coach to lead their student toward an improvement in their intellectual or moral education. I consider these aspects below.

Intellect, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as; “The faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract matters.” So perhaps the coach could help the student develop an ability to look at things objectively. That’s about being impartial, not being influenced by personal feelings, but just considering the facts. In the combat of a judo match, this is really important. It really doesn’t matter what your personal feelings are about the last waza-ari, or if you thought it was only yuko. The process of randori encourages you to be honest with yourself, about your strengths and weaknesses, about what will work and what won’t, rather than what you would like to work.

At the Judospace Educational Institute, in our work with coaches, we challenge them to be objective in their coaching. To coach what they know will work, rather than what they think will work. We call it Evidence-Based-Coaching. So we try to develop the reasoning and objective understanding of the coaches, we try to develop their intellect.

What about morality? What’s that? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s the “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour.” So as judo coaches, leading our students along the way, we need to help them understand the differences between right and wrong. We do that every day in training, when little Jimmy hits little Joey, we tell him it’s bad. When little Susie is kind to little Sarah, we tell her it’s good. We try to set standards of behaviour in the dojo. We don’t tolerate bullying, we don’t tolerate arrogance or rudeness.

These behaviour standards are what help us teach the moral educational part of judo. If we allow the behaviour standards to slip, if we tolerate a little bullying, for example, then we are not guiding our students along the path of judo. We could simply be teaching any other form of combat training. The moral educational aspect of judo is at the heart of what makes judo “more than a sport.”

At the Judospace Educational Institute we are proud to work with the European Judo Union, whose motto, is Judo – more than a sport.

The International Judo Federation, define World Judo Day, annually on 28 October. I suggest you help your students find out why it’s on that date. The IJF encourage us to focus on the moral aspect of judo, by theming the day around a moral principle, this year was Honour, and next year will be Unity. I encourage you to build on the lead given by the IJF and the EJU, and to take moral education into your dojo. 

Do it by encouraging standards of behaviour. As you drive to the dojo for your next class, in addition to thinking about how to improve the students uchimata, think about how you can improve their behaviour. By helping them to take responsibility for their behaviour, you are helping their moral education, helping them to become valued leaders in society.

If you are interested in this approach to creating effective and efficient judoka, who are highly proficient in methods of combat, have developed their intellect, and have a strong moral compass, then we would love to hear from you.

Good luck to you and your student along the journey.

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Quote is from: KANŌ, J., & BENNETT, A. (2009). Jigoro Kano and the Kodokan; an innovative response to modernisation. Bunkyō-ku Kasuga, Kōdōkan judo institute. p 7.

Main photo is Anto Geesink after ippon was called in the final of the 1964 Olympic Games Open category, demonstrating his nurtured combat skills and morality.


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