Judo in Schools- How and Why it Should Be Taught

Judo in schools

Judo In Schools

Introducing Judo into the schools curriculum is a very important step towards showcasing Judo to the youngsters and introducing them to our sport.

There are of course many sports out there with the same intensions of introducing their particular activity as the one to learn.

So what makes our sport so different and unique?

Of course the philosophies of Jigaro Kano and his approach to the learning processes of Judo made our sport unique, because it not only takes into account the physical and mental approach to the sport itself but also relates to many aspects of every day life as well. It really can improve our life balance.

The etiquette and discipline should not only be part of the learning process but it is also an essential part of the over all ethos of our sport. It should therefore be taught as part of the process. As Mr Jigaro Kano stated all those years ago Judo is an ‘Education for life. All the way through my Judo life this has certainly been the case.

This brings us now to present day and how Judo is introduced into the school curriculum and how best to introduce it to the students.

Many first introductions into Judo are through 6 week taster courses at the schools them selves or in Judo clubs. These classes are broken down into age banded classes mainly because each class has a certain time slot for each of the classes. This doesn’t mean that we can’t run mixed age groups together as the basic beginners requirements are very much the same no matter if you have a six year old or a 40 year old beginner. Certain delivery according to age might differ a little but the basic elements need are the same.

As with all sports our job is to get the children interested in Judo and to try and get them to understand some of the key elements that make up our sport.

Of course unlike football or badminton or many other popular sports the sport of Judo is not only physically very demanding but if it is not practiced or taught properly it can be very dangerous and end up with people getting injured.

This can mean a rapid fall out within classes and first impressions/experiences of Judo are not happy ones.

How do we stop these things from happening?

All of us like to succeed no matter at what level we either practice or compete. We want to see progression and we like to achieve, and of course so do the parents.

For me, one of the absolute essential elements of any class being delivered is that it is delivered in a structured way that has been practiced and planned before its delivery. I am also a big believer that students need to understand the fundamental basic elements that make up our complex sport before venturing into the technical and tactical game of Judo.

Giving the Judoka a sound understanding of Ukemi, movement , balance, Kuzushi and adaptability to movement with a partner would give them a taste of how to react to specific Judo techniques when they are introduced to them.

These principles are unfortunately often skimmed over with introductory ‘tasters’ to many different sports and this problem is highlighted more and more with limited physical activity allocated in schools today.

I have heard people saying that we could possibly train our P.E teachers to deliver a base Judo programme to get them interested in our sport but I think that this particular approach could be very dangerous if not approached in the right way.

Judo is very much a specialist sport with some dangerous implications if not taught properly. I know Dan Grades who struggle to teach good sound technical Judo so a crash course to P.E student teachers would not be the answer.

I do believe however, that with the right approach, that the P.E teachers could deliver Judo related exercises that encompass all of the elements needed to practice Judo. Relating these practices would be the key to a better understanding of technical learning.

Many schools now have ‘outsourced’ Judo coaches coming into school clubs within the school itself taking well-structured classes with good facilities on hand. Having an adequate matted area and proper training equipment of course contributes to the overall first impressions given to the pupil.

Getting kids to sign up is only part of the process of induction, then we have to ensure that we keep them interested and very importantly keep them safe.

I’ve just returned from the EJU Expert Commission conference in Turkey of which I am a part, and together we have developed a kata that bridges the needs to cover these fundamental skills and provides a safe, progressive, and interesting environment. It at least gives us the tools to introduce the sport and with further professional training that NAEF are developing for beginning instructors, we may have a platform from which to create and retain an interest on our sport.

There will be more information on this in the future editions of  this blog and  I look  forward to sharing it with you. 

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