Japan is the home of judo, but a brutal win-at-all-costs mentality, corporal punishment and pressure to lose weight are driving large numbers of children to quit, raising fears for the sport’s future in its traditional powerhouse.
Underlining the scale of the problem, the All Japan Judo Federation canceled a prestigious nationwide tournament for children as young as 10, saying that they were being pushed too hard.
A group dedicated to those injured or killed while practicing the martial art says 121 judo-related deaths were reported in Japanese schools between 1983 and 2016.
Japan dominates the Olympics judo medal table, but federation president Yasuhiro Yamashita said that the values of the sport are being lost as parents and coaches chase short-term glory.
“Judo is a sport that emphasizes humanity,” said Yamashita, who is also the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee and won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. “If you see no worth in anything but winning, and the result is all that matters, that gets distorted.”
The number of people taking part in judo in Japan has plummeted by almost half since 2004 to about 120,000, the federation’s figures showed.
Children account for the steepest decline in numbers.
Young children are taught the same dangerous moves as Olympic athletes, and intense training regimes can leave them injured or burned out.
Parents and coaches have been known to berate referees during matches and corporal punishment still exists, despite reforms.
The All Japan Judo Federation decided to take action in March by canceling a national tournament for elite children aged 10 to 12, planning to replace it with events such as lectures and practice sessions.
The backlash was fierce with angry parents and coaches accusing the federation of dashing children’s dreams and jeopardizing Japan’s status as the bastion of judo.
Coaches who use corporal punishment can lose their licenses, but parents are harder to control.
Hisako Kurata, a representative of the Japan Judo Accident Victims Association, said that most parents “don’t think about the danger and just want their child to win.”
“Parents think that if their child wins a title, they’ll be happy. They think they’re doing it for their child,” said Kurata, whose 15-year-old son died in 2011 as a result of a head injury sustained at his high-school judo club. “The parents end up having the same win-at-all-costs mentality as the judo club.”
Mizoguchi, who has coached in France, said judo was “not fun” for Japanese children and that the “macho culture” surrounding the sport has had its day.
“You have to treat each kid with care and have a long-term vision for the future, otherwise Japanese judo has reached its limit,” she said.
Taiwan’s Lin Chun-yi yesterday bowed out at the Malaysia Masters, defeated in the semi-finals a day after an epic quarter-final against the highest-ranked player left in the men’s singles draw. Lin lost to Weng Hongyang of China 21-13, 21-19 after a draining match against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka a day earlier in which the second game had 59 points. The 23-year-old left-hander had won his only previous BWF match against his Chinese opponent. However, Weng booked a place in today’s final after easing past the Taiwanese battler. He faces India’s H.S. Prannoy, who advanced when Indonesia’s Christian Adinata retired while trailing 19-17 in the
CRYPTIC COMMENTS: James told a post-game news conference that ‘going forward with basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about,’ while ESPN reported that he was retiring Nikola Jokic on Monday outdueled LeBron James as the Denver Nuggets completed a 4-0 Western Conference championship sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic bagged a 30-point triple-double as the Nuggets overturned a 15-point halftime deficit for a 113-111 victory that sent the Lakers crashing out and left James reportedly contemplating a shock retirement from basketball. James had looked to be single-handedly keeping the Lakers’ season alive after scoring 31 points in a magnificent first-half display that left the 17-time NBA champions leading 73-58 at
Reigning world champion Ding Liren and top-ranked Magnus Carlsen are to participate in next month’s inaugural franchise-based Global Chess League (GCL), organizers said yesterday. The tournament is to run from June 21 to July 2 in Dubai and feature six teams of six players each, including a minimum of two female players and an “icon” player per team. Carlsen and Ding are to join as two of six “icon” players, along with Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand and Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The final two names are to be confirmed at a later date, organizers said. “Global Chess League will be a great new event in
MIAMI STRUGGLE: Heat star Jimmy Butler scored just eight points in the first half and finished with 14 — his lowest-scoring game of the NBA playoffs Boston on Thursday poured in 16 three-pointers in a dominant 110-97 victory over the Miami Heat that kept the Celtics alive in the NBA championship chase. For the second straight game, the Celtics fended off elimination, cutting the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals to 3-2 with the wire-to-wire triumph. Miami get another chance to close it out when they host Game 6 today. The Celtics will be trying to take one more step toward becoming the first NBA team to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series. “The only thing that can stop us is us,” Celtics