Should Every Child Win in Judo?

Should Every Child Win in Judo?

There is this big debate about winning and children, that goes around in all English speaking countries. It argues that children should not have to confront competitiveness. They should all be winners. I have made my case clear elsewhere what I think about this. But being a winner doesn't always mean that you have to win.

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This is not a paradox. It is simple logic. someone said, "If you lose don't lose the lesson".

Judo by definition is about getting up after you have fallen. That is the lesson we learn from break falls.

One of my previous careers was technical. The worst thing that could happen to a good technician was to receive a new piece of equipment, put it together and have it work the first time. All the Tech's I knew hated that and said: "well that was boring". Why because they learned nothing. They had just followed the directions.

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I remember reading an email when I was on one of the early email lists, about a guy who had gone to Japan for extra training only to be called on by the high ranking instructor. Feeling embarrassed about the fact that no matter what he did he was easily thrown to the mat, he fully expected to be scorned by the rest of the club. He was surprised to hear the instructor say to him, at the end of the session "Good Judo". Apparently, the falls were well executed and worthy of praise.

Image of Professor Kano, the founder of Judo, in his Judogi and quote: "He who fears loss has already been beaten"
"He who fears loss has already
been beaten" - Jigoro Kano

Funny, Professor Kano knew what he was talking about (see image caption).

The most enjoyable night that I have ever had in judo was when I was a junior and we had a guest instructor from Japan. He chose me for the night and with what seemed like the touch of his two fingers I spent the rest of the night examining the roof. Every time I got up I found myself examining that roof. Such grace and power with nothing negative to be observed. I have no idea who he was. I was but a teenager and not grown up enough to remember who he was but I spent the rest of my Judo career trying to emulate the way he moves on the mat.

The biblical Paul (most call St Paul) was a complete loser, in that he was beaten, wiped, stoned, shipwrecked and put in prison. But it can be argued, that as a result of his resilience, the whole of the Gentile world knows of the salvation message of Jesus Christ (whether you believe that message or not).

Don't get me wrong I like to win. But even if my students lose I praise them because they come away with something. Maybe not a meddle but something. If you always come away with something you can never lose.

Do we really want to take that away from our kids? As long as we care for them when they lose we have to let them loose because without loosing no one ever wins.







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