Linked News Article: School Judo Deaths Prompt Protest in Japan

This article details a trend of serious, unrecognized injuries and a surprising number of deaths in Japanese youth Judo programs. I found this story to be of particular interest, since Judo is often advertised as a very safe martial arts activity for kids.

The take-home message:

”First of all, many judo instructors at Japanese schools are too ignorant about what to do when a serious incident occurs…”

The activity itself isn’t necessarily unsafe, but the environment and attitude in which it is trained can be. We’ve beaten this particular dead horse for a while, but it bears repeating. Instructors have a responsibility to know:

  • their students’ limitations and health considerations
  • the risks inherent in their activity
  • what constitutes a serious injury
  • how to avoid serious injuries
  • what to do in the event of a serious injury
  • what not to do in the event of a serious injury

The quote at the end of the article brings to mind the mindless culture of obedience, subservience and physical abuse that was encouraged/required in early Japanese University karate clubs (and still is, in some cases):

Mr Murakawa said: ”Children, afraid of getting beaten up, must obey the coach and cannot ask for a rest for no matter what.”

This attitude has absolutely no place in any training hall of any art anywhere. It’s not worth emulating, it’s not honorable, and it is not “traditional.” The sooner it’s discarded, the better. Getting tougher and finding out what you can take is valuable and worth pursuing; sacrificing your safety and health for macho posturing is not.

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3 responses to “Linked News Article: School Judo Deaths Prompt Protest in Japan

  1. I would argue that that mentality is, indeed, “traditional”–several of the karate masters of the early-mid 1900’s mentioned having to do all sorts of horrible, demeaning acts for their instructors to keep them pleased, and mentioned never being able to ask questions–but that certainly does not make it right.

  2. True, but the nature of traditions is that they only matter to people invested in perpetuating them, so we have the ability to say “no thanks, certain elements of this appeal to me, but the hen-pecking, quasi-militaristic-bullshit and abuse don’t.” An awful lot of the silly claims and arguments within “traditional” karate/MA could be avoided or resolved by approaching claims about tradition by asking: whose tradition is it, what does it reflect, and why does it matter?

  3. This is not just unique to Japan- American child and teen sports coaches are sometimes the same way (sometimes the same with some parents).

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