Fukuroi: Although Japan is home to judo, the brutal spirit of victory, corporal punishment and pressure to lose weight have stopped many children and raised concerns about the future of sports in traditional powers. Emphasizing the scale of the problem, the All Japan Judo Federation has canceled the prestigious national convention for children up to the age of 10. A pressure group dedicated to those injured or killed during martial arts practice states that 121 judo-related deaths were reported in Japanese schools between 1983 and 2016.

Japan regularly dominates the Olympic judo medal table, but Chairman Yasuhiro Yamashita told AFP that the value of the sport is being lost as parents and coaches pursue short-term glory. “Judo is a sport that emphasizes humanity,” said Yamashita, who was chairman of the Japan Olympic Committee and won the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. “If there is no value other than winning and the result is important, it will be distorted.”

According to federation statistics, the number of people participating in judo in Japan has dropped by almost half since 2004 to about 120,000. Children explain the most rapid decline in numbers. There have been reports that elementary school students are being forced to lose weight-sometimes up to 6 kilograms-they can compete in the lighter sector. Toddlers are taught the same dangerous movements as Olympic athletes, and intense training regimes can injure or burn them out.

Parents and coaches are known to beat referees during the match, and corporal punishment still exists despite sports reforms that have been plagued by abuse and bullying scandals for many years. The All Japan Judo Federation has decided to take action in March, planning to cancel the national convention for elite children aged 10 to 12 and replace it with events such as lectures and practice sessions. The backlash was fierce, with angry parents and coaches accusing them of crushing their children’s dreams and jeopardizing Japan’s position as a judo fortress.

Violence, not words

Rion Fukuo, a 13-year-old junior high school student who was a regional champion last year, said at the judo club in central Shizuoka prefecture that he was “sorry” that this year’s elementary school students were not aiming for the tournament. Kosuke Moroi, a 12-year-old daughter who attends the club, said she was “disappointed” when she first heard the news, but she knew why and she said she was a “good decision.” Said.

Mr. Yamashita said that dismantling the competition put the spotlight on “problems of Japanese society.” “It’s been two and a half months since we decided to cancel the competition, and people are still discussing it on TV and newspapers,” he said, with most opinions “in favor.” I added. Judo and other martial arts were used for military training in Japan before World War II, and military personnel visited schools to teach.

Martial arts were banned during the postwar occupation of the United States, but were later recognized as a sport, and judo made its Olympic debut at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Noriko Mizoguchi, a Japanese judo player who won the silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said the belief that corporal punishment strengthens children is still common in Japan. “The focus on coaching Japanese sports is to use violence, not words,” she said. She said, “Like domestic violence, being beaten is like showing affection, and there is co-dependence.”

Problematic parents

Coaches who use corporal punishment can be deprived of their licenses, but parents are difficult to manage. Hisako Kurata of the Japan Judo Accident Victims Association said that most parents “do not think about danger and just want to beat their children.” “Parents think they’ll be happy if their kids win the title. I think they’re doing it for their kids,” she said, 15 years old in 2011 as a result of a head injury. Kurata said that his son died. In his high school judo club.

“Parents will have the same full-winning spirit as a judo club, and they will contribute to it,” said France coach Mizoguchi, who said judo was “not interesting to Japanese children.” “The” macho culture “surrounding sports has entered that era. “You need to treat each child carefully and have a long-term vision for the future, otherwise Japanese judo will reach its limits,” she said. “Old-fashioned coaches are afraid that if they stop the children’s competition, they will lose the power of Japanese judo.” I think they will actually get stronger. “-AFP

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