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Physical Education Gets No Respect

Posted: February 27, 2018

According to Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Education is the process of creating a sound mind in a sound body.”  Mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a healthy body), a famous Latin quotation, supports that concept.   Yet centuries after these pronouncements, what’s the first thing that gets axed or limited, or is used as a form of punishment when a child falls behind in his schoolwork or grades?  Extra-curricular physical education.  In other words, sports like Judo.  And the reason for sports taking such a big hit is that in spite of all the positive information available regarding the value of participation in sports, physical education still gets no respect.


Team sports tend to fare better than individual sports.  Parents are less likely to withdraw a child from a team sport practice or season because there is an acknowledged responsibility to the rest of the team members.  Individual sports are altogether a different animal.  The reasoning goes something like this: if my child doesn’t participate, it’s not impacting anyone but my child.  Of course, this is an utterly silly notion when it comes to Judo because, although it’s an individual sport, Judo still takes two to tango.  So, not only does your child suffer when being taken away from Judo, but so do your child’s partners.

Don’t sabotage my talk!

Posted: February 27, 2018

This past Sunday, I ran another quarterly in-house developmental tournament using what I call Judo America rules- no penalties, no terminal ippon, and no banned techniques.  As players started filtering into the dojo, one of my dads approached me with his young son.  He told me his son had fallen off his bike the previous day and skinned his knee.  He brought his son to the tournament hoping that his son could compete, but was worried that he might bleed all over.  I took a look at the “wound” and told his son to get on the mat and be ready to compete.  It was pretty superficial.


A few minutes later, dad approached me again and filled in a few more details.  His son didn’t want to compete since he was “mortally” wounded.  Of course, dad was not having any of that.  He wanted his son to be a man although junior is only 8 years old.  So, that morning he talked to his son about how important it was to do his best in spite of the wound.  Unfortunately, mom overheard dad encouraging their son to compete when he didn’t want to, so she told her son that it was OK if he didn’t want to compete. Exasperated, dad cried out, “Don’t sabotage my talk!”  Priceless, isn’t it?  Much to her credit, mom said that dad was right and her son should compete.  This mom understood the message, but most moms wouldn’t have.

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