In this article we shall talk about why (especially with younger children) a Judo class is not solely about Judo and why this is a good thing and something that as a parent you will want to see happening.
If your child is attending Judo lessons, some of what they learn will be Judo throws and other techniques. However a large (if not the larger) proportion of what goes on at this age is not Judo techniques rather developmental work on general motor skills and areas such as general health and fitness, self confidence, self discipline and providing opportunities for social interaction and improvements in interpersonal skills.
As a parent, it is important that you understand the risks and benefts of organised sports and of Judo specifically. In this article we shall talk about some of them and how they affect you and your child doing Judo.
Back in 1997 the WHO (World Health Organisation) published a report which recommended that Sport Specialisation should be avoided under 10 years of age. As such a good Judo club will ensure that the young participants are not being pressured to only do Judo. The club will also include activities and skills that are beyond the specific requirements of Judo perhaps. For example ABC (Agility, Balance and Co-ordination) drills may be used in a Judo club that may include skills/activities that are not used in Judo. For example throwing and catching or kicking of balls etc. This is done so that the children develop a well rounded set of physical capabilities. In an ideal world perhaps kids would be members of multiple sports clubs and each club could focus on the skills associated with their sport. But a good club knows that children do not necessarily play multiple sports so shall try to deliver a variety of skills so that all the children in their classes get exposure to a wide range of developmental opportunities.
As a parent, you should be able to see multi-sport skills and general physical literacy being developed within classes. Not necessarily all the time, but across the duration of say a school term. We want 10 year old children who have been involved in Judo for a good period of time to be able to run, jump, skip, hop, throw, catch, kick, roll and of course do fundamental Judo skills like breakfalls and basic throws and holds.
Within in sport generally, but within Judo specifically there is a focus on developing the person rather than producing champions. As a parent, you want to feel comfortable that the Judo coach and Judo club is trying to develop your child not just as a Judo player but as a young person.
WIthin Judo, we have an emphasis on self-discipline, self-respect and respect for others. We have retained and incorporated bows and Japanese cultural artifacts in the culture and practice of Judo. These artifacts are tools that a Judo coach will use to help develop your child.
Training and competition is also focussed (especially with younger children) on providing positive experiences that promote healthy lifestyles. For example, fun is incorporated via games so that children have positive experiences with exercise. This in turn leads to exercise becoming an enjoyable part of a childs life, leading to a healthier lifestyle.
The self-discipline and respect elements of the culture of Judo, develop social behaviors that arepositive both for the child and for others who interact with your child; be that other children or adults. Many a school teacher has noticed the improvement in a students classroom demeanor after the child enters into the Judo community.
Socially, Judo provides a chance to play with children from the wider community and this is good for their social development. Clubs will generally have multiple classes one after another, which provides children the chance to see and interact with older children which can lead to friendships and also identify rolemodels.
Also the close physical contact involved with Judo can be very important in developing social skills and being comfortable with physical contact with other children. It can be very good for helping establish boundaries on what is and is not appropriat elevels of physical contact. Children learn quickly that Judo can be physically tough and that working together with their partners is better than against.
Judo coaches will try and interact with parents to develop the children in their care. Sometimes this is meerely teaching Judo skills; sometimes it is addressing aggression issue in the child or similar personality developmental changes. As such you as the parent should take advantage of the opportunity and communicate with the club coaches about any issues in your childs development that they may be having.
A good Judo club and Judo coach will welcome the input from you as the parent and work with you to help ensure that your child enjoys all the developmental benefits of being in a Judo club. You and your child should feel that the Judo club is a safe, fun place where your child is been given opportunities to develop as a person both physically and mentally.
The words “Safe”, “Fun” and “Development” are key. Your child should be safe and feel safe. The classes should be safe and your child should not become injured at Judo. There will be the inevitable bumps and bruises, sadly there may be the very infrequent accident. But a child should never develop a over-use injury at Judo. A kids class is not a elite sport training session, so although sometime sthe intensity needs to be high and perhaps stretch your child. It should not be heavy work every week.
We do want to introduce children to hard physical exertion and develop strength, but this should only be part of a wider programme to expose your child to sport.