The Eastern idea of multi-layer training works on the West with
some meaningful modifications and teaching Judo for kids is a good example of it.
When the first order of business is to install interest in
the training, the sport aspect of Judo – and randori in particular – is a good
tool for the task. Sport is addictive. Seeing this, the other types of martial
arts started to incorporate some sort of competition, be it form/kata
demonstration or competitive fights under different sets of rules. This is
exactly how Dr. Kano saw it. However, it becomes an issue when sport fight misinterpret
as a real fight.
When we’re talking about teaching Judo for kids the sport aspect
is a must. The second most important aspect is a grading. All
idea of Dr. Kano behind creating multi-color belt-ranking system is to create incentives
and measurement of progress.
Number of schools is presenting a good example of kids’ Judo
training. David Rudman’s “SAMBO-70” in Moscow started in a basement and then
moved to a vacant ground-level space in a working-class neighborhood on city’s south-east.
The training space with three tatami had not enough secure perimeters, so walls
were covered with soft rags nailed to it (I still have visible scar on my right
hand from one of those nails – result of an accident during local competition,
they hosted, that I took part in as a guest in early 1980th).
The early students were in a big part troublemakers well known to local law enforcement.
The school changed the life of those boys and from neighborhood’s problem they
became neighborhood’s proud. Later “SAMBO-70” [ru] moved to a new school building of
its own as a specialized sport school with multiple state-of-arts training
arias. It produced many good athletes, but its early students still the best of
The other good example, that got a media attention, is
teaching Judo for kids by Flavio
Canto on the other side of the Glob – in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When I don’t know this school first-hand
the story looks starkly similar to “SAMBO-70” – local “bad boys” got changed by
their Judo school for the good.
To find the right balance of sport vs. martial art (in its
traditional sense) is the primary task of teacher who is working with kids. Sport
element is very important in the beginning of Art studies, but overemphasis on
sport achievements can be detrimental for kids’ life-long interest in the Art (it
what eventually happened at “SAMBO-70” in the later years when it became kids’ sport
high-achievement flag bearer, as many of its students left the Art as soon as their
personal sport results got over the pick).
The other critical point is use (and abuse) of belt-ranking
system in Judo kids training.