Bullied, burned-out children in Japan quit judo

taipeitimes.com -- Jun 21
Japan is the home of judo, but a brutal win-at-all-costs mentality, corporal punishment and pressure to lose weight are driving large numbers of children to quit, raising fears for the sport’s future in its traditional powerhouse.

Underlining the scale of the problem, the All Japan Judo Federation canceled a prestigious nationwide tournament for children as young as 10, saying that they were being pushed too hard.

A group dedicated to those injured or killed while practicing the martial art says 121 judo-related deaths were reported in Japanese schools between 1983 and 2016.

Japan dominates the Olympics judo medal table, but federation president Yasuhiro Yamashita said that the values of the sport are being lost as parents and coaches chase short-term glory.

“Judo is a sport that emphasizes humanity,” said Yamashita, who is also the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee and won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. “If you see no worth in anything but winning, and the result is all that matters, that gets distorted.”

The number of people taking part in judo in Japan has plummeted by almost half since 2004 to about 120,000, the federation’s figures showed.

Children account for the steepest decline in numbers.

Young children are taught the same dangerous moves as Olympic athletes, and intense training regimes can leave them injured or burned out. ...continue reading

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