"Perhaps nothing is so fraught with significance as the human hand." ~ Jane Addams, US sociologist

I’ve heard a number of judoka, usually women, speak about a particular part of themselves in a derogatory manner. It makes my ears burn. It makes me want to be an advocate for the shunned subject, to shine a light on their truth.

The judoka are comfortable in their commitment to sport and they appreciate the sacrifices and the time and the toughness they’ve had to train, in order to live this life. They value their own work ethic and are grateful for the teams they’ve built around them.


Have you ever looked at the hands of an elite judoka? Do you see the swollen knuckles, the mountainous callouses and the broken, dry skin of the palms. Do you see the military precision of the omni-short nails and the residue of strapping tape? Have you really taken in the patches of grey skin that sit on top of a pile of repeated bruises? There are thumbs almost deformed by the bulbous muscle built up in the hand that always wants the sleeve. Some judoka see them as ugly. Such a harsh word.

They are beautiful.

These hands are the hands of people whom have dropped the mic on commitment. They’re scarred and marked and blemished because of the unbeatable spirit that drives them to continue, for years, sometimes decades.

Judoka hands are different. They’re hard. They’re one hundred percent in, no matter what. They don’t baulk after a dislocating grip-break. They don’t creep away when the coldness of the bar reminds them of the next effort that’s required. They just stay fully in the game, always contorting and giving all they have to connect tori to uke.

They are beautiful.

Those hands impress me. They illustrate so clearly, unequivocally, what is needed to make it into the upper echelons of world judo. They are disciplined beyond measure. They take punishment and absorb it and will be ready to train again every time they are called upon. They show respect to others with the tiny adjustments that enable them to sharpen their technique and cause no harm to those standing in front of them.

Judoka hands are unique and strong and resilient and they are the gateway to everything we need to know about the judoka to whom they belong. They speak of character and of integrity.

They are beautiful.

Beautiful judo hands are preparing for their first grand slam of 2021. Catch all the action on the live stream.

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