In the international sports landscape, judo in India does not look as something that stands out, the country being better known for its passion for cricket for instance, the national sport if one refers to the number of players and to the number of broadcasting hours of this sport. But it is important to go beyond the conventional wisdom. The recent judo educational journey through India, organised by the International Judo Federation and the Judo Federation of Indian helped to lift the veil on judo on the Indian subcontinent.

During two weeks, from September 29 to October 12, the IJF experts travelled in the northern part of the country to explore the nests of judo development and they could see that there was a real attraction for the ‘gentle way'. Over fifteen sessions were held during the journey in nine (9) cities: Agra, Haridwar, Dehradun, Jallandhdar, Gurdaspur, Narnaul, Rohtak, Sonipat and New Delhi. Each session involved large numbers of judoka, and all together more than 3,000 young people and judo teachers took part in the event.

For sure, there are young people in India that not only are interested in judo, but happily practice it. The country can also count on many judo teachers, all passionate by the transmission of knowledge; a knowledge that has the ability to change the society.

“The Judo Educational Journey through India, organized for the very first time in this part of the world, was a real success. I want to congratulate all the people from the IJF, to the Judo Federation of India and the regional and local organisations for all the work done to make this event a success. Judo can bring important values to the society. Through a journey like that we are able to carry them all directly to the judo population and beyond.“
Mr. Marius Vizer, IJF President
“I want to thank the IJF for giving us this opportunity and sending us its experts, Ungvari Miklos and Nicolas Messner as well as filming team. The tour was very successful right from the beginning when we started the journey in Agra, which is worldwide known for hosting a monument dedicated to love and affection. By starting the journey in Agra, we also gave the message that judo is full of love and affection. It is not only a sport but an art to develop crucial values in the society. It also helps the overall development of human beings. The tour was colourful and spicy as is our country.“
Mr. Mukesh Kumar, President of the Indian Judo Federation and General Secretary of the Judo Union of Asia explained

For this first edition of the educational journey, the IJF and the JFI have thus focused on the north of the country. It must be said that travelling from one city to another is not necessarily an easy task and it often takes several hours of driving on sometimes chaotic roads to connect two points on the map.

Miklos Ungvari Shared his Passion

For the first time also, the International Federation had included in its ranks the world and Olympic medallist Miklos Ungvari (HUN). Resting from the last Olympic cycle and his recent fifth place at the Rio Games (silver medallist in London in 2012, three times world medalist and three times European Champion), Miklos was able, throughout the tour, to share his passion for judo and his experience at the highest level, for the enjoyment of all the judoka. His good humour and professionalism were appreciated by all.

Ungvari said: “I came here without any precise idea of what I will find. I must say that the whole tour was absolutely amazing. Everywhere we went we were warmly welcomed. And warmly is probable not enough to describe what I feel today. I have found thousands of people who are passionate for our sport and this is incredible. This journey is a life-time experience for me. I will not be the same after it.“
Ungvari Miklos
“Through this journey, we have covered lots of clubs and judo centres, which have been launched by the Judo Federation of India, through the north of the country. More than 3,000 players directly benefited from the interaction with the IJF experts and they learned lots of new judo techniques from Miklos as well as the judo educational values from Nicolas. This is a wonderful protect of the IJF, which we would like to continue every year so that we can offer the same experience to a maximum number of judo players. Next year we would like to go to south of India for instance and then step by step in other zones also.“
The JFI President also commented

Incredible Launch in Front of the Taj Mahal

As explained earlier, the first stage of the Tour was launched together with the mascot of the tour, #Tigerotoshi, in the wonderful setting of the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra. Just like the judo session that was organised on the Great Wall of China, during the first edition of an educational tour some years ago, the judoka were able to practice their favourite sport in front of this architectural icon of northern India. The enchanting Taj Mahal has put the spotlights on the values conveyed by judo. If Ungvari Miklos was able to deliver his exhaustive technical knowledge, the IJF Media and Judo for Peace director, Nicolas Messner insisted on the capacity that judo has to change attitudes and behaviours by allowing all judoka, especially the youngest participants, to build themselves physically and mentally to become better citizens.

Like any contemporary society, India is facing its own social problems based on a complex economic and cultural melting pot and geopolitical tensions that pose a continuing danger to regions such as the border area with neighbouring Pakistan, which was visited during the tour in Gurdaspur. Yet the city has already produced several champions among others, the recent Olympian, Avtar Singh who offered a warm welcome to his friend Ungvari Miklos, the two men regularly meeting during training camps.

"It's not always easy but we have the desire and the passion. I participated in my first Olympic Games this summer in Rio, but my dream is to become Olympic medallist, as Miklos, who is a role model for me. Having Miklos here with us in Gurdaspur is amazing. I can’t believe it. Today in my community, I am already recognised and I became a model for the younger generation but I want more. The IJF tour gave me a boost.“
Avtar Singh, Indian Olympian in Rio
“Our playing judo population needs to be developed if we want to reach the top level with more players. For the moment we have approximately 15 to 20,000 judo players throughout the country, which we want to increase to 50,000 at least in the upcoming three to four years. This is one of the aims and objectives, which our judo federation wants to achieve, through this IJF Judo Educational Journey programme, as well as other objectives we have already started with the help of the IJF. For example, eight JFI judo centres have already been started by JFI in collaboration with some NGO’s. And our target is to have at least 20 to 25 centres like that, so that the players can get the best facilities possible.“
Said Mr. Mukesh Kumar

Daring one stage of the tour, the delegation, which was followed by a camera crew for the production of a new episode of the #JudoForTheWorld series which will soon be released, could discover that judo was not only practiced in large urban centres such as New Delhi or the holy city of Haridwar, but the sport also began gradually to infuse in the countryside. In Narnaul, judo sessions were held outdoors almost in the middle of the fields in a school dedicated to sports and whose judo is one of the pillars. Throughout the Journey, the local and national media were also very interested by the programme and several news articles and TV shows mentioned the tour.

It is important to note that the history of judo in India does not date from yesterday. The first written references mention judo demonstrations by Master Takagaki in 1929, even though there are evidences that before 1929, many Indians discovered judo in the Kodokan in Japan. Following the first introduction in the Indian territory, the poet and Literature Nobel Prize in 2013, Ravindranath Gurudev Tagore, wrote a poem in praise of judo. The Indian Federation of Judo was created in 1965 and immediately integrated the IJF.

“Another aspect which we are looking at through the educational journey is to develop peace in some of the tense areas around our borders. There are some other areas where we have to promote judo in order to solve social issues. We have already started projects in six of this areas for those children who are neglected in the society or affected due to disturbed situations. JFI would like to promote peace through the programmes of the IJF Judo for peace commission, which is an excellent contribution from the IJF for the world community.“
Explained the JFI President

This first edition of the Judo Educational Journey through India was an indisputable success. After the programme, the IJF delegation travelled to Nepal, to meet with the people affected by the devastating earthquake that badly hit the country in 2015.

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