The city of Kilis has been the scene of an extensive IJF Judo for Peace and Judo for Children programme for many years. Everything began in 2014, after an initiative of the Turkish Judo Federation. Supported by the IJF, the programme grew and gave the chance to more than 2,000 children to participate in the activities.

The city, located on the immediate border with Syria, is home to many refugees, including a large population of children. Judo as an activity that promotes human values through its judo moral code has been contributing positively to the fusion of different cultures, faiths, ethnicities and peoples throughout these years.

After the last IJF visit in April ( that underlined the important work done by the local authorities and which led the delegation to visit to areas that were devastated by the terrible earthquake that hit Türkiye a few weeks earlier, another delegation visited Kilis just a few days ago, as part of a European project.

Various workshops were held as well as training sessions with children in the Kilis judo centre. The sessions were led by Dr Slaviša Bradić-Brada, 7th Dan, an active member of the IJF Academy and IJF Kata Commission and Kaya Gezeker, 5th Dan, from the IJF Military and Police Commission and Turkish Judo Federation Vice-President.

As a large number of Syrian children do not speak Turkish, Mr Brada conducted the training in a unique way through a ‘bird language’ that delighted everyone present. Most importantly everyone understood his entertaining approach very well.

With different judo games and basic judo techniques and principles, the judo classes gave children and parents an excellent idea of how much fun judo is, leaving big smiles on their faces. There is nothing greater or stronger than the smiles and joy of children, which judo provides around the world.

Dr Slaviša Bradić-Brada and Kaya Gezeker said, “We must certainly give great thanks for the energy and effort that the project co-ordinator, Mahmut Selcuk, selflessly gives to ensure that all children can practise judo. We also visited the place where an olive tree was planted in April in the presence of IJF Judo for Peace Director, Nicolas Messner, and member of the IJF Judo for Children Commission, Leandra Freitas, as a symbol of peace, the peace that every resident here very often dreams of and wants.”

Dr Bradić-Brada added, “It was a truly unforgettable experience for me and after training with the children I can honestly say that my heart is full of life energy. When I work with these children and feel their feedback through smiles and joy, there is nothing in this world that can compare to that.”

Based on the Kilis experience, the project will continue and develop in the years to come and it is planned to be upgraded to several countries.

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