So, before going home, I still had to say goodbye to Java. My journey through the heart of the region had been a tale of judo, culture and connections with amazing people.
As I left Dojo Metro Lampung, I had the feeling that I was leaving my second home. The bonds I'd formed there were special, with Sensei Asril and his students, and those memories would be etched in my heart forever. It was time to head back to France though, not really for a holiday but to build some crucial bridges with potential sponsors and to get media coverage. As my journey is gaining momentum, I need all the support I can get.
Home sweet home in France! It was quite a break from the Indonesian adventures but it wasn't a time to really relax. It was a month of chasing sponsors. I needed a financial boost to keep the Judo Nomad Project rolling. I reached out to many potential sponsors but it was quite a challenge. The Judo Nomad Project was suddenly teetering on the edge and it wasn't the best place to be with the Oceania adventure looming.
I was interviewed by different podcasters and YouTubers and even by the famous French judo magazine L’esprit du Judo. Armed with the determination to keep going, I returned to Indonesia. This time, it was all about diving deeply into the heart of Java. My Java journey kicked off in none other than the vibrant heart of Indonesia, Jakarta. There, I witnessed the grandeur of the Kasad Cup 2023. It was like a judo carnival and I was the honorary guest.
The thing about Indonesian judo is the numbers. There are children, adults, beginners and professionals all learning and practising the art of judo. Some come with a backgrounds in sambo or kurach, some have a military or Japanese style. This diversity led me to customise my lessons to make judo accessible for everyone. I was also happy to see the large number of woman practising the sport, a true reflection of the inclusive spirit of Indonesian judo. They have a huge number of participants and I believe the potential is big.
This is especially due to the amazing work of the Indonesian Judo Federation. They not only hosted a fantastic championship but also made sure all the athletes felt at home. I was blown away by their generosity. It was my first time seeing a federation go all-out like this.
Amidst all the throws and gripping, there was a chance to soak up Indonesian culture. Ariesma, the referee I met at the Kasad Cup, introduced me to batik art. It’s a cool technique of dying cloth using wax-resistant methods, creating intricate patterns. It's a piece of Indonesian culture and it left me totally fascinated.
I saw other parts of the rich culture in Karawang with sensei Arnold. He has a judo club but also raises chickens for cockfighting. As a vegetarian it was a little bit hard for me but I took what I could learn from this experience and the dojo there was amazing; they received me wonderfully.
The connections I made were all about shared moments with students, crashing at local homes and embracing the local hospitality. The term ‘bule’ literally for white person was the go-to label. It's a term of endearment, a sign of the warm-heartedness I encountered. It could seem offensive for someone from a European culture where we are taught that naming someone by their colour can be considered racist but here it seemed to be completely acceptable, normal.
In this place, I met a person called Paris, a judo teacher. He was interested in ecology and was cleaning rivers and beaches from plastic, showing us all what it means to be a superhero on a mission. He has been travelling through over 40 countries to also present his artwork about music. It was very interesting to speak with him and I hope we can work together soon.
We went to the dojo of Kebumen which is linked to the Gombong judo; they have a similar style of coaching that links the military with Japanese judo style classes. It helps me a lot when students have this background; they usually understand much faster what I try to teach them. I signed hundreds of autographs before going to share a meal prepared by the family of the judoka.
I only had a few days left to go to Yogyakarta and the city of Surakarta. I began with two days at ‘Jogja,’ training with adults mostly. It was very nice, I like to have older students like teenagers or young adults, to be able to teach more complicated and precise skills.
I moved to Surakarta to meet the coach you can see in the picture. She is one of the strongest judoka in the history of the Indonesian Judo Federation. She now works for the government. Her judo career associated with her good job offers her a nice situation. So she decided to build a dojo all for free for the students. She is also running the para judo system for the country, a truly inspiring woman! She asked me to stay for a few months but it’s hard to stay such a long time in only one dojo when I need to go to all the dojos of the world.
I’m now staying in Bali and will discover the dojos here and arround. I already met an exceptional teacher, sensei Sengoku. He is a Japanese teacher who was travelling across the globe just like I am but since 1971! He went to every continent and taught in various clubs and national teams. He decided to use his police retirement money to build a dojo in Bali and he has been dedicating his life to this dojo for 17 years. He is an inspiring person for my project too. The Java adventure was a beautiful mix of sport, culture and camaraderie. It was all about the universal appeal of judo, connecting people across borders.
So, what's next? Oceania is on the horizon, just two months away but here's the catch, I'm not financially ready for this one yet. The sponsorship challenge has put the Judo Nomad Project in a precarious situation but I won't give up. That’s why I’m staying in Indonesia so long. Here I can survive with my small budget and the support of the federation, so I’m trying to build the project up from here. If you want to help don’t forget to follow the Judo Nomad Project on all social media and send me a little text.
Till next time dear judo readers!