Much is made of the need to be controlled on the tatami, not just in a technical sense but in an emotional sense. At the highest level any for emotional outburst, whether it be of joy or of frustration, cannot be tolerated. The line is clear, it is drawn and it must be followed.

To be in control of oneself is at the heart of all development mantra, even back to the bare bones of Jigoro Kano’s education ideas, “There are people who are excitable by nature and allow themselves to become angry for the most trivial of reasons. Judo can help such people learn to control themselves. Through training, they quickly realise that anger is a waste of energy, that it has only negative effects on the self and others."

Positive emotions in Banska Bystrica, EYOF 2022. Photo courtesy of Carlos Ferreira (EJU)

At the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Slovakia this week, the -18 age category is in action. This stage of development is where important lessons in self-control so often occur. The coaches here are not only responsible for the technical aspects, the strategy, warm-ups and logistics but also for the emotional education of the young judoka.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Ferreira (EJU)

Jigoro Kano put it best, “The teaching of one virtuous person can influence many; that which has been learned well by one generation can be passed on to a hundred." This is the crux of it. There is no way to decipher the future but it is likely that some of these teenagers, fighting for their sporting lives, full of energy and pride, will one day sit on IJF commissions, will coach another generation or maybe take the lead as federation presidents. What they go through now is inherently their judo education and also their life education and so each person they come into contact with plays an essential role as a stream of moral guidance.

Judo’s founder emphasised this point, “Nothing under the sun is greater than education. By educating one person and sending them into the society of their generation, we make a contribution extending a hundred generations to come."

Photo courtesy of Carlos Ferreira (EJU)

So while the EYOF judo in Banska Bystrica is fuelled by the desire of young people to win, it is also the platform that judo’s future is built on. There can be zero tolerance, even at this age, of poor emotional control but superimposed on top of that is the watermark that lets light through to see the future. The organisers, referees and coaches are all mindful of that layer of education and the judoka will learn these lessons here and carry their new-found ability to survive, to win graciously and to recover, into the years to come.

Photo courtesy of Carlos Ferreira (EJU)
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