Last year, at the Tashkent Grand Slam 2023, we engaged in a conversation with Ms Nuša Lampe (SLO), a member of the IJF Education and Coaching and Commission. She shared profound insights into women's judo, emphasising that it extends beyond mere combat techniques. Nuša highlighted her home club's systematic efforts to include novice adult women in judo.

Nuša shared an inspiring story about Ana and Eva, ambassadors of the Judo for Women programme in Ljubljana, Slovenia. “We initiated the first season of a project aimed at including adult women, particularly refugees, women from vulnerable backgrounds and those who have been victims of domestic violence. The programme was aimed at empowering women by teaching self-defence techniques, safe falling for injury prevention, basic judo movements and throws, fundamentals of judo control, and to promote knowledge of judo as a martial art and a tool for social inclusion, dialogue and equality.

Ana and Eva. Photo courtesy of Špela Lampe, Judo Club Golovec president

I'm thrilled to share the incredible journey of Ana and Eva, two remarkable women who have become the heartbeat of our community. Both single mothers, one with two children and the other with six, have chosen to remain actively involved in the club, even after completing their short-term judo course. These inspiring women have not only passed their first belt exams but have proudly won medals at the National Veteran Championships too. They've also enjoyed the special experience of flying for the first time, attending project meetings across Europe and connecting with other women who share similarly challenging life stories. Witnessing their transformation has been a highlight of my role as director."

Eva said, “At first I thought, ‘No, that's not for me.’ I actually weigh 120 kilos and I can barely move. It was very hard but I gave it a try. I have six children and we fled from a violent partnership. I'm not going to lie; it wasn't always easy during the past year. However, stepping onto the judo path and allowing it to become my way of life was the best decision of my life. I don't do judo, I live it!"

Ana added, ”I want to say to women with traumatic experiences from toxic relationships, ‘Don’t hide it, speak up! You’re not alone!’ I was fortunate that when I was ready to take the chance to be brave, judo found me and the judo world became my new family. Now I want to share my empowering story with women across the world.”

Ana and Eva with their new family. Photo courtesy of Špela Lampe, Judo Club Golovec president.

The story of Ana and Eva has recently caught the attention of media as they endeavour to raise funds for their dream visit to the Kodokan this June. If you'd like to follow the stories of these courageous women on their journey of empowerment through judo, you can look them up on Judo Club Golovec's Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages with the handle @judoklubgolovec.

As we approach International Women’s Day, 8th March, Ana and Eva provide us with important first-hand evidence of the power of judo as a glue for societies. In this instance judo is a cohesive force but also a medicine, a much needed healing agent for women who have chosen to re-take control of their challenging lives in the most positive way possible.

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