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Judo Makes Champions out of Children

June, 2006
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IMG_6836 “Ippon,” called the referee as she raised the hand of Markova Ksenia to the crowd’s applause.IMG_6184

  The Grade 7 girl from the Russian School in Beijing just “won” a demonstration fight against Jorge Mora, a 7th Dan in judo from Brazil.

  “I was too nervous just now, but I am very happy,” beamed a victorious Ksenia.

  Earlier, Ksenia just won the gold medal in her age group in the 3rd Beijing International Judo Tournament held at the German Embassy School. This is actually her first time in the competition.

  Mora was very complimentary of Ksenia and other participants: “Frankly, all of them deserve the gold medal. They have got very good basic techniques and some are already physically strong.”

  However, the most impressive one to Mora in the tournament was not the gold medallist, but one small boy with blond curly hair who fought like crazy.

IMG_6271   “That one was a wonderful fighter and he has the potential to become champion one day if he keeps doing it,” said Mora. “The big difference between a winner and the other one is the winner wants to do more than the others.”

  The judo master also had some advice for the parents: “If you want your child to be able to make it, you should always applaud them, even if he is not very good. Always applaud, but never blame them. The child who could make it must be the child who has heard a lot of applauses, not the one often blamed.”

  Besides Mora, there were four more black belts helping out on the tournament, including Christine Tran, an official referee in France. IMG_6679

  “Their (the black belts) presence clearly creates some pressure for the children competing,” said Arnaud Baril, the organizer of the  event. “Through handling the pressure the child will be able to see what his or her true level actually is.”

  It was Baril who proposed organizing the very first tournament in 2004 after teaching judo in Beijing for about three years. The organizer believes the tournament offers an opportunity for children to meet new people and have fun, as well as providing a test for each child. Through this kind of tournament, he hopes to develop the relationships between different judo clubs, improve the level of judo and spread its popularity in the Chinese community.

  “We brand this tournament as the main judo competition for amateurs in Beijing,” he said.

  IMG_6702According to Baril, altogether 93 children aged 5 to 13 took part in this year’s tournament, while the number was just 52 in the last tournament and 35 in the year 2004. He said the involvement of the German School this year had a positive effect on the tournament in terms of participants.

   “We have more and more students who are interested in judo and judo as a martial art is worthy of being supported,” said Stefan Happel, deputy principal of the German Embassy School. “On account of our gym and sports facilities, we were proud to be the host of the tournament.”

  At present, the school offers two judo courses for children and some 30 students are taking the courses. Happel plans to open a course for adults and maybe a third course for children next year.

  “We would like to become the judo centre of Beijing,” he said. “Next year we hope that there will be more students inspired to take part in this great event.”IMG_6847

  Compared with the last two tournaments, the event was also more international, with the demonstration of the Nage No Kata by the children and their masters, as well as the contribution of three main sponsors including Dynabond Consulting, Nestle and International SOS.

  “We have seen more fights, more winners, more gifts for the children and an exceptional venue,” beamed the organizer.


By Xing Yangjian


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