Benefits of Judo

Judo and Children's Pshycology

Judo as an international sport knows no boundaries, and as such is contributing to friendship and peace among nations

As a sport, Judo distinguishes itself as a form of discipline and respect that underlines its spirit. Through this spirit the emotional, social and intellectual development of participants runs parallel to the physical achievement of the Judo player.

As a constructive and systematic sport, Judo develops the intelligence of the Judoka. Although the concept of intelligence is very wide (eg. social, creative, physical) it is certain that the basis of all intelligence is perceptual-motor, as it is through our senses that we discover knowledge.

As a perceptual-motor activity, Judo can be an aid to children with learning disabilities. To illustrate this concept, one has to look at some important perceptual motor functions and their bearing on scholastic achievement:

This aspect is not only a first principle in Judo but a very important aspect of childhood development. A child who still has problems with balance when entering primary school will most probably develop one form or another of learning disability.

The child who, because of a balance problem, is unsure of his body midline will normally have problems with left-right orientation, which is a crucial shell in school, as reading and writing are done from left to right. (NB reversals in reading and writing)

It is surprising that in this day and age there are still a large number of children - and adults - who are not sure which hand to write with. A child with this problem will often reverse numbers, letters and words and develop illegible handwriting. In the various Judo techniques, the child will soon internalise the concept of left and right and will quickly find out which is his strong side.

The child not only discovers the workings of his own body parts but transfers this knowledge to the body of his/her Uke (opponent). This is a very important milestone in the development of spiritual orientation (which is basically a mathematical concept)

The various, often very complicated movements that the Judoka has to master, cannot take place without excellent body control. The immediate effect of these activities is motor-strength, but on a higher level they affect body posture (self-image), and form the gateway to many other perceptual-motor as well as conceptual achievements.

Through the discovery of his/her dominant (strong) side, the Judoka strengthens hand muscles, which in turn leads to better handwriting and writing endurance. (It must be remembered that the pupil at school is mostly judged on his written work)

A majority of learning disabilities can be ascribed to dysfunctions in this area. Mathematics is not only a spacial science but also the perception of forms in reading and writing. A child who has a spatial problem will have difficulty in distinguishing between p, b and d. Reversals in reading and writing can then become common. It is then, in this very important area that Judo techniques are of the utmost value. One should just try to visualize techniques such as the inner-thigh reaping throw, rear body-drop throws, rice bag reversal and many more to understand the extent to which spatial concepts must be mastered. Perceptual-motor development in Judo does not remain on a perceptual level only: perception is just the first stage to conceptual (intellectual) development. There are also many emotional parallels that can be drawn, eg. a person who is well balanced, a person who is disoriented, a person who has no direction in life.

Judo develops the whole person through play, discipline, respect and discovering oneself in one's opponent and as such will lead to happier and better adjusted individuals.

Professor van Niekerk - Child Pshychiatrist