Empowerment through Judo

Photo credit:  Airbear Photography

Photo credit: Airbear Photography


MBA and co-founder of the Blind Judo Foundation

Judo principles embody confidence building which reaches beyond the tatami and permeates all levels of our being.

As Henry Ford said "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." Judo supports and encourages the idea and concept of thinking you can do something 'right' through practice, dedication and hard work. This manifests itself in the picturing a better life and in some cases raising individuals out of their desperation.

Judo also teaches how to make commitments. This art like many others is not learned in a couple of weeks or months. It takes time commitments and willingness to endure along the road to a level of success or progress demonstrating increasing levels of competitiveness. The art teaches us that whatever we aim to accomplish or to succeed beyond all odds requires commitment and character.

Character considers not only one’s self but the people they come into contact with daily; people of different cultures, social and economic backgrounds. The first sentence in Rich Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life says, “It’s not about you.” As we develop character we quickly, sometimes not so quickly, realize we are here to help and support others especially those with lesser means. Judo has no limits on those we can reach making a profound difference in their lives providing tools and tenets for uniting others regardless of social or economic position.

Rank or athletic accomplishments in Judo is demonstrated by the color of the belt placed around the athlete. This does not mean the coveted “black belt” Judoka wins every competition. It does mean time and sacrifice has been chosen to deserve the coveted Black Belt, but nevertheless humility is always close at hand when competing on the tatami mat. Why? Because belt color is not a guarantee of ultimate success against opponents on the mat (or in life). However, it is a tool for raising oneself above the fray to reach for the next level of progress and indicates commitment.

Respect is another value to be learned and emulated when learning of Judo. As mentioned, Judo is not just a Japanese, German, French or American exclusive. Judo is an offshoot of JiuJitsu which originated in Japan. However, Judo is for all people regardless of social, language, color, religion, economic, disability or any other conditions. With the common bond of Judo and its teachings, Judoka respect others who have embodied this uniting and universal sport called Judo.

Last but not least, there is a responsibility associated with Judo. The responsibility is to help others acquire the skills and teachings of Judo. There is also a personal responsibility to not use the newly acquired skills with the intention of willfully harming others. This is not to say it can’t be used to defend oneself during times of focused conflicts but to use discretion when employing ones newly developed skill. 

The curtains of ordinary life part and perfection flashes for an instant before the eyes as one observes the competitive challenges on the mat or in life using the principles of Judo.

In all our lives there is a danger in believing that who we are, where we are and what we have is all there is. One cannot live without dreams. Dreams foster hope, hope is one force by which girl’s boys, men and women live. There are no limitations to dreaming. As we grow we experience pain, failure, criticism, and disappointment, and we gradually limit our dreams. The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss, but that it is too low and we reach it. Seek out your local Judo gym (dojo) and be prepared to make your first step onto the tatami.

Let us live every day in the counsel of Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”  

Learn more about the Blind Judo Foundation here and visit the Facebook page here.