EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS OF JUDO
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 the spirit of Judo. Through this spirit the emotional, social and intellectual development of participants run parallel to the physical achievement of judo players. As a constructive and systematic sport Judo develops the intelligence of the judoka. Although the concept of the intelligence is very wide (eg social, creative, physical, etc), it is certain that the basis of all intelligence is perceptual–motion as it is through our senses that we discover knowledge. As a perceptual-motion activity Judo can be an aid for children with learning disabilities. To illustrate this concept one has to look at some important perceptual-motion functions and its bearing on scholastic achievement.
Balance: This aspect is not only a first principle in Judo but a very important aspect of early childhood development. A child who still has a problem with balance when entering primary school will most probably develop one form or another of learning disabilities.
Midline: The child who, because of a balance problem is unsure of his/her body midline will normally have problems with left-right orientation, which is a crucial skill in school for reading and writing.
Lateral dominance: It is surprising that in this day and age there are still a 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 an 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 her/his strong side.
Body scheme image: The child does not only discover the workings of his/her own body parts but transfers this knowledge to the body of her/his opponent. This is a very important milestone in the development of a spiritual orientation (which is basically the mathematical concept).
Fine motor control: Through the discovery of the working of his dominant (strong) side, the judoka strengthens his/her hand muscles, which in turn will lead to better handwriting and writing endurance.
Spatial orientation and directionality: A majority of learning disabilities can be ascribed to dysfunctions in this area. Not only is mathematics a spatial science but also the perception of forms in reading and writing. A child who has a spatial problem will have difficulty distinguishing between p, b and d. Reversals in reading and writing can then become common. It is then in this very important area where Judo techniques are of utmost value. One should just try and visualise techniques like the inner thigh reaping throw, rice bag reversal, back fall 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.