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Kosei Inoue: Judo, Rugby Athletes Find New Ways to 'Return the Favor' of Support for Sports

As athletes, we received support and strength from many people. Now, we hope to return the favor by looking for ways the judo community can help others.

Greetings fellow JAPAN Forward readers and judo fans. This is judoka Kosei Inoue. While we enjoy fine, comfortable weather as we approach early summer, there have been many days of warmer-than-usual temperatures. That makes it feel like climate change is fast catching up with us. 

Meanwhile, allow me to update you on news of recent judo-related initiatives in Japan.

As many of you may know, a large-scale earthquake struck off the coast of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture on New Year's Day. This highly destructive quake had a maximum seismic intensity of 7 and a magnitude of 7.6. 

On April 17, three months after the Noto Peninsula earthquake, together with friends from the world of sports, I visited Suzu City and Anamizu Town. They are two communities that suffered severe damage during the quake. We interacted with local residents through volunteer activities in both communities.

At an evacuation center in Suzu City, we volunteered to work in the soup kitchen and also interacted with local residents. (©NPO JUDOs)

Accompanying me on the visit were Toshiaki Hirose and Takeshi Nozawa, former members of Japan's national rugby team, and Ayumi Tanimoto, a judo gold medalist at the Athens and Beijing Summer Olympics. Tanimoto is vice-captain of the Japan national team going to the 2024 Paris Olympics

Our visit was made possible thanks to cooperation from NOTOTO. They have supported relief efforts in areas affected by the Noto Earthquake, along with the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, the volunteer group "Team Konohen" and the Japanese Olympic Committee.

Volunteer Activities in the Noto Peninsula

Our visit took place just 100 days before the start of the Paris Olympics. In addition to serving in soup kitchens and helping remove household goods from collapsed houses, we also held sports events. 

There were rugby participation events at Anamizu Junior High School in Anamizu City and judo participation events at the Hakui Municipal Judokan in Hakui City. Both aimed to lift the spirits of local children and their communities. I am proud to say everyone had a great time. 

Self-Defense Force (SDF) members took part in disaster recovery operations. (©NPO JUDOs)

Conditions in the area devastated by the earthquake are still in poor shape. There has been little progress in clearing away collapsed houses, demolishing buildings, or restoring infrastructure. Nonetheless, amidst the scenes of devastation, the people we met were looking toward the future even as they moved forward one step at a time toward recovery. 

When we competed as athletes, we received support and strength from many people. Now we would like to return the favor by looking for ways the sports world can help. That includes continuing to support relief efforts. 

Sports has the power to bring people together. On this trip as well, we engaged in exchanges through rugby and judo activities. And even though we were meeting the participants for the first time, we were able to break the ice in an instant. 

We ended up having a wonderful time. It was a day that left me and my fellow athletes feeling more than ever the power inherent in sports. 

Participants in the instructor training sponsored by the French Judo Federation pause for a photograph at Tokai University. (©NPO JUDOs)

Technical, Instructional Training for Teachers from France

From April 15-20, an instructor training program sponsored by the French Judo Federation (Fédération française de judo, jujitsu, kendo et disciplines associées [FFJDA), was held at Tokai University, where I am employed. I also was in charge of the technical training and introduced several techniques, including the uchimata (inner thigh reaping throw).

In France, acting as a sports instructor requires national qualification. Of course, that holds true for judo instructors as well. It appears therefore that many judo instructors earn their living by teaching judo. 

From the standpoint of popularizing and developing judo, requiring national qualification to become a qualified instructor is a very appealing system. I believe it creates a wonderful environment in which judo instruction also becomes a truly specialized profession. 

Instructor training sponsored by the French Judo Federation was held at Tokai University from April 15-20. It offered a fantastic opportunity for exchanges with judo instructors from abroad. (©NPO JUDOs)

All of the participants in our training course listened very attentively to the technical explanations. They were obviously eager to take back home every little bit of knowledge they could acquire. I could also tell from their attitude that they all were utterly devoted to judo. 

These kinds of interchanges contribute to the development of judo as a sport. Likewise, they also provide an opportunity to enhance Japan's stature. In the future as well, I hope to interact with and learn from judoka from throughout the world.

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(Read the column in Japanese.)

judo Kosei Inoue
Author: Kosei Inoue, President, Certified NPO JUDOs
judo Kosei Inoue
記者井上康生 理事長, 認定NPO法人 JUDOs

Learn more about the sport of judo and Kosei Inoue, former Olympic gold medalist and former national men's team judo coach who now serves in key positions for All Japan Judo Federation, on the website of JUDOs, a certified Japanese NPO. And find further columns by and about Kosei Inoue in English on JAPAN Forward and SportsLook.

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