Judo: A Sport For All in Scotland

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Judo: A Sport For All in Scotland

Posted: 20/12/2019

As we enter 2020 and begin to reflect on last year, we’ve put together some examples of judo being a great sport for everyone and anyone to participate in throughout Scotland. As a Scottish governing body of sport, we are fully committed to ensuring judo-in-Scotland is as inclusive as possible, and pride ourselves on the steps we have taken to make this happen through our various programmes and events.  We recently achieved the Intermediate Level Equality Standard for Sport, and are constantly striving to do everything we can to make judo as inclusive as possible.

There is a phenomenal amount of work being done by our member clubs and organisations across the country, and as such we wanted to share some of the great examples of judo truly being a sport for all in Scotland.

Charlie and Michele Strachan – Tam’s Brig Judo Club

Judo founder Kano said that the ultimate goal of judo is “to perfect yourself and to contribute to society”.  Judo is much more than a sport; it’s a way of life with the aim of improving society through a good attitude, values and behaviours in your day-to-day life.  There are few people that this ethos applies to more than Charlie and Michele Strachan, who run Tam’s Brig Judo Club in Ayr.  Not only will you find them in the voluntary workforce at the vast majority of JudoScotland events, you’ll also find them at the helm of Tam’s Brig, doing everything that running a judo club entails. Inclusion is at the forefront of everything they do in a bid to ensure judo is accessible to anyone and everyone who wishes to participate.  As well as setting up an over 16 female-only judo session, they are also both learning tactile sign language in order to communicate better with a member who is both deaf and blind.  On top of this, Charlie and Michele are both SQA-awarded Sports Educators, which has enabled them to help train up our volunteer workforce.  Both Charlie and Michele are part of our officiating tutoring team and were two of the first to complete the sportscotland Personal Development Award in Sports Tutoring within that team. They help out at a multitude of JudoScotland events, helping newer volunteers to their feet.  These two are a shining example of the ways in which judo truly is a sport for all, whether it’s as a participant or in a voluntary capacity. 

Jasmin Willingale – Dumfries Judo Academy

15-year-old Jasmin Willingale’s parents may want to extend the length of their mantelpiece (or even upgrade to a trophy cabinet!) if her 2019 awards haul is anything to go by.  As well as winning the Nithsdale Volunteer of the Year award and Dumfries & Galloway Young Volunteer of the Year, she also won JudoScotland’s Young Volunteer of the Year.  Judo is a fantastic sport to do in Scotland, highlighted by the above.  Not only are there ample opportunities to do judo, there are also many opportunities to volunteer and help out at various programmes and events.  These awards are well-deserved recognition for Jasmin; she is a hugely popular member of her judo club, mainly down to her positive manner, strong work ethic and helpful nature.  As well as training multiple times a week for her own judo practice, Jasmin devotes up to 10 hours every week to volunteer at the club.  She assists with 4 junior classes, as well as their female-only and disability classes.  Jasmin helps club coaches with delivery, often leading parts of the warm up or demonstrating techniques when required.  She also assists with set-up, sorting judo suits for new members and many other roles.  Whilst being a huge help to the club coach, Jasmin’s voluntary work is providing a much bigger role in the scheme of things through helping to drive inclusion within Dumfries Judo Academy.  Her tireless efforts help to ensure that judo in Dumfries is as welcoming as possible to all, with a key example of this being her voluntary role in the female-only judo session.  Whilst her assistance to delivering the session is an invaluable help to the club coach, she is also a fantastic role model for the girls and women to look up to since the club does not currently have a female coach. Another area where Jasmin has proven to be a huge asset, in terms of ensuring judo is a sport for all, is in the club’s disability session where she often works one-to-one supporting a player with a spinal injury.  Jasmin has been helping this member with adapted exercises which in turn have helped their mobility immensely. This player credits Jasmin’s tireless assistance and encouragement during the sessions for helping her to learn to walk without crutches for short distances.  People like Jasmin are the reason judo-in-Scotland is a sport for everyone, with her outstanding commitment and contribution a key facet in making this happen.

John D’Ambrosio – Hamilton Judo Club

One of Hamilton Judo Club’s main driving forces is the desire to increase the number of people with a disability participating in judo and the number of coaches working with disability athletes within their club.  The club recently helped set up an Inclusion Hub to do just that.  This fantastic project stemmed from a need recognised by JudoScotland’s 2019 Disability Coach of the Year, John D’Ambrosio a few years ago.  There were judoka attending Hamilton Judo Club’s training sessions that had disabilities and Additional Support Needs (ASN), and John felt that a better understanding was needed to be able to coach students with a disability.  He recognised that there were different challenges for them to overcome that arose during these standard club sessions, which encouraged him to attend some JudoScotland courses on disability judo. Coaches from Hamilton, including John, assisted with JudoScotland’s VI project, I Do Judo. These experiences sparked an interest in disability judo from which John helped to establish an evening class solely for children with disabilities and ASN. He held various workshops for the other coaches and volunteers, with the main focus being disability/ASN, and arranged for them to attend various externally-run courses.  Through liaising with JudoScotland and South Lanarkshire council, a partnership was established and John was able to go in and deliver free disability sessions within the clubs and schools in the local area.  Through John’s tireless efforts and commitment to ensuring judo was accessible to children with disabilities and ASN, the aforementioned Inclusion Hub was born. This now enables John to help deliver both junior and senior disability/ASN sessions, with the hub now also including two other sports that all ages can attend and try. As well as ensuring the smooth running of these sessions and helping other volunteers in the club to develop their skills around coaching disability/ASN judo sessions, John also coaches mainstream sessions at Hamilton Judo Club.

Movement Park - Glasgow

Movement Park is a Glasgow-based charity, and JudoScotland Disability Hub, that uses sports and movement-based activities to enhance the lives of the local community. Their ethos is that people of all ages, abilities and circumstances should have the opportunity to learn fundamental movement skills that are transferable to sports, thus encouraging people to become active for life. They cover all bases when delivering sessions, ensuring all additional factors are considered so that participants, both able-bodied and disabled, can take part in fun, engaging judo sessions together.  Inclusion is at the forefront of everything they do, and this is highlighted in the wide range of judo classes available.  They offer junior and senior sessions, specialist Adaptive Judo classes, and run JudoScotland’s JudoGirlsRock sessions.  Movement Park recognised the challenges that those with permanent disabilities face when pursuing sport and physical activities.  The beauty of judo as a sport is that it can be adapted to suit any level and ability, and their Adaptive Judo sessions are a fine example of this.  These specially designed inclusion sessions have been designed for people who may find their mainstream classes challenging.  In their role as a JudoScotland Disability Hub, Movement Park were amongst the first to offer I Do Judo sessions – Scotland’s first visually impaired judo programme.  Visually-impaired children have the opportunity to continue on their judo journey in a supported environment, with sessions tailored to their needs to ensure an enjoyable, rewarding experience.  As well as these disability sessions, Movement Park have also recognised a group underrepresented not just in judo but on a national scale - females.  JudoScotland’s JudoGirlsRock sessions have been pioneered to create opportunities and encourage females to participate in judo. The sessions consist of one hour of judo followed by a 30-minute health and wellbeing workshop, led by youth workers.  It’s safe to say that Movement Park is creating something really special with their openness to being as inclusive a club as possible.  They’re continuing to demonstrate how accessible judo is as a sport, and are contributing immensely to their local community in the process. Judo founder Kano would be proud…

Fighting Chance Scotland – Nationwide

The mission for Fighting Chance Project (Scotland) is to help educate, motivate and inspire young people (aged 11-23) to make positive changes in their lives by becoming actively engaged in judo or low impact movement and conditioning. The long-term aim is to improve the individual’s health and wellbeing, their employability whilst developing their sense of citizenship and community resulting in an enhanced quality of life. Working in areas of multiple deprivations, participants are encouraged to embrace values such as self-confidence, self-control and respect, as well as taking pride in their achievements.  Sessions are delivered in secondary schools and local judo clubs with the project seeing successful candidates receiving free membership to JudoScotland, a free judo suit voucher and free grading(s) up to yellow belt.

These cases are fantastic examples of how judo truly is a sport for all.  What’s exciting for us as a Scottish governing body of sport, is the fact that these are just a few of a great number of instances of inclusion within our sport.  Members and clubs all over the country are doing great things week in, week out to ensure that anybody, regardless of age, ability and circumstance, can participate in judo.  For that, we are immensely proud.