The author and one of his pupils at the University of Valencia.
- Carlos Lisart Aviñó
It's undeniable. In Martial Arts in general and Judo specifically there's a huge gap between the male and female pupils we count with. It has nothing bad if this statistics are a product of the choice of the youth, but recently we have started to witness that even if young girls specialize in a different sport when they become mature, they enjoy martial arts among the best in early stages. And not only they enjoy, but they are also greatly devoted and talented.
With more than 10 years of experience in judo teaching in different countries and counting with the contribution of better judo teachers than myself, we have stated that these differences among children in the decision of different sports is highly influenced by the parents and the culture, but also about the impression a certain sport provides, and this is the factor we can influence the most.
In early childhood, the parent´s choice would be decisive about the sports their daughters and sons practice. Of course an open-minded society would choose a certain sport activity based on their values and benefits, and not if it has been historically wrongly associated with one sex or the other. I intentionally said “wrongly” because it would be nonsense to say fight and martial arts are just a matter of men. In fact, Judo is a perfect example of a martial art created and intended to be practiced for everyone. Its main trait is to take advantage from the opponent's strength, and this principle is illustrated in a wide collection of ancient paintings and canvas where fragile-looking women apply judo techniques on strong men.
We already know our sports choice should not be determined with the sex we are born with, since it would be an injustice to deprive our children from the joy and benefits each activity offers. And if we want build modern societies based on equality: what is equality without freedom of choice?
Children enjoy judo lessons the same, they don't argue about gender or other matters. One of the most beautiful lessons I got from teaching kids is that we are not born with the predisposition to confront, but to cooperate. When you face two little kids or infants and you explain them how to fight, you will observe a beautiful scene: they take turns. They won´t violently rush to take down their opponent. Instead, they instinctively know they will learn faster taking pleasure in the learning process and respecting their opponent, or properly said, partner.
Maybe we should take some advice from the young ones, as long as they are not influenced with preconceptions and misconceptions. I really don't care if my pupils change their judo lessons for another sports they prefer, because I know that the Judo values we teach them will make them into better sports practitioners, and finally and most important: into better men and women that will contribute in the future we want for ourselves and for the next generations.
※ This writing does not reflect the opinon of UNESCO ICM and UNESCO ICM is not directly linked to this writing.