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Judo/Sambo UnderGround >> Jesus H. Christ Japan...


1/31/13 4:37 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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http://ajw.asahi.com/article/sports/topics/AJ201301310099


JUDO/ National women's coach resigns over violence scandal

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Ryuji Sonoda announced Jan. 31 he will resign as head coach of the Japanese women's judo team following revelations he used violence and harassed judoka under him.

"I made the decision myself that it would be difficult for me to play a role in strengthening the national team," Sonoda, 39, said at a news conference at Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward.

He had been expected to serve until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, even after admitting to the violence on Jan. 30.

Fifteen judoka, including a London Olympic medalist, submitted a written complaint to the Japanese Olympic Committee in December detailing violence by Sonoda and other coaches, according to the JOC and the All Japan Judo Federation.

The coaches beat the athletes with bamboo swords and told them to "die," a senior JOC official said. They also slapped the women's cheeks, shoved their breasts and kicked them, a senior judo federation official said.

(continued at link above)

Really, Japan? REALLY?

Sad part is, it's not just judo around here. But between rapists (Uchishiba), violent coaches, and poor results, the entire Japanese Judo upper echelons (the old dudes who are allowing this shit to continue) needs to just step in front of the fucking Shinkansen.
1/31/13 9:01 AM
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John Frankl
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Pretty funny that over on the BJJ forum people are romanticizing Judo as somehow spiritually superior:)

All this same stuff happens in Korean Judo circles as well.
1/31/13 9:48 AM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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I haven't read the BJJ thread, but I imagine they are speaking in terms of judo having as one of its underlying principles Jita Kyoei which more or less has come to represent "mutual welfare and benefit".  Whether some people who teach or practice the art follow them is another matter and discussion entirely.

Over the last 20 years that I've watched BJJ grow in the United States, the direction has been more towards applying the type of principles that judo expresses in Jita Kyoei within their own teachings, academies, and associations. Again, there is no way to force anyone to live by those principles.

 

1/31/13 4:25 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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OC, I do agree that in philosophy judo has that idea of Jita Kyoei, but I just posted this to lament the fact that, in the birthplace of judo, where there should be NO bad translation of meaning, etc, I have read repeatedly over the past few years about judo coaches doing everything BUT uphold the philosophical foundations of judo.

I've read of high school coaches who have killed students because they wanted to "teach them a lesson on respect." So one coach proceeded to choke out a student, and then as soon as the kid woke up start throwing him repeatedly with uchi mata. Kid landed on his head and neck, and that was all she wrote.

Or Uchishiba, a two time Olympic medalist, who goes out and rapes one of his students.

It just makes me shake my head, and wish more and more that judo had never entered the Olympics. I know that wouldn't stop this bullshit totally (after all, look at the current Lloyd Irvin scandal), but it seems like so many incidents here in Japan get swept under the rug or coaches get off with a slap on the wrist of making an apology IF the coach has a reputation for developing winning players.
1/31/13 4:49 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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CS,  I made my post in response to the post by John Frankl.  It was not in response to the posting of the story, or an attempt to excuse the inexcusable.

2/1/13 1:18 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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Totally understand OC. I was merely furthering on my point, and using your post as the launching pad for it. No disrespect intended.
2/2/13 11:13 AM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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Hi CS, didn't think any disrespect was intended.  One small point of contention though, is I don't know if there is a correlation between Judo being in the Olympics and the abuse of power at the coach/sensei level.

There might be a correlation regarding the "sweeping under the rug" of these type of offenses because the stakes might seem "higher" for a lack of a better term.  Any time that money or power becomes part of the equation that has a greater chance of happening. How many stories do we hear about professional athletes well after the fact?  How many public profiles have been destroyed by private acts?

The uncle of a great hero, once said  "With great power, comes great responsibility."   If only that mantra was written on all dojo walls.

 

2/2/13 2:30 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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I like that uncle. Heard the poor guy was shot in a robbery attempt though. ;-)

And I agree, abuses by teachers and coaches existed long before judo entered the Olympics, and is present in many walks of life and areas that are not under Olympic purview.

My main point is that, at least in my view of the past 12 years, and in talking to the few "old timers" who were serious students before 1964, judo, while always taken seriously, has had its goals corrupted by the mere fact it is an Olympic event.

No longer are many teachers and coaches worried about maximum development of a judokas skills in the whole. Instead, they are worried about winning the next shiai, getting the next plaque or medal, etc. They could care less if the judoka had the moral development of Buddha, or the moral development of Hitler, if the judoka wins on the mat.

At the same time, judo federations will protect the senior members/coaches who are seen as winners, allowing them to get away with all sorts of shit, as long as the coach continues to churn out winning athletes and teams.

Its a relatively big scandal here in Japan over the past month or so. It came under focus most recently becuase of an Osaka high school boy who hanged himself. He was captain of the school's basketball team, a school that has a strong reputation for turning out high level athletes and teams. His coach was more than harsh, to the point that the night before the boy took his own life, the coach slapped and hit the boy in the face somewhere between a dozen (according to the coach and some sources) and 30 or 40 times (according to the boy's mother, who was relaying what the boy had told her).

The boy hung himself in the early morning hours of the next day, leaving a note APOLOGIZING to the coach for not living up to the coaches expectations of a team captain.

How fucked up is that? The kid apologized. After the coach basically commited assault on him (and from team and club member reports, this was hardly the first time, nor was he the only member that the coach had done this to).

The coach had been reported before (just like Sonoda was). But, the school (just like the judo federation here) did what could be seen as, at best, a cursory investigation and let the coach off with a verbal warning and a slap on the wrist (wow, seems familiar, neh?).

So, just in the time I've been in Japan, we've had sumo stable masters who ordered a player basically beaten to death in training (thankfully, he is now in jail). We've had judo coaches who killed their students (the aformentioned choke out/uchimata) and barely get off with more than losing a job. We've had basketball coaches who beat a player to the point of suicide. We've had two time Olympic gold medalists (Uchishiba) who are found guilty of RAPING their students (his trial just concluded, and he has stated he will appeal). We've also had, since the Osaka high school boy's story came out, professional baseball players by the dozens who have come out stating that they were more or less beaten by their coaches as they were coming up in junior high school and high school. And to top it all off, in talking with a friend/business partner (a local influential baker who is helping my family launch a gym and school), this type of behavior even occurs in club basketball at his daughter's level. His daughter is 8 years old. He's only thankful that his daughter's coach is not of this type, but he's seen it in other team's coaches on the sidelines of elementary school kids games.

Now, I know I'm FRAT-ting here, but it makes me sick. While none of the above behavior is excusable, we as judoka and martial artists MUST hold ourselves to a higher level. It is what the "-do" of our art calls for. For fuck's sake, we're supposed to be the "descendants" of the fucking samurai (again, I know the samurai did not live up to the standards of Bushido always, but there was a code) or the chivalric knights of Europe if it fancies you, not the descendants of the Yakuza.

Now, I'm not saying that hard training isn't necessary. But, hard training should be hard because of the training itself, which is (to borrow a military term from my own personal past) mission oriented. There is nothing mission oriented about beating a young woman, even an Olympic caliber judoka, with a kendo stick. There are no kendo sticks on a judo mat. There is no mission orientation to screaming at her to "die."

I know and am familiar with hard training. I am a graduate of West Point, and (shamefully) have to say that the US Army broke me at a time when I was not mature enough to handle the responsibility of my position. I have friends and former colleagues who went through training much more intense than anything I ever did. If you want to get a hint of hard training, take a look on YouTube for the series "surviving the cut," which takes a look at the training of military special ops schools. All of them, and I mean ALL of them, have hard training that routinely washes out 50-75% of the applicants (and note that the applicants already passed intense physical screening tests and such). And yet, nowhere in the training are trainees abused maliciously like these athletes are. The training is down to a fucking science, a focused application of stress and demands that are always mission oriented. SEAL trainees do hour after hour of lifting their rubber boats and rowing into the surf not because the cadre gets their jollies off watching them do it, but because it is part of the job. Sniper trainees do hour upon hour of low crawling through the mud not because the cadre thinks it toughens them up (a common excuse of the abusive coach), but because it is a necessary part of their jobs.

We, as experienced judo players and coaches, know how to make training almost agonizingly dificult. Hell, I could probably put together a practice that would make even the "hardest" players puke and quit, and never once resort to using a kendo stick. But, that's not our jobs. Our jobs are to develop and teach our students, to repay their loyalty with loyalty and service of our own.

Does that mean that, especially when preparing for a difficult thing such as the Olympics or other contests, that we must use hard training at times? Of course. But there is a difference between hard training and breaking training. Especially at the lower levels. For the Osaka boy, I wanna take the coach and the staff of his high school and (regardless of my own vendettive feelings of wanting to beat them soundly a few times) remind them that it is HIGH SCHOOL. It's a goddamn GAME. It's not war. It's not preparation for Armageddon. It's a game of putting a rubber ball into a net.

For Sonoda, I wanna tell him the same thing. He wasn't preparing these girls for fights to the death. The Olympics are not governed under the law of "two men enter, one man leaves." Even if we're talking the Olympics, just how successful were his methods anyway? The women won only ONE gold medal, Kaori Matsumoto at 57 kilograms. She didn't even win that by her own technique but rather her opponent got DQ'd.

Sorry for the FRAT. I still have a lot of emotions about this I need to work out.
2/2/13 3:06 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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Hi CS,

Regarding winning the next shiai becoming the top priority, I think that existed well before the Olympic movement.  I've read excerpts of Kimura's biography, and I just read Yonezuka's biography.  Both competed well before the Olympics were a reality, and both had similar experiences. Kimura was slapped across the face as a schoolboy for losing a match, with his Sensei telling him it was the same as dying.  I think it is more a Japan thing, than an Olympic movement thing; and is not limited to the judo arena within Japan.

That said, it does not lessen the sadness, anger, and frustration that anyone should feel with the failure of judo, athletics and education organizations in Japan that have allowed these conditions to continue. We can hope that the worst of it all is behind them.

2/2/13 3:28 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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I hope so man. Sadly, there are enough "old boys" in the power structures around here that I don't think a lot of change will happen for a while.

For example, the recent comments by the governor of Tokyo are not condemning the actions of the coach, but rather the shame of it and damaging Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics.

As in, if Tokyo wasn't in consideration, then who gives a fuck? There was even a story about a yachting coach who continues to have students and on his website basically states he engages in such treament all the time, even after he served time in jail for it previously.
2/6/13 9:46 AM
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Punk Dobbs
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Whacking students with wooden swords has been going on a long time in Japan. Pat Burris had them used on him during his time training in Japan in the 70's.

I'm pretty sure they use a shinai and not a bokken though. Not that it makes a huge difference in concept.

Several of the kosen judo vids show that old sensei wandering around with a shinai during practice.

Non consensual sex between students/teachers isn't a Japan thing. It's a human thing unrelated to judo. Some people are just sick bastards.
2/6/13 6:22 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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Punk, I agree that "back in the day," teachers/coaches/senseis did a lot of shit that was considered "toughening" that wouldn't fly today. It doesn't mean that, even then, that they were correct in doing so.

At my high school, I can remember 15 years ago coaches who would slap players in the head with footballs, etc. Guess what? It didn't make us a better team.

A generation before that, there were coaches who would punch players, kick players, etc. Doesn't mean it was right.

Just because a generation ago it was considered okay, or even normal, for a coach to walk around with a shinai whacking students doesn't mean it was the right thing to do.

You are correct, of course, that inappropriate sexual acts are hardly a Japanese judo phenomenon exclusively. If anything, I can think of two or three scandals within the US Judo community just in the past 15 years.

But, my point is, WE as judo members and as judo teachers should be the standard. WE are the example. For the AJJF to tolerate such bullshit, or even to try and sweep it under the rug, in the pursuit of gold medals is wrong, flat out.
2/7/13 12:15 AM
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JoshuaResnick
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It isn't a Japan thing. It isn't a sports thing. It isn't even an Olympic thing.

It is an asshole thing. Period. I've seen Judo coaches in Japan beat college kids bloody in the dorms for missing practice when the kid found out his grandma passed away. I've seen fathers and mothers in the USA corner their HS girls soccer coach and beat her in the corner of her own car door. Parents at a nearby, very wealthy, high school basically framed a wrestling coach for supposedly sleeping with a prostitute when the whole time he had no idea she was a hooker just because their kid didn't make the varsity line-up..

USA Swimming, gymnastics, Judo,..... you name it.. they have all had major issues with asshole syndrome. Why would Japan or Russia or Korea or anywhere else be any different?

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