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Nuno Gonçalves is a Braga, Portugal-based photojournalist, with a black belt in Judo, a degree in Education, and a french bulldog in his heart, always. He has worked at the University of Minho for a decade, serving as staff photographer for the university newspaper, UMDicas, and as coach of the judo team.
In 2015, he led an effort to raise funds for the Minho University Emergency Social Fund (FSE), to help students that need economic assistance but aren't included in the scholarship system. They determined to shoot and print a nude calendar, available only in the University store.
It was a massive success, selling over 700 calendars, and raising nearly 3,500 Euros.
As is so often the case with judo, there is more going on here than immediately meets the eye.
The calendar project is a beautiful illustration of the concept of "Jita kyoei" (Mutual benefit), established by judo founder Jigoro Kano. Achieving a state of mutual trust and assistance benefits both the Judo practitioner and society at large. Such a spirit is perfected through Judo, thereby promoting the concept of mutual benefit and prosperity in the larger world.
Babies are born with only two innate fears: certain noises, and falling. No activity deals with the fear of falling so directly and positively as judo. Learning to deal with the fear of falling can establish an important sense of confidence, that can translate into the ability to deal with other fears.
Other fundamental fears include spiders and snakes, speaking in public, and being naked in public. So these Judoka overcame multiple fears successfully, and will doubtless overcome many more.
The use of colored belts to indicate rank in martial arts is widespread in martial arts, and it comes from Judo. In the early 1880s, shortly after founding Judo, Jigoro Kano awarded the first black obi (cloth sash) to denote expert status. By the early 1900s, Kano had devised the colored belt system. Prior to that ranking had been designated by earning a written license, or menkyo.
The system of Kyu for underbelts and dan for black belts came from the two-person abstract strategy board game Go. The designation of black for expert came from swimming, where good swimmers wore a black ribbon. In the 1930s in Europe the kyu rankings of white, yellow, orange, green, blue/or purple, brown were developed.
TOUGH + GEEK = COOL
All the models in this calendar are students of Judo. So they are in condition, and capable of defending themselves. That has long been a recipe for attractiveness.
However, geek is the new cool. Thus this Judoka with his Darth Vader and Storm Trooper helmets and nothing else represents the height of appeal.
EFFORT EARNS ETHICS AWARD
News of the effort was aired on a number of Portuguese media outlets including print and television. The Judo Calendar project also won an award for Ethics in Sports, presented by the Portuguese University Sports Federation and the National Plan for Ethics in sport.
And the International Judo Federation agreed, donating $5,000 to the project!