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Is it really all about the medals?

Updated: Feb 12

As the Olympic Games loom closer, there's a palpable excitement at Kensho Judo Club. We anticipate that the Paris Games will bring Judo into the spotlight, captivating billions of sports fans worldwide. Some may even take their inaugural step towards the Judo journey, harbouring dreams of Olympic glory by joining our club.

Undoubtedly, this global platform is a boon for Judo, a sport often overshadowed in the mainstream. It's an opportunity to pique the interest of new enthusiasts, expanding the Judo community. However, amidst the fervour for medals and podium finishes, a pertinent question arises: is Judo solely about the accolades?

Let's confront reality for a moment. Despite unwavering dedication, relentless hard work, and a touch of luck, how many athletes actually ascend to the upper echelons of sport? Statistics reveal that only a mere 1% of elite performers grace the Olympic stage, let alone clinch a medal. So, what about the remaining 99% of practitioners?

One of the remarkable aspects of Judo is its holistic nature. While competition (or "Shiai") holds significance, it's merely a fragment of the larger picture. Engaging in competition, regardless of level, fosters mental fortitude and personal growth. Even within our classes, where we engage in "Randori" or light sparring, the essence of competition permeates.

For many, finding contentment in their competitive level can yield greater satisfaction than relentlessly pursuing an elusive dream. The journey of self-improvement, intrinsic to Judo, transcends the allure of podium finishes.

Over my four decades in Judo, I've witnessed talented players relinquish the sport when Olympic aspirations remain unfulfilled. However, Judo encompasses more than just sport; it's a lifelong pursuit of self-mastery.

So, why engage in Judo if not solely to win competitions? The answer is simple: the ultimate competition lies within oneself. Every time one steps onto the mat, they confront their own limitations, striving to surpass them. This internal battle, though devoid of medals, is the true essence of Judo.

As we anticipate and enjoy the Olympic spectacle, let's also remember that Judo transcends the pursuit of medals. It's about personal growth, resilience, and the relentless quest for self-improvement.

So, is it really all about the medals? I'll leave that for you to ponder.

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