Judo for love
I belong to, what I believe, is a pretty special little group. We have a judo club that runs out of our Church. That, in and of itself, is not so different than lots of clubs. Ours is also a ministry, again probably not as far out of the norm as you might think. However, we do things a little differently than most Judo clubs today. Our goal is not to be top ranked competitors, we don’t strive for medals or trophies, we look back at the original idea that Judo is about being a better person.
The idea has its roots in our Sensei corps. From our lead Sensei, and the Sensei that partnered with him to start this club all the way down to the youngest Tiger in our kids program. It is not about becoming the next Gold medal champ, it is about growing closer to each other and our Judo family. It is about encouraging each other to be the best we can be, human being that is, not just Judo player.
We also strive to grow closer to God, to really use our time together in Judo/Jujitsu training to grow personally and spiritually. I think it is no coincidence, although not necessarily intended this way, that we are connected with a Methodist Church. One of the things John Wesley was very big on was the idea of intentional spiritual development. He was a very disciplined man in his prayer and study of Scripture. I think those ideas also lend themselves well to our type of Judo, which I like to call Judo for love.
Judo for love is not just recreational Judo, nor is it Judo for exercise, although you get both. It is an extra avenue to reach into ourselves and learn to push ourselves to new places physically, mentally and spiritually. Judo for love was difficult for me at first. Ironically since I had taken other forms of martial arts throughout my life I missed the ministry aspect of the program. It took me some time to understand why we spent time sitting around talking about stuff with the kids and young adults in the club; I wanted to learn techniques, throws, chokes, work up a sweat, normal martial arts stuff. Let’s be honest I wanted that next belt, I wanted to set the goal and progress toward it at all costs.
And then I got it, I can’t say exactly when the ah-ha moment was, all I can say is it hit me and changed everything about what I thought I knew. As I have seen teenagers bare their deepest hurts to each other and the adults in the club I have seen heroes. As I have seen kids grow closer to God I have seen miracles, family’s coming closer together and strangers becoming family.
And then I understood Judo for love. I am not trying to say Judo is not an amazing sport, it is. And I am not trying to say that those who are perusing Judo as an athletic endeavor are wrong, they are not, and actually many of them are quite amazing and inspiring. But let’s face it we are not all going to compete, but we can get so much from Judo, and each other, when it becomes a cornerstone of our lives and our faith, and our family.
We live in a world with a lot of problems, can Judo change them all? No. Can it make us more able to handle the things the world throws at us? Absolutely. Can it make us better people? That is truly the ultimate goal. When I let go of what I thought Judo was and embraced what this ministry is I stopped caring about belts or even worrying about working up a sweat and getting my work out in. I even stopped worrying about winning in Randori (well as much anyway). And since that moment I have been inspired, I have understood it all better and I have grown in ways no belt of any color could ever show.
So for my family at CCUMC Judo club when someone asks you what kind of Judo you practice the easy answer is Judo for love, and that my friends will open the conversation to share the message and the ministry of what and who we are.
Funny thing about this little blog is when I sat down to write it I called it judo for life, I realized in the process of writing it I was wrong, it is much bigger than Judo for life, it is Judo for love. And I have grown some more.