Judo in the world today
A country of immigrants, Australians enjoy a wealth of sports
"We love sports" might best express the national characteristic of Australia. Even with a population of only 21,000,000, sports-rich Australia is well known for producing world class competitors, placing in the top 5 countries in the medal count of a recent summer Olympiad.
Blessed with a bountiful natural environment and a warm climate, Sydney is a mecca for outdoor team sports and marine sports. Moreover, because 1 in 3 Australians is an immigrant who was born abroad, Australia is unique in the wide variety of its sports. Judo is just one example. Karate and Korea's Taekwondo, etc., are also popular in this country that loves the martial arts.
The future looks promising for Australian Judo
The first Judo demonstration in Australia was held in 1906, and the first Judo club was opened there in 1928.
In the 1964 Tokyo Olympiad, the first Olympiad in which Judo was an official event, Australia's Ted Boronovski took the bronze medal in the open-weight division. In the 2000 Sydney Olympiad, Australia's Maria Pekli took the bronze medal in the women's 57kg division, bringing Judo to the attention of that generation for the first time. Australia's National Sports Research Center is now sponsoring Judo training camps for juniors in order to raise their skill level, and the future of Australian Judo looks bright.
An immigrant to Australia from Iran, Azita has a 10-year Judo history
Azita Karpour immigrated to Australia with her family when she was 14. A sports enthusiast (soccer, etc.) from her preschooler days, she took up Judo soon after arriving in Australia.
With a Judo history of 10 years, she's been a member of the UNSW Judo Club (New South Wales) since a teenager. Even now, as a working woman, she manages to visit the dojo for after-work and weekend Keiko 2 or 3 times per week. "Judo has become part of my life," she says with a smile.
I want to introduce children to the pleasures of Judo
Azita was initially interested in Taekwondo, but began Judo on the advice of her father. "At first, I intended to study Judo for a few months and then switch to Taekwondo," she explained, "But I liked Judo so much that I continued with it even as an adult."
Azita is now an instructor, holding a twice-weekly "kid's class" for 3 to 4 year olds. "I always try to use different training methods in order to make Judo more enjoyable for them," she says, "Otherwise their interest would quickly drift to one of the many other sports available in Australia." She's doing her best to promote Judo.
A fitness "Power Hour" that uses Judo techniques!
The "UNSW Lifestyle Centre" offers various sports facilities such as a gym and pool, etc., and though it's a university facility, its doors are open to the local public.
One of its tatami-floored multi-purpose rooms serves as the dojo for the New South Wales University Judo Club. At other times, this room is also used for Aikido and archery practice, etc.
One of their more unique fitness programs is the "Power Hour". According to Azita, "The "Power Hour" incorporates maneuvers unique to Judo. It's fun, but hard. It'll wear you out quickly."
Maybe we can look forward to a "Power Hour" boom in Japan in the future.
A Judo club can produce strong bonds of friendship between members
The New South Wales University Judo Club is the largest Judo club in Australia, and its 200 members range from preschoolers, students, and working adults, all the way to contestants at the national team level. Judo training is offered for each level of skill.
"The club is like one big family," says Azita, "I've made lots of good friends through years of contact with the other members. There are always events being held, and they're all fun." Our impression is that Australian sports clubs are about more than just competition; they perform an important social function as well.
Azita's message to the Japanese
"I never cease to enjoy Judo practice, even though I rarely compete in any contests, and have never competed in a large competition. My main goal this year is to pass the test for promotion to 1st Dan in November. The New South Wales University Judo Club has exchanges with Japanese Judo clubs and universities, and we receive many visitors from Japan each year. If you get the chance, please come and experience Australian style Judo.
New South Wales Judo Club
- Address1F University Gymnasium, Corner of High Street & Anzac Parade, Kensington NSW 2052 Australia
- TEL02-9385-4725 (UNSW Sport & Recreation)
* The above information is current as of September, 2008.