Seminar Brings Nations Together For Building Great Kids With Judo

By Ernest Pund | Aug. 12, 2013, 8:31 p.m. (ET)

35 countries were present during the first ever IJF Judo for Children Seminar at the Trump Doral Golf Resort & Spa

 August 12, 2013 – Participants from 35 countries applauded the first ever IJF Judo for Children Seminar, held in Miami close on the heels of USA Judo’s first World Cadet Championships that ended Sunday with 530 of the finest teen athletes competing here from all over the world.

One objective of this first international seminar, “Building Better Societies Through Judo,” was to spread the word about the IJF’s commission, Judo for Children. But, perhaps more importantly, said Nicolas Messner, media director for the IJF and creator of  the Turikumwe Project for youth in several war-torn nations of Africa, this was an opportunity to gather information from the field.

“It’s also important, and maybe more crucial for us to get the feedback and to know exactly what the real needs, the concrete needs in the field are,” said Messner. “At the end of the day, I think that will be the most important thing, to have the comments, the feedback from the countries.”

Along with Messner as a keynote speaker was World Judo Champion and Olympic Medalist Ruben Houkes of the Netherlands, a founder of Schooljudo, a program that has put judo classes in more than 350 primary schools with as many as 30,000 Dutch kids participating.

“Our idea is that we build judo programs for children in every country, that we help federations to make strong programs to get children involved in judo and especially learning about the values of judo,” said Houkes. “We believe that if a child practices judo for quite some time, that they will have skills for life. An objective of the Judo for Children Commission is that we have judo as part of the physical curriculum in schools.”

A resounding message of the seminar is that judo can help build happier, healthier kids, both physically and emotionally, and that these kids become the building blocks of better communities. Training in judo builds a child’s self-esteem, their sense of discipline, collaborative learning and self-control. Providing judo programs is a great way to pull troubled kids off the streets and often these are the very kids who make great judo players and eventually coaches to guide other kids toward healthy lives.

For more information on the Netherlands program, go to WWW.SCHOOLJUDO.NL and on Ruben Houkes at

To learn about the “Turikumwe Project,” go to  

The World Cadet Championships is sanctioned by the International Judo Federation and hosted by USA Judo, the national governing body under the U.S. Olympic Committee that fosters the sport and builds teams for Olympic and other elite competition. The World Cadet Judo Championships was made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

By Ernest Pund and Claudia Drago, USA Judo Communications