Judo embraces Special Needs

As coaches we rarely appreciate the small steps in life that judo can provide, writes Kerry Tansey, Technical Officer.

We turn up to our clubs every week, deliver our sessions, and encourage our regular players to strive to be the best they can, in every pathway that we can offer.

There is however, a small part of what our sport can offer that we rarely find time to pass on – how good a sport judo can be for individuals with Special Needs.

One initiative, Premier League 4 Sport, can help support coaches and clubs to spread the good word of what judo can do just through ‘word of mouth’.

I was invited to attend a Merseyside Special Educational Needs (SEN) Forum, where there were a variety of sports making themselves available to provide a service to children with a variety of needs.

The ball was in motion and from that we have had success in three of the SEN schools based in Liverpool.

One school had a morning of tasters for children with behavioural issues around dealing with physical contact that was not of the aggressive/bullying nature.

The children had a fantastic time. They learned how to control their actions and respected each other but most of all they had fun.

This school was next door to another SEN school and wanted the two groups of children to mix and engage with each other.

After planning and delivering a taster session, it was only a matter of time before judo was all the children could talk about.

Weekly sessions were arranged and delivered, with great success for everyone – the children, school and coaches were all happy.

As all children like rewards to show to their parents, I came up with a ‘Certificate of Achievement’ that could be personalised for each child.

Using the BJA Technical Grading Scheme pictorial guide, I copied and pasted the pictures to a certificate which the coach could print off and give to each child.

These were given out in a school assembly and the children loved them.

The teachers have been amazed on how some of the mildest, quietest, shyest of children have come out of their shells.

They engaged with children from the school next door as well as their peers.

Due to this they have found the funding to continue with another term of judo.

Some of the children will return and we will engage with new players.

To see the children engage in a sport that’s not an everyday sport to them is worth its weight in gold when they remember the words and meanings as well as the physical movements and they control their bodies in close contact while respecting their partners.

Steps are being taken to provide a service to the coaches who deliver judo in SEN environment in the way of these certificates.

All that is required from the coach is:
· Names of the schools engaged
· Numbers and ages of children participating

The coaches will receive in return:
· Blank template of the certificate can be downloaded with the British Judo Logo on.
· A glossary of pictures and words which can be dropped into place on the certificate.
· Space for your club badge or company logo

If you are interested in accessing this area of judo participation, you can contact your BJA service provider who will help you in accessing the school and funding.