Inclusive Judo Association of Slovenia – community junctions

Darij Šӧmen, judo master

I’m composing my thoughts for this post with great respect and humility. I’m dedicating them to the Masters of the Life Cycle, with whom we have reached our spiritual level through Kan’s educational, developmental, and ethical system in communities in Slovenian judo clubs. We are united by our path on which we have woven our lives and skills into the lifelong care and holistic design of a practicing judoka, thus enriching and connecting communities.

There is only one (soft) path that gives such a result and therefore builds a person. It is a path of respect, inclusion and coordinated community action. It is a personal path / way of for the benefit of fellow human beings and the community. This kind of work of a master educates people who, with their social, professional and life competencies, contribute to the community in a way that builds it and raises it culturally and ethically. Each of course according to their abilities and with a personal authentic message of judo within themselves.

A live demonstration of mastery is a socially connected and inclusive community / club or association that enhances and inspires through its effects in the wider environment.

It is also the only lasting prospect of the future for Kan’s judo.

Every involved practicing judoka in Slovenia, be it a child, teenager, or veteran, recreational or competitor, is our shared responsibility. No one ever leaves a community in which they feel good, are accepted and respected, and are enabled to contribute, advance, and grow!

The ability of Slovenian judo masters to deal with human vulnerability (in the broadest sense) during the entire life cycle of all judokas is the minimum standard of education in Kan’s judo and is the only thing that justifies the use of the well-known slogan JUDO IS MORE THAN SPORT.

Only this human capital and only this skill enables Slovenian judo to work in many areas of social life and seek common ground with many society systems and together with them create social benefit.

For 25 years, in addition to most of the population of all ages and social categories, Slovenian judo clubs have been caring for children with autism spectrum disorders, victims of various abuses that gain new life with the help of judo, people with cerebral palsy and people with Down’s  syndrome,  and  those  intellectually  and  physically  handicapped.  We  have  also developed  an  exercise  program  for  people  with  mental  health problems,  which  is  certainly unique in Europe. Soon, recreational judo practice will be organized in Slovenian clubs or day centers for the elderly in Slovenia.

The network  of  Slovenian judo clubs all over Slovenia operates as an extremely important social,  educational,  humanitarian  and  sports  system,  which  contributes  immeasurably  to Slovenian society through daily organized judo practice. Our work is largely done voluntarily and without pay!

The understanding and importance of this system is not possible to be viewed by only a sport profession, much less the evaluation and promotion of the effects on the wider community.  The  currently  existing  formal  framework  of  the  Judo  Association  of Slovenia and the sports legislation determined by it have long been too narrow kimono for Slovenian judo!

An inclusive intergenerational society is a strategic direction and commitment of the Slovenian state and the EU. To achieve this goal, the EU and the Slovenian state will activate all the necessary measures in the coming years, as well as the potential of many professions and huge financial resources. This is due to the finding that community-based forms of care for the vulnerable, community cohesion, and intergenerational cooperation are the cheapest and also the most ethically acceptable for society, all of which must also be understood considering the context of the aging population of the EU.

At the moment, the Judo Federation of Slovenia with its implemented model of inclusion is the leading Slovenian sports organization, this not being in terms of sport dominance, but in terms of the positive social effects it brings back to the society. As the first, it will certainly help the state to achieve the necessary changes in legislation and measures to make inclusion in the entire Slovenian world of sports a reality.

The inclusion project in Judo Association of Slovenia (with its principles) is supported by the state, the widest circle of institutions, individuals, parents, associations, important Slovenian companies, and local communities.

For many years we have been waiting for the strong support and activation of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, which will certainly one day recognize inclusion in sports as its great debt to society as well as a great opportunity for development (for all Slovenian sport).

It is not to be ignored that sport is the last sector of Slovenian society that “legally” excludes and discriminates people.

In  Slovenian  clubs,  exercise  is  organized,  which  can  have  a  recreational,  competitive,  or therapeutic character. I want this to always take place in the perspective of wider social and health  benefits  for  the  individual  practicing  judo.  This  is  especially  important  when preparing  top  athletes  for  competitions,  as  the  risks  are  greatest  at  that  time  due  to  the enormous workload required by the training process.

Slovenian judo clubs organize judo practice in public sports facilities as well as in specialized institutions intended for vulnerable groups. All the people we include in judo practice are full members of the community / club / Judo Association of Slovenia with equal rights and duties. We consistently avoid any unnecessary labeling of judokas and any type of discrimination!

We organize inclusive group sports events – national championships of the “Jože Škraba Judo Festival”, where different groups of competitors compete at the same event. The events are socially and culturally enriched as we prepare them in partnership with the local communities, institutions,  societies,  artists,  etc.  We  invite  judo  veterans  from  the  local  communities  and inclusive judo clubs from abroad. The Jože Škraba Judo Festival is being established as the most  important  national  event  in  the  field  of  sports  inclusion.  The  event  demonstrates connection, social inclusivity, and intergenerational cooperation. It is well attended and warmly received by people in local communities as well as in Slovenian politics. In addition, we expertly help lead the inclusion project in Serbia, a project that introduced more than 70 vulnerable children to judo practice.

Sports inclusion is a demanding task in a complex sociological, social, ethical, cultural, political, and communicational way. And that’s not even mentioning the sporting aspect of it! We at the Judo Association of Slovenia have expert knowledge in how to implement it, as proven by

25 years of work and 150 people involved in 7 Slovenian clubs. We would be making a big mistake if  the dominant role in advising  decision-makers on how to implement  inclusion in Slovenian  sport  was  led  by  the  sports  profession,  which  I  otherwise  highly  appreciate. Regardless of the fact that it will take place in the area of sports.

The sports profession measures, categorizes, prepares athletes for competitions, values, and markets almost exclusively with the intent of reaching a competitive result. It performs selection and quietly eliminates those less capable early in the training process, including children. Since they do not have the potential to become a great athlete, the prospect of a competitive result.

Vulnerable athletes are then separated and included in “less worthy” Para, Adapted, SO, I.D………………. sport systems and in specialized sports organizations that are showing up abundantly in judo sports across Europe as well, or do not deal with them and leave them altogether in disability organizations, associations, institutions.

Silent segregation and discrimination are enabled by a convenient legislative framework based on a surviving medical model of treating people, dividing and classifying them according to physical disabilities and other life circumstances, rather than removing the barriers  and  supporting  the  processes  for  full  involvement  and  participation  of  all athletes.

The EJU and IJF can also easily follow this path, because it is advised and guided exclusively by the sports professionals.

The flow of budget for the sports inclusion of the vulnerable in Slovenia is currently anything but an indication of the state determination to make sports inclusion happen. But it will certainly be one, because it  is not  a question of  anyone’s good will but  a question of respect  basic human  rights,  signed  declarations  of  the  state  and  the  prohibition  of  any  segregation  and discrimination in the Slovenian society and in the EU, which include sport!

It is not so much about the competition systems in which Slovenian athletes compete, but  about  where  the  training  of  all  Slovenian  athletes  (including  those  coming  from vulnerable  groups)  takes  place,  and  in  an  inclusive  sport  this  can  only  be  the environment of a normative sports club. In a separate or joint training section, of course within the national sport federation of an individual sport. Normalized and included in the community!

To the Slovenian athletes, who are soon participate the Olympic Games I wish all the best and a lot of success! As a former member of the Yugoslav and Slovenian national judo team, I know how much effort they are putting into preparation!

We are really proud of all of you!

Inclusive Judo Association of Slovenia – community junctions