By RUTH WOUDSTRA
An Olympic sport where you throw or take down an opponent and subdue them may not seem like the ideal way of healing the self. Judo, meaning ‘gentle way’ in Japanese, does however have a surprising number of physical, mental and spiritual benefits.
Mangaliso Buzani was a young child when he started judo in New Brighton, PE. He worked his way up to provincial level in 1995 and now teaches this traditional martial art to both children and adults in Grahamstown.
“The aim of judo is not to hurt your opponent, but to cause him or her to surrender,” he says. And even though surrender might mean defeat, judo does develop confidence. “No matter how many times you are thrown down, you must stand up and face your opponent again and again. This is the same with the ups and down of life that we face daily,” he adds.
Mangaliso is especially eager for children and young adults to experience the value of this sport of Japanese origin. Judo enhances hand-eye coordination, concentration and self-discipline. It also balances the creative side of the brain with the logical thinking side.
Walking barefoot during a training session allows the participant to connect with the ground. This simple action, during which the ground or mat massages the feet, can be done by anyone at any time. Mangaliso believes that further healing occurs as the mind automatically shifts from the troubles of the world to being at peace with one’s own soul. Judo can enhance this feeling of tranquillity further through the focus of mastering each technique which keeps the brain awake and helps to develop a healthy attitude towards life.
That attitude allows a person to be united with him or herself. The confidence nurtured here encourages one not only to get up from the ground after a physical loss on the mat, but to pick oneself up after life’s disappointments, and to be better equipped to take on the next challenge.