By Saga Gustafsson, Gy1

Why did you start with judo?
It started when me and my friends saw an introduction to judo in our school in Belgium. We thought that it seemed fun, so we decided that we would try it out. After trying a few times we decided to continue practicing. After a while we started competing. In the beginning we only we only competed with other schools in Belgium. Then we started competing in regional competitions, and later international. We entered the competitions because it was fun, and if you won you where happy, but if you lost it didn’t matter, you where happy anyway. We often met the same people during the tournaments and we became like a judo-family.
 
How long have you been practicing judo?
I started in my teens, and now I’m soon turning 75, so about 55 years. Most of my friends who I started practicing judo with are also still active today.
 
Have you gotten any injuries over the years?
No, not really. I’ve only gotten some minor injuries on my toes and fingertips.
 
How do you think judo has changed?
Judo, as a sport, has changed quite a lot. It originates from the Japanese martial-art ju-jutsu but was created in 1882 as a more refined sport, mainly focusing on self defense instead of attacking. Therefor, all the dangerous or harmful techniques where removed, to create a competitive sport where you wouldn’t get injured when you where competing. There is also a form of judo that has been adjusted specifically for disabled people. Some people who practice this kind of judo even are in wheelchairs! Therefor they have developed new techniques and rules that fit them better. For instance, when competing or practicing they start on their knees instead of their feet, and during competitions, they mostly perform in Ne-Waza (wrestling techniques on the floor).
 
How is judo changing nowadays?
Judo isn’t changing that much today, but as always, there are occasionally changes in the rules. Recently it was decided that you can no longer throw someone from below the belt during competitions. But even if the sport has been changed, it still has the original martial-arts spirit, with the discipline and the respect you show your opponent.
 
What’s the overall view on judo in the society?
The view on judo is very good, it is respectful and appreciative.
 
Is judo a popular sport?
In Sweden, judo is a relatively small sport, compared to other countries, where the number of people practicing judo are much higher. If you look at the rest of the world, judo is one of the biggest martial-art sports in the world. In other European countries, such as France and Belgium, it’s a pretty big sport, and a lot of people practice it. In some countries in Asia, judo is one of the biggest sports overall, like in Japan, where they practice judo in school.
 
Why do you think people should practice judo?
I think you should practice judo because you develop your discipline, concentration, focus and respect for yourself and others. I think it is a good sport because you have the ability to develop at your own pace and to the extent of your own abilities. It’s a good sport if you want to compete, become an instructor, judge judo tournaments or if you just want to practice. Judo is a sport that fits almost everyone. And if you have been practicing judo for as long as I have, it probably means something.
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