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ASHWIN ACHAL
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JUDO M.N. Triveni, former champion and coach, says mental discipline is the most important aspect of the martial art

Get a hold of thisJudokas trained by Triveni
Get a hold of thisJudokas trained by Triveni

If you think of a martial art, images of spectacular roundhouse kicks, physical combat, and perhaps a wise tutor come to mind. These are valid to a certain extent, though martial arts present a more meaningful and practical purpose.

Judo, one of three martial arts (taekwondo and wrestling are the other two) to be included as an Olympic sport, serves as a good example to build on a few popular assumptions and to dispel some which may not be entirely true.

Judo competitions might see brutal chokes and arm locks, but like all martial arts, the basics start with discipline outside the arena. Takedowns and intense grapples are taught only after this strict regimen is inculcated. M.N. Triveni, former national judo champion and recipient of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the Karnataka government for her contribution as a judoka and in her current role as coach in the Belgaum Sports Hostel, breaks down this side of the sport.

“Mental discipline is the most important aspect. If there is no discipline, there is no judo. When you start learning judo, we teach the importance of humility, good table manners, punctuality, respect, and general basic good behaviour for the first six months,” she says.

Triveni also adds that the intent of judo is not to physically assault others, but to use these skills, which last a lifetime. “These skills stay with you throughout your life; it will help if you become an international champion, or even if you decide to quit judo and take up another profession.”

At times, physical confrontation is needed. A girl walking alone can be seen an easy target for men looking to create trouble. Would a girl trained in judo be able to handle this scenario? “Of course, she can defend herself. We teach our students how to use weapons, though it is not allowed in tournaments. For example, take a bangle from your hand, use it as a brass knuckle and punch the attacker in the face. Or twist your fingers and poke the attacker’s eye really hard, then run away,” Triveni says, demonstrating the moves from a safe distance.

In the Hollywood blockbuster The Karate Kid , and almost every movie with a hint of oriental fight forms, an all-knowing master — Mister Miyagi in The Karate Kid series — emerges with fine counsel, and an utter disregard for material benefits. In judo, at least, monetary backing is a necessity, especially with the sport being looked at seriously by the Indian government for possible medals in the 2020 Olympics.

Triveni explains that coaches deserve more for their sound mentoring.

“Coaches are not being recognized. Well, I am lucky that the Department of Youth Services and Sports has given me support, but about the rest? The players get a lot of money from the government, but we (coaches) don’t get much. Coaches are the backbone of these judokas. Abroad, coaches are well respected, and they even get more rewards than the judokas. Here, though our wards treat us with respect, the administrators do not.”

Most judokas who represent India hail from a poor background, but Triveni is confident that the sport can provide a path to a better life. “Judokas can avail good financial assistance now from the Sports Ministry. Indian camps had no facilities before, now they can enjoy air-conditioned rooms with attached bathrooms when they travel for competitions. I believe that they can catch up with badminton star Saina Nehwal one day. She is from a middle-class family, and it was purely the hard work and dedication she put in which has brought her so much success.”

ASHWIN ACHAL

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