Concluding the 75th EJU Ordinary Congress 2023, President of the San Marino Judo Federation, Mr Giuseppe Ragini took to the podium to address the national federation members and the Executive Committee.
San Marino is a small Republic, but the activities carried out this year by the federation has made judo very present, known and loved by it’s citizens.
These activities include two schools becoming part of the National Judo School of the Federation; the Darcel Yandzi International School of High Specialisation and the Kata School. Yandzi is a former French athlete, 1993 European Champion and world bronze medallist in Hamilton in the same year. Now, assisted by Raffaele Lisi, Hiroshi Katanishi and Guy Delvingt, the school is fast becoming a point of reference for national teams around the world. The Kata School aims to promote kata, bringing together coaches and athletes from the surrounding areas to the dojo once a month free of charge. ‘Judo in Schools’ also continues this year, with coaches going to all elementary schools in San Marino to introduce the sport and form of discipline.
A special project, ‘Judo and Scholastic Skills’ is also being carried out, whereby it gained patronage of the Secretariats of the State for Culture and Sport, with collaboration of the elementary school and paediatrics of the state hospital. Mr Ragini explained,
Many studies carried out, in Italy and abroad, have shown how the motor activity of judo is able to improve attention, concentration, self esteem and academic performances, particularly in children with SLD (specific learning disorders: dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dysorthography), and to intervene positively in behavioural and relational disorders.
The explanation continued that 76% of children with learning disabilities have poor coordination, the anatomical anomalies of children with dyslexia for example are mostly linked to a difficulty in a process that allows the neurone to reach their final destination. Studies show by improving coordination, lengthening attention spans working on laterality with exercises on both the right and left, inserting sequences to lengthen the motor string etc. it is possible to improve executive functions and improve nervous systems dysfunction, by speeding up the passage of neurones, resulting in improved school performance. Going by the information, the federation offered a free judo course lasting six months to a group of girls and boys, ages six to ten with specific learning disorders.
Five coaches and three psychologists, all volunteers, were present on the tatami twice a week to build tailor-made interventions for each child. Just over a month after starting the activity, the results have been notable, lengthening attention spans and improving coordinations, and two young girls with selective mutism have started playing with classmates and making kiai during seryoku zenyo kokumin no kata, a sign of gaining self confidence.
Children exhibiting hyperactive tendencies have improved both their attention spans in classrooms and their behaviour has become exemplary, to the point the schools are reporting tremendous improvements.
Though Covid greatly affected the membership of San Marino, judo has now become a protagonist, significantly improving the number of children enrolled, with the focus being on children’s wellbeing and academic success.
Author: Thea Cowen