Japan's female Olympic judokas say coaches beat them

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  • 22

    tmarie

    Tip of the iceberg in Japanese sports I fear. I'm glad these women came forward. Hope more do.

  • 14

    Probie

    The AJJF told Sonoda and other coaches that they must change their ways and “will face a harsher punishment if a similar incident happens in the future,” Onozawa said.

    What?? No charges? They're letting him keep working as a coach?

  • -6

    taj

    This is a problem with the line blurring between sport & martial art. Basketball, baseball, etc - there's not reason for anyone hitting anyone. But the fighting arts,... there is some need to hit and actual martial arts don't belong in schools.

  • 10

    Disillusioned

    “It is time for Japan to change the idea that use of violence in sports including physical discipline is a valid way of coaching,”

    Ah, yeah, sure! It's only fifty odd years too late! But, then again, the carpenters are still popular in Japan, so I guess the time scale is about right.

    Bullying, intimidation and physical abuse are a part of Japanese culture and psych. They will not disappear very soon. And, because there are no punishments for the thugs dishing it out there is no reason for it to change. All I will say is, gawd help any thug teacher that touches one of my kids. I ask my kids every day if their teacher hit them, pushed them, screamed at them or touched them in any way. So far all their replies have been to the negative.

    As with other developed countries, older generations in Japan are less likely to see anything wrong with teachers administering physical punishment to correct errant behavior in children.

    Really? Which countries would that be? And which century are they referring to? Please do not try to justify your pathetic 'ijeme' culture by comparing to other countries!

  • 4

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Surprise! Surprise! So schools in Osakado the same to their students, like somebody mentiioned, just the tip of the J iceberg!

  • 11

    Kundong

    This will not change. Japan does not want it to change. Japan values the normative social influence of bullying.

  • 3

    buggerlugs

    Oh come on. Who's really surprised? Bullying is rife in Japan at all levels of society. Also typical jp coach says sorry and all is forgiven. In judo there is no reason to strike anyone, it's a grappling sport. If he was demonstrating kendo and how much it hurts on a volunteer then ok but baseball, judo etc.

  • 0

    davestrousers

    How backward is this mentality? If a Japanese coach ever got the Barcelona job would he try slapping Lionel Messi around to make him even better?

  • 3

    gogogo

    It is time for Japan to change the idea that use of violence in sports including physical discipline is a valid way of coaching

    no kidding, this needs to apply to a lot of things in JP

  • -2

    iichiban

    i think its japan`s way of gifting discipline to future generation. People in authority dont want to jeopardize forced respect that coach get because of this, otherwise they could have done something about these cases. It is not tough to come up with stern actions against these ppl.

  • -1

    rickyvee

    i'm glad the judokas are finally sticking up for their rights. will the judokos fall suit?

  • 0

    JA_Cruise

    a little pressure can help people focus more, however physcial and mental intimidation is not the right path. Mentoring face to face can do wonders. Some of these coaches are lucky the students don't fight back, where I grew up teachers feared the students retaliating.

  • 7

    hoserfella

    Anyone who knows anything about the Japanese judo scene knows of the sadistic coaches involved. Not all, but many if not most. Good on these women for having come forward but predictably Sonoda will carry on with a slap on the wrist. Almost any other country he would lose his job and face assault charges.

  • 8

    tapetptape

    I played on a varsity sports team for a famous Japanese university in Tokyo and I was nationally ranked. The physical and verbal abuse we all took - esp the freshman - from coaches and senpai is astounding. I'm all for pushing oneself to the max when training and practicing, but within reason. This will be a very tough issue to deal with as it is so deeply imbedded within the culture and history of Japanese "wa", "gaman" and "douryoku". I'd guess judo would be even worse with it's deep history and tough image it needs to upkeep. Just google what Ichiro went through when he was young.

  • 0

    combinibento

    Knowing this country, there is probably a niche market for videos of such beatings...

  • 0

    Kundong

    Bullying - working as intended.

  • 0

    letsberealistic

    Beating as an accepted aspect of coaching is a cultural tradition in many parts of Asia but long died out in western cultures, if it ever existed at all.

    Hitting others is simply a physical violation and is not only demeaning but also humiliating and the sooner it becomes completely unacceptable by all the better.

  • 1

    Knox Harrington

    At this point, all I can do is laugh.

    I don't believe things really can change here. Sure, there are surveys and after some poor soul kills himself everybody speaks up but in the end, partly because of responsibility not being demanded, nothing ever happens.

  • 1

    cubic

    Sonoda deserves a kimura lock for his crimes

  • 0

    Wakarimasen

    Bullying goes all the way to the top. Next we will hear about Dietmen being verbally and physically abused......

  • 6

    Novenachama

    In a nut shell using physical punishment is just a quick fix that only temporarily discourages the behavior. Therefore altering a negative behavior only works while the threat of punishment is present but does not teach self-discipline or address the real problem which could have been an issue in there training program. This coach used a negative approach instead of relying on a positive approach to motivate the judokas to perform at there best. It was obvious that his use of punishment in coaching didn't promote good relations leading to hostility, resentment, and discouragement creating a fear of failure. No wonder the judokas turned him in and why the women's judo team didn't perform well at the London Olympics. As a result a macho coach bullied, abused and ignored the signs of real progress and focused only on what was wrong. A more balanced, productive motivational climate should have been created with better feedback, and adapted to the requirements of different situations using a positive approach. Shame on you coach and your fired.

  • 1

    tmtmsnb

    Bully in the name of training. What lives!! Lock them all up in a huge gym so they do it to their heart's content against one another.

  • -1

    Shumatsu_Samurai

    I ask my kids every day if their teacher hit them, pushed them, screamed at them or touched them in any way.

    That's incredibly excessive, Disillusioned, and probably counter-productive. First, you're teaching your kids to be suspicious of their teachers and almost to expect them to be abusive. I can recall a few cases from counties like the US where kids had been made so paranoid by their over-bearing parents that they reported "abuse" from teachers because they had put a hand on their shoulders when trying to comfort them.

    If you distrust teachers so much, you should home-school them. If you keep them in the public system, clearly you trust the teachers - or you don't care about your kids because it's cheaper to keep them in there.

    Second, asking them every day could lead to them giving you an automatic response, much like how many kids will say school was "fine" when asked how it was.

  • -1

    NeoJamal

    Would it have been OK if a female coach hit them?

  • -1

    roughneck

    I bet if they were good enough in Judo, they could have protected themselves from any physical punishment!

  • 3

    tmtmsnb

    “Our executive office took this seriously - - - " ------Take what seriously ?? Take the dark secret being made public very seriously.

  • 5

    The passage

    Interesting that at 2pm today the JOC had a news conference where they announced how seriously they think this is and will of course conduct a hearing for the athletes concerned. Er, two months after they complained, and only after that complaint was made public! I sense an attempt to let the issue fade and die just failed big time.

  • 0

    hoserfella

    I sense an attempt to let the issue fade and die just failed big time.

    The passage - yup, you just know the JOC is scrambling now, and if the heat gets hot enough, Sonodas slap on the wrist will turn into a dismissal. Sadly, I doubt the scumbag will face any criminal charges

  • 3

    Thunderbird2

    I hope more and more people feel that they can report this kind of abuse. If high profile people do it then I'm sure people will feel more confident about reporting teacher and peer abuse.

  • 6

    sf2k

    why are there no charges? Can people just walk around and beat each other?

  • -4

    Cos

    A 15-strong group of judokas complained to the Japanese Olympic Committee

    They are Olympic judokas or what ? I have a white belt and I've broken the arm of my coach (not intentional. OK, I don't fight, I kill, it's instinct), so they can't grasp that bamboo stick and give the guy his change in his own currency ?

  • 2

    Tiger_In_The_Hermitage

    Bullying is a behavioural problem associated with lack of self esteem and lack of empathy. All associated with behaviours of animals.

  • 7

    Disillusioned

    For a country with such a large population and such strong following in many sports Japan produces very few world champions. Obviously, their intimidating, bullying and abusive training techniques do not work. For example, Australia has a population equivelant to one-sixth of Japan, but produces ten times more world champions in a wider variety of sports and, Australian sports professionals do not get beaten as part of their training. I have no doubt that this bullying, intimidation and abuse is prevalent in every sport in Japan, starting in junior and senior high school, which I have witnessed. Wake up Japan! It doesn't work!

  • 3

    italiandream

    "ohoops... sorry... I will not do it again..." that's it?! why he doesn't go to jail? what a crappy education culture...

  • 0

    timtak

    The individualists (!) unite in their condemnation. Other than being illegal in schools (a law passed under the occupation government) and these people were not in school, what is wrong with beating people again? If bullying works what is wrong with it? Because it hurts? Loosing hurts too.

    For a country with such a large population and such strong following in many sports Japan produces very few world champions.

    The Japanese win at their current national sport, baseball. I hear that the coaches are pretty harsh.

    This is a problem with the line blurring between sport & martial art. Basketball, baseball, etc - there's not reason for anyone hitting anyone. But the fighting arts,... there is some need to hit and actual martial arts don't belong in schools.

    I am pleased to hear that thanks to the previous Abe administration, the fighting arts are compulsory at junior high school level again. If martial arts are a problem, then Japan is a problem.

    Beating as an accepted aspect of coaching is a cultural tradition in many parts of Asia but long died out in western cultures, if it ever existed at all. Hitting others is simply a physical violation and is not only demeaning but also humiliating and the sooner it becomes completely unacceptable by all the better.

    On the one hand you say it is cultural and on the other you say it is unacceptable. Perhaps you should just say, "Asian culture is unacceptable".

    Hitting is a physical violation, demeaning, and humiliating, as you say chasing yourself around the bad words in the dictionary, and if it works, is it a fair price to pay? Or not? Apparently not? I wonder if there were medalists among the 15.

    Bullying is a behavioural problem associated with lack of self esteem and lack of empathy. All associated with behaviours of animals.

    I am not aware that Japanese lack empathy (on the contrary, I find if anything they empathize too much), but high self esteem is a famous trait of Westerners compared to Japanese (see Steven Heine's research). And that suggests to you that the Japanese are animals?

  • 1

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    At least PRETEND to be taking demi-tough measures by relieving the guy.

    Ichihara said: “We want to see if the trust between athletes and coaches is still there or if there is a way to rebuild that trust,” adding the AJJF has authority to appoint coaches.

    If it is there, they won't be making official complaints, would they?

    As people say, beating is very much a part of Oriental culture and I know my mom is a supporter of "reasonable" corporal punishment. IMO it is not so much bullying as the coach genuinely feeling it would work. Since it is so much part of the culture the girls probably already tolerated a certain amount of beating as "part of the game" or even "for their own good".

    Further, since it is so much part of the culture, it is known that it is very likely the superiors will be very sympathetic to the coach.

    But the coach clearly blew even that line. I don't care how repentant he looked in that office or whatever when his superiors confronted him. He has to go.

  • 1

    Antthom

    In my view Japanese men in authority are gutless and only answer to their mothers.There is simply no leadership in Japan or the want to change. It's easy to run away and hide. Hash words i know but really in any other country bullying in the workplace, sporting arena or in schools simply would not be tolerated. People who bully know what they are doing so "saying sorry i will try and change" going to cut it i'm afraid.

  • 1

    MasterBape

    Bullying is part of the culture in Japan.

    Quite shocking to read, especially as the coaches will get away with it, and Japan, whilst being a very modern country, will remain culturally stuck in the past.

  • 2

    Yubaru

    Low and behold THIS one hit Fox Sports in the US too!

    http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/judo/story/japan-judo-federation-says-coach-ryuji-sonoda-used-violence-against-athletes-15-females-before-london-olympics-012913

    Not that anyone should be surprised that a Japanese Judo coach whacked his athletes around but what's cool is that something is finally being done and maybe, just maybe, it's the start of an institutional change.

    I hope the boy that died in Osaka is looking down and seeing what's happening. With luck he will be remembered as the one that FINALLY got the ball rolling and changes made!

  • 1

    Francis Urquhart

    Judo is a tough, contact sport that originated in Japan, where corporal punishment was (and is) a method of moulding and training. The punishment one takes on the mat is far more intense than a bit of beating and slapping. If your ikebana teacher is slapping you about and whipping the bare soles of your feet with a wet tulip, then yes, you have cause for complaint. Fighters are not trained with feathers! Boxers train and get hit over and over. If you don't want to get hit or bashed, don't take up a contact fighting sport.

    Buddhist monks whack meditators with a stick for goodness sake! Japan is 'different', not western.

  • 0

    Thunderbird2

    Buddhist monks whack meditators with a stick for goodness sake! Japan is 'different', not western.

    I don't care if they're bloody Martians, hitting people 'to make them better people/athletes' as some of these bullies would no doubt say, is wrong wrong wrong!

  • 2

    Sun_GOLDsamurai

    Can you see a 15-strong group of judokas have been asking JOC the help of their last hope? They complained to AJJF about Ryuji Sonoda and other coaches beating, slapping and power harassment once in September. But AJJF did nothing to solve it even if AJJF admitted that the charges were largely true. After that there have never been the trust between athletes and coaches who beaten them with bamboo swords, slapped them and said some words to them of power harassment. The 15-strong group of judokas have lost hope towards AJJF. To save Japan’s women’s judo, Ryuji Sonoda and the other coaches should quit from their coaching jobs. If not, JOC or Education and Sports Ministry should pressure AJJF to sack the coaches. Of course, the responsibility of the management of AJJF cannot be avoidable.

  • 1

    eye

    When will these people realise physical punishment is not the only way to build character in this country.

  • 1

    badsey3

    No wonder why they have been losing (no spirit). Hard to find good teachers/students these days it seems and he should step down.

    Not the smartest thing picking fights (installing anger) with martial artists either. -I am sure retribution will be harsh at some point.

  • 0

    HollisBrown

    The statement from the TMP spokesperson is a fairly basic stock response. The AJJF head states that the head coach had admitted many of the allegations - yet he is allowed to keep his job. The JOC seem to have passed the buck somewhat - to the AJJF - and the AJJF decision is perplexing. I believe all of those bodies are worthy of a follow up.

    One way that issues of bullying, power harassment etc can be overcome is by the media keeping the pressure on. That's why I hope Japan Today will follow up on this story. I don't want a stock response to just be forgotten in a few days. I don't want coaches like this to remain in a job. He's the national judo coach for god's sake. It's bad enough that there are school sports coaches at it - but how many of them will make it into the media?

  • -1

    bonword

    Solution: Coach beats player...players rise up and beat the crap out of coach.

  • 4

    Open Minded

    Investigate, re-build trust, create a panel, seek improvement, apologize ...!

    For once an elite group has the gut to denounce these middle age practices at professional level (!), it is just time to prosecute for good and make an example to FORCE the change.

    And this is valid for sport, school, home and workplace!

    Thumb up to these 15 BRAVE sportswomen!

  • -6

    Francis Urquhart

    @Thunderbid2

    I do 'get it', you know, and I don't condone bullying, but you aren't going to train an army if you aren't St. Hartman and you aren't going to train a boxer to last in the ring if you hit him with feather pillows.

    These are Olympic fighters we are talking about! The harder you train the easier you have it in the ring or on the mat, and that training involves physical punishment.

  • -1

    Pontepilate

    What would people not do in this nation for medals and national fame...

  • 1

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    This is why, quite often, the Japanese will not speak up..... any form of indvidual spirit has been beaten or bullied out of them. By the age of 10 they just accept things instead of question them due to the heavy emphasis of "not sticking out" and "senpai" mentality. From the standpoint of a Tourist to Japan everything looks perfect but scratch beneath the surface and they'll find the ulgly, hidden truths beneath.

  • 0

    Virtuoso

    I've taken a few firm whacks from my flower arranging instructors too, now that you mention it.

  • 0

    Open Minded

    Francis: If really the case, this sport - and the like - has nothing to do in the Olympics! This should remain a bestial activity in the mountains and remote from children. Because understood like that this is not a regulated sport anymore, but just a simple fight.

    I sincerely doubt corporal punishments are accepted in other national Judo Federations. I have heard more about self-control, respect, ...

    Bottom line: What the hell can we praise physical punishment in 2013?

  • 0

    GW

    Bullying is far far too pervasive at all levels of sport in Japan.

    Growing up playing lots of sports I have MANY fond memories of my coaches, my old man even coached us a few years, bet if I grew up in Japan(thank GOD I didnt) I'd probably given up on sports & a whole LOT else pretty damned quick!

  • 2

    Fadamor

    A "coach" doesn't abuse the athletes under their care. They coach them. Only a thug would think abuse is a positive method of coaching.

  • 2

    T-Mack

    I trained in American Judo, the Sensai was an ex-marine who trained in Okinawa, and was married to a Lovely Japanese lady...I never felt abused or belittled, He woked very hard to teach us in the ways of Japan, with a high level of respect and honor for one's self...This coach seem's to have none of that...It's a very sorry soul indeed who beat's people down just to lift himself up in his own mind.... He should be banned from coaching....

  • 1

    whiskeysour

    I've seen at my former JHS a Gym Teacher head bunting students like it was a hobby. I saw a chemistry teacher throw down a student to the floor. Abuse is rampant in schools in Japan. It happens allllllll the time.

  • 0

    whiskeysour

    It's time to change the training regiment in Japan. Abuse will no longer be tolerated. I saw JHS teachers abuse troubled kids all the time.

  • -2

    Lowly

    Beating as an accepted aspect of coaching is a cultural tradition in many parts of Asia but long died out in western cultures, if it ever existed at all.

    Sorry, "if it ever existed", Oh, it certainly did. "long died out" -- is that 50 yrs ago you're talking about?

  • -1

    iWorld

    complaint to JOC is ineffective and maybe even useless. They are the same old-boy club. What these brave women needs to do is to SUE! That will probably be the only way for real and effective change for now and the future of these type of behaviors.

  • -1

    sfjp330

    DisillusionedJan. 30, 2013 - 03:30PM JST Bullying, intimidation and physical abuse are a part of Japanese culture and psych.

    This is not a surprise. Before they started the training, these female judo athletes knew exactly what they were getting into. Like all traditional sports in Japan, like sumo, karate, and Judo, in order to build a strong character, majority of these coaches know only one way to train, and that is with physical abuse by western standards.

  • 2

    Knox Harrington

    I am not really that surprised by any of this. There are bad coaches everywere, even though this particular clown seems unusually unfit to coach anything. What is the real shame is the way this is handled by the oyaji in JOC and AJJF. They condemn (not really) Sonoda's actions but send the clear message that he is a good guy and gets to stay on as long as he promises to change his ways. That is using a lot of airtime to do absolutely nothing.

    Judo is a pretty tough sport, no doubt, but the toughness in training is easily shown on the mat, without the help of bamboo swords or slaps in the face.

    A good coach would know that.

    I hope media keeps the pressure on this issue so that this little roughneck feels the need to get away from it all and step down.

  • -2

    Aristoman

    15 girls. If seems that you lost your fight. Very sorry for it. So grown man was beating young girls.... He is sorry. Go girls get him. Go lawless just like your organization.

  • 0

    GJN48

    Then this might be the wrong path for you,ladies.

  • 0

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    Martial art is not about abuse... physical, mental, emotional and I am sure also sexual abuse by those in power who should have their asses kicked.. just kick their ass .. with social media you are safe.. and free.

  • 0

    Oz_Monster

    Totally agree with Hosefella. These ladies who stood up to the system and came forward should be commended. No Athlete man or women should have to put up with this kind of systematic abuse. Sonada should not keep his job and the whole AJJF should conduct a full independent investigation into this type of coaching methods across all levels of coaches.

  • 0

    enricopallazzo

    I worked at two schools where I witnessed male teachers either punching, slapping or kicking students. Mentioned this to my eikaiwa students and they said, "Oh, no, not in Japan." Bull.

  • -1

    danalawton1@yahoo.com

    Being a Foreigner in Japan is like being Truman on the Truman Show.

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