Change the world

Judo

As we arrived (around 9 am) in the room with the mats in the middle, the prisoners (maybe 20 of them) were already doing warm ups with some impressive cheering and wearing handmade Judo gi's. Some other prisoners were sitting around the mat on chairs as enthusiastic spectators. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and everyone is joyful. As it was the first time for most of us to visit a prison as part of an outreach program, we were all a bit nervous not knowing what to expect. But as we settled down in the room and felt the atmosphere, we were all suprisingly amazed by their serious sporting spirit. After that they sat in rows facing the Sensei and everything became very quiet and still. With perfect discipline they all recited the maxum, "Humility, Character, Respect, Discipline, Loyalty, Self-Control". Then another round of warm ups started but everyone took part this time. It all went very fast, with a rhythm and Japanese words being shouted. Each one of the prisoners were then evaluated for grading and everyone was very attentive and performed the required tasks with a serious and good spirit. After all evaluations had taken place, all welcomed the proposition made by Sensei Ben to end the session off with a round of randori. As the session ended, everyone got together and chatted happily with each other, taking photo's and exchanging contact details. As we went a bit over the finishing time expected, we had to leave and the last photo's were taken while walking out arms in arms. I think that I can say that all of us really had a good time and were all impressed by the friendly behaviour of the prisoners, just another reminder to us that they are normal and loving human beings as well.

Looking forward to doing it again. Thank you!