French Judo Vs. MMA

Translation of article by Alexandre Ferret, “MMA: When the Leaders of French Judo Fall on their Heads”, published today by French magazine,”Le Point”. See here for orginal French text: http://www.lepoint.fr/sport/mma-quand-les-dirigeants-du-judo-mondial-tombent-sur-la-tete-27-02-2015-1908374_26.php Respect, courage, honour, friendship, sincerity, self-control and modesty. Such are the fundamental values inculcated in judokas from their youngest age and listed in the sacrosanct, “Judo Moral Code”. More than a simple text governing the behaviour to be adopted on and off the tatamis (mat), it forms the backbone of every fighter, from the youngest to the most hardened. Nevertheless, for several months, the children of Jigoro Kano, the founder of the judo, have witnessed the crystallization of a latent conflict that has been running for several years between judo’s authorities and the rapidly growing discipline of Mixed Martial Arts ( MMA). Doing everything they can to boycott and to marginalise MMA, the leaders of the French and International Judo are publicly disdainful of the principles taught in dojos across the whole world. The reason is very simple and so absurd that it becomes anachronistic: The judo elite are viewing the development of MMA with evil eye; this young discipline that has rapidly grown tens of millions of fans worldwide. In fact, it is about nothing more than a pathetic story of jealousy from a sport which enjoys a hegemony and for whom it is unbearable to accept the emergence of a younger competitor. It’s as if a black belt narrow-mindedly persecuted a blue belt just to gain results in the regional competitions, as opposed to setting an example. As a result, the rash outbursts, all manner of low blows and the odd decisions have become multitudinous; and more reminiscent of the politicking quarrels of the media world than fights associated judo, which may be bitter but tinged with respect:

“MMA is a refuge for jihadists!” (J.-L. Rougé)

“The MMA is a refuge for jihadists! It is the head office of domestic intelligence (DCRI) that told this to me!” The sentence, so absurd as to be slanderous, did not come out of a dark, anti-MMA blog. On the contrary, it is Jean-Luc Rougé’s work, president of the very powerful French Federation of Judo ( FFJ). This was in a recent interview granted to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) on reasons why it was necessary to maintain a ban against the practice of the MMA in France, as in Norway and in Thailand – the last countries to the world to maintain a ban against the sport. ” For me, MMA is not a sport. It rose out of a business invention to make money. There is no educational aspect to this discipline,” cries out the first world champion in the history French Judo. This adds to a heap of worn out clichés spun  over and over again for several years, rich in nonsense (for example confusing MMA with UFC*) and specifically disregarding all the statutory advances of the last ten years. Because for MMA to suffer from a negative image in France, it is necessary to raise up its first years of existence, when certain types of spectacular and dangerous strikes were still authorized.  This past era goes back to a time when MMA was still finding itself,  comparable to when, formerly,  there were neither time limits in judo bouts nor weight categories. In any event, since the 2000s MMA has redeemed itself in image and a conduct. Moreover, if the values conveyed by this sport were so opposed to those of judo, how do you explain Satoshi Ishii (Olympic heavyweight champion in 2008, the year when Teddy Riner ended 3rd) and Ronda Rousey (vice-champion of the 2007 and 3rd in the world Olympics 2008) leaving the tatamis of judo for the cages of the MMA? Most fervent opponents to MMA will advance the main reason for this as being the the lure of gain, so presenting the judokas as docile prey opening the jackets of their judo gi’s in offerance.

Cancellation of European championships 

As a result, this marginal migration of athletes is considered as a threat and justifies all low behaviour. But it is the participants of judo, the fighters and trainers, that suffer from it! Indeed, the European Judo Union (EJU) decided to mark the occasion by cancelling the European Judo Championships which were set to take place in Glasgow, only two months before date initially planned from 9 til 12 April. This genius idea fails to consider at all the preparation periods of the judokas and regards them as mere weather vanes, or even cattle. So why did the EJU decide to fire such a bullet into the feet of its champions? For the simple and good reason that the UFC, the biggest organization in MMA, was a sponsor of these European championships. Several weeks ago, the British Judo Federation  concluded a partnership deal with the UFC and, in this context, the organization was also to sponsor the European Judo Championships. This was an extravagant and inadmissible decision in the eyes of the FFJ and the International Judo Federation, chaired by high- powered and fantastically wealthy Marius Vizer.

MMA vs MJA: The War of Initials

Warnings followed from the authorities of judo regarding their disapproval, and suggesting that their retort would be terrible and that it would both quickly and with fanfare put an end to this battle;  and, it is necessary to admit it, this one-sided battle led by the world of  judo. As a result, the UFC, deducing that it was in best interests to resume the dialogue between both disciplines, suggested withdrawing from European Championships of Judo while maintaining nevertheless its agreement with the British Judo Federation. This was insufficient for the EJU, which dug in deep, just eight weeks out from a continental championship. While at it, who proposed the idea of organising the Europeans on its ground? France, obviously! When the smell of blood is sensed, vultures are never far. Trying apparently to remain ahead in the market of doggedness against MMA, Jean-Luc Rougé threatened with expulsion from the FFJ all coaches found teaching MMA in judo affiliated clubs. A further measure to Rougé’s long speech pronounced during the recent kagami biraki (ceremony of the wishes), dedicated entirely to the threat represented by “new emergent combat sports”,  in a ceremony that usually celebrates “masters”(“teachers”), “Jedi” of the judo ( the most high-ranking ) and also serves, in the Japanese tradition, to tighten the links which unite the judo family. And what to say about poignant invention of the French federation, Mixed Jujitsu Arts ( MJA), a degraded variant of MMA but seen in a very good light by the authorities due to its being governed by the FFJ? If judo was a company of the CAC 40(PARIS STOCK INDEX), it is difficult to imagine that it would not be condemned for “abuse of power”. And when we know that the principle of  judo is to use an opponent’s strength against him/ her, it is impossible to consider the current leaders as deserving guardian heirs of the art imagined by Jigoro Kano. *MMA is a full sport which combines several Olympic sports as judo, wrestling and  boxing. THE UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) is for its part the biggest MMA promotion with elite fighters from across globe on its roster. To confuse both is akin to interchanging the NBA with basketball in general.  

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