Judo in Armonia experiments with music for their autistic judoka!


We’re very glad to show you all our latest great collaboration, which involves our special judokas and music. Huge thanks to Francesca Lorenzini, who’s graduating in Music-therapy at “E.F. Dall’Abaco” in Verona, for the commitment and passion she’d already shown while planning this new project with our volunteers.

We had our first judo&music session the first week of October; in this video, you can see Francesca playing the ukulele and using music as reinforcement during our adapted judo training session. She was accompanying our judokas during some games and exercises, playing different rhythm and tunes, in the strong belief that music can help our athletes to improve.

Pre-existing studies show that music is proven to be a valuable tool for ASD people, as they seem to show a greater understanding of music than verbal language. Furthermore, according to studies related to the specific use of the rhythmic element of music, music allows lowering the level of perceived fatigue, improving the quality of the movement, containing altered emotional states and increasing attention spans.

Enjoy here in this video our first steps in this very exciting journey!

Jelle’s Triumph

This is a video of Jelle. Jelle is diagnosed, as you will see, with multiple disabilities, one of which is ASD. In general, Daniel is not very active during the Judo lessons and we usually have a 1-on-1 session where we try to activate him by tickling, prodding, challenging him to do things he would not do on his own.
This evening was however special. Please look at the video to see what happened.

(Published with kind permission of the Schonewille family)

Progress meeting with the AutJudo team

The International AutJudo team organised another meeting today using Google Meet. Progress was discussed among the various countries, and of course the COVID-19 situation and the problems it presents for the project.
From the top down: Tycho van der Werff (SNJF), Luigina Desopo (Judo In Armonia), Mario Bontognali and Cecilia Evenblij (SJV), Tomas Rundqvist (Svensk Judo), Eva Cañas Rovirosa (Blanquerna University), José Morales Aznar and Cristina Curto Luque OLY (Blanquerna University), Amanuela Pierantozzi OLY (University of Genoa), James Mulroy (Judo Assist Ireland), Henk de Vries (SNJF)
Not in view (because Google only shows 9 people) Chiara Adami (Judo in Armonia), Dick Dahlstrom Rösselharth (Svensk Judo)

The progress report of Judo in Armonia (Verona, IT)

Here in Verona too, we’re ready to start our judo lessons again after the summer holidays!
In these past months, our volunteers and coaches spent a lot of time gathering information related to rules and procedures to be applied. They’ve also contacted local authorities in order to have the places at the sports centre confirmed.

Our judo program will start next Monday, October the 5th .
Some things will be different: only judokas and teachers can be present, no parents or supervisors are allowed to be in the room; our judo classes will be shorter, so that we’ll have the time to clean and sanitize the tatami; hands and feet have to be disinfected on
entering and leaving the tatami…
But on the other hand, some other things will be just the same as they were last years: our kids’ enthusiasm is not changed, nor our coaches’ and volunteers’ commitment will be reduced.

Last week, we held a meeting with our kids’ parents, during which we discussed rules and procedures to be followed. Our judokas, and their families too, are more than thrilled to restart some judo activities with other kids, they just can’t wait.

Judo In Armonia team

Special Needs Judo in the Corona Era – SNJF

BeterJudo, the Special Needs Judo club of SNJF, have started their lessons again after the summer holidays. The Dutch government allowed contact sports to proceed as per July 1st already, under strict rules:
Only judoka and teachers can be present, and no parents or supervisors are allowed to be in the room, or indeed in the building. Outside the tatami, a distance of 1,5m needs to be adhered to. Hands need to be disinfected on entering and leaving the tatami. Locker rooms are closed so judoka are required to come to the dojo in their Judo uniform.
Of course, this gives all sorts of trouble. Younger judoka (and BeterJudo teaches children as young as 3!) are not used to their parents being out of the room. On the other hand, for some other judoka this seems to be a blessing: they seem less restricted! For yet other judoka, the parents have decided not to come to the lessons until the crisis has blown over.

At least 95% of the SNJF judoka are in some way handicapped, and many of our older judoka live in what is called a “living group”, an institution that takes care of their main life’s necessities. Some of these institutions have decided not to let their residents participate in any extramural activities to avoid Corona contamination, so these people are effectively living in isolation since mid-march 2020. Of course we do encourage everybody to take part in our lessons, but on the other hand we understand that people stay away for fear of contamination.

Another challenge is that a number of our judoka are incapable of understanding the corona rules, simply because they lack the intellectual capability. They cuddle, highfive, cough and sneeze as if no Corona ever existed, oblivious of the dangers. So yes, our teachers are at some risk, reason why we are extra careful and will go and have ourselves tested at the first sign of trouble.

We also discovered a very interesting phenomena: Some judoka consider the dojo as some sort of “safe haven” where the strict Corona rules do not apply or indeed where Corona does not come. Several judoka, when asked why they do not follow the rules, go: “But this is Judo, it is safe here” or “But you are taking care of us, don’t you?”. As if the dojo and its teachers have magical anti-Corona shields. Flattering.. but alas, we do not.

We do convey all the Corona information through our website, and there also is a dedicated WhatsApp group for important messages. But.. even though the parents may be able to read, some of our judoka are effectively illiterate. They are used to the fact that longer texts are read by their parents and supervisors and, if important, that they are told about it- but of course, that doesn’t always happen.
But it is not all doom and gloom. We have done two weeks of happy lessons already, and last week we introduced a streaming webcam for the parents so they can at least see what their children are up to. We get compliments for the way we handle things, we are training for a European Kata Championship that may or may not happen- but at least we have something to look forward to, and we are moving into the future.