Judo with the blind to fight prejudice | you saw?

Once you cross the door, the white stick gives way to the whites of the kimono. Sofia Soto, a student in psychological education at the University of Montreal, throws herself on tatami mats incredibly easily. She greets her friend Celia Cassel, a classical vocalist who sings while warming up. Etel Hudakor studies software development. The big guy can’t wait to fight in a friendly way with his coaches and friends.

Their coach is Mohamed Soualemiya, a former Algerian and African champion. 20 years ago, he discovered that judo can be a great learning tool. So he founded his club Jikan, which welcomes a diverse clientele. There are young people who are dropouts and others who have learning difficulties.

Coach Mohamed Suleiman with Sofia, Celia and Etel

Photo: Radio Canada/Robert Frusi

There are also those who are in a state of diversion, not to mention young people with autism, children with behavioral disorders and, of course, blind people.

Ettle was a great athlete before an accident that left him blind. At the age of twelve, a firework exploded in his face. Far from being frustrated by this handicap that called himself cruelly into his life, he redoubled his enthusiasm by doing athletics, wrestling and then judo.

A blind person who practices judo will use his sense of touch tremendously.he explains.

This is what the blind will always do. We will focus on how to feel the movement of the opponent and also feel the movement of his body. Advantage over sighted people? Compared to a person who sees, the advantage I find is that, as I do not see, I will often focus on my feelings, while the seer will be used to focus on what he sees and then act.

You have to feel and react

During the exchange, Etel Hodakur will surprise us by saying that losing his eyesight is not necessarily a hindrance. He would like to change people’s perception.

I find that people can not imagine what it is. They think in their heads that it is impossible to live without eyesight. So really, there’s kind of a wall that’s suddenly broken and that’s what I’m trying to do by showing that you can exercise and be blind.he adds.

A feeling shared by Celia Cassel and Sofia Soto, who have been blind since birth.

Sure enough, in the beginning, we have something less, the view. But we are not always disabledCelia said.

Sophia adds: Yes, we lose sight, but we feel the movements made by the other. We are visually impaired to have our reflexes and instincts intact. I wouldn’t say that I personally feel deprived, that’s not how I feel. I prefer to feel that I have the same abilities as the person in front of me.

We are in a society where the eyes are the center of everything and we cannot imagine that we could function otherwise. We compensate with other senses and that’s what we have to explainSophia, strongly condemns.

A coach with three athletes side by side on a mat

Coach Mohamed Suleiman with Sofia, Celia and Etel

Photo: Radio Canada/Robert Frusi

Regarding tatami, instructor Mohamed Al-Sawalmiya gives advice and ensures that the gesture is perfect. For 20 years, he would see young men walking around him. today his social judo, as he likes to call it, is practiced in about twenty schools in Montreal. He is proud to see the results and feels very relieved that his sport is coming to the aid of disadvantaged youth.

I believe that sports, and especially judo, with the values ​​they impart, is the best way to manage this negative energy in young people, he believes. Yes, I am proud to see young people go back to school after dropping out. Others have come out of delinquency and have found real value. They found a job, started a family. I am happy to see that most of them have become responsible citizens.

When we talk to him about his blind students, his face lights up.

I started judo with the blind with Salia, he says. At first, she was afraid. During submissions consisting of immobilizing the opponent on the ground, she was afraid of contact. Then, little by little, she tamed these contracts and freed herself. Now she loves it! She even participated in the International Open for Adapted Sports.

For me, I feel proud when I see these young people, who, on the mat, spend the most. The other pride is inclusioncontinued.

When we see them squabbling with others, we don’t notice that they are blind in judo class. They do the same things as everyone else. Sometimes they are even surprisingSensei said with great emotion.

a surprise. The trait is not very strong. When you see how easily these three young men work on tatami mats, no one will suspect that they have lost their sight. What they would like now is to be considered people in their own right.

If you see us on the street with our white cane or we’re doing any activity, come and ask us questions instead of assuming certain things, says Sophia. It’s true that we’re really faced with judgments, with the looks of people telling themselves that you definitely won’t be able to. But in the end, no. What we want is to be able to exchange and share.

In the middle of the training, a melodious and surprising sound comes from the tatami. It’s Celia Cassel. A moment of magic as time seems to stand still. she was singing Without accompaniment of musical instruments opera melody.

Celia reached the semi-finals of Beginner’s voice In 2017, she moved the whole of Quebec during her appearance. A person who has been singing since the age of five dreams of one day becoming a great classical singer.

And while she was singing on the carpet, everyone stopped to listen to her until the end. Applause rang out and the training managed to resume the smiles on their faces which said a lot about this small moment of shared happiness.

A man kneeling on a mat with a white judoji looking at the camera

Mohammed Al-Salmiya in Dojo

Photo: Radio Canada/Robert Frusi

Before leaving, Muhammad received this message.

After 20 years, I’ve discovered that anything is possible, and we can change it with easy means like sports, like judo. You just have to trust yourself.

As you know, I come from Algeria and judo got me off the wrong path. The obstacle for me is the one who does not make an effortThe coach adds a hint of nostalgia in the throat.

When we talk about victories with the former champion, he answers humbly.

My personal victory is when we succeed in passing on something beneficial to the community. Develop humans who will radiate into society and who will move in turn. This is my victory!

Within a few hours, the three judokas and their coach showed us one thing: which we think isn’t necessarily a handicap.

Leave a Comment