Judo club coach is convicted of violence: self-control is needed

A summary order was issued by the Nakatsu Summary Court of Oita Prefecture on July 20, 2017, imposing a fine of JPY100,000($890) on the teacher/former judo coach of Nakatsu Higashi High School on the charge of assault and battery. The teacher used violence against a student during judo practice at the club. For details of the case refer to http://judojiko.net/news/2556.html

We are pleased that the police has investigated violence inside a school, but questions remain. While the police have sent the case to the district public prosecutors office on charges of inflicting bodily injury, the offence was changed to assault and battery by the prosecutors. Why did they make the change? Oita District Public Prosecutors Office said the decision was based on proof. Battery is an act causing harmful contact with a person, but without causing injury. The victim, however, developed cerebrospinal fluid hypovolemia (CSF hypovolemia) and central cervical cord injury due to the teacher’s violence, resulting in surgery and hospitalization. These serious conditions should be regarded as proof for the prosecutors to bring the case for bodily injury. The penalty for infliction of bodily harm is obviously heavier than that for battery.

It was a step forward for the prosecutors to bring criminal charges for a judo injury case. Coaches have been rarely taken to a criminal court when a student of an after-school judo club is killed or seriously injured at their hands. A district public prosecutor described another case,* “If one was wearing a judo kit and using judo techniques it is difficult to draw a line between judo and crime.” We believe they brought criminal charges for this case because the teacher used his fist, not a judo technique, to hit the student.

If a coach has used judo techniques to harm a student, are the prosecutors able to press charges, even if the victim dies or is seriously injured? Jiu-jitsu, from which judo was derived, is a martial art of combat to kill an opponent without using armor. With judo one may also kill the opponent if one does not use “control”. Why has the teacher failed to use self-control? Control is something sumo wrestlers use when they compete against kids at local festivals, or an adult uses to hold a baby with just the right strength. People know instinctively how much control is needed.

Only in Japan, do dan holding judo coaches throw students without self-control until they are disabled or dead. This is not a normal situation!

*A student was severely injured after the school judo coach threw him to the floor during practice at Nara Junior High School, Yokohama, in 2004.


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