segunda-feira, março 16, 2009

Judo champ teaches blind to fight back

Inner Sanctum
Judo champ teaches blind to fight back

Award-winning judoka Tran Mai Thuy Hong has been named a ‘youth with outstanding achievements’ by HCM City authorities for teaching martial arts to the blind. Hong tells Van Dat why she chose this challenging path and reveals her future plans.
Inner Sanctum: When and how did you get into judo?

When I was young, I was so skinny and ailing that my mother forced me into many sports like swimming, table tennis and athletics. Fortunately, in 1991 when I was in sixth grade at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School, I had a chance to go to Ho Xuan Huong Club in District 3 where I saw many young people practising judo. Though I had never learnt it before, I could imitate their movements accurately. I then fell in love with judo and joined the club to train.
At that time I did not think about achievements or becoming a judo professional.

I just did it for the sake of health and amusement like any other sport. I was happy to make friends with many people at the club, entered competitions, and achieved some success. They encouraged me to stick to judo but in 2000 I had to stop due to shoulder trouble.
After graduating from high school, I decided not to take the university entrance examination but continued to practice judo. But after the injury in 2000, I studied at the HCM City Pedagogy University. Besides studying at the school, I taught judo at the Tan Binh Culture and Sport Centre. In 2004 I enrolled at the University of Sports and Athletics and [part-time] at the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanity.

Inner Sanctum: You are a girl yet you chose judo. Why?

It is unfair to say that only men can learn judo. It is also helpful for women to improve their physical strength and confidence and, especially, for self-defence. Fortunately, I have never had to use judo to tackle a problem, only in competitions.

Inner Sanctum: Why did you decide to teach judo to people with disabilities? Do you face any particular difficulty in doing this?
The initiative came from the HCM City Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism. I was merely a trainer for visually impaired people. I faced many difficulties. In the beginning, I was struggling because there were no materials or books on teaching judo to people with disabilities.
Other trainers and I gradually learnt on the job. Besides teaching [my students] the basic movements, I also have to teach them to judge the opponent’s movements using just their hearing, one of the most difficult lessons.
There is also a psychological problem because most people with visual disability are afraid of falling over but the training requires them to do it. Even after working with them for four years I do not totally understand them.
Inner Sanctum: What have you and your students achieved in these years of toil?

We have taught disabled people for more than four years at the HCM City Blind Association, Nguyen Dinh Chieu High School, and Thien An Open House. More and more people with disabilities attend our course. There are now around 200 trainees.
In 2006 and 2007 four of my students won gold, silver, and bronze medals at the FESPIC Games in Malaysia and Asian Paragames 3 in Thailand. Last year another student, Trieu Thi Nhoi, attended the Paralympics in Beijing and finished seventh.

Inner Sanctum: What has impressed you most while teaching judo to people with disabilities?
There are many memories but what impressed me deeply was seeing my students train and compete like able-bodied people. I admired them and felt proud. Their performance encouraged me. Every time I have a problem with my job, whatever the difficulty, just thinking of my students’ achievements helps me overcome it.

Inner Sanctum: How do you feel now that the city has honoured you as a "Youth with outstanding achievements" this year?

Surprised and happy, of course! It is a big encouragement for me to continue my mission to teach judo to visually impaired people, to help them become more confident and healthy and be part of the community.

Inner Sanctum: What is your main job and what are your future plans?

I work as a sports expert at the Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism. I teach every Wednesday and Friday.
Other trainers and I hope to get more and more disabled people to join our judo classes. I plan to co-operate with the HCM City Sport School and experts from the Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism to write a book on training disabled people in judo because I wish to help blind people in other provinces learn the martial art as well. — VNS

FONTE (foto incluída): Viet Nam News - Hanoi,Vietnam

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