“Judo is for everyone! This is what drives Mohamed Soualmia, who has worked for nearly twenty years in the community and with school students with special needs.
His club, Jikan, is based at Jeanne-Mance High School, but its counselors also travel to several other schools. The courses are offered to a multitude of students: including people with behavioural, learning or social integration problems, as well as people with autism, those that are visually impaired or with other disabilities.
“We have several social projects. It’s a source of pride for the club,” said Mr. Soualmia of his “baby,” born in 2012 following the closure of the IMCO judo club, whose name means “time” in Japanese.
“We used to stand out competitively, now we stand out in a whole new way. These young people have many needs, they want to be like others, and to find their place in society. At the same time, we discover ourselves through all these projects and we are able to transmit the values of judo to all our students.”
Despite the adaptation necessary for the success of his integration mission, Jikan’s teachings are in fact directly linked to the values of the sport: modesty, politeness, sincerity, friendship, self-control, courage, respect and honour.
“We feel a lot of pride when we see our young students succeed,” says Soualmia, recalling several inspiring programs, including one that particularly touched him. “We had a project with about twenty young people living with an intellectual disability at the Jeanne-Mance school. At the end, it was wonderful, the kids were doing judo! They were doing techniques and they knew how to fall. They had smiles on their faces and displayed confidence. They were able to make contact even though it was young people who often did not like contact.”
The great victories experienced with their young students fuel the passion of the club’s staff. “We are so happy to see the results that it inspires us to do more.”
In this sense, they can count on the Association for developing adapted martial arts (ADAMA), of which they are members, which aims to advise and support martial arts clubs that want to include people with an autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, or physical limitation. “It’s a great experience with people who work with people with special needs. It enriches our way of seeing things and helping these young people in our sport.”
Nicolas Brisson, Domestic Programs & Events Director at Judo Canada, congratulates the managers of Jikan judo club, who set a perfect example of the integration of judo to the entire population. “Judo founder Jigoro Kano saw judo as a lifelong training and an educational tool based on motor development. The resulting educational message had above all a social connotation. The competitive route came second. This is why we are convinced that judo is for everyone, regardless of age, limitations or special needs. We have also developed tools to help guide the practice of judo for people with special needs. A certification in this direction will soon be offered to coaches. The Jikan club, through Mr. Soualmia and his speakers, is therefore a perfect example of the philosophy of judo, in particular, through its social projects and a practice open to all. An inspirational example.”