Written by Nicolas Messner on 11. Dec 2023
Photographs by Nicolas Messner


From 4th to 6th December 2023 an IJF delegation led by Jean-Luc Rougé, International Development and Promotion Director, visited China to assess development possibilities in a country that already has a long history of judo and that plans to strengthen the presence of our sport throughout the territory. Also present on behalf of the IJF were Michel Huet, Education Commission member, and Nicolas Messner, Media and Judo for Peace Director.

Meeting with the national federation

The three days of discussions were structured around work meetings and club visits, in order to have a precise idea of the potential for judo from both a sporting and and educational point of view.

Jean-Luc Rougé said, “President Marius Vizer has tasked me with supporting the Chinese Judo Association in its development. I am very honoured. China is a great country, renowned for its judo, particularly among women. Chinese federation has the means to return to a level more in line with its human and social potential and is working hard to do so. We are here to add our expertise and our experience. COVID has unfortunately stopped many things, especially here, but I am happy to see that there is a strong desire to move forward. I think our priority must be to develop judo in terms of numbers. This will have implications on the educational impact of the sport throughout the country. More practitioners will mean more coaches and teachers, more referees and so on and it will create a positive snowball effect.”

Jean-Luc Rougé and Jinqiang Zhou

Jinqiang Zhou, Deputy Minister of Sport for China, also an IJF Executive Committee member, said, “It’s an honour to meet you in China. Under Mr Vizer’s leadership, judo has seen massive development over recent years. With Paris 2024 looming over the horizon, it gets even more exciting. A lot of effort has been made already to support judo in China. We have organised many IJF World Judo Tour events and held several editions of the ‘Judo Educational Journey Through China.’ We need to develop the sport again as well as the education pathway through judo. Our youth need it, our society needs it.”

Chengliang Liu, the President of the Chinese Judo Association presented a full development programme, “We designed a ten year development programme which consists of 15 points. We believe that China has great potential. Judo is a great sport and it’s now a good time to move on. Together with the IJF, we think that China can be a leading country. We are very happy with the input from Mr Rougé and his team. They gave us directions and concrete examples of what we can do and how.”

The three days of meetings were therefore particularly fruitful. For the IJF delegation it was the opportunity to get a clear idea of the potential for development of judo in China, while the national federation was able to note the elements which will allow them to move to the next level concretely.

The number of Chinese world and Olympic medallists already prove that our sport has high performance capabilities. China’s demographic capabilities are a guarantee that much is possible from an educational perspective. Clear objectives have been set and the federation has already begun to roll up its sleeves to achieve them.

As such, the visit to a school structure in which judo is taught as part of the curriculum was revealing of the level of judo in the country. Generations of judoka are under construction. Among them there will undoubtedly be champions but there will also be coaches and teachers, referees and future leaders. There will finally be a whole segment of the population who will have learned the fundamentals of judo and its values.