Thursday, December 31, 2009

Judo Practice; Vladimir Putin sees sport as the continuation ofpolitics by other means.(Features).

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As sports go, judo is an invigorating way to com- bine muscle-honing exercise with the opportunity to break several important bones in your body.

Which is why judo can appeal so strongly to the sort of politician who already has demon- strated his virility by flaunting his toned naked torso on a fishing trip, perching at the wheel of a giant racing truck, tracking a tiger through the Siberian forest, and sending his tanks into neighbouring territories. Politicians such as Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Prime Minister, a judo black belt who was once judo champion of his home city of St Petersburg, celebrated his 56th birthday yesterday by lanching an instructional video, Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin (see page 10).

There are persuasive parallels between judo and politics. In both the idea is to show your opponents that you could snap them in two like a brittle autumn twig if you really wanted to, while stopping just short of having actually to do so.

But lest anyone fails to recognise this subtext, Mr Putin makes it explicit by declaring in the video: "The name of the sport, 'the gentle way', reveals the fundamental principle - an opportunity to gain the upper hand by soft but effective actions." Still haven't grasped the analogy? Then Mr Putin adds: "The practice of struggle permits compromises and concessions, but they are poss- ible only if they are on the road to victory."

Compared with judo, the options of Olympic sport as metaphor for Mr Putin's fellow political leaders look less flattering. Sarah Palin has been testing a gripping high-wire act. Gordon Brown might try the relay, were he keener to pass the baton to any colleague. And what for Europe's finance ministers? Unsynchronised swimming?

Copyright (C) The Times, 2008

Source Citation
"Judo Practice; Vladimir Putin sees sport as the continuation of politics by other means." Times [London, England] 8 Oct. 2008: 2. Academic OneFile. Web. 31 Dec. 2009. .

Gale Document Number:CJ186461333

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