Lien Chen-ling 連珍羚 (born January 31, 1988) is a Judoka from Chinese Taipei, she has achieved remarkable success in the sport. In 2015, she became the first Chinese Taipei judoka to win a Grand Prix in the -57kg category. Lien has won three World Tour gold medals and five Asian Championships medals since 2011. She claimed the gold medal at the 2023 Asian Games and has represented Chinese Taipei at the 2016 Olympics. Currently ranked 7th in the world in the -57kg category, Lien serves as an inspiration to aspiring judokas in Chinese Taipei and beyond.

Photo of Lien Chen Ling by IJF

Lien said: Politeness is an essential quality in the sport of Judo. To embody this quality, it is not enough to merely say “please,” “thank you,” and “sorry.” It must be deeply ingrained in both competitions and daily life. Judo is a sport that places great emphasis on “etiquette” and “humility.” These principles not only apply to the spirit of Judo but also hold profound significance in my personal life and journey to becoming an excellent Judoka. The first lesson in Judo: “It begins and ends with courtesy.”

Courtesy plays a significant role in Judo training and competition. Whether it’s before entering the dojo or before and after a match, we must pay our respects. “It begins and ends with courtesy” is a famous Judo saying and the first lesson for every Judoka.

Regarding the importance of courtesy, let’s take a look at the rituals before and after a match:

1. First, we bow.
2. When stepping onto the tatami, we bow once again.
3. Before the referee starts the match, both competitors bow to each other.
4. At the end of the match, we bow to our opponent.
5. Before leaving the tatami, we bow once more.
6. Finally, before leaving the competition area, we offer one last bow. The purpose of bowing is to reflect the important spirit passed down by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, which states “the efficient use of energy and mutual prosperity.” It means that Judo is not just about winning or losing. Today, being able to stand here and compete, you should be grateful for the venue and the opponents you face.

Do not be proud in victory, nor discouraged in defeat. Pride leads to defeat.

Politeness and humility are traits often associated with Japan. Indeed, during my ten years in Japan, besides training with my clubmates, I have witnessed many Olympic and World Champions in Judo. They do not become arrogant or look down upon others after winning a championship. Instead, they express gratitude with even greater humility towards the people around them. It is because of their support and assistance that they were able to push themselves forward and eventually become champions.

I also remind myself to “adhere to the original intention” by following the example of these champion athletes. True humility means maintaining your original mindset regardless of your achievements. If you become proud after achieving some success, I believe that at that moment, you have already lost.

Courtesy signifies equality, and humility signifies learning.

Because of these qualities, courtesy and humility are not only about showing respect to the venue and opponents in Judo but can also be applied to any person or situation. I believe that politeness towards others should be impartial. It should not be based on the other person’s status or the outcome of a match. To smoothly progress towards our ultimate goals, we must always maintain a humble attitude. This will provide us with more opportunities to understand and improve our shortcomings.

No one is perfect, but regardless of our position, the lessons taught by Judo—humility, reciprocity, and respect for others—are principles that we should remember throughout our lives.