(Newsweek) Russian President Vladimir Putin is often cast as a shadowy chess master making crafty moves on the global stage, a former KGB spy who treats Asia, Europe, the Middle East and former Soviet republics as pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. But another emerging metaphor for Putin’s political style comes from a different contest that happens to be his favorite sport: judo.
A black belt in judo whose sparring partners from his working-class childhood in Leningrad now hold high-level government posts, Putin has never made secret the significance to him of the martial art. “Judo teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, to strive for the best results,” he says on his personal website. “I am sure you will agree that these are essential abilities and skills for any politician.” […]
“Putin is a judo master by training, not a chess master, and that’s how he looks at gaining advantage for Russia,” Kimberly Marten, a Russia expert and professor of political science at Barnard College and Columbia University, tells Newsweek. “He sizes up an opponent’s weakness, throws him off balance and then makes his opponent fall from his own weight.”
“Judo is a political philosophy for him,” asserts Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst in Moscow. Referring to the judo principle of using an opponent’s force against him or her, he adds that Putin is likely to view recent sanctions against top Russian officials, businessmen and companies as something that can be turned to his advantage. Sanctions “allow him to consolidate power, to build a fence, which is what he wants,” Petrov says.
See the full article © Newsweek