This is the Judo blog of Lance Wicks. In this blog I cover mainly Judo and related topics. My Personal blog is over at where I cover more geeky topics. Please do leave comments on what you read or use the Contact Me form to send me an email with your thoughts and ideas.

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Preparation training for Judo referees. 

Recently, I had a great Twitter based conversation with @mewcenary about how Judo referees are trained for what is a pretty rough gig. This got me thinking about refereeing generally and about how we might innovate in the area of refereeing in Judo.

XV Jogos Pan-AmericanosSo, the average Judoka does what two sessions a week, maybe an hour long? So 2 hours Judo a week? Elite players do much more. How many hours of Refereeing practise does the average referee do per week? Note, the question is how many hours of refereeing does a referee do per week. If an elite Judo athlete is training everyday, how much Judo refereeing is a elite level referee doing per week?

I do/did take the point that many (most?) referees are in Judo clubs every week.
But, is this relevant to the task of refereeing? A comment I have heard from a high level referee in the past is that elite level referees need to be involved in elite level athlete training. I wonder also how much actual practising of refereeing is taking place week on week?

So the thought is this; if even your average Judoka (kids etc.) is doing about 2 hours a week preparation for competing, should the referees not be doing the same?

If you read this blog regularly, then you'll know that periodisation is (basically) planning your training out in blocks, to build up to the goal. As a player, you'll be doing base training, then moving to harder training closer and closer to competitions.

As a referee could/should the same theory be applied?

Should our referees be planning out all their preparation over the long-term and working week on week towards goals? So perhaps like the Olympic Players, the Olympic Referees should be planning to a four year cycle?

Should referees be creating training cycles with specific refereeing goals? For example, cycle 1 focus on developing their knowledge of the new interpretations on kumi kata (gripping)? Perhaps this broken down into weekly training (micro-cycles) which might include watching video footage from world cup and observing how referees at that level refereed the grips. Week 2, head down to a club and observe the gripping in randori. Week three, referee randori sessions. Week 4, attend elite training, observe gripping. Week 5, referee randori at elite training. Week 6, referee at randori whilst observed by high level referee. Week 7 referee a big tournament. Week 8 chillout.

Perhaps this is a dumb idea, I don't know. Perhaps referees already do this sort of thing, again, I don't know. My concern and perhaps ignorant belief is that the main practise for refereeing is refereeing at competitions. So, what we end up with is players who are doing many hours of preparation per week having the outcome of their fights altered by referees who are doing no specific preparation for refereeing.

I don't think I am being overly harsh here. I am not “bad mouthing: referees, I have tried it myself and decided it's too hard for me. It's all high pressure (even at kids events) and it all happens too fast for my brain! But, on the other hand, I get annoyed watching Judo and seeing errors being made by referees.

I'd like to learn more about the formal preparation for referees, someone want to drop me an email and tell me about it?

Judo Referee 

I’ve been a Judo Referee for over 16 years, and a Judoka for over 33 years. To become a Judo Referee you must have been a Judoka with a minimum of Shodan grade. As a matter of fact, in my country you must have practice refereeing while you held the Ikkyu grade to be able to hold the Shodan grade. I practice my refereeing in all of my local federation annual tournaments and I also have to travel to other countries to their national tournaments and to tournaments convoked by the higher ranking Judo organization in my geographical region, in this case Pan-America. They have a Judo Commission that evaluates referees performance in each tournament, they also give out periodically seminars and training to keep us up to date with the new changes made (whenever they are made) to maintain referees performing at their best. Like a good competitor, as a referee you must do the same, keep yourself practicing in each tournament that you can, by attending all refereeing seminars and trainings, by watching videos of Judo competitions of local tournaments or world tournaments, and most important, by keeping yourself practicing Judo.


It is an interesting thought.

How good do you have to be to be one of the best referees?

Who measures how good you are, and how accurate is their assessment.

I referee regularly, but it probably works out to about once a month, so far from n hours a week.

People who referee 3 weekends a month, seem to be doing a very good job, and I wonder if you actually need people at a higher standard than
this. At some point it becomes good enough, and the cost return on getting any better is not there. No gold medals unfortuneately for the best referee!!



My experience with this is limited so take it for what its worth...

I will be getting involved with refing at the local level shortly (and perhaps my point of view will be altered). I will be attending the next available clinic in my area (a weekend) once that is complete I will be able to sign up to volunteer to ref. I am also a recreational competitor.

Notice I use the word technically as an Ikkyu doing this provides me points toward my shodan. But thats all it provides.

So the big question for me is how much time will be dedicated to this activity? Husband, Father of Three, full time career, family, other interests...

Other than the motivation to do my best, and get a very few points towards another Judo goal how much time, realistically, will be devoted towards the "refing" endevor? And there is no compensation for "travel or time" that I am aware of...

The local level is the starting point to all the higher levels. I have no great desire to add unnessesary stress to my life. Unless the reward structure changes substantially as you get to higher levels of refing we as competitive Judoka should be thankful there are enough refs at any tournament we attend.

Like I said at the start, once I get involved more I may find out it is completely different than I picture it however only in the "satisfaction" side of things. The stress of the call, the spectators, the competitors etc will still be there..there are very few people that I know that dump themselves into that without some "satisfaction/reward"......

I am quite frankly scared s******* to take this on and screw it up..


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