This is the Judo blog of Lance Wicks. In this blog I cover mainly Judo and related topics. My Personal blog is over at LanceWicks.com 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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JudoCoach.com Blog by Lance Wicks

 

 


2014: My year in review. 


As is common at this time of year, I want to look back at my 2014 and reflect on the highs and lows so it may influence my 2015.

In 2014 I had a somewhat restricted Judo schedule only making it to 8 events. :-( This is almost entirely due to commitments outside of Judo that I use to pay my bills, AKA a Job.

It did mean that I got to attend the European and World Championships as well as EJU Opens in Italy, Estonia and Glasgow. I also Attended the Jeju and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events along with the EJU coach education (Judo Knowledge) meeting in Cambridge.

I continued to work with my colleagues in the EJU and IJF and Judobase.org and the live streams are better than ever. A new role for me this year was to administer the newly formed IJF Junior World Ranking List.

Given my financial position I expect to do approximately the same level of travel in 2015. :-( However I really want to push forward in different areas to try and engage even more with the Judo community.

Locally and personally, 2014 was a tough year Judo wise. Balancing a fulltime demanding job, a family, Judo coaching EJU and IJF roles means I end up spread very thin.

Too thin, unlike me. My health (primarily my weight) has suffered and I have to try and resolve that in 2015. Also, I had to in 2014 make some very tough calls in regard to Judo. My beloved Alresford Judo Club is now closed. After struggling to keep it afloat for a number of years this year I finally had to make the decision to close the club.

The Judo community for me has been interesting and challenging this year. Especially the local UK community.
For me, the UK Judo community is not healthy. Where I see growth and exciting times ahead the UK community is depressed, disenfranchised and worrying about MMA, BJJ and UFC when the rest of the world is focussing on Judo and going forward.

2014 marked I think the 6th year that I have administered the unofficial BJA facebook group. Which continues to be an open discussion area and I enjoy "most" of the interactions I have on there. This year I "bit back" at some of the trolls and those who misunderstand the purpose of the site. A couple of threats of physical violence from some not really Judo people and it settled down and the discussions regained the foreground.

My coaching at the Solent University continued. It was a tough year with my travel and other commitments when combined with some core members graduating away and a poor freshers intake affecting the clubs progress. I really enjoy coaching the club and we hosted some more events in the first part of the year.

Hampshire Judo has had a shaky year this year. But looks to be on the mend with the good folks at Fleming Park really stepping in and putting on some events. I genuinely hope they get back on an even keel and the innovation can restart soon as the problems have resulted in it slipping back to old models of operation that are far from ideal. Again, I think that hole may have been escaped and in 2015 I hope they are on the path forward.

British Judo has been interesting, it hosted two strong events (Commonwealth Games and Glasgow Open). And in 2015 will host the European Championships in Glasgow. The europeans will be good I am sure. It will be a challenge for the BJA to step up from opens but I am confident they will put on a good event.

In 2014 I continued to be a open voice of opinion in the BJA. Where as many are hesitant/afraid to speak out I have no problem in doing so. I have no elite player I am coaching and have nothing to lose; so have a more free voice than my colleagues.

There have been some really positive signs coming from the BJA. Kerrith Brown and the Board do appear to be at least trying to get the BJA back on track. It can be hit and miss, but there are signs that they are trying to clean house and catch back up with the rest of the world.
Unfortunately it has not all been positive. They persist with Walsall which is a project that even after spending a day trying to persuade me by the Chairman and Performance Director I do not feel is the most effective direction for the BJA. It is not a disaster and to be fair they have little choice as the piss poor performances of the past mean that they have weak positions against the funding partners who are dictating what they do to a large degree in the performance programme. Rod Carr (and his board) I would contend has more influence on the direction of the BJA performance programme than the BJA does; which is sad and not I think good when we need radical change to escape the culture and status quo that persists in the BJA.

The BJA and British Judo community has proven a bit out of step with the rest of the world of Judo. We are isolated some what and have made some moves that raise eye brows.
The BJA signed a partnership deal with the UFC; the former Chairman took a CEO position with a MMA orgabisation. Quite a vocal proportion of the BJA community are obsessed with BJJ, MMA and UFC and it's cage fighting lesser orgainsations.
All at a time when the IJF is pushing hard to distance Judo from the world of MMA. The IJF, EJU and most of the wider international Judo community is from the perspective I have been fortunate to have been focussed on growing Judo and it's working. For me it hurts to see the BJA community of which I am a member of getting it so wrong and wanting to go down a path that the rest of the Judo community has looked at and went "no thats not for us".

Judo is (despite what people keep saying) not dieing. It is not getting smaller or worse. It is getting larger and more popular and better. It is gaining in fans and events and athletes.

A big issue we need to overcome is this idea of recreational and competitive Judo players. Of technical and competition dan grades.
The reality is that they are one in the same. One of the reasons that Judo is struggling in this country is because of this weird differentiation I feel. All Judoka should compete, not at the Olympics or with a "at all costs" approach. But we should all be enjoying the sport we have. To have a football club where 90%+ of the members never played a match is unthinkable, yet this is the norm in the BJA.
There is no seperation between competition player and kata exponent. There is no difference and we need to stop creating these artificial barriers.
Especially as when compared to the rest of the world, all but a few players in the UK are competition players and if the rest of the world had our perspective we would all be "mere recreational" players.
Of course the rest of the world does not have this warped perspective (on the whole); they see the 6 year old who comes to run around on the mats with his older sister as a Judoka. They see the 18 year old sister who competes at county level as a Judoka. They see the father who does kata and helps coach as a Judoka. All are equal and just in different places in the art of Judo. None of which are inferior to the other, just different.

We now have a large international circuit. 2014 saw the expansion of this circuit to include Junior and Cadet athletes. The team format continues to grow in popularity and significance. It is now a popular fixture in continental and world championships and the EJU leads the way in club based team events.

I saw first hand in 2013/2014 that our small local team based circuit was popular and successful. It has been an experiment that proved what is possible with little financial investment and only a small core of supporters.

I have been researching competitions formats in and outside of Judo and plan to contribute a document that outlines some ideas on how a BJA structure could be formulated.

We need to push hard to catch up with Europe and the world. Britain "was" the world leader in Judo and has a history of success both in Shiai and in the other important areas of Judo. But today we have lost that position. The BJA no longer performs well in competitions internationally and local competition is unstructured and low level at best.

We need to learn from our European Judo neighbours and learn fast. We also need to learn from other sports.

Mainly I think we (the British Judo community) need to re-learn what Judo is about. That it is about doing Judo at all levels. That the striving for competition is part of the path to improving yourself and to having the understanding to be a better person. That the technical skills you learn in competition assist your kata and vice versa.

We need to re-learn the meaning of sport, the meaning of it that existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s when our founder was active. That sport is more than just physical activity, that it is a way of life. That through sport we make ourselves better and our community.

We need to realise that only by competing do we learn and that our lack of competition success is a direct result of our lack of learning. We all need to compete against one another to learn and to improve and to make ourselves and the British Judo community better.

Alternatively, we can invent technical/competitive pathways; partner with cage fighting entertainment companies and continue to have no national competition structure and no international reputation.

We can continue to isolate the clubs and the coaches and continue to fester whilst the rest of the Judo world expands and shines.

I know which vision I want to be part of and what vision I want the Judoka I am involved with to share.


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