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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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 7.  

Tuesday, three days to go.
Today I had two lectures with Andrew Moshanov from Russia. The First on Research Project design and the second on examples of Technical Analysis. I really like Andrew's lectures, his laid back style perhaps appeals to the New Zealander in me. He is very much biomechanical in approach. Today for example we discussed for quite some time the significance of the allignment of feet, hips, shoulders and head.
It can be quite impressive how good you can predict what happens next, when looking at a static photo, if you consider the alignments. Andrew has a vaslid argument to make that if biomechanically you are all out of alignment, then chances are you'll fall over.

Today we also spent more time mulling over our research assignments and trying to tie them down to a solid, specific project that we can crack on and start our literature review on. It was really useful for me I must say. Some good holes in the design were spotted that I had missed and it'll be better for it! :-)

Our last lecture of the day was a keynote from Margaret Hicks, director of "World Class Programmes" for the British Judo Association. Margaret's lecture was on the "World Class System", AKA "Building the Judo performance for 2012". It was an interesting speech. She went through quite a bit and I took a bunch of notes and also "tweeted" a bunch of comments in realtime, which youu can find at
Like many speaches, the last slide of the powerpoint contained it all in a nutshell. And one could say it boils down to these points:

* The performance Network and Performance Institute
* Talent Selection/Development and Performance Player Tracking
* Next Generation coaches (and fast tracking them)
* Next Generation Judo sport scientists
* Partnerships - With various bodies.

It was really interesting and it will be interesting to see how this all pans out in the time between now and the London Olympics in 2012. And of course beyond that short-term goal and into the future. I am not sure if I was 100% convinced by the speech, there are a bunch of question marks hanging there perhaps.

In the evening, I spoke with my family who I am starting to miss terribly! My twins seem to age incredibly everytime I come here. There is a part of me that goes... "Lance you muppet! This is the fourth year where you will not be spending your 20 days leave a year with your kids somewhere nice like Disneyland and instead spend those days in lectures and writing thousands of words for assignments... for what???"

And then, this evening, the answer hits you square between the eyes.
I love this course becuase of the people on it. I had the great opportunity to sit at a table with a Olympian (multiple Olympics) and hear him describe both the highs and lows of the L.A. Olympics. Also at the table were former amazing coaches, both of the in schools and elite athlete variety. I mustn't forget the scientist, magician (yes magician), area level offical, and other talents sorts. And there I was able to mix with these people and learn their views, share mine, ask questions, learn some more and generally gain from the experience.

Forgive me being all "gushing" but this is not the run of the mill crowd. It's not like everyday I get to sit down and chat with former Commonwealth, World and Olympic level players who have all gone on to do awesome things in the Judo world.

But hold on a minute, every time I come to Bath that exactly what happens everyday!! As I have said before, for me the degree and coaching certification means little compared to spending 4 weeks a year in the company of the people on the course, in all the 4 years here!

I don't think I have done a blatent plug for the course for a while, so here it is an unpaid advertisement for the course! This course is the best Judo experience of my life and I thoroughly recommend you (YES YOU!!) consider signing up! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE FOUNDATION DEGREE or HERE for info on the BS(HONS) course I am on. (if you do end up signing up, tell 'em Lance sent ya.

So onto Wednesday, when we have Patrick Roux of France and Bob Willingham (UK) of the recently departed "The World of Judo" magazine. Till then... goodnight all.

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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 6. 

Hi everyone, so today is Monday and I didn't go home for the weekend, I stayed here at the University of Bath and worked on my assignments. Very quiet as teh student bar was shut all bleeding weekend. So getting fed and watered was an issue.

Over the weekend I worked pretty consistently on my assignment to write a development plan. Which has been rewarding and frustrating all at once. I spent I so many hours and rewrote quite a bit, but the word count is almost identical, I think I just changed one word for another.

Anyway... so what did we do today.

The day started with a keynote lecture by the clown prince of European Judo, Daniel Lascau. Daniel's lecture was on training diaries, specifically the one he developed in 2006. The diary is a great idea, I am obviously a big supporter of the idea your should write down things... else this blog would not exist. For us of course, we've seen his slides before, but I am sure it was of more interest to the new students starting this year.
I have to agree with Daniel and say that a training diary is the data for a coaching conversation. It give you and the athlete something to discuss. I am a quantitative person by nature, show it in a graph and it makes sense to me, so Daniels work in this area is right up my street.

After a short break we were in the Dojo with Andrew Moshanov. Andrew's practical session was pretty darn cool! I really enjoyed it, his bio mechanical perspective on Judo is really great. Interestingly, although Andrew, Patrick, Jane and Jurgen have differing styles, theories and opinions on things; they all teach the same stuff.

There are serious differences in what and how they teach, but the underlying principles end up being the same. Different "Judo languages" perhapsbut similar messages. That message being proper technique applied properly (using scientific principles) equals good Judo.

In the next lecture (after lunch) we had a lecture from Patrick on Judo movement analysis, where he applied different ideas to say the same general concepts as Andrew.
In Patrick's lecture he showed some great stuff, not least of all was the fascinating videos of athletes throwing with motion capture suits on. There movements being analyzed on cimpueters, to prove what is mainly "received opinion" for us on the course.

Poor old Jonathan Robinson had us last for a lecture on Analyzing data. Obviously a pretty heavy topic anyway, but with the added pressure of being the last lecture on a Monday I thought he did really well keeping us all vaguely on topic! ;)

In the evening I went along and did the Randori session. Andrew and Derek were there from Gosport which was nice. I did quite a bit of Ne-Waza and a semi-repsectable amount of Tachi-Waza. Old age and being too heavy kills me though.
I get more "canny" now days and take it more sensibly, especially as my knee was giving me gref all day, though it stopped hurting in the Randori.
My favourite two fights were with Matt, one of the athletes here, who had a nice light rumble with me and caught me with a couple of really elegant Seoi Nages. Upsettingly, I think the strain of lifting my bulk of the floor may have hurt him. :(
The second was with my fellow Kiwi, it was maybe 3/4 of the way through and it was good to have a Randori and see how the attacks/throws felt. Obviously, there was national "pecking order" to be maintained so I think I workded harder than I normally do to execute my fair share of the throws.
Expereincing and watching this player over the past week has been great. The University of Bath environment has delivered substantial improvement in the quality to their Judo compared to my first viewing of it in 2006. A stronger, better, more mature atjlete fought with me and without old dirty tricks and a substantial weight advantage, it would have ended even worse for me! A pleasure to experience first hand a much improved athlete. Well done my anonymous but hopefully proud fellow Kiwi! At leats one of us is fit!

One thing I think I am accurate in noticing, is the work rate in Bath is high. There is lots of attacking and lots of throwing. And better yet, lots of grip and attack/throw. As opposed tomy own style of grab, slow them down and pounce on a mistake in balance approach. They are attacking positively all the time, it's great if a little tiring. :-)

With the student bar open again, more "networking" was done after the session.
As I have said before and restate now, the social element of this course is the single biggest plus for me. Over the weekend I learned a lot about real world Judo from people teaching day to day. This evening, the discussions were so great, I learn so much and get such great ideas. If you came for nothing else, coming to chat would be worth every penny!

What is happening here in Bath isamazing. I watched the other today as Yuko, Jane, Patrick, Andrew and Jurgen sat around a coffee table and discussed things. What a calibre of good Judo people, surely the best in Britain?? yes, there are loads of great coaches in the UK, or the world, but to have that density in such a facility/set up is incredible.

Tomorrow I ahve to hand in my first assignment, which to be fair is only the proposal for my resaerch, which I am pretty confortable with. We also have lectures from Andrew Moshanov and Margaret Hicks. Margaret is I think the head honcho of performance for the BJA and her lecture is on the "World Class System" so should be good I hope.

So stay tuned till then...


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What would be the impact of high tech Judogi in Judo? 

I read this evening during a bout of catching up, a blog post by Ross Tucker about the new Speedo LZR swimsuit and how it has been attributed with contributing to the breaking of 13 world records in the last 40 days or so.

It's a causing all sorts of controversy in swimming and it got me to thinking about Judo and the Judo suit.

I have been thinking about the Judogi (Judo suit) for a while and wondering if the design could be altered to take advantage of modern technology. Watching the Rugby World Cup made me think that modern synthetic fabrics could take the strain that Judo creates on the cloth (maybe).

Or even just alterations to the gi, say lining it with a moisture wicking material?

With the kerfuffle over the Speedo swimsuit, I wonder if Judo has the right idea in keeping an archaic piece of clothing? Then again, the new swimsuit has allowed athletes to perform at a higher level than ever possible before, would high tech' fabrics allow Judoka to perform at higher levels also?

Would it even have an effect?

It would be an interesting experiment, maybe someone could try it, if you do, make sure you send me a fancy new Judo suit please. ;-)


P.s. I thoroughly recommend the "THE SCIENCE OF SPORT" blog, that this story came to me from, well worth a browse. It is run by Jonathan Dugas and Ross Tucker who both have Ph.D.'s in Exercise Science. There are some terrific sport science articles on the site.
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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 5.  

This morning started with a session with Mike Callan, in regard to our research projects. We each had 5 minutes to outline our project to our peers, then solicit feedback on the project. Mine is going to be an expansion of the research I did at the 2006 Commonwealth Judo Tournament. I plan to revisit that work and repeat it on a more recent elite tournament via video footage.

Listening to everyone else's proposals, I am struck by how interesting these projects are going to be. I think I want to read them all. Some are really modern and cutting edge, some historical. Some dealing with modern competition, some with coaching juniors. Two at least are quite cool in that they are questioning the status quo, by that I mean they are researching things that are happening right now in the Judo world and looking at it critically. Brave!

This afternoon I managed to get a copy of a dissertation on video analysis for Judo. Can't wait to read it as I have this idea that it could form the basis of the simulation engine for my much neglected VWJL/e-judo project, which I hope to start work on again after I complete this degree course.

After a short break, we had a lecture from Patrick Roux on "Technical Components" within our module on Sport Specific Technical Analysis. Intense going! So much content in a quite long lecture from a non native speaker of English... tests your concentration I can tell you. Luckily, the content was worth listening to.

Interestingly, the dissertation I mentioned earlier (from my understanding of it from last year) shares 95+% of what Patrick was saying. Which, in itself encourages me into thinking that it will make a good model for simulating Judo matches.

After a painfully short break (20 mins?), we went through "Collecting Data" with Jonathan Robinson. Which was of course valuable, though I wonder if all those colleagues of mine doing qualitative research got from it. I got at least a couple of thoughts to consider in designing my research, so that was good.

After lectures, I took a bit of a powernap, no really.
I was struggling a bit, so 20 minutes kip actually helped a lot and after I got up again I felt much better. I got some assignment work done and also got a letter in relation to the World Masters out and on it's way.

I am staying on campus this weekend, which I am not 100% happy about. But I really need to get into my assignment work, as I have not made much of a dent in it yet. :( I know that with some dedicated hours of isolation I will get a heck of a lot done.
But that said, I miss my family! Timings have conspired that I haven't even managed to talk to them in for a while, so I feeling a bit weakened. :( And no typing about it is not helping, so I shall stop.

This evening I plan a nice quiet evening, a couple of drinks with colleagues and then chill out in front of the computer here and get more typing done. (I have bought in supplies of caffeine).

Till next week.


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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 4.  

Hello everyone,
today was another good day here at the University of Bath. For a start the sun was out and that always makes me more positive, also having already done my registration in full, I did not have to attend the first session of the day, so relaxed start to the day.

My first real lecture then, was with Lisa on "Managing Financial and Non-Financial Resources". It is, I suppose an interesting comment on modern sport that a degree in Sports Performance includes a sizeable section which is about obtaining cash and managing it once you receive it.
It is I suppose true that in modern sport, the ability to obtain funding for development projects is as important as good coaching or talented athletes. Sad, but true.

In the afternoon we had two lectures with Patrick Roux. The first was a keynote lecture on "Bio Information" and was interesting, especially with the input of Barry Edwards, physiotherapist. Lots of good content about the way that Judo performance is not necessarily a "intellectual" act. In that I mean, that throwing is often not me choosing to execute a throw at a certain point in time, to throw you because I say you were off balance. It is generally a near automatic action that happens because I feel the moment is right, or just magically attack at just the right moment.

Afterwards, Patrick took us for a Ne-Waza session.
As with much of what Patrick has been showing, it was this lovely transformation from simple fundamental movements through to advanced groundwork techiniques, using those basic movements. His Tachi-Waza is the same process, simple footwork patterns and body movements developing into wonderful throws.

What is being demonstrated is occidental (Patrick's word) implementation of the Oriental (Japanese) methods and theories... if that makes sense. I do have those moments of going "Oh...I get it" when Patrick's fundamental movement transitions into a very Japanese feeling technique. The principle I suppose is that we are able to analyze the Japanese (or Russian, or Korean, or whoever) technique and filter through to the underlying principles and fundamental movements. Then we can teach those movements/principles in our own way, and through a progression end up at the same technique and level of execution.

I really hope this is true, as one of the assessments we have to complete after finishing our two week stay here at the University is a DVD showing a Judo technique, and the way we might educate students in how to execute it. Starting from, you guessed it, fundamental movements. So I shall have to do some deep thinking and try and do it justice!

Assignment-wise, I am progressing ever so slowly towards some sort of document for the financial management paper. I have started from scratch and the new direction has really helped. It is also a project that I think should actually be possible and practical, and I will probably try and execute it after the course is over. One of the great things about this course is that most all of the work we do has real world application and this development plan I have to write could be really good if executed.

Sadly, I felt a bit shady at spots today. I think I am fighting a cold, and being a bit of a wimp I skipped this evenings Randori session. I should have gone, but when I became free at 8pm (when the session was due to start) I felt rather unwell and decided to skip it. Yeah I know I am just making excuses!

Tomorrow is Friday and we have no practical sessions. Theory all the way... ouch! But then it is the weekend and I think I shall be staying here and working on my assignments. Meaning I miss a weekend with my whanau, but getting the assignment done here frees e up next weekend when I go home properly. That said I miss my family (having just thought about them in writing this paragraph), so would dearly like to go home and see them all. :(

Anyway.... time to head off to bed and get some rest before what shall be a mentally taxing day I think.

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