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.

Paying the bills

Exclamation mark Blog by Lance Wicks



University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 7.  

Hi all,
this week is now unofficially dubbed by me as World Judo Champion week. Another day, another great champion sharing with us. My morning here at University of Bath started with Kosei Inoue delivering his keynote “My Life in Judo”, with the help of Yuko Nakano.

I love these keynotes, you learn so much from a champion's life story. The insights you get are wonderful and this lecture was great for that. Kosei shared a lot about his life, his life in Judo and also about those key moments that have impacted his life and the people that have been involved.

What to say about it is quite difficult to decide, I have 7 pages of notes from the lecture!

Kosei's father introduced him into Judo and taught him the fundamentals of both the sport and the life. Kosei emphasised this yesterday and today, the importance his father put on teaching him how to be a man, a Judo man.

He spoke about the training environments he experienced, which was great as Yuko last week spoke to us about the High School where Kosei went. So I felt I had a more complete picture of this essential stage in his development.

The thing I think I am taking away from the lectures this year in ways is the importance of the training environment and culture. Brian Ashton's description paired with Kosei and the other World Champions give an idea of how vital a training environment can be.

Brian spoke about the coaches job being to create a learning environment, Kosei described a powerful learning environment (Tokai Sagami High School and Tokai University). Yuko also described the Company Dojo setup in Japan and it to centred in ways around the environment. Obviously sitting in Bath at he first European Judo Union endorsed Training Centre, I have another view of what a training environment can look like.

Kosei's talk had some recurring themes, hard training, respect, learning, passion, dreams, persistence, father, fundamentals, learning to be a good man, loving Judo, team support, targets/goals, support, converting pressure into power, expecting success, spirit

I think the part that grabbed me the most was when he spoke about fighting his own Brother at the All the Japan Champs. He spoke about how giving it 100% was how you respect someone in Judo. That not giving your all to beat someone you fight is not showing respect.

The highlight I suspect for most of us was him telling us he did not take a white suit to the event in Athens, as he thought taking a suit would be him preparing to lose. That commitment to winning is a powerful force. Sure he lost and there were some amazing words shared about that. But that image of a man not taking a white suit (as he was on the top of the draw, hence in Blue and would stay in that suit if he won all his fights) is really really great for showing a confident champion.

The next lecture was with... Emanuella Pierantozzi (another World Champion, you can see what I meant about this being World Champion week). With her we looked at the academic paper of David Matsumoto and Bob Willingham on the emotions displayed by athletes in Athens. It was pretty heavy going as it was part of our education on how to read scientific papers, but it was interesting to discuss it.

Our Afternoon was taken up with us presenting 15 minute presentations about our research projects. Which Emanuella gave us the biggest compliment of staying to listen too... no pressure. It was to be frank quite amazing! My fellow students have done some incredible work and each one could be a Keynote lecture on it's own. The topics covered Warm-ups in Judo, Long Term Player Development, Learning Styles, The repecharge system, the history of British Judo, an examination of different ways of teaching kids, a study of a highly successful Spanish training centre/club, have the rule changes actually improved Judo and my own work on attack rates in Beijing.

Pretty wild!
It is slowly dawning on us all I think that our 5 year journey is coming to an end, presenting our research and listening to each others work was quite amazing as 5 years ago we were not the people we are now. The knowledge and the focus on “Evidence based Coaching” in all our work is I hope a validation of the efforts that People like Envic Galea and Mike Callan (and others) have put in to make the course a reality

I shan't dwell too much as I plan a much more reflective piece for Friday.

[ view entry ] ( 1751 views ) permalink

University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 6. 

Highlight for today:
listening to 3 World Judo Champions talk together. Jane Bridge (1980), Loretta Doyle (1982 & EC 1992) and Kosei Inoue (3 x word champion, Olympic champion and 3 x all Japan champion) together in the same room sharing with us all!

I caught a small amount of the interviews on video which you can watch via YouTube below:

It is very quiet and the frame rate is only 10 frames per second, so consider it trailer for the podcst that will follow later this week. :-)

If that does not make it to you, visit the Youtube site at ... BC30EE5CD3 I Also recorded the entire session on a audio recorder and shall post it on the podcast later this week.

It is almost impossible to express quite how fortunate I feel to be able to participate in an event such as this. All three of these champions has done an amazing thing, they have been the best at what they do in the entire world. That is unfathomable I think for the rest of us.

To be able to hear direct from them their views on things was a complete honour, and it was even more of an honour to be invited to record it and share it with you all, so please enjoy it!

Our other lectures I shall cover very briefly, not because I wish to devalue them, but because I do not want to detract from what Mike Callan and the University of Bath are achieving. To have 3 world champions share their views and opinions to a group of student coaches is amazing. We got to hear from people people who genuinely know what it takes to be the best at Judo. What better source can you have!

Where else in the world can you get an opportunity like that? I suspect the answer is no where, this is a unique programme, University of Bath is providing something amazing that it I feel raising the bar when it comes to coach education like nothing else out there. Bravo!

We started the day with Juergen Klinger, critiquing a Polish scientific journal article and trying to consider it in terms of Judo in general and also in terms of performance Judo. We Then looked at Judo Support Services with Mike Callan and finished the day looking at Transition theory with Martine Woodward.

All in all a fantastic day, it is sadly not everyday that I get to record a conversation between three World Judo champions, discuss a Judo specific journal article, debate what support services Judo teams need and the implications of the new Olympic qualification system and look at the issues around athletes transitioning in their lives.

What did you do today?

[ view entry ] ( 2065 views ) permalink

University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 5.  

Hi everyone,
well week one is over pretty much. I sit here in my student accommodation reflecting on a busy week, a busy week to follow and many busy weeks to follow that! We have a mere 17,000 words to write between now and May 15th.

I started the day by working on my “Managing Marketing” assignment (rather than my research project for a change), which turned out to be a good thing as it broke my negative cycle a little and I actually got some good work done.

The first lecture of the day was Dave Southby of on “Applying health and fitness marketing to Judo”. Dave is a BJA Technical Officer and had/has some good ideas. Lots of good words on setting up clubs and how to make them viable ventures that don't rely on a single person. Lots of good ideas.
He spoke about the importance of situating your club near/within the areas with large numbers of under eleven year olds. The main “consumers” of Judo. He also commented on the length of time the average new BJA member remains in Judo, a mere 12 months or so. He spoke also about ideas to tackle this.

If I was to sum up Dave's talk in a word it would be the word “Evolve”. As in evolving new methods and importantly evolving people. So evolving volunteers, players and the club itself.

The second lecture was with Jane Bridge about our managing the performance athlete assignment. In this assignment we must consider the changes to the qualification system for 2012 and how this may alter the dynamics of a Judo programme. We were fortunate that one of our class members is Densign White, who is BJA Chairman, an EJU sporting directory and also involved in the British Olympic Committee(Association?). So knew a huge amount the more intricate parts of the qualification system. We had a good long discussion about various hypothetical scenarios for Britain and the EJU and of course for other nations Like New Zealand and the OJU.

We talked about what the qualification belonging to the player not the nation might affect the relationships between athletes, coaches, managers, associations, national programmes, continental unions too. Also we talked about the introduction of prize money and how it too might affect things. It was an interesting discussion about a rather complex subject, very enjoyable.

Our final lecture in the afternoon was with Yuko Nakano, who presented a great talk about the lifestyle of a Judo athlete in Japan. She shared with us much about how all levels of Japanese Judo work, from Junior High School to Elite A players. We learned about the locations that players trained (company teams, universities, etc), the differences between the systems.

It was probably my favourite lecture of the day. She gave us real insights via hard facts about what the Japanese system is actually like. Now myths or vague ideas and impressions. It was good reliable information with evidence to support what she was saying. The mix was just right, personal experience, general information and some hard specifics.

It is a very different system to the UK obviously. I found it very interesting that the elite players worked, maybe only a few days a week and maybe only a few hours per day they work. But they worked, they gained work experiences and skills. I wonder if this means that when they retire from Judo they have an easier transition as they have done office or other work and can simply expand it from a small subset of their activities to the majority.

There is a train of thought that also says that the working gives them opportunities to develop in different areas like management and decision making, which perhaps makes them better Judoka.

We also looked at the scale of the Japanese Judo system and to say it is impressive does not do it justice! We are talking about elite athletes all having two coaches allocated to them, both in terms of coaching resources and financial resources. Of course there is the matter of money, basically an elite Japanese Judoka is “sorted”. They have a job (with salary) they have free accommodation and little/now living expenses. They also receive funding from the JOC. There is also the advantages of being a celebrity and the potential earnings from that.

Another element of Yuko's talk was to cover the training of the Tokai Sagami high school Judoka. Which I shall summarise here:

6:10 – Running
7:20 – Tidying dormitory
8:00 – go to school for breakfast
8:30 – 3:30 Attend school.
3:40 – go to Judo
4:00 – 7:00 Judo training.
8:00 – Evening meal, then return to dormitory.

This would as per the norm in Japan be a 6 or 7 day week. Where I trained in Japan the high school operated a 7 day week followed by a 6 day week. With one day off before starting a 7 day week again.

What was quite interesting was that this rough schedule was pretty consistent from Junior high school onwards with very little difference between junior high and even the elite level. The company players were running in the morning and doing approximately 3 hours of Judo everyday in the afternoon/evening.

Prior to Junior high, students were/are exposed to a variety of activities, but specialisation in Judo starts at about 13 at which point it is Judo almost every day. It is interesting to compare this to the UK system(s) and consider the theories around athlete development.

Fascinating stuff, presented really well by Yuko! THANKS!

[ view entry ] ( 1843 views ) permalink

University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 4.  

Hello all,
So today was a more intense day, in fact the most heavy day so far. A full schedule of lectures starting at 9am. The free time we have is great for looking and working on assignments, but in ways it is much better when we are getting intense learning opportunities. I can type assignments at home, when I am here in Bath I love it when I get days like today when it gets really close to my upper limit of input handling.

So today we started with Brian Ashton, our second lecture with him. Today he spoke about the academy system in English Rugby. Brian was again excellent value. It is hard to describe in written words what it is like to be fortunate enough to spend time with someone who has coached at the very highest level (2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups, not to mention 6 nations). To “chat” with him is awesome.

His perspective is obviously flavoured by his experiences. and that is worth... well it is priceless. Also to be able to receive the information he is able to impart is an amazing opportunity. We were able to learn about the process of setting up a system that has engaged a large number of elite rugby players is something that not many of people are able to experience.

To be able to ask him questions and get his honest responses was great, to have him consider our situation in Judo and share his views and perspectives was terrific.

Do I sound like a fan boy? Is my native adoration of any high level rugby coach coming through here? We Kiwi's love Rugby okay, I admit it and I apologise if I am getting dull.

I wrote 4 pages of notes from Brian's lecture not much of which was about Rugby Union. Most of it was snippets of information that triggered Judo thoughts in my head. One of the points he made about the academy system and developing young players was about the need for elite training to be balanced against elite level competition. It is I think the big advantage of European Judo. there is international Judo training camps and international Judo competition in easy access. In Oceania where I am from, it is not that easy, we need to travel a long long long way to get to the high level Judo competition.

I also liked Brian's emphasis on coaching individuals, not the team. That you need to cater to the individual.

Our next lecture was with Sandra Klinger, a 12 year member of the German national team and was the Cadet coach for Germany for 5 years. She also coached at the National Olympic Training Centre. She spoke about the cadet system in Germany and the stage before and after the cadet level.

It was good to hear a cadet coach describe with some energy about long term player development and how coaches at all stages in an athlete can work together to develop an elite athlete. She obviously believed in the idea that as a cadet coach she was part of the machine that would produce a champion. The idea being that as per the Royal Navy adverts, being a cog in the machine is not a bad thing if the machine is worth it.

It is I think a common thing that perception is that the performance level coach is better or more important than the cadet or junior level coach. Sandra painted a different picture, one where all the coaches met and discussed the players and all were equal. That the cadet coaches were developing the skillbase for the performance/senior coaches in collaboration so that they would win.

She also did some practical conditioning exercises in the dojo which were all body weight based, so ideal for younger athletes. Lots of development of “the core” and stabilising muscles around joints. It was great fun, lets face it not too many of we coaches are at our physical peak. ;-)

Of course like any exercises, you need to consider the level and development stage of the athletes. For example, she showed some exercises that included balancing on the head, you certainly would want to avoid that with young and inexperienced athletes. Not something for your recreational club session. Much laughter in a practical session is always a good sign, so I think that Sandra's exercises went down well.

Next Diego Scardone spoke to us about Judo Research. Diego has been working on the project and it was an interesting lecture. We discussed what we thought Judo research was, what was important about it, etc. We also discussed the and it's activities and of course where and how much research is happening around the world.

The last lecture was with Simone Lewis about support services for sport. She spoke about the excellent facilities and services that University of Bath offer. They are doing good stuff. She actually had some wise words about the new Dartford training centre for the BJA. She spoke of the transition process and the psycho-social impacts that it will have on the BJA performance players. Stuff like, changing physios, etc.

She also spoke about the research and application of services that support services in Bath provide across a range for sports including Judo. They have helped with support services and research with Olympic and European level Judo. They have IMHO a good model, they seem genuinely focussed on both the athlete as a person and on performance.

Often, physio and other support people, especially outside of environments like Bath, do not have this balance. Most Judo players who have been injured (including myself) have had a doctor or physio tell you that the solution to the injury is to stop training or stop doing Judo all together. That is maddening as a player. The other side of that coin is the support person who is too focussed on performance and is willing to risk a players health for a performance. The physio with the cortisone injection for half-time, the team doctor who tells the coach about a serious risk and not the player.

After this last lecture I spent a little while with the new intact of students (who I lectured to yesterday) in the library in an unofficial workshop installing referencing/bibliographic software on their laptops and showing them how to use it a little. Matt did most of the work I think, but I helped a little in showing them how I have used Zotero ( ) and hopefully it will help them collect and compile their information and take the pain out of writing assignments and perhaps help them spend more time on the content than the mechanics of writing assignments.

It was great to be able to help people like that, hopefully it means that the lecture I gave yesterday pushed some of the right buttons. Hopefully it will also mean that some of the other stuff I talked about was what they needed to hear too.

Of course the downside is they will all get better marks than me as a result, doh!

Tomorrow we have some interesting lectures. Including lectures from Dave Southby, Jane bridge and Yuko Nakano.

In this my fifth year on this course, I have to say that I am finding the process harder than before, but not because of the university rather my own mental “funk” as I described it yesterday, I should have got Simone to sort my head out I guess. :-)
I shall, I am sure, get it together in the end but so far my assignment work has not been rewarding. The lectures are cool, but assignments are not flowing yet.

[ view entry ] ( 1801 views ) permalink

University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 3.  

Well, today was a funny sort of day, I only had a single lecture. Well I received one and delivered one. So I spent some time working on my research project and stressing about it mainly. I am finding that I am rather out of sorts, not quite into the flow of things yet. I am not surprised as I have been in a bit of a “funk” and struggling for a few months to get into the academic work I have had to do. I am sure (or at least hoping) that being here clears the cobwebs out. We shall see.

Anyway, my lecture, then I shall comment on Scott McCarthy's (CEO of the BJA) lecture.

My lecture was to the new first year FdSc students, a “Introduction to Technology”, basically the lecture was about the technology that will help them through the FdSc. I had them listen to me talk about stuff, then do a practical where they had to enter some data in to excel and then wrote something in word.

It was quite enjoyable to share some of the stuff I learned from when I did the FdSc. I am hoping it went down well. I am in fact going to hold a little informal workshop for them tomorrow after the final lecture. Probably help them install Zotero and show them how it works in a practical situation.

And now ladies and gentlemen... Scott McCarthy.

Scott's lecture was on “Relationship Marketing in Sport”. As the CEO of the British Judo Association (BJA), I was looking forward to it. I am quite a critic of much of what the BJA does, specifically their poor use of the internet.

So when part way through the lecture Scott started bringing up the BJAs plans for a Facebook page/group and the “amazing” spam engine they have spent way too much on, on their great website, I was... well... you can guess.

Scott showed a mockup of a BJA facebook page, which someone (presumably paid) had been working on. I wonder why he didn't just use the existing (over 12 months old) BJA facebook group at ... amp;ref=ts

If I had to sum up what I saw, I would say that the over-arching feeling I had was that the BJA are completely naïve in web matters and are being led down the garden path by whomever they are getting their web advice/services from. They paid for a email mailing list system, come on! It's a system slightly more fancy than that which you can get for zero, but only slightly. There are open source projects that are well established they could/should have used.

Also, should I mention to the information commissioner that they are sending un-solicited emails? Should I also mention that the CEO happily showed us screenshots from the email software, including pages of peoples email addresses. Bad.. very BAD! Much like the recent flamewar I caused on the BJA forum about a member of staff confirming a users identity. It is indicative of how little they understand the web, let alone the legal ramifications of not understanding it.

I shall back away from the subject for a moment, it is possibly unfair to paint Scott with the same brush as I would use for the rest of the BJA based on my negative experiences. So let me go back to my notes from the lecture.

Scott spoke a lot of the “challenges” that they faced, specifically in achieving a goal they have set to be one of the top 5 nations in the world by 2013. Not sure who decided that one, but it makes 4 medals in 2012 look like a really sensible goal. They have another goal to increase adult participation by what amounted to about 32 adults per club in the BJA. Yet he was unable to answer any questions about the BJA strategy to actual have clubs capable of delivering that. HUH?

He also mentioned how according to a survey only 25% of those doing Judo were doing it via the BJA. But again there was not strategy/plan/intervention to tackle that challenge.

Scott spoke about Judo meeting fitness goals of some research they had seen and yet he had not seen the NICE guidance on physical activity. But hey, it is only the opinion of the government, it is only the most health service in this countries voice. Why would you need as a national governing body trying to use fitness as a selling point need to know about the view that the UK government will be applying? Go figure...

I questioned Scott about why in his slides the “Club” was typically around the middle on the lists of most important, looking at my notes here I noted the following:

6th License holders
7th Clubs
9th Players
10th Volunteers
12th Parents

When I asked him about this he said the lists were not in a priority order, but we all know how these things work, the important things are at the top right? What was at the top was almost always

The Board and The Staff

Which is kinda telling I thought.

My big issue with what Scott had to show us in his numerous slides was that they need and want to deliver more Judo, they want more licenses sold. More participation, more sales, more performance. All good stuff.
Given that the BJA does not have a production facility, in other words they as an organisation can not deliver Judo, it was disturbing that the clubs and the club members were not high on the BJA's priorities IMHO. I would have expected Scott to have spoken extensively about how important the clubs are, about how the coaches are the most valuable asset the BJA has and that they need to woo and support them.

I was a bit shocked at how much periphery rubbish was in the slides and talk. Given the state of the world and Judo in the UK, I would have hoped that the big boss would have been focussed on helping the clubs. But no, he was excited about using Facebook (which is slow). He was excited about the merchandising, yet the BJA is notoriously expensive for mats or suits. You can get everything the BJA offer cheaper by going elsewhere, be it mats, Judogi or insurance. It is a distraction that presumably makes a small profit, but at the detriment of the reputation and relationship the BJA has with the clubs. The perception is that the BJA is trying to profit off the clubs and off the members. Which is cool and fine, maybe, but at least be good value.

Here is the thing, the BJA wants Growth, Retention and Elite (or sustain, grow & excel). This things are all outside of what the BJA can deliver within the business. They rely on the clubs for delivery and progress of these goals. So their customer is the clubs, they need to serve the clubs and make the clubs feel like the BJA is helping them. But I hear over and over that the clubs feel that the BJA increases their workload, that they don't get friendly, enthusiastic help from the BJA. That the BJA is more expensive than the alternatives. That they are just trying to make money.

I feel the need also to comment on the audience Scott was speaking to. This is a room full of level 4 coaches, the highest qualified coaches in Scott's country. People doing great work, trying to deliver the goals that the BJA have, yet you'd be hard pressed to find someone who had a great opinion of the BJA and what they were doing and their engagement with their clubs (and them).

Now my issue with all this is that the BJA is a great institution. The BJA is a force for good, well at least on the grand scheme of things. Scott McCarthy is trying to do good things, the staff are wanting I am sure to do good stuff. But they have been failing and the talk he gave today did nothing to change my view that they have got it wrong and will continue to get it wrong.

I am no MBA, I am just a Judoka with a platform to criticise. I am also a Judoka with a unique perspective, despite what some think, I have no cross to bear, also I am not “biting the hand that feeds me” as the BJA does not feed me. In fact I have virtually nothing to do with the BJA. I buy a license from time to time, I have nothing to gain from the BJA succeeding or failing.

So here is my non-MBA view.
The BJA has lost it's way. Somehow, somewhere they have forgotten that the clubs are their customers and that they are a service organisation. They forgotten somewhere that they need to provide a compelling offer to the British Judo community. They need to help the clubs, help those that run the clubs; the coaches.

Forget about all the silly periphery, forget about growing the organisations staff to 80, focus on what the member clubs need on a day to day, week on week basis. Then deliver it in the best way possible. If clubs need to get Judogi, the BJA needs to use it's size to bulk procure suits and be able to sell them to clubs cheaper than the clubs can buy them elsewhere. If a club needs mats, they should be cheaper from the BJA. If a club needs a grant, the BJA should have have experts at the ready to leap to your aid. If you want to get more members, the BJA should be helping you do that. The BJA website should be a tool to promote the clubs and help them get new members. If clubs are looking to build a dojo, the BJA should have experts ready and capable of assisting with planning permissions, rent negotiations, rates exemptions etc. If you call the BJA asking about setting up a club they should be biting off your hand to help. The BJA should be more enthusiastic about your club than you.

But that sure as heck ain't the way the coaches I talk to feel about it, and it sure as heck was not the message be delivered to a room full of coaches by the CEO of the BJA.

Surely he should have at least been selling that vision to us a room full of Judo coaches.

You remember that scene in the film Jerry McGuire when Tom Cruise sells himself to Cuba Gooding right? That bit about him not resting until he saw Cuba wearing shoes with his name on, wearing a t-shirt with him on it drinking a can of coke with his face on it.

Apply that to club coaches and the CEO should have been selling that story, that he would not rest until the BJA was carrying us to our dojo in a rickshaw pulled by the BJA, to a Dojo built by the BJA, so we could teach a class of students found by the BJA on mats provided by the BJA, in Judogi provided by the BJA. The BJA would do the paperwork, handle the money, do everything so that we the coaches could do what we want to do... coach Judo.

But sadly, that was not the vision we were shown. :-(

[ view entry ] ( 1861 views ) permalink

<<First <Back | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | Next> Last>>

Powered by Simple PHP Blog Get RSS 2.0 Feed
Powered by PHP 4.4.9-8+hw0 Get Atom 0.3 Feed
Powered by Plain text files Get RDF 1.0 Feed