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 

So as you'll know by now if you have been following the blog, I believe in online. My talks on Digital Natives, this blog, the podcast, Facebook, twitter it is all important to us in the Judo world.

With this in mind and with the motivation of the community section, Mike Darter and I sat down together (virtually at least) and created a website that I think of as a cross between FaceBook, Twitter and Blogging for Martial Artists like us Judoka.

Today I created a little video introducing the site, which is below for your viewing pleasure.

For those of you that get this via newsreaders or email, here is a link to the video on YouTube:

The site has been up only a couple of days, so please do check it out and let us know what you think.

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EJU rolls out new site, bring on the community! 

So the European Judo Union has rolled out a shiny new website over at

Looks okay to me, all pretty standard, until you see the community tab. It is Beta, but it is a big move and one I knew was coming and welcomed!

The EJU is attempting to host a community of Judoka. It is a bold move for a non technical organisation with a mainly non technical audience. I can't wait to see what happens.

The immediate highlight from my perspective is the ability to host a blog on the EJU website!! Cool, they even have RSS feeds, so I am excited as I look forward to adding EJU hosted feeds to

The language issue will be an issue, I may need to advance plans for other language versions of PlanetJudo faster than planned to keep up.

It is a big step into the internet age for a Judo organisation. There is STILL no RSS for the news or results, but maybe that will come soon too.

So head over there and check it out, sign up and explore. I have signed up and shall explore and possibly write more about it as I find the best its!

So big "Well Done" to the EJU for the new site and for trying something really cool.


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Thoughts on Innovation and Coaching Judo. 

As Judo coaches you are faced with a choice, either continue to evolve and innovate or get out of the way of those who are.

In this post I want to raise a couple of issues surrounding the sport of Judo and also about coaching our sport. I am NOT talking about those who want to coach in clubs and do the work of teaching kids and recreational players, etc. That is a different subject and I don't want the two confused.

This post is about sport performance Judo, not participation Judo. The two are different, so please keep that in mind before commenting.


Sport evolves, Judo evolves, does Judo coaching evolve?

Well, the answer needs to be YES!!!

And I do mean evolve, not just change for the sake of change. I am not for one minute suggesting that what worked in the past should be thrown away and all new methods instituted.

But... the good methods should stay and the poor be removed and replaced with innovations. But how do we know what is good and what is bad? Well, that is a mix of science and "coaching magic". It is the mix of the art and science of coaching where innovation will come from.

The problem then is that we need scientific coaches, ones with a good educational background in sport and also the talent to coach athletes.

The one element I missed in that sentence is the aptitude to innovate and to question, to try new things.

As coaches, we need to know and appreciate the existing (and historical) training methods. We need to know what used to work, what is working and from that be able to make the creative leap to what will work.

We need to build environments where innovation occurs also. We must build situations where athletes, physios, scientists and of course other coaches feel empowered to try new things.

In my role in IT, I hear over and over that the key to success is failure. Rapid failures leading to success.

In Judo I want to see the same thing, we need to be trying new things, seeing what works, what fails and quickly and iteratively adjusting our coaching based on these successes and failures.

We need to be creating new methods for our athletes, not replicating what worked for John on Jane. What produced a world medal for a lightweight is not necessarily going to get a heavyweight gold. How can you change what you did for the lightweight to best suit the heavy weight?

Sometimes this is a planned and well researched process. You identify an issue or have an idea and research it thoroughly and then design a coaching process based on good science. Sometimes it is an intuitive decision. Sometimes it is a mix of both.

For example, some years back i coached the Royal Navy Judo team prior to the Inter-Services championships. I did a small amount of research, I watched video footage of the Navy players in action fighting. But it was genuinely just that, I watched the videos as diversion almost on a train from London to Southampton over a week or two.

But then when I was writing up my class plans for the week long training camp I decided to do something a little different. I wrote up a series of sessions that built up the process from Bowing on to the mat right up to the moment just before throwing. It included the Rei, gripping and moving.

It was an intuitive decision that his is what they needed.

Now in 2009, I have attended University of Bath and been exposed to more coaches and more research and my analytical mind can see the value in what I did based on intuition.

Judo coaches are now studying/teaching gripping patterns, movement. Coaches are developing psychological interventions around the entry to the contest area and how athletes compete.

There is now a evidence based approach to what I did "from my gut". My small innovation is an example of what I'd like to see more of in Judo.
It is more of what I would like to do in my Judo coaching.

At the moment I have two applictaions out there for involvement in programmes that will allow me to develop as a Judo coach. Two seperate but linked opportunities for me to learn and share and develop and innovate.

One is a practical applied opportunity, the other more educational though not entirely.

I have applied because I think I bring somethng interesting to both opportunities and also because both bring something unique to my continued development. And that is important to me.

I am hoping that both go well and in an ideal world I shall be accepted/selected for both. They are mutually beneficial to one another, and if I can do both I know it is the best thing for both activities.

Both these opportunities are going to drive me forward to innovate and to coach more and better.

What are YOU doing to improve your coaching? What are you doing (to paraphrase Brian Ashton) to create your own learning environment as a coach?
Are you applying for new challenges? For new educational opportunities? If so, good! If not, why not?


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Etiquette and Coach education. 

People have been talking about etiquette in Judo quite a bit lately. The British national coach has been publicly talking about it ( ). And there was the quite energetic discussion around this topic on and the BJA forum (and elsewhere) when the ruling to ban coaches from matside was announced.

So I wanted to add my two cents worth to the topic and see what people say.

At all levels in Judo there is discussion about behavior, specifically about behavior at competitions.

People bring up kids behavior, coaches behavior, parents behavior, elite coach behavior and elite players behavior.

Here is the thing, I personally think it is unfair to demand better behavior from any of these groups of people if they are not educated in what behavior is expected.

I have kids, and I can't tell them off for leaving the cap of the toothpaste (for example) if I have never told them to put the cap on the toothpaste. So when were these groups of Judo people told what was/wasn't acceptable behavior?

Never right?

Are their etiquette sessions for players? Are their etiquette sessions for coaches (so they can teach etiquette to players). Do you have sessions with parents to teach them what is or isn't acceptable in a Judo competition?

Does your national governing body, or the international governing body for that matter, provide you with guidelines on appropriate behavior? Do they hold training days? Do they have a booklet you can read?

So... assuming that the answer to the above question is "No", then how can they expect anyone to know how to behave?

If we reflect on the international "no coaches matside" decision. Made the IJF states because of the bad behavior of some coaches, can the IJF show what guidance/training was in place for the coaches to let them know what was acceptable?

If we look at parents at competitions with their kids, is their guidance on what is and is not acceptable? I don't think it is fair to say parents behave badly if you have not specified what good (or bad) behavior is properly and done everything you can to ensure that the parents have been educated on it.

The same is true of coaches. The common complaint is that they shout, wave their arms, call scores and generally give the referee grief. Often this is true, I've done it myself on occasion. Again I have to ask, where is the education to tell me what is the right way to behave towards a referee? Or am I expected to learn by osmosis or luck? We don't expect players to learn throws without instruction and practice so why should behavior be any different?

In a slightly different view, I would like some guidance on what acceptable referee behavior is also. Is ignoring an experienced and knowledgeable coach acceptable behavior? Just because you happen to be wearing a blazer? Just because you are the referee? Is it acceptable behavior for a referee to not speak to the athletes? Why is it okay for the referee to give penalties without giving input before, during and after the offence? If I raised my kids the way that referees referee a fight social services would come a knockin.

For me, I would like to see the behavior of all people at Judo competitions improve. I'd like the coaches to coach the players from matside, maturely and intelligently. Maintaining respect for their player, the opponent, the referee and for the sport. I would like to see the players behave appropriately, and confidently know what is expected of them. I'd like to see referees behave better and with more respect for the players. I'd like mums and dads to support their kids, without being a negative.

But none of this can happen through "hope" or "wishing". What it takes is definitions and education.

It would be a good project to look at the competition behavior of all parties and document what happens, then define what is good and what is bad. Then write up a training programme for each of the groups of people.

Anyone want to volunteer?


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On not being perfect... 

As a Judo coach one of the biggest traps we fall into is forgetting that we are not perfect or more to the point forgetting that people do not expect us to be perfect.

Every Judo coach makes mistakes, as does every player we work with. And it is normal and to be expected.

A bad habit that I observe in coaches is when we forget to acknowledge that we might be wrong, or that there are alternative approaches.

We tend to teach "the right way" of doing techniques. But there is (IMHO) no pure right way, there are a variety of right ways depending on the player, the opponent, the fight and so on.

Is Taio Toshi done with both legs straight or one leg bent? Where does the elbow go? What is the direction of the Kuzushi? Is it Taio Toshi or Tai Otoshi?

More to the point does it matter right now?

Don't get me wrong, the details do matter. Understanding matters, knowledge matters.

But this is very different to being perfect and worse worrying about being perfect. Worrying about being perfect is a really negative habit that will kill you as a coach.
The master coaches if you watch them make mistakes all the time, they get words wrong, they get names wrong, they break the rules and all sorts of other things. Does it bother them? No. Does it make them less of a coach? No.

What it shows is a level of maturity about their coaching that most of us lack. Perhaps they just know that it takes more than one exposure to virtually anything to learn it, so getting it wrong slightly when you teach is not going to have a huge impact.

As a Judo coach, I embrace my errors. My quirks, my slips of the tongue, my mistakes with left and right, my loses of balance etc. I embrace it and make it part of "the show". I make my errors something that players expect, they know I am not perfect and I don't want them to ever think I am.

Pobody is Nerfect! - as they say.

So when you go on the mat this week to coach, keep this post in mind. Be that as a player or coach. There is nothing wrong with mistakes, just move on and enjoy.


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