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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Video refereeing in Judo. 

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I blogged and I must return to the discipline of blogging regularly. I am a firm believer in blogging as a form of reflective practice, so I am not maintaining this side of my coaching if I do not blog.

As those who follow me will know, I have recently started working as part of the EJU and IJF computer teams. This has allowed me the opportunity to observe some elite level Judo up close. This blog post is about the CARE refereeing system in Judo.

For those of you who don't know, CARE is the name given to video refereeing process now in use in Judo. It basically is a video camera connected to a laptop, which the referees commission (off the mat) are able to use to rewind and review action on a mat.
Unlike other sports like Rugby Union, Cricket and Tennis; the use of the CARE system is entirely at the discretion of the referees commission.

Which means that the commission is able to review and change decisions on the mat whenever they see the situation arise. It is quite a difference in approach to that of other sports where video refereeing is quite limited in scope and application.

In Judo, what we are seeing is the referee sing commission re-watching a piece of action then telling the referee(s) on the mat to change scores, give penalties, etc.
On video perhaps it is not apparent this happens, but in person it is more obvious. What you miss often on the video is the fact that all the referees have earpieces connected to radios so that they can hear what the commission has to say.

Now... Overall, I think this change is good. Instead of three referees on the mat watching a piece of action once at full speed, a group of high level referees watch the action in slow motion several times and inform the referees on the mat what they think.
For the players in the competition this should I think, mean that they receive a better standard of refereeing, the inevitable errors all referees make can be caught and corrected.

However, I think it is worth looking at the situation carefully and consider all the perspectives.

One of the key things I am seeing is that the dresses on the mat are being over-ruled by the commission regularly. And they are being over-ruled when the commission see fit.
This is quite different to other sports, for example in cricket the use of the video umpire is only done when a team chooses to. And there are limited numbers if challenges allowed. Tennis I think uses a similar system where Hawkeye is only called upon when there is a request from a player. In Rugby union, the video is only used at the request of the referee on the field and is only allowed to answer specific quests from the referee on the field.

Judo, from what I have seen, is the only sport where the referees on the mat are now being controlled by the video referee. I am not sure I am comfortable with this. Although I think it should and probably is providing a better level of refereeing consistency, I find it disquieting that the man/woman in charge... the centre referee is in fact no longer in charge, but can and regularly is being what to do by the commission.

In a sport where respect for the referee is drummed into us all, from day one; it seems almost disrespectful to referees that they do not have the final say any longer.

I am also inclined to recall one of the University of Bath Judo Debates, where Marian Woodward, an IJF referee argued against video refereeing. She pointed out very eloquently that sometimes watching a piece of action over and over makes the correct decision harder not easier.

Here is a link to the debate on the topic of if the use of video should be used form 2007: ... ebate.html

I tend to agree, especially when we watch action in slow motion on video, it can look very different to at real speed up close. Sometimes the gut reaction from an experienced referee on the mat is IMHO better than the opinion of a group of referees off the mat watching a small incident over and over in slow motion. It I think runs the risk of missing the con ext of the match and focussing on the minutiae rather than the total fight and the atmosphere and actions leading up to an incident.

Time will tell, but currently my thinking is that the CARE system needs some review. I think it is raising the overall consistency/quality of refereeing of matches. But I do also believe it is undermining the position of the referees on the mat and providing some quirky refereeing that is hard to follow.

Which brings me neatly to my final point on refereeing as I am seeing it. Especially with the radio intervention of the referees commission the refereeing decisions can be a complete mystery to the players, coaches and spectators. I do feel that we could benefit from watching football/soccer and football referees and developing some communication between referees and players on the mat; and the coaches/spectators. I know it is tough with our multiple-lingual sport, but I do feel that referees could make Judo flow better with a few simple words rather than giving Shido that alter the nature of a match.
If a player is being passive, why must we stop the fight to tell them that with the twirling of hands. Could the referee not tell the player they are being passive and that they will be given Shido if they don't do something soon? You here this sort of discussion in rugby, boxing, football, so why not Judo?

I think this is especially important at lower levels. At kids tournaments I think it is unacceptable for any child to be given Shido (or worse) without some good warnings and explanation from referees.
If a kid is grabbing the trousers, they need to be told not to. If they do it again, stop the fight and warn them clearly, using words, that it is not permitted. If they do it again, well penalize them, they knew better.
But don't just spot a leg grab and hansokumake someone, who most likely either has no idea about the complexities of the latest interpretations of the IJF rules, or simply didn't realize they even did it.

A little conversation during the match, would prevent lots of matte situations and make Judo flow more in the match. It could result in less Shido and less fights being one via penalties and more being won by throws.

I'd love to know what you think, especially if you are a referee. Drop comment on this post, or send me an email to

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Reflections on my First EJU Championships 

I am sitting here in my my backyard typing this after returning last night from the 2011 European Judo Championships in Istanbul. It was and incredible trip and I wanted to spend sometime thinking and reflecting on it and post it here.

The championships were amazing! Watching the very top players in Europe up close and in person was something I will never forget. The teams event on the final day was mind blowing and trust me you'll be seeing more of that format of competition!

But, thats getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning…

I flew out in the company of Sheldon Franco-Rooks, the main commentator for the EJU. This was great as it meant there was someone who knew how things worked with me. Sheldon is a great character and made me feel immediately comfortable from when we spoke on the phone and from when we met at Heathrow.

On arrival in Istanbul, we were ferried to the hotel by mini-bus, well at least we were after my research poster for the EJU Research symposium finally was found and given to me.

In Istanbul thinks get a little blurrier, mainly because it was non-stop! The IT team arrive before the event and setup all the computerized scoreboards, CARE system for refereeing replays and the computers that run the draws. And that does not include the video streaming hardware and software. There are cases and cases of cameras, cables, computers and assorted bits and pieces that all need to be unpacked, tested, installed, tested, tested again and tested once more.

The night before the competition, the entire computer team along with some other members of the Turkish Judo Federation and EJU worked till past 5am to get everything Just so. We literally got back to the Hotel with just enough time to shower, change, grab breakfast and be back at the venue of the competition for 9am.

More testing, last minute problems led up to the competition getting underway. But the team is very professional and everything went smoothly enough. There are always small hiccups (people unplugging cameras, or damaging cables at the last minute for example), components breaking and of course Windows blue screens of death.

The competition itself was great, some terrific battles and I can't express quite how much more of an impact it makes if you are actually there rather than watching from home.
And speaking of which; the EJU stream all their big events live to the internet. Pretty forward thinking I have to say. They now stream all the mats in separate streams as well as having an HD commented channel. Along with this the software running the draws and the scoreboard is all interconnected and publishes immediately to the web as well. So everything is going live and thousands upon thousands of people are following it all.

I think my highlights were finally seeing Iliadis in action and Teddy Riner. Those of you who watched the stream might like to know that on the day of the heavy weights I was on the mat edge with the camera so all the footage you see of Teddy fighting in the preliminary rounds is my shaky hands! And yes he is huge in person!

The highlight I think most people attending would say would be the teams competition on the final day. The five person team format is exciting to watch and throws up lots of uncertainty and tactics as well as some great fights. The biggest match was perhaps the Turkish Womens team vs the Russian womans team. The Turkish team won it in the end and the noise from the local crowd during that bronze medal match was unbelievable!
The second highlight was the gold medal round in the mens category when Teddy Riner lined up against Ilias Illiadis and for a moment the whole place stopped and held it's breath thinking that possibly the two biggest name in European Judo were going to fight despite Iliadis being -90kh and Riner +100. Then winks were exchanged, both athletes laughed, smiled and embraced and Riner won by default as Greece had decided not to fought the last man.
The phoos on the EJU website tell it all. What a great moment, the photo of the two of them smiling is now my computer desktop as it really carries an important message about Judo I think.
THAT was sportsmanship, camaraderie and respect captured in a wonderfully humorous moment between two athletes.

During the championships two other important things were happening in the stadium. There was the 2nd EJU Research Symposium and also the EJU Coaching degree students were there doing various roles as part of there course. For me this was great as I participated in the symposium with my poster on the experiment I have been running on an alternative ranking system for elite Judo.
And if you have been following this blog you will know that I was one of the first cohort of EJU coaching degree students and am currently studying for the EJU Level 6 Masters degree. So it was great to see the students in the hall. I wish when i had been in there position the course had held one of it's modules at an elite tournament like that. It is a terrific innovation for the course I think.

At this point I should return to the video stream for a little while. What I have not mentioned is that the EJU managed to sell the TV rights for the competition to over 100 countries. So there was a live feed from the stadium to 100 countries for television coverage of the finals block each day. This was over and above the stream which is watched all over the world via the internet.
What it did mean however is that Shelden and Annett the main commentators were suddenly required to commentate the finals block for the TV networks. Meaning that I was asked to step into the breach and commentate the finals block for the internet stream along with Densign WHite the chairman of the BJA, EJU SPorts Director and a fellow graduate of the EJU Coaching degree (we were in the same year).
Commentating like this was completely unexpected and hard hard hard! Nerves definitely made day one tough, but I like to think I got better day by day and hopefully put in acceptable performances.
It was a fantastic experience and I am immensely flattered to have been allowed to represent the EJU in that way. Pretty unreal for a ginger lad from a small non EJU country like New Zealand.

Surrounding all this was a blur of anther things, meeting athletes officials, presidents and fixing things that went wrong. Having meals with members of the EJU and generally being led from place to place until managing to collapse on my bed at the end of each and every exciting and exhausting day!

Working with the EJU computer team and attending the event has I think been a real highlight, if not the highlight of my Judo career. To met such a group of people and be able to be part of it at a great elite event has me pinching myself still.
I am immensely grateful to all the people who made it possible for me to attend and contribute where I could. I would like to thank them all individually here, but would be horrified if I missed one name out by accident so would rather thank them all as a team!

I have to say I don't know if I have met a team that work so hard, so long or made me feel so welcome and made me laugh so much in my life!


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Istanbul here I come. 

Tomorrow I fly out to Istanbul on what is an exciting new adventure in my Judo career. I am going to Istanbul as part of the European Judo Union (EJU) Computer/commentary team.

This is a bit exciting for me and nerve-wracking too.

For those of you who are new, or perhaps are not aware. The EJU now stream all top level events live onto the internet. It's internet TV of all the big events. This week the EJU hosts the 2011 European Judo Championships and they will be streaming it live (for free) with me as part of the team doing commentary on the fights.

I try to watch as much of the streams as I can normally, but being on the camera is something new for me. And at such a big event too. I am rerally excited about it and have been waiting for someone to pinch me as it seems unreal to be part of the EJU team!

The stream will be available via the EJU website of course ( ) and I would like to invite anyone reading this to to watch the stream when the event is on later this week.

I'll be there with my laptop and picking up emails etc, so if you have any comments, questions or criticisms to make please let me know. My email is or if you do the twitter thing I am @lancew on twitter.

I hope I manage to do a good job you will have to be the judge of that.

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BJA and OnSport websites - Caveat Emptor. 

In this post I want to provide a little of my thoughts on the British Judo Association's (BJA) partnership with offering Judo clubs "free" websites. before I start, let me state clearly that I am not against the project, I think it has value and could be good for some clubs. However, as per the original title of this post, these is no such thing as a free lunch and I feel it is important that some of this is discussed in the open before people commit to a OnSport website.

What is being offered?
Basically, the OnSport/BJA deal is that clubs can get free websites. You get a subdomain on the which contains your website. That website is a template designed by OnSPort and the BJA. There is a Judogi background, Judo pictures rotating in the banner and links to the BJA and the BJA online Shop.
You can login to the site and make changes online, adding pictures, news stories, information about your club sessions etc etc.
It is worth noting that the system was not designed for Judo, rather it is a generic system for all sports and you can tell pretty quickly looking at the default setup that it was team sports, not Judo.

What does it cost?
In terms of cash, the websites are free. However as per the opening paragraph you don't get anything for free in the real world. To understand a little of what using a OnSport/BJA website costs you need to look at the parties involved and of course the terms and conditions of use.

BJA: The BJA have a link to their website and to their shop, that is the obvious benefit that the BJA get form this deal. I am not in a position to know what the legal deal is between the BJA and OnSport so I can't say how this works. Personally, I suspect that the BJA see this as an opportunity to get free sites for member clubs; pure and simple. The links to the website and shop are a bonus, but not that big a deal I think.

OnSport: OnSport are a business, they are in fact Maxinutrition AKA MaxiMuscle. This is good to know as it gives you some perspective on where they are coming from.
You need to browse their terms and conditions before you sign up to their service and doing so will enlighten you to some of the ideas this business has on how OnSport will generate revenue for Maxinutrition.

Here are a few of the key points I spotted that I think are important for you as a BJA club to consider:

3.5: By signing up, you agree to receive marketing material from Maxinutrition, though you can "opt out".
So from this you can assume that part of the reasoning about running OnSport is that Maxinutrition are using it as a tool to get direct contact with sports clubs in the UK. Which makes sense if your business is that of selling supplements.

4.3, 4.4: Maxinutrition owns anything you put on the website and has permission to use it as they wish. So your photos, text, etc etc etc are all Maxinutrition's property. You don't own it the moment it goes on the site. So, that award winning photo is now Maxinutrition's and they can put in in a poster, on a product, whatever and you have already given them ownership/permission.

8.1: Advertising, Maxinutrition have your permission to put adverts on your OnSPort website. This is another key revenue idea, so you can see the model, use BJA clubs to generate traffic which they can then "monetize" by putting adverts on the site (your club website).

9.1: Links, Maxinutrition (or third parties) can provide links to other sites on your club website. So examples already there are the BJA website and Store, but they could be to anything. So maybe to the Maximuscle webiste or perhaps to all sorts of other websites willing to pay Maxinutrition to put a link on your website.

11.1: Maxinutrition can cancel your account/website without notice. So your website could disappear. They can also edit or delete any content on your site. I read this as being part of them covering themselves from you as a user posting bad content. But you need to consider that your content is in the hands of a supplement company. I would not expect that post about how bad supplements are and how you should just eat healthy balanced diets to be popular and would I suspect be a candidate for "amending" or Deletion.

12: Prohibited uses. Ok this section has lots of protecting themselves text, so should you do anything illegal, Maxinutrition is protected.

12.4: Interestingly you are not permitted to use the site for "sports related services", which seems womanly be big stuff (like selling naming rights to a stadium) but technically I think includes most of us. For example you are not permitted to use the site for "representation of athletes" so no trying to get sponsorship for your athletes via you club website.
I think this means that Maxinutrition have a side of their business that does that sort of thing and it is just template bit of legalese to protect their business interests. But remember breach this term (in Maxinutrition's eyes) and your club website can be deleted without notice.

Maxinutrition are a business, they have a legal obligation to act in the interests of their shareholders and that means make money. is I think a good service for simple generic websites for clubs. However, it is important to be aware that Maxinutrition need to make money from the onSport website at some stage. This I think is most likely to be in the form of advertising and links on the website pages (your pages) but also potentially interactive features.

Maxinutrition have also made the landgrab for your content. This is not unusual, most social network sites do this. But Judo clubs perhaps are not familiar with this. Anything you add to the website belongs to OnSport/Maxinutrition and they can use it as they like. You should also be aware that you are responsible for any copyright infringement on your site not Maxinutrition, so if they say used an image or video from your site (which they can do) and then got sued, they would I suspect just say that it was your fault… so the law suit lands on your lap. Scary, unlikely but scary.

Other implications you need to think about is that your club is now a mere sub domain on a large corporate website. You need to think about how search engines and visitors will react to this.
From a search engine perspective it is hard to tell how people like Google will react. In general owning your own domain is better than having a subdomain like what is offered. In other words is better than Also there is a fair amount of content duplication going on in the templates, so search engines are likely to not like that.

Also, when/if visitors find your site, does it represent your club well? Does it give an accurate portrayal of your club or is it a generic sports website with a Judo club shoehorned in? For example, I think most (if not all) Judo sites on OnSport have a tab for "Squads"; which is not something most Judo clubs in the BJA have. It is something that is in the system from it's original design, but you have it on your Judo site.
Equally by default no dojo address or session times. You can add them but again the sites are not immediately relevant to the Judo use.

Design, the template design on the site is nice, almost valid xHTML (techie talk there) but they all look the same, even after customization. So your site will look very similar to every other Judo website on the system.
The personality and uniqueness of your club is lost. Now I prefer the OnSPort layout to many Judo websites out there. Judo websites are normally old style and ugly. But at least they normally describe a little of what the club is like.

People see a professional, generic looking website like the OnSport club websites and expect… a professional generic Judo club. Are you a professional generic Judo club? Or are you a small village club that is run by unpaid volunteers that teaches little kids once a week? Or perhaps you are a tough contest club that is ready to rock and roll, in either case you are not a generic club so do you want a generic website?

Cost… So it's free. That is… no I must correct myself… that WAS a big selling point in the past. Getting a website may still seem hard and expensive, but now days getting a free website is very easy to do. Try or Google's Blogger or Google Sites as examples.

Even a "paid for" website is not expensive, I do it for a living by the way. A club website will start at about 60 quid a year for the domain and hosting. A realistic budget to get a simple website together would be a few hundred pounds by the time you include some simple design work. A grand or two if you want a great site.

So there you have it, some points to consider before you sign up with the BJA/OnSport website scheme. It is in my opinion a good thing to do if you really really don't want your own website.
You do need to consider the reasons why a supplements company wants to give you a free website, the answer is "to make money" by the way. They way they will make money from you is not clear but there are some clues in the terms and conditions of the OnSport site.

Personally, I doubt I'll be putting my club, my content or my time into OnSport. Mainly as I want to own my content and because I trust a hosting company with my content more than a supplements company looking to try an experiment with web hosting /social networking.

I do not think that the OnSport offering really gives us very much and Maxinutrition actually get quite a lot from you and your club.

My advise is that you explore what they are offering and what other services like a web hosting company, wordpress or google can offer you and make your own decision.

If you have any questions, you can contact me and I'll answer any questions I can.


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Run Forest Run! Or have you mapped your Judo training programme? 

Many of you who know me, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook or even know me in real life; know I am running a half marathon on February 13th, 2011.

I will be running to raise money for Mahana Clutha who is a young Judo athlete from my country, New Zealand. We are collecting your very kind donations at

I looked at the training I have done for this race and here are some of the numbers:

Started training: 19 October 2010.
Time training: 44 hours and 23 minutes.
Miles run: 239.1.

I have followed a thoughtful programme, I have rediscovered my own training limits and adjusted accordingly. I am completely prepared for this race. It is 13 miles and I know I can run it. I know this because I have trained for it and in my training I have run 239 miles and have run upwards of 16 miles in a training run more than once.

Looking and thinking about my training has had me thinking about Judo training.

I know precisely how many miles and hours that I have trained. I knew exactly what I was setting out to do on every run. I had a nice clear goal and I knew how long I had to train for it. I also had an understanding and belief that the programme I was following was going to get me ready to perform.

The question that I have in my mind is this:

"Do you have a detailed long-term training programme for your Judo which translates into a session by session plan?"

Can you quantify your training or your athletes training? Can you match what you had planned for a session against the training programme? Can you map the long-term goals against a plan and know that what you (or your athletes) are doing in this session matches what needs to be done?

In our world, we have a couple of variables:


We can tweak both and have to, you can't have both at 100%. We need to balance how much training we do (volume) against how hard we train (intensity).

You need both, so your training programme has to slide up and down the percentages. For example, near a competition you want to ramp up intensity perhaps to get players operating at a higher level.

If you are building base fitness, then maybe lower intensity and a lot more volume. Of course, the period immediately before the competition you might taper the intensity and volume.

The question then becomes, how do you know how and when to change the variables if you don't have a plan? So you need to plan, it's really key to going from being a Judo player and a Judo athlete.

As a coach; you are probably going to be the person who does the planning (at least initially). You need to think in the big picture/long term. You need to also consider the plans of every athlete under your care.

If you don't have a long-term, medium term, daily and session plan. You won't be giving your best to those under your care.


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