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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An update for mid 2019 

Hi everyone!

So things have been super interesting Judo speaking. Since I last wrote (September last year 2018) I have been doing a lot of Judo and experiencing lots of changes.

Since I last wrote I have attended a bunch of Judo competitions:

* Bahamas World Junior Judo Championships
* Perth Oceania Open
* Dusseldorf Grand Prix
* Baku Grand Slam
* Hohhot Grand Prix
* Lausanne SPOT Conference
* Minsk European Games/Championships
* Budapest Grand Prix
* Zagreb Grand Prix

And I'll soon be off to Tokyo for the World Championsips and IJF congress.

I am amazingly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with amazing people and experience the collaboration with my IJF family and the local Judo families.

Since December I have been involved in running the website. This is a big game where you choose a team of 14 athletes for each Judo competition and are given points based on how your team performs. Try it out! It's a little hard at the moment as match fixing regulations mean we can only open events after the draw.

From actual doing Judo perspective... the club grew and changed and morphed and I enjoyed it. I did not get to do enough Judo myself; but that is the cost of being the coach I guess.

This year after 9 years unfortunately we have lost our venue and the generous support of Solent University. So currently the club is closed as we look for a new opportunity.

It is a time to reflect and decide what comes next.

Recently, whilst away in Budapest I discovered the former World Champion Craig Fallon had passed away suddenly.

His funeral has just happened here in the UK and the entire Judo community is mourning, myself included.

I hope he is able to Rest in Peace and that all those affected by the loss of this champion are being supported and will grieve and recover and take the positives from Craig's life forward and use the good memories they have of him to be greater and to be a positive change in the world.

RIP Craig!!

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Exploring the Itsutsu no kata 

For the past few weeks in the club I teach at we have been exploring the Itsutsu no kata.

I do not know the kata, so the process of teaching it has been one of joint exploration. What do I mean?

What I mean is that in each session, we delve a little deeper into the kata together. Rather than having an expert tell us what to do, as a group we are discovering what to do.

We are getting the movements and mechanics now, and each week we understand a little more and read a little more. So as well as the footwork, we learn a little of the history.

As well as the angles, we discuss the application and interpretation of what we are doing.

Having a small narrow dojo, we are adjusting and that makes it more difficult but also easier in other ways; as we physically can't do it perfectly. So we don't worry about "perfect"; we focus on better than last time.

As we dig deeper we watch more video; both people doing the kata and people teaching the kata. Again, as we don't know the kata well we are identifying the differences between how others do the kata.

We see timing differences, directional differences, "emotional" differences. The emotional side has been interesting for me to observe; each pairing puts emphasis on different movements.

As ever kata is proving educational and enjoyable. If you are not doing kata in your club you really should give it a go. In our club we all do kata, not just high grades. Exploring Judo via kata for me is key not just for experienced judoka.

Give it a go!
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Tokyo2020 Judo QUalification starts soon!! 

May 25th 2018, is a key date that every national programme has a huge red entry on the calendar.


Because the 25th of May 2018 is the day that qualification begins for the Tokyo2020 Olympic Judo competition.

The qualification period then ends on May 24th 2020, at which point we will know who will be competing at the biggest Judo event in history.

Qualification is also being used for the new Olympic Judo Team event, so teams wanting to win a medal in that will need to ensure they have enough athletes qualified to make a team entry viable.

There will be a little under 400 Judo athletes in Tokyo and as we have seen in previous games; the ranking list position is key.

Unlike previous years, the top 18 men and top 18 women are direct qualified, then the continental quotas, then "wildcards".

And again, the host nation Japan gets 14 athletes. The past three Olympics have different dynamics for the qualification as a result.

For London2012, the hosts benefited immensely by the 14 host spots in terms of getting athletes into the event. Brazil for the Rio2016 games were a strong Judo nation, but not as much of a powerhouse as Japan.

Japan will be able to enter 14 athletes, no matter where they rank. So it will be interesting to see what athletes compete where and how often in the qualification period.

As with other cycles, it will be a fascinating 2 years, with every win being vital and positioning around that 18th spot hotly contested as we get closer and closer to the games.

For Judo addicts like us (if you are reading this, I'm assuming your are a voracious Judo reader) this is a special time, every event has importance and can be hotly debated and explored.

To all the athletes is the WRL, I want to wish you all the best of luck! I look forward to watching all of you in the run up to Tokyo2020.


Extra reading:

Tokyo 2020 Qualification Rules via the new IJF website.
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The online Judo community is growing! 

Recently the Judo community gained not one; but two podcasts! Which is pretty awesome as my podcast (started in 2006) faded out.
So two new podcasts have come into existence and that is amazing. And they are both different and special (and far better produced) than mine ever was.

So Go and listen to


What has also been interesting is seeing the support these two new members of the Judo online community have gained. Hans from for example has joined the fun and sent some "merch" to Dave Roman.

In the plain text universe, has joined the ranks over at and apparently it has really helped grow his audience!
I for one have been loving the "scoops" the site is giving the English speaking world from Japan.

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Exploring as a coaching methodology 

This week has been an interesting one for me as a Judo coach.

This week at the club we started going through the Gokyo technique by technique once again (we have done it before in the club).

What is really interesting about going through the Gokyo in this way is that it forces me as a coach to re-examine each technique and work through them with the participants in the sessions.

As I have to do it with techniques I know it is interesting to discover new things from my preparations for each session. Specifically, exploring things like the exact wording in the Kodokan Judo book and getting everyone in the class to do it as the book describes it.

Doing this has really highlighted some of the "received knowledge" I have of waza. By which I mean, sometimes the way I do and or teach a technique does not match with the description in the book.

Judo is wonderful in the way that there are multiple different solutions to the "how do I throw" problem. Even when using the same "technique".

De ashi barai for example can be done with tori stepping forwards, or backwards. Then there is the rotating version. We can attack the front foot or the trailing foot. It has been really interesting to explore the variations.

On Wednesday evening, I had the chance to have a long and enjoyable evening exploring a variety of Judo topics at a colleagues home. We talked around a variety of topics and specifically elite programme creation, design, maintenance and measurement.

This was great as it's the sort of conversation I don't often get to have in the UK. I have them sometimes whilst away internationally but not often here, well at least not since I graduate University of Bath.

This Sunday, I started our club learning the Kaeshi no kata. Again this proved really educational. I have never formally studied this kata, so we are learning it together with me mainly guiding the practice rather than teaching how it should be done.

Preparing for the session was as educational as participating. I learnt a little about the history of this kata (non-kata in some descriptions) and even a little about the dissemination of Judo internationally as I discovered this very British kata in a video by a coach in my native New Zealand.

This upcoming week we shall continue to explore the Gokyo and Kaeshi no kata; as well as doing randori. At the moment it feels like the balance between practical learning by doing (randori) and technical learning (Gokyo and Kata) is about right.

I look forward to what I will learn this week as well as observing what the participants in the sessions learn.
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