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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British Judo Association (BJA) disaster of the day... "Technical Update" 

Okay... maybe the title is wrong and this is not a disaster. Maybe this is just the BJA succeeding in it's evil plans to assassinate "The World of Judo" (or perhaps I am just a conspiracy theorist).

Over on the BJA side they have released/launched "Technical Update" ... Issue1.pdf which I think is supposed to replace Matside; the glossy magazine that (argueably) helped to kill Bob Willingham's "The World of Judo".

***Update: Okay, so this was not "Matside" the new magazine, it was a smaller coaching thing. Still the comments above and below remain valid.

Well, it's a complete mess. Go take a look. I think it was thrown together by someone from the 80's!!! It just looks terrible, the "articles" are tiny and pointless. I have no idea what they this was supposed to achieve.


I know I am a "BJA basher" (like a growing number of people), so I'm negative. But I am going to throw out some ideas here that could I think make this positive.

1) Drop the PDF format.
PDF just makes it harder for everyone involved, don't use it. Look, PDF is great if you have content you'd like maintain the style of the layout of a quality layout. This text is ugly as it is, so you would be better leaving it as another format, HTML anyone. Which leads to...

2) Turn it into a blog.
A blog would be index-able by Google. It would be able to be subscribed to via RSS, so people could get updates in their browser or RSS aggregator. It would also be able to be linked easily to in emails and from other websites. Of course I could include it on where a lot more people would see it.

3) Expand the articles fully, so they have something more useful. Those snippets in the PDF are useless. Have the full information available in seperate posts (on the blog) share more, get more people.

There are three positive spins on "BJA Technical Update", see I am not always negative.

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Visiting Camberley Judo Club. 

Camberley Judo Club
This week I had the opportunity to visit Camberley Judo Club and felt I should blog about it as it was really great. For the first time since I last visited the London Judokan, I had that "WOW, I'm here!" feelings. It's when I describe myself as being a "Judo Tourist", when I go somewhere and feel that buzz from the moment I arrive. That, hey this is cool, this is somewhere amazing.

For those of you who don't know Camberley, it has a special place in the history and hearts of British Judo. From their website:

Our record of success includes many Olympians, three junior world titles and medallists in the last four world championships. In total, 7 out of the last 13 World medals won by Breat Britain have come from Camberley based players.

It's permanent mat area and accommodation is home to and has been home to some of the best players Britain has ever produced.

On a personal note, I know three players who are/were "Camberley Players", Paul Jones, Steve Withers and current coach at Camberley; Luke Preston. I like all three guys, and have the utmost respect for all three's Judo and for them as people who have stayed in the sport beyond competition and are giving back to the sport in a big way.

Anyway.... I watched the junior session prior to the adults. It was interesting the level of physical conditioning included in the session. If you agree with the common argument that a large number of players entering the adult ranges of Judo are not prepared physically for the game; then the session was definitely going to prepare future players.

The adult session started with a game of touch rugby, flashing memories of the Judokwai in Auckland, New Zealand through my head. It was interesting stepping on the mat in my poor state of fitness with some serious players.

I suppose it supported the idea above that if you are not physically ready for the game, you are not going to win in Judo. I struggled to establish myself, could have done better if I had better strength and fitness I'd like to believe.

Sadly I'm a masochist (like all Judoka I suspect) and enjoyed it immensely!!

After the session I got to have a beer with Luke and Mark (Earle), it was great to sit and talk Judo with the man behind the club and the man beginning to carry the name forward. The Club and these guys are there working at the highest level in our sport, Olympic, and it was a pleasure and honour to be welcomed there.

So... thanks Mark, Luke and everyone there last Tuesday.


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Getting myself in trouble again... 

As regular readers will know, I have a big mouth and it gets me in trouble sometimes, and I suspect today is going to be another of those days.... you've been warned!

So, I decided to take a look at the BJA website again this evening( ). And it's been altered again and IMHO not for the better.

The site now is redering incorrectly in Firefox at least and looks pretty odd.

I have held for a long time that the site fails as it is not designed with the visitor in mind rather the association. I.e. it is not designed to be surfed by parents of kids in Judo (let alone having a site for the vast majority of members in the association who are Juniors!)

Having a website that is targeted to Kids would be awesome, and awesomely hard! So I can forgive them not having one. If they did decide to cater to a vast majority of their membership then taking a look at the BBCs kids sites might be an idea. And Disney of course.

Anyway... so I emailed the association tonight to vent my built up annoyance at the site, no doubt the email will go down like the proverbial lead balloon. I have made suggestions about the site before, never got a response from the association (no, thats not true the charman did respond and has even discussed the matter with me, to his credit. But he is not the association, nor is it his responsibility).

So I shall update this entry when (okay if) I get a reply and see how my moaning is received.

The email is below for reference.


I see the BJA website has had a few changes lately.
Front page has changed, the FIND A CLUB area has changed to a google maps search and back to the old layout again.

As I've expressed before, I think the website has lots of potential, but that it is completely failing to deliver.
I'd like to formally offer to help out on the website.

I would suggest a complete rebuild with visitors in mind rather than the BJA or the content management systems limitations.

Here would be my suggestion without giving it proper thought or knowing what the traffic statistics tell you about where visitors are going:


Basically as I think I have said to you informally, I would suggest breaking the site into three sections:

1. Start Judo
2. Doing Judo
3. Running Judo

With "Start Judo" being the default.

My front page layout would be one box on screen with these three items as large tabs across the top.
In the box initially, I would have an awesome picture (or maybe video) of some kids loving doing Judo, then a large search box saying "Find a local Judo Club".
Then a button to say "Learn more about Judo".
Thats it.

If the visitor were to click on the DOING JUDO tab, you get moved to a busier page with links to renewing you license, syllabus, etc etc etc

Choose RUNNING JUDO and you have your club info, coaching certification stuff etc.
It would I suspect be a busier page again.

These are my initial ideas a proper investigation would need to be done.

The point here is that the majority of those doing Judo are Juniors right? Yet the website is plain useless for this population or their parents.
The main thing you want the site to do (presumably) is get kids into Judo. So the path I see parents taking (beyond knowing a local club already) is googling Judo and maybe their postcode, town or county.
So if they hit the website, you need to make it very easy for these parents to get to the point where they know where a local club is and how to get their child in the class.

So the search box needs to take you to that google maps tool (now removed from the site), if they click on a club, they get taken to a page for that club populated with unique content about the club, it needs pictures, names, times, addresses, directions etc etc etc. The more content and unique content per club, the better that these club sites themselves will get high on Google for those search google direct. So if I type in "Judo mysmalltown" I should have a good chance of seeing a link direct to a quality club page for that club.

The front page is not in fact where you want people arriving, I suggest what you really want is them to arrive on a quality page about a local club to that parent that has enough information to allow that parent to take their child to Judo for the first time.


Anyway... that is my two cents, I officially offer to help. Heck I'll do it for free !!
I'll rope in al the clever web people I can and make an awesome site!
I'll talk to as many people as I can and make a site you can be proud of, which I am sorry is not the case at present.


UPDATE: September 9th 2008
Well, both the chairman and the the BJA office replied by email. Now the chairman I expected but I was pleasantly surprised to get a response form the office. This is the first time they have responded to a query of mine. heck they didn't even respond to me about the idea of using a Google maps mashup for the club search... and they implemented that (poorly, and have taken it off line again).

The office who I am pleased replied, but disapointed by the reply. It was a thinly veiled "go away" I feel.

Having had some time to think about this post and look at other sports sites, it is apparent to me that it is not just the BJA that have got it wrong. They seem to have all had the same design messes. Generic and without focus. I suppose that they all look at one anothers sites and as they are all similar they think they have it right.

The exception maybe is I really like the "FIND A:" bar in the center of the front page. It is a rather pleasant to look at site and I notice also the focus on Kids Judo. Kudos to the designers.

Maybe I need to setup a sports web design firm and make replacements for these dreadful things. Unless of course Fortune Cookie come looking for a Judo Geek. ;-)

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Beijing getting/got away from me. 

Dear IOC, please hold the next Olympic games somewhere I can watch it! Oh great you have. ;-)

Well, the Judo is over and to be frank I have watched almost none of it! It started at 5am and I have a job you know. This also basically killed a lot of the plans we had for but fear not the site will grow, especially as footage arrives on Youtube etc.

I also have 40 hours of footage from the BBC recorded on DVD that i shall be watching eventually and shall try and summarise the fights on the site.

Having all that footage may also have solved a big problem I have with my research project... maybe. My research project for my BSc. is an analysis of the relationships between attack rate, scoring rate and victory. FInding suitable unedited footage has been an issue I have been struggling with, having 5 DVDs of Olympic Judo may solve that issue.

The issue I do have with it however is how using this BBC footage will affect the experiement. I am not getting a random selection as I had hoped. That said, the footage tended to be fairly random I think, so maybe it is not an issue. I need to talk to my supervisor about it.

It would be excellent to use this footage as it is really really current, so my research will have loads of interest hopefully. I am repeating some of the research that Sikorski, Franchini and Sterkowicz have done from as far back as 1987, so it might be really interesting to compare the 1987 results with what I find.

My assumption would be that the dynamics of Judo have changed quite a bit. It'd be good to "prove it" and perhaps even be the first to do so?

Anyway... as I started with, Beijing got away from me (and there is still half a week to go) but I am slowly getting caught up.

In other Judo news I have (finally) managed to complete a little project for Mike at the University of Bath. The project was to build a search engine for the Richard (Dickie) Bowen archive. Mike gave me some of the archive (a small subset) and I have written a small parser and search engine. So I have a single HTML file that has a search box. It works ok, looks ugly.

The plus has been the almost sub-conscious learning about what Richard Bowen had. Amazing range and quality of Judo Historical artifacts. Letters discussing the formation of the IJF, the EJU, the BJA. It is all available there at the University of Bath, I really REALLY need to look at some of this stuff the next time I am in Bath.

Anyway... mustn't spend all evening blogging, I need to eat!

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"zOMG, d00d, that Korean just got ippwn3d!!!" 

Matt Sussman over at posted a really interesting article about his Olympic viewing habits and how Judo features in it.

In his article "Pinned Down By Olympic Judo" Matt talks about how he has been watching the Judo from Beijing and liking it.

I particulary liked this passage:

After a day of zoning into the hypnotizing flips and grips, I had to check out the rules. Different kinds of takedowns and pins have a rather subjective scoring system, and the highest score judo's "knockout," if you will is called ippon. The fact that it rhymes with "own" should definitely captivate the World of Warcraft audience to no end. "zOMG, d00d, that Korean just got ippwn3d!!1"

I know I plan on describing good throws as "severe ippwnage" from now on. Especially for my "Digital Native" readers I am sure the term will take off.

Take a look at the site, and maybe let Matt know you've read his article.

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