This is the Judo blog of Lance Wicks. In this blog I cover mainly Judo and related topics. My Personal blog is over at LanceWicks.com 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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JudoCoach.com Blog by Lance Wicks

 

 


2013 A year of Judo 


Firstly, Happy Judo World Day!

It's a tad early I know, but as I think I am in the UK for the rest of the year I wanted to reflect on my year so far and consider how it affects who I am and what I do next year.

So this year, according to my little calendar I will have done the following:

1 x Run a kids Judo club.
1 x Run a adults/students Judo club.
1 x Took a team to BUCS championships.
2 x Hosted Hampshire Area mass randori.
1 x Hosted a Hampshire Kata session.
3 X Attended at least this many Hampshire Committee meetings.
1 x Hosted a Hampshire refereeing rules session.
1 x Host and maintain the Hampshire website
1 x Admin the unofficial BJA Facebook group
5 x Hampshire Team Championships (organiser).
1 x Hampshire Closed Championships (organiser)
1 x Hosted Hampshire Split Grade competition.
7 X IJF Competitions (IT Team, Live streaming)
4 x EJU Events (Incl. Kata championships, veterans and Glasgow EUropean Open of course).

So fairly busy.

I am particularly happy that I attended so many internationals of course. Attending both the Asian and European championships was amazing and of course the World Championships in Rio was the highlight of the year.

But call me sad, but I was even happier when a novice who joined my club after the Olympics last year won his first Gold Medal at the Hampshire Split Grade.

Keeping my small kids club open has been challenging and rewarding in equal doses.

For me, I consider coaching at the grassroots whilst working at the highest levels of my sport the biggest challenge and biggest plus I have as a coach. Running a small kids club in a small village is so far removed from the IJF events that I have a great perspective which spans across the full range of what Judo is.

I also attended the European Kata and European Veteran Championships this year. These are two passionate and committed communities that I am pleased to say have homes within the EJU. They also taught me a lot about the Judo world and about a broader spectrum of what Judo is.

This spectrum is great to see, as it helps me as a coach. Unlike many people who obsess over elite competition, I also teach kids and kata. And unlike many who run clubs, I see the highest level of our sport.

I attend local meetings and organise local events and I do the same at European and International level also.

One of my take-aways from this is that there are a lot of people who need to realise their place in the spectrum of Judo. How need to appreciate and be appreciated for the role they play.

Sadly, I see too many people who don't see their own value. Be that the parent who helps pickup mats at the end of a session (I love these people) or the table official who is there whenever they are asked. or the coach who covers a session as and when needed.

Even more sadly there are those that don't understand their position and think they are something they are not. Who do things that are not right for their position in the Judo community, in the Judo world.

I see coaches screaming at matside at little events; and trust me if the BJA gave it a license it's a "little event". There is no need for "super coach" behavior at events the BJA license... trust me!

Little events are not bad, they are the opposite. They are vital (in my opinion), they are where the majority of the participants in Judo. I genuinely think they get the short-end of the stick. I would love to see the BJA support them properly and those that run them.

I would mention that many of the people involved in them need to get both aspects into their heads. The reality of our situation is that we are a minority sport with low numbers compared to other sports. So we need to bootstrap back to the numbers we once had. We can't live in the past and keep doing things the same ways we did before.

The higher levels also need, I think, reminding that the grassroots are the lifeblood of the elite. The way our sport administers itself sometimes astounds me.

I live in the UK and the BJA is a mystery to me, and I suspect me to it. I run the unoffical BJA group on Facebook and it is fascinating to see how much bad feeling there is towards the BJA. Especially given that the BJA is a membership organisation and those people saying how little they think of it have all spent money to be members of that organisation... bizarre.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this post is because I am tired, so so tired. If you look at that list above you can see I have done quite a bit. And not all of it the fun exciting stuff. I have sat through meetings, read all the negative feedback from events I have run. I have moved more mats that I care to remember.

I am also a bit saddened as I am not doing any more international events this year.

But I am super happy, I have attended more events than I ever dreamed of attending. The Paris Grand Slam was and is amazing! Rio was incredible. In fact every event has been incredible. You don't know how much I love being involved with my sport at both local and international level.

And I feel it's important to express this as I want more people involved! I want people breaking out of their current situations and doing new and exciting things. I want them running clubs, events, competitions.

I want them growing Judo locally and I sincerely believe that I am the poster child for the more you give the more you get. I run my clubs and run local events and in return in some karmic way that pays for my attending the EJU and IJF events. It sounds a bit mystic, but I am being sincere, I do believe that running my small village kids club out of a school hall is one of the reasons I get to go to the EJU Kata Championships or all the way to Bangkok or Miami for competitions.

So I write this post for the person who loves Judo and wants it to be bigger, better. I worte this for the person who wants to go to the big events, to sit on a Bus with Illiadis who gets to meet Teddy Riner in person "backstage".

Please give your time to our amazing sport. If you are a parent, a player and coach an official. If you have a job skill try applying it to your Judo.

If you want to help me, or want me to help you, or want just a friendly word of support; please email me!

If I can help you do something I will try, if you offer your help to me I will say yes and try and appreciate you! If you just fancy chatting via email, then I love that.

What I ask is that you don't sit there reading this and do nothing. Do something, do anything. Make something happen, do it this week, not next week. Nobody will stop you, they may call you crazy or stupid, but when it works and a player comes to you and thanks you just for doing it; trust me you'll struggle not to shed a tear. I talk from experience here.

Be bold, give it a go, talk to you soon!

Lance.
(lw@judocoach.com)
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World Championships - Rio 2013 


I am currently in Rio helping deliver the live video streaming of the World Championships.

Judo is pretty unique in that all our IJF events are streamed free of charge via the internet. And not just the TV style commentated channel. We stream every match on every mat, all day from start to finish.

To watch just head over to http://ippon.tv or watch it direct on Youtube on your tablet, PC or phone even.

And here is the link:

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World Championships season. 


It's that time of year, World Championships time!
This time next week I shall be attending the World Cadet Championships and then later in August the Senior World Championships.

For someone like me with a self-confessed obsession with elite level Judo this is the most interesting time of the year. How athletes perform at continental opens, grand slams, grand prix and continental championships is fascinating... but nothing is bigger each year than the World Championships!

It is an interesting time. The first World championships season after the Olympic games. Qualification has yet to start, but teams are still maintaining ranking list positions so to get seeding right for when qualification does start.

Then there are the big names that are out or have been out. If you are one of the big guns, you might be ok without this world champs in the mix. But for many athletes just being there is important as the points on offer are substantial and can really help... though again that is often more of a consideration within the qualification period.

What is also interesting are the host nations/cities. The cadets are in Miami, USA. USA has really come a long way in recent years and have strong athletes and athletes coming through. It is interesting to see that matching up with hosting large events, coincidence?

The Seniors are in Rio, Brazil. Obviously with the Olympics in 2016 it's not a huge surprise that Rio is getting some practice in. Brazil has hosted some big Judo events so it should be good. The only wrinkle is the recent protests around large sporting events. I don't keep up on Brazilian politics and intentionally so, so I have no opinion on the situation; I just hope it runs well.

As a UK resident I will of course be watching the British team performance closely and it will be interesting to see what results they get and to see how reactions from the British Judo population go post event.
It's a new performance team in place now, and this is the first big test they face. With the BJA (in fact the whole country) in "one year since..." mode, it may be interesting for the new team.

The new performance team is still pretty unknown within the BJA. There has been very little education as to who is running the show and what the programme's plan is. The BJA has never been good at communicating and especially communicating around elite level. It's a mystery to most British Judo people as to who is involved, what the plan is and how it is progressing. I hold out a small amount of hope that during and perhaps after the Worlds in Rio the BJA will start being more open and engaged genuine social sharing on the internet. They are in desperate need of some two way communication (as opposed to the one way broadcast style they have now) and perhaps Rio will spur a change.

Anyway... in a few days I shall be on my way to see it all unfold in front of me and to help make it run smoothly for the athletes and for you the fans and Judo Junkies.
I'll be there working on the IJF IT team, helping run the events and more specifically helping make sure you can watch all the action live and for free online ( http://ippon.tv ) as well as getting the results via http://ippon.org and via twitter ate http://twitter.com/judoticker

Wish me luck, and stay tuned!
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What level do you coach? 


In sport we have levels, beginners through to Elite. There are an infinite number of levels between the top and the start. This post is about the definition of these levels and what it means to me (and you the reader) in terms of competing and coaching.

The British Judo Association has just published a new competition pathway for example. In a recent conversation with a coach we discussed the definition of an elite athlete.

So... lets start by looking at the BJA definitions. They break them into two categories encompassing five levels.

Category One: Development/Recreational
1. Beginner
2. Intermediate
3. Experienced

Category Two: Performance/Elite
4. Aspiring
5. Performance

I broadly like these levels and categories and look forward to seeing the BJA roll out events at all these levels countrywide. If they can do this; then I think we are in a great position going forward. If they leave it to or demand that local volunteers do it without financial and logistical support then it's a wasted effort... but thats a different subject!

So these categories are interesting and for me quite well defined. Better than many I have seen and realistic. For example, although they mention elite, they don't refer to any British events as elite. That makes me happy as for me "Elite" is a tiny group of players who medal at IJF events.

My only real issue with these BJA standards is that they are written solely from the perspective of kids Judo leading to adult. This I know is the majority of the Judo population. But as someone who runs a club full of adult beginners the pathway is not great as it is not written for them.

What level do you coach?
OK... so if you answered elite, I dispute it. If you answered performance I question it. I run two clubs and I although I work at elite level events, I certainly don't coach at those levels. I coach at beginner and intermediate level.

Knowing this is fantastic, it gives me perspective. I don't try and transplant what I learn at events directly into my club sessions. I understand where my coaching is aimed and I tailor my sessions accordingly. This does not mean that the people in my sessions don't learn about the new rules for example; it just means that it is an interesting aside; not key training content.

Sadly, I suspect lots of people think they are coaching at a much higher level than they really are. They are ruining their coaching by trying to coach "elite/performance" when they should be doing recreational/developmental coaching.

They two categories and all the levels are linked and not necessarily in easy to follow linear paths. And your coaching absolutely needs to include aspects of all levels. But that said, at the levels I coach at there is no need for me to scream technical advice from matside in competitions. I do talk to them in sessions about the new rules and the strategies that are relevant. It drives me made when I see coaches at developmental events doing much more than this. By the same token, the refereeing and officiating needs to be at a lower level than at elite level events. I certainly don't want to go to BJA events in a suit and tie!








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Continental Championships season. 


This weekend marked the start of what I'm going to call the "Continental Judo Championships Season", it is the time of year when all the IJF continental unions hold their respective championships. It's a big deal as the points you earn at a continental championships are considerable and especially for the "weaker" unions valuable.

If you look at my home continent of Oceania, winning the OJU championships is probably almost enough to put you on the top of the pile for Olympic berths. It certainly was one of the key elements of the OJU athletes plans for London 2012.

I am fortunate that this year I will attend two of the championships (Asia and Europe). These are probably the two toughest events and in ways that makes them the least valuable for players. By this I mean that the players winning points at the EJU or JUA champs are likely to be winning points at continental opens (formerly world cups) and Grand Slam and Grand Prix events.
It is much less likely that the points winners at OJU or AJU are in the same ballpark at the other events. So the continental championship points are more valuable in effect for them. If you follow my train of thought.

I am really looking forward to seeing what the Asian championships is like, I have never been before. I live and attend more events in Europe; so my awareness of players and styles is greater in this area. So it will be very educational for me.

The EJU championships will be interesting in a different way. Will we see the Russian women take lots of medals no Gamba is at the helm? Will GBR have more success as it has enjoyed recently? Will the big names be there? Will the big names perform? Will the big names who have been fighting in higher weight categories be back in their "normal" category or are they staying up... for now.

Of course, the other interesting thing will be to see more of the new IJF rules in action. This will be the first time we see some of these players under the new rules. The top ranked athletes have gained some experience; so I am interested to see if the players who have not been at recent events are fully up to speed with the changes in the sport.
Equally, if the smaller/weaker nations are adapting as well/fast as the larger/stronger nations. I don't expect to see many problems from say the Russian men, but what about the Thai women? Has the IJF education efforts made it to all levels yet?

The downside of this amazing opportunity to see the Asian and European Judo Championships is that I will be away from home for quite a lot of the time. Away from my family and from my Judo clubs and players. They are being looked after by good people, but it is tough on them and me all the disruption.

Speaking of which; if you are a coach (Judo or otherwise) and live in or near Southampton and Winchester (U.K.) and are interested in coaching at either/both the clubs I coach at please please contact me ( lw@judocoach.com ) as I am in desperate need of coaches to help realise the vision I have for the clubs and players.

I will try and write up some of my impressions of the events I am attending in one or more blog posts as my trip progresses.

Lance
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