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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World Masters Training, Week Summary 12/46.  

This week the highlight is breaking 200 miles run for the year (since February), but more on that in a moment.

So this week has been low key and low volume... not entirely planned, work commitments meant I missed my Thursday session.

On Monday I was up at Paul Jones' School of Judo again, Pete from Gosport came with me, which was nice. I really like Paul's club, it has a real "family" feel to it. I also like the ne-waza drills Paul does every week. I was never a strong ne-waza player, so I think it is a good idea to basically create a kata for groundwork. It means that all the students in Paul's club have a good basic knowledge of what to do in the situations represented in the drills.

In the Randori, I was caught twice, which was good and bad. Both were clean throws, one drop seoi nage by Luke, which was just inescapable.
The second was getting caught by a counter by one of the large adult greenbelts. I attacked with Uchi Mata, then switched with Ko Uchi Gari, then what I didn't do was follow through and put the guy down. This hesitation/failure on my part left me wide open to be taken backwards, which I was and after a brief flight I landed heavy... Ippon for sure!

The "take away" on this is that Judo is about throwing, not getting to a point where you could have thrown your opponent. Here in the UK and from my experience in most western clubs, Randori often does not include much actual throwing. Unlike Japan, when I trained there I was getting thrown constantly, where Randori is all about throwing each other.

Getting taken back was my fault, I used my uchi mata to get the ko uchi, when I got it something in me stopped, I knew I had him, but did not follow through and throw. My opponent on the other hand did what I should have down and followed through beautifully and bang I was thrown.

Now... as coaches, we need to balance safety and student retention against achieving the development of good Judo. Throwing is what Judo is about, yet each week we see players do nothing but fight for grips then maybe half commit to the odd attack.
Now, I know getting thrown is hard and does scare people off, and not just beginners, but throwing is IMHO vital, nobody gets points for getting to the point where they could have thrown someone, medals come to those who actually throw.
So we need to make sure our players are throwing often and well.

Back to my training...

After Monday, the week was a right off, I didn't do anything till Saturday.

Saturday I hit the road and did a 5.8 mile (10:22 per mile) run, which has put me over 200 miles run for the year! Back in April I bought a Nike+ kit and started using to track the mile I run and I am now on 202 miles!

It's not impressive by running standards, but I got a bit of a buzz from it, in fact I had been looking forward to the run since last week. This is perhaps a example of the importance of mini-goals in any training programme. Also of having "metrics" in your training.

In my Judo, I have not implemented any metrics as such, I should probably start counting uchi komi or perhaps throws completed? There is the old wisdom that it takes 10,000 uchi komi to master a throw, so maybe I should be trying to measure that, maybe you should do that too, or perhaps have other metrics, let me know.

The mini-goal (hitting 200 in my case) is important too, ever since I got over about 170 miles I have been looking forward to breaking 200. It has even got me out on the road on days when I considered skipping it.

Similar metric based mini-goals in Judo might prove useful in your training/coaching. What do you think? I know I plan on incorporating some metrics into my next cycle.

On that subject, I am re-assesing and re planning again this week, I want to incorporate a technique session, probably at home and with this weeks experience I think it may be a uchi-komi and nage-komi focussed session. So some set amount of uchi komi and ngge komi.

In my plans, I always incorporate a schedule of techniques to work on, which I follow roughly. Especially in the stage I am in at the moment, I have not been too focussed on that list, I just take a look every so often and try and use those techiniques during the session. As my training progresses and improves I plan to follow the technique side more strictly and make it more important.

Finally, on I spotted a link to which I am browsing and finding interesting, I have just subscribed to the RSS feed. Scott is a trainer and is sharing via the blog some training information on MMA (cage) fighters training. Lots of good stuff in there, take a look.

Anyway... the training this week has not been ideal, but I believe I am improving and am about ready to change up a gear. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I think I have under loaded myself in this cycle and will add more load in the next one. But it is all part of the learning curve and being underloaded means I don't get injured. :)

Till next time. Lance.

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World Masters Training, Week Summary 11/46.  

Your body is a funny old thing. One moment it's working fine, the next second you're out of the game.

This week, if you read my last post, I've had a bruised thigh to contend with. It's a really embarrassing injury, it's just a bruise, but it's painful as all heck! No really, give me some sympathy I say! :)

With the camp last weekend, my Monday session was off. Which was just as well with the thigh and all. Wednesday the thigh was better but still sore so I skipped Judo and Thursday, well work + family killed that idea.

So my sole bit of training this week has been a run this Saturday morning. I ran a little over 4 mile in 46 minutes. So no world records but a good solid run. It felt good to be out on the road and feeling comfortable.

So, what to discuss when I haven't done anything.

Well... I suppose what you learn from this is that injuries are the biggest issue a coach has to contend with when coaching a player. A minor injury can take you out of your schedule fast. A serious injury can put you back months!

As a coach you need to ensure that your athletes are in as safe a training environment as possible. You need to ensure (as much as possible) that your athletes are maintaining a healthy, safe lifestyle. In my case it was a football match that did the damage, but with your player it might be rugby, baseball, tennis, wrestling, skateboarding, etc. Worse, it could be drugs, alcohol, sex, fighting, driving recklessly, too many wild parties, etc.

Of course, ensuring that your Dojo and your sessions are safe is easy to cope with, do courses to maintain your knowledge, keep the dojo maintained, etc.

Those outside risks are harder to deal with.
Lifestyle is often an area coaches avoid, and it is understandable why. There is risks in involving yourself in peoples private lives. However, I would contend that as a coach helping players with their lifestyle issues is important. You can give an outside view from a respected source, often an athlete needs that.

By helping your athlete avoid, as is my weakness, late nights; your athlete will hopefully have improved recovery and avoid injuries.

How you effect this change with an athlete, to use psychological mumbo jumbo, is an intervention. These take a wide range of forms, and might need you to enlist support from outside parties, such as parents, other coaches, nutritionists, psychologists, etc.

In the case of lack of sleep, an intervention might take the form of a good heart to heart chat, or maybe instituting a training diary which includes details about the amount of sleep.


So this week was a bit of a waste training-wise, hopefully this next one will be a bit better.

Till next time,

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World Masters Training, Week Summary 10/46. 

Hi everyone, ten weeks already!
So this week I started late, didn't get much done till Wednesday when I went along to HMS Sultan. Did a little Randori, but got to revisit the Nage No Kata with Pete. Nice to do the kata again, it has been a while, the last two sets were very blurry in my mind.

Thursday was a good session down at Gosport Judo Club. I enjoyed it, I really like it as a club, feels really good down there. Nice cosy club, permanent mat area too. Which is always a bonus and such a rarity here in the UK.

Then, this weekend, I attended a Judo camp with the great people from the Basingstoke club I have been attending the Paul Jones School of Judo. Each year they hold a camp in Weymouth (south coast of England) there were about 40 family's there from the club. Mums, dads, Brothers and Sisters, great!

The thing I really like about Paul's club is this sensation of it being one big Family. Talking to one of the seniors I train with there, he pointed out his kids who were on the mat. And he made the comment that except for me all the men in the senior session started after their kids started as Juniors.

Now that, if I was the coach there, would be the biggest compliment I could get!

It's not always about the medals and the latest techniques.
Sometimes it's about poeople being drawn into our Judo "family" like that.

Anyway... so the camp was mainly social, but I did two sessions and a football/soccer match. Wish I had skipped the football, firstly I am rubbish at football, and it shows why I stuck to Judo, I am shockingly bad!
The second reason is that one of my random tackles resulted in me being knee'd in the side of my left thigh pretty darn solidly. It was painful then and once I cooled down it ached and ached and ACHED! To the point I am walking with a limp.
It must be bruised I guess quite deep.

Ouch, everytime I bend my leg it hurts like nothing on earth! That was Saturday when I hurt it and it is Sunday night tonight, so it must be relatively solid by anyones standards. Blinking annoying as I suspect it will take most of the week to recover.

One thing i am noticing as I am going through this process of trying to be a player again after many years, is that things take a lot longer. Both positives and negatives, getting fit and losing weight takes longer than I imagined it would/should. And recovering takes much longer than I care to give it.

Adjusting to my... maturity is a key element in what I need to do. To date I have got it wrong, I initially started too hard, doing too much training and it only lasted about a Month before I gave out. I am just not capable of doing it yet, I need more time to coax my body (and mind) back into being where it needs to be.

The worst thing is that this is all subjective decision making.
I can't consult a table and say "right 34 years, you can do x hours of Judo and you'll recover in y hours/days". I have to try it and see. I think the last few weeks I have gone too far the other way, too little training, where as in the early weeks I did too much. So I am hoping to find a mid way over the next couple of weeks.

Of course, I have told players in the past even other coaches exactly this.
It is interesting though that I am struggling to get the balance right when I am both player and coach.

As coaches, we need to acknowledge that a) we might have the balance wrong for our players and b) the player may not be able to tell you until it hurts. I as a player am obviously not able to detect I am doing too much in time.
As a coach i am failing to observe my players condition and adjust appropriately.

It really does show the value of both roles.

Anyway... late Sunday night now and I need to get of to bed to get some recovery time in after an agonising drive back from Weymouth.

Good Night!

P.s. any one know about good Judo in Vietnam? I may be heading that way on business this month and would love the chance to train/coach anywhere whilst there!

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Article on being self-coached. 

As the regular visitor to this site might be aware, I am training for the World Masters Judo Champs. You may also know that I am coaching myself, I am applying what I learnt on my three year coaching course at University of Bath on myself.

The process is really interesting as I have posted about previously, being both player and coach gives you some amazing perspectives.

I spotted an article over a Cool Runnings about coaching yourself and found it interesting, so here it is: ... horter.htm

Let me know what you think.

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Thoughts on the Karo Parisyan podcast and "Elite" Judo. 

This morning I listened to Mike and Gene's podcast with Karo “The Heat” Parisyan, a MMA fighter in the USA.
It was a terrific interview and was very enlightening to me, you should go take a listen over at if you have not heard it already. (theer are a bunch of great podcasts up there for you to listen to).

Anyway... Karo made a really interesting comment; that the quality of Judo competition is way too high! Not too low, too high. He refered to himself as an example, that he is in teh top 3 in MMA, but in Judo he’d only be maybe top 50 or top 75!
Now we can slap ourselves on the back and say how much better Judo is compared to MMA, but then Karyo made the other point I’d like to comment on. Karyo said that in the 16 years he’d been in Judo all he had done was “pay pay pay”, in the few years he’s been in MMA he has gained some fame and a living, as in money to live off.

So there are two issues here that I have discussed with people on many occasions, one is the “elite” element of Judo being so important and also the lack of a viable economy in Judo for athletes.
So lets start with the second point, Karo was apparently at the level of Judo athlete, that was ready to hit the Olympic level. Much like New Zealand All Black rugby player Steve McDowell was at one point apparently invited onto a NZ Olympic squad in Judo. However, both Karo and Steve decided to take the other path and this is for us in the Judo world a bad thing! That is people walking out of our sport, and for every Karo or Steve, I would put money on their being 20-100 lower level athletes who step out of Judo to pursue other sports because there is no future in Judo for them in terms of fame and or fortune.
I know I have thought about it, but we all (and specifically the governing bodies) need to, in my opinion, need to put time, thought, effort and action into! Especially if we consider the first point that Karo made about the extremely high level that the Elite Judoka needs to reach.

Karo, rightly said that the level of the elite Judo athlete is amazingly high, too high.
You can extrapolate from what he said and say that he is a successful MMA fighter but (ARGUEABLY) would never had made the elite level in Judo, let alone top 3 in the world. I know how he feels, I was never good enough to make the Olympic level. And gto be frank, in Judo if you are not of that elite level, you are nothing.
Look at our sports funding and approach, what is dedicated to those amazing few who are that good, how much is dedicated to us the majority who are not ‘that’ good. There is so few of “them” and so many of “us”, so where is my reward, my support to participate in Judo?

Worse, what about the people I meet on a regular basis in Judo who are not necessarily even at my own modest level, the brown belts or the adult novice? The 18 year old dan grade who is good, but not “that” good?
What keeps them in the sport? Where is their, and I steal this term directly from a international level athlete Steve Withers, come successful Judo Coach, where is “My Olympics”? Where are the big events for the rest of us?
Why is there no governing body built series of events for the rest of us?
Why do governing body websites have news stories about the elite players and not about Joe Bloggs winning the area kyu grade championships?
Why do we in Judo focus on the elite so much?
Why are the non-”elite” so looked down on?
Why is the elite so improtant? Maybe the “elite” should be a lower level?

I recently argued this witha World Champion and a European champion, and it got heated. I argued the case that the Olympics are dead for many of us, especially for us from smaller nations. The whole qualification system sucks for Judo, so maybe we should get out of it!
You no longer need to be the best in your country, you have to be better than that!
Small nations that are not good at Judo no longer have the opportunity to attend the Olympic games, they can’t even go, let alone hope for a “lucky throw”. They don’t get to even march into the stadium and enjoy the Olympic experience. That is tragic!
Recently i have been discussing why adult beginners participate and continue to participate in our sport. It is a hard subject as so few of “us” know as a vast majority of adult Judo participants are people who started as kids.
So, we discussed it and recalled why we liked it as kids. For most people it was the competing I think. We love fighting, and we love winning. We hate losing, so the high level of Judo competition is a negative for beginners.

So.... what I have suggested is this, that governing bodies need to develop tournament schedules that cater to the non-elite. A successful example is the Masters circuit which is flourishing! The masters scene is great as it caters to quite a high level but not the elite level (although that seems to be changing and getting higher).
So we need to discover new ways to allow the non-elite player gets to compete at a high level for THEM. Maybe we need to look at lowering the technical/competitive level of competition in Judo.
I have heard the idea suggested of creating “Top 16” events, so that the top 16 ranked players fight in events solely for them. The obvious other to this would be 17-30 events and so forth. This has some big issues as it may actually raise the level even higher, so would need to be carefully managed.
So, what are your thoughts?
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