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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February 2015 update. 

So.... what a month!

Lets start with the big news, the European Championships have moved from Glasgow to Baku.

The story goes like this, the EJU cancelled the event (for the first time in 59 years, and that was for a revolution!). The reason given by the EJU was "...The European Judo Union has come to the realisation that the British Judo Association does not fit the EJU criteria to host the EJU flagship event...".
This is based on the incredibly devisive sponsorship deals between BJA and UFC.

Later the event was moved to Baku, which is a sane decision as Baku is probably the only place that could pick up the event at short notice. They were already in progress with the European Games, so have things in place to run the event (not to forget they run IJF events already).

For me, it is a right kick in the guts!
I have worked the past two Glasgow Opens; last years in particular was a test drive for the Europeans. I was asked specifically to report back in reference to how it went and of course how it fitted in with the readiness for European Championships. I was also on the roster to work Glasgow, so thats two years of commitment by EJU as much as for the events team of the BJA.

The BJA Leadership have since "lawyered up" as one of the many many commenters on the BJA Facebook page coined it. We after more than two weeks have not heard a peep from the chair and only the statement from 19th.

For me it was obviously a poor partnership, from the start. The majority of the membership was I feel against it; those who were on the fence did not like the way it has caused conflict.

Worse it has been obvious to all that the IJF and EJU are totally against the UFC forays into the Judo community.

After the initial UFC deal in November, the IJF general secretary followed by the IJF president himself spoke out about the topic. This was above and beyond the more private opposition to this direction from the wider community towards the BJA.

The newer UFC deal was a shock to me, I could not believe the BJA had done it. Then as the story unfolded I was shocked further that the EJU followed through and cancelled the event taking it away from the BJA. Shocked, yet impressed.

The BJA leadership maintains it acted "professionally and diligently"; this I find an embarrassment as their actions caused the loss of the event from British shores. Their pursuing a bad partnership against the views of the the wiser and more experienced opinions of the EJU and IJF is stupid to me. The actions that lead to a situation where the parent organisation not only cancels the event but describes a national governing body for Judo decisions as not being compatible with the values of our sport is far from professional to me.

As I write this, the BJA are negotiating insurance and legal. They have yet to apologise to the EJU, IJF let alone the membership.
This again is unforgivably unprofessional and far from diligent. A carefully worded statementy from the chair would have been such a simple way of regaining some relationship with EJU, IJF and the BJA membership.

Their are those who are pushing for answers, we want to know how the board of directors approved such a partnership given the obvious opposition from the EJU and IJF.
People also want clarification on the relationships between the UFC and the BJA leadership. Questions are not being answered about an organisation called CSF which has been reported as the broker between UFC and BJA. This CSF organisation I am lead to believe is a business of the the BJA chairman.

The BJA has long had a loose attitude to conflicts of interest in my view. But if this disastrous UFC partnership was done with any financial benefit to the chairman via this CSF; then the "professional and diligent" statement is terribly inaccurate or the BJA definition of these terms is hugely different to my own.

Personally, I don't feel the current BJA leadership have any solution that does not include very public apologies and without something special, people have to leave. The most obvious candidates being the chair and the CEO who from the outside seem the main players within the BJA involved in the fiasco.

So stay tuned, but don't hold your breath as I don't expect the BJA to suddenly change their approach and start communicating with their members. But, they will be forced soon to start talking even if it is very limited.

It is a disaster, which even if it was all done in good faith I think is of such a scale that people need to do the honorable thing.

We must not forget the simple facts, the last time the European Championships was cancelled was approximately 60 years ago, where it was scheduled I believe to be in Hungary, but the revolution prevented it going ahead.

The BJA lost the European Championships, along with the Olympic Qualification opportunity it gave. London2012 and Glasgow2014 have proved that Brits do better at home than away; so the loss is likely to impact the Rio2016 games (and funding associated with it) in a negative way.

Not only did the BJA lose the championships, they lost them in an embarrassing way. It has caused damage to the reputation of the BJA, EJU and Judo generally.

Other stuff...

So this month in Judo terms has included things other than the BJA/UFC fiasco.

I was in Austria for the Oberwart Continental Open for women. It was a good event, my first time in Austria and I very much enjoyed the smooth operation and being with my EJU family once again.

The BJA performance programme has adopted Alice Schlesinger this month. And suddenly we have a medal contender. She has fought well and got results.
Regular readers will know my opinions on the performance programme. And "airlifting" in an already elite level player was a bit of a surprise. But I am not looking this gift horse in the mouth. Israels loss is the BJAs gain.
I do feel for the other -63kg women in the BJA; it would have been so much better if we could have adopted a +100kg male for example where we no longer have an active athlete. But, it's a hard puzzle elite performance programmes; and the BJA had an opportunity to bring in a world level athlete and her coach. I hope they take full advantage. I really hope that once the athletes in -63kg (and other categories) get over the shock they see Alice as the leader she could be and that they can follow the example whe has given already to grow and excel in her slipstream; ready to overtake her once her time is past. To support her now; so that she can be a strong leader for the BJA athletes attack on Rio2016.

My club has been struggling somewhat this term; and this month it hurt not to field a team for the British Universities Championships for the first time since the clubs creation in 2010.

I see this as a challenge and I have started some changes to address the "rot". Not least of all is re-assessing our venue and training times and being re-invigorated to work on software systems to automate and "gamify" attendance and attainment for the club members (stay tuned).

On the plus side, we did something new and it worked well. We dedicated ourselves over 5/6 weeks to exploring the Kodokan go-kyo. This was a great experience as a coach and I hope as students of Judo.

We explored the gokyo one set at a time, not to perfect it; but to experience it. We not only did the techniques, we studied them. We used resources like the the Anton Geesink book and Kodokan book as well as youtube to explore different version of throws and discussed these differrences. We were also fortunate to have input from people around the world including from the Kodokan itself!

It reminded me that my role as a coach is not to teach, rather to create a learning environment. And despite the fact I was leading the sessions; I enjoyed watching the "students" teaching one another. To observe two white belts explore the more advanced waza in the fifth set was inspiring.

On a county level, the Hampshire Closed was today. It has been good to see the Fleming Park Judo Club pick up running events. And I was really happy to help them shift mats on Saturday night. And to sit in the hall on Sunday and see a venue that is probably the closest to EJU standard as I have seen in the UK was very rewarding. In recent years I have run quite a few events in Hampshire and I know firsthand how hard it is and how little support their is; so to see the work Roland and co put in makes me very happy!

It was great also to hear good things about some of the young people I coached in Alresford who are now training in Winchester. Both the coaches and one of the peers mentioned them in positive ways. I am always saddened when I think of closing the club; but reassured that they have continued in Judo.

On that note, perhaps it is only other coaches that appreciate the amazing feeling that comes from hearing from people that have passed through your club and continue in Judo, sport and other good things.

Two students who started Judo with me and have since graduated university and the club have recently won medals and that makes me so happy. The medals are great, but what makes me so happy is that they are still in love with sport and Judo and living better lives.

Judo is "more than sport" and despite the depressing state of affairs with BJA pursuing UFC money when it should be supporting and following the EJU and IJF in growing people; I am optimistic.

Judo will continue to grow both as a sport and a way of improving people and society. It is doing that outside of the UK already. The EJU and IJF have grown the sport and put more effort into the non-sport side of Judo than the BJA has.

Outside of the UK, Judo is on the rise. My hope is that from the darkness of the BJA losing the championships; a change will be forced and new leadership will rise and Judo here will grow towards it's potential.

It can happen and I believe it will happen. I don't think that the BJA can continue in the direction it has been going.

It will move towards promoting the sport of Judo and the social benefits of Judo as a sport and activity for all.

So there you have it, some random ramblings to mark the end of the second month on 2015. Good things are coming; I'm sure of it. After the storm, the sun will return.

Ronal Lakhani 

Hey Lance, it's Ronal

I was reading your blog to see how the club was doing. I'm doing both judo and ju jutsu back in Andover and am 7th kyu out of 9 in IBA judo and i'm 8th kyu out of 11 in ju jutsu

I read about your views on the UFC and EJU but disagree; after going to Hampshire Closed in 2012 when I was a student (but fought alone as no other students went), I didn't like the fact the officials were grumps who didn't like the fact you don't wear your shoes off the mat (the guy with short hair and glasses) and you had to walk on the mat in a specific manner. That and they lost my white belt when I went! These are the superficial things; other problems include 8.45 AM weigh ins when fights don't start until 1 and there is no novice category; heck, even in 'novice' competitions it's 9th,8th,7th and 6th kyu in one category when 8th and 7th will have more experience.

Why I disagree with your view UFC-BJA collaboration is because IJF rules for judo and becoming silly; groundwork is limited, no leg grabs and no ducking under the shoulder of your opponent.Specific grips are also unrealistic as a fight in the street won't have someone penalising you for the 'wrong' grip.

Now, an issue you say is that in MMA you don't like how there are knockouts,submissions and referee stoppages; but these 3 things are in judo too. You get knocked out if you don't know how to breakfall properly (and i've seen plenty of TKOs at Hampshire closed and a certain someone we knew was crying!), there are submissions by shime-waza and kansetsus waza, and stoppages in judo too; plenty of people are choked unconscious in judo and their arms broken. So how is it any worse than MMA when the guy who is defeated taps out when they're being choked,strangled or submitted?

Judo in MMA sees a mixed results: Hidehiko Yoshida and Satoshi Ishii lost to the more all-rounded fighters, Min Soo-Kim's record is a joke for an Olympian, Kalo Parisiyan has only JUNIOR judo titles, and Anderson Silva and Bas Rutten's judo black belt skills are hard to see in a no-gi situation. The only two judoka who have sent shockwaves through the MMA world are Fedor and Ronda Rousey.

So while I love judo and traditional ju jutsu, I like the concept of MMA. After all, karateka like Machida;Liddell and Georges St Pierre represent the Okinawan style and plenty of fighters do Muay Thai which is in fact OLDER than most martial arts. Wrestling is the oldest known martial art in existence.

I think traditional and mixed martial arts should be taught separately but every style has beneficial techniques so that's why I think judo should be promoted as 'more than sport'


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