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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Happy 2017 

Hello everyone and welcome to 2017!

2016 is over and what a mixed year it was. Both some highs some very low lows.

For me in 2016, we saw the BJA descend even lower after the loss of the European Judo Championships. It has continued to fail to address the serious governance issues suitably.

For those who have not been keeping up to date, the BritishJudo organisation made some terrible decisions in regard to sponsorship deals with the UFC for the European Championships. This caused the cancellation of the championships and was found via an independant report commissioned by BritishJudo and UKSport to be primarily the fault of the (now) former chair Kerrith Brown and the (still) CEO Andrew Scouler. The committee formed to oversee the event chaired by the (now acting) chair Ronnie Saez was also heavily criticized.

Since the loss in 2015, the BJA has steadfastly refused to communicate with the membership about the problems, nor to follow the recommendations given by the report.

In 2016 enough information was able to be shared that a number of clubs (approximately 30) formed along with a larger number of license holders an organisation that attempted to make the BJA respond to the clear issues.

As a member of this group, I popped my head above the parapet and even ended up attending a meeting with the BJA board to try and get some action. This meeting came after repeated less serious attempts; and following a decision by a group of clubs to propose resolutions for the AGM to remove all the board members of the association as they felt that the association deserved the opportunity to discuss the issues and decide if the board members had done enough.

Unfortunately, the result of the meeting was very negative. After what was initially a very combative start, the real discussion started. This ended in a positive reaction; however ended negatively when the chair rather than carrying on the positive; decided to revert to form and posted a report on the meeting in which several inaccurate statements were made. And the one resolution actually put forward was not accepted for the AGM.

Obviously this was infuriating for me and resulted in my decision that unless the CEO and Chair go I shan't be able to work with the BJA.

Since then, little has changed. Their is some governance changes coming; forced upon the BJA by UKSport. Hopefully UKSport is able to extricate the BJA from the mess the BJA leadership has created and extended for so long.

To date, the BJA has only ever said that all is well, that they did no wrong and has yet to acknowledge the damage they have done to the lives, dreams and careers of too many. The board sit in their isolation and have yet to as much as apologise let alone take any responsibility for their failings.

But hey... why worry about little things like integrity when you can be a board member and sit on a board that damages the association whilst being under the misunderstanding it is part of the solution.

As we go into 2017, the BJA persists with it's performance programme that insists that athletes relocate to Walsall. Where they have no record of success and away from places like Camberley and Edinburgh where Olympic success has come from.

Funding in 2016 was a joke and we can expect despite the continued amazing funding from UKSport that the BJA will plead poverty due to spending money on everything except the talent.
More investment is flawed and proven to fail programmes and procedures and staff and continued failing to listen to the athletes and their coaches.

But 2017 is not a year for pessimism.

2017 is the year where the athletes, coaches, license holders and clubs I hope will realise that the BJA needs them... not the other way around.

My sincere hope is that players have the courage to do what is best for them NOT what is best for the BJA board.

I hope that clubs will realise that the BJA is there to serve them, not to command them. That they are the owners of the BJA; not "workforce". That they realise that membership is optional and that they consider seriously if the BJA is worth the time, energy and money they pour into it.

I hope everyone realises that Walsall and Loughborough are NOT the BJA. They are "BritishJudo" and they should be replaced. That the BJA is the clubs and license holders that should have been served by BritishJudo.

I hope that the area and county organisations wake up and realise they have power to act properly and do not have to tow the company line. Too many in 2016 followed the BJA lead and did nothing or accepted the BJA position with no investigation let alone real explanation.

Clubs need to appreciate that they own the association and that the board and the staff report ultimately to them. That their club voice is important. That they should and in fact have an obligation to ensure the BritishJudo acts in the interests of Judo.

The athletes I hope manage to succeed despite the system as they have done to date. I hope as they are now outside of qualification they use that effectively to decrease the leverage the BritishJudo programmes have on them and that they are able to get their situations improved prior to Olympic qualification starting.

Most of all I hope that a virus of caring spreads through the BJA.

This year I hope that I shall have the energy to work in the EJU and IJF more than in 2016 where the internal struggles in the BJA had a detrimental effect on my life in so many ways.

The IJF and EJU are hugely positive groups of people. It frustrates me immensely that BritishJudo is so different and disconnected from these organisations. At times it has actively been working against them and that is ridiculous. Perhaps 2017 is the year when the BJA starts to learn from the EJU and IJF and to grow in the way the EJU and IJF have.

We shall see...
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Paris Grand Slam 2016 TeamGB 

Well, Sunday ended very well indeed for the BJA. Sally Conway and Natalie Powell both securing medals.

As Bob points out; the BJA sent a decent sized team to this event.

The results are great compared to previous results; and given where we are in Olympic cycle promising for the women at least. The results were not as positive for the men.

That is not to say the performances were not good and/or improved. Performances and Results are not the same thing. Results are what the funding bodies and history remembers. Performances are what get you there along with luck and everything else.

As we close in on Rio2016, we get closer to knowing if the second attempt at a centralised system in a row will pay off. Nail biting time for the BJA which is already in trouble over the 2015 European Championships fiasco and the not yet published report into that event.

Good results in Rio2016 might save the current leadership. If the results are poor you have to hope heads will roll.
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2015 World Championships - TeamGB 

Well, the British involvement in the World Championships ended today. This blog post is not about the performances of the athletes; it is a repeated warning that the BJA is in trouble and ruining lives.

Back on August 11th, I wrote about the team selection. The lack of a full team, the worries I have for a “performance programme” this close to an Olympic games not sending a full team. The people and processes behind the BJA programme worry me as although creating champions is a puzzle; it is a puzzle where we actually know a lot about and the BJA is ignoring the knowledge and doing stupid things that are affecting not just the programmes chances of success; but screwing up lives also.

Back in March I wrote about the BJA managed to lose the hosting of the European Championships. I mention the loss of “home court advantage”. Looking at the medal table today, I see that Kazakhstan (hosts of the world championships) are in fourth place; not a position I recall seeing them in before. They were 26th on the medal table in 2014 at the Worlds.
So in the crucial final period leading up to the Rio Olympics, the BJA lost home advantage at a Europeans, then sent only half a team to the Worlds.

To me, this should be setting of massive alarm claxons.
We know that to win medals at Olympic Games you have to do the following:
1. Qualify
2. Be seeded.

To qualify and to be seeded is a simple mathematical problem. You have to get as many points on the IJF WRL as humanly possible. The Top 8 players in each category will have the best chance of winning a medal. If you are running a programme geared towards winning medals at Olympic Games your job is to get points.

And in Europe the two tournaments that matter are the Europeans and Worlds. So it is vital that you send all your Olympic contenders to these two events where maximum points are on offer. Unlike other events, there are points there just for showing up and stepping on the mat. A loss in first round gets you a few points and in the modern WRL driven world, 1 point can make all the difference.

Another key consideration is that the points you earn on the IJF WRL decrease in value after 12 months by 50%. So your results in this years Worlds count for far more than last years. This singl
e tournament is the most imprtant single event in qualification for Rio2016… and we had a mere 8 players attend.

This should be setting on massive alarm claxons for those who have seen the mission of the BJA programme. Their mission is to get medals in Olympic Games; yet at the single most important event in the run up to the games they sent half a team. So half the players have lost the chance to attend the single most important event in the 2 year qualification period. For me, this is a sign that the BJA programme is not correct and sadly; this is yet another Olympic Cycle being damaged at the athletes expense.

The BJA athletes have got at this stage to worry about their chances for Rio. Players like Danny Williams and Frazer Chamberlain (amongst others) may well have had their best chance to qualify taken away not by opponents beating them; but by the BJA's own performance programme.

Today I read Bob Challis' scathing blog post on the world championships and I think he is being very kind in how he describes the performance. He like me feels I sympathy for the athletes caught in the middle here. They all want to win gold; they all work as hard as they are able and compete at the best level they can.

Sadly, I think they are being handicapped by the BJA programme. Walsall as a centre is far from excellent. The programme itself has been hard wired to run along a course that nobody in the programme decided. We must remember that the centralised programme at Walsall was decided before the current performance director was put in place. He is a mere figurehead for a ship that had it's course set before he arrived.
Unfortunately, the culture of the BJA programme that existed before London2012 seems to have changed very little. Forced relocation to Walsall is part of the programme just as being ofced to live in Dartford was prior to London2012.

All that said, 2015 is actually an improvement on 2014; Sally Conway (Edinburgh based) managed to get a 7th place. Lifting GBR from 44th to 33rd in the world.

But one 7th place one year from the Olympics is a disaster and I hope the BJA know it. I may only be a “keyboard warrior” but seemingly unlike the BJA I know how the modern game is played. I may not know how to prepare an athlete; let alone be an elite athlete; but I do know how an athlete gets to go to Rio2016. I know what the key performance indicators for a modern elite programme are. And it's not hard. You go to the IJF website, click on the link to the World Ranking List.

I do not know what I want to happen next.
Where as before London2012 I wanted the performance directors and lead coaching staff gone; I am not sure that is the right thing atthis time. I am not sure what the athletes want or need. And I am bltently not alone. The BJA obviously has no clue; or if they do they are either evil or incompetant otherwise the talented athletes we have would be doing better than they are.

If incompetant; then maybe the results from Astana might wake them up and get them off their pedestals and get them to make serious changes. If evil, this has not all be incompetance and they are intentionally ruining lives of athletes… I genuinely hope this is just people doing a piss poor job of serving the athletes and not intentional.

In a wider look at the event; the champions all fell except for Teddy Riner. To me this indicates that the medalists for Rio2016 are not going to be as easy to predict. It indicates to me that perhaps some of the senior members of the IJF circuit are perhaps on the downwards slide. That there is a re-arrangement of dominance happening. That if the BJA players stand any chance to medalling in Rio, then this is the time to make real and meaningful changes to the programme.

British players can and have won medals at World Championships and at the Olympic Games. Right now; Rio2016 is looking like a games where we will not bring back a medal. We don't have Karina anymore and Gemma does not have home advantage. We did not send any new blood to Astana; I think we should have. Now in the last 12 months before Rio it is time to get serious and stop pretending that if we build “systems” and “facilities” then medals will fall into the players laps.

Now is the time to stop getting in the players way and start serving them. The Walsall experiment has failed and now is not the time to hold onto a failed idea. Now is the time to accept that as it stands we will be walking off the Copacabana with nothing but sand. Now is the time to restart, the time to actually build champions not centres, to support athletes not programmes. This is the time to stop being mediocore and allow the elite players to excel and not drag them down to the level of the BJA organisation.

Please, for the sake of the young people in your care; be the best servants to them that you can.

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British Judo team to World Championships. 

So I have been quiet recently, in part because I have felt that perhaps my criticisms of the BJA performance programme were proving inaccurate.

However, this week I feel more like myself. Today I feel like I am stuck in some weird groundhog day nightmare, where the BJA does insane sh!t just before the Olympic Games.

This week, the BJA announced the nine strong team for the senior world championships. That is nine out of the maximum of 18.

Here we are at the closing stages of Olympic qualification and the BJA is not sending a full team. Meaning, that despite a minimum of 72 points being available to the BJA; the performance programme is choosing to handicap it's own players.

As I write this, the BJA has 9 players who are in qualification positions. One of which is a continental quota position. The players selected for Astana will collect a minimum of 4 points. The players not selected are in effect giving away 4 points.

For the athletes not selected, the BJA is hamstringing it's own athletes. Not only do they have to fight against other nations; now their own association is working against them.

The BJA fielded a full team of top level players to the low level British Open; but is not sending a full team to the most important event of the year; I don't understand it.

We have a centre of excellence, but one that sends it's top players to a low level local event and not the top level events. This is not excellence; this is textbook mediocrity for me.

I am absolutely at a loss as to how the BJA programme works, there are seemingly intelligent people involved. Yet, when decisions are being made... it seems that the worst option is the one chosen.

As for we the rank and file members. We are being asked to support the team and proclaim that #WeAreGBJudo yet the BJA sends half a team to the biggest event of the year!

The last thing I want to close with is that I am utterly gutted for those athletes who have not been selected especially those who so desperately need the points. Those athletes who have and are dedicating their lives to their dreams deserve better than this; they really do.

Sorry, you deserve an association that understands what you are trying to achieve and one that is working with and for you rather than against you!
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The #JudoWindowChallenge 

This weekend, an idea germinated on the BJA facebook group ( which I've dubbed the #JudoWindowChallenge.

The idea is that if everyone one of the over 4000 members of the group printed a "Try Judo" poster and put it in their car window we would get more people seeing Judo and hopefully joining.

It's a simple, low-cost idea that anyone should be able to do.

To get it started people thought we could borrow from the Ice Bucket challenge of 2014 and make a social media challenge of it. So the idea is that we challenge three Judo friends to put a poster in their car window and then post about it on Twitter or on their Facebook page (and or Blog) too.

So it's just starting today.
A great conversation has sprung up about what sort of images to use and where to get posters. Nicola Fairbrother has some great free to use ones on her KokaKids site (like this one for example: ... osterflyer ).

So, join the challenge. Design or download a poster. Print it out and stick it in your car window. Take a photo and share it online and challenge your friends to do the same.

It was/is for Judo in the UK. But already it's spreading out internationally; so join in and lets see how this works out!


p.s. Try and use the hashtag #JudoWindowChallenge so it's easier for us to see all the awesome photos!

Facebook #JudoWindowChallenge

Twitter #JudoWindowChallenge

Google Search: #judowindowchallenge

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