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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Coaching versus Instructing. A little example from my weekend. 

Regular readers will know that over the years I have developed a belief that in Judo we have many people instructing Judo and a much smaller number coaching Judo.

So today I thought I would highlight what my train of thought is by looking at an example... me. Why me, because this weekend I had a great experience of seeing coaching pay off.

The tale starts like this... in the previous Hampshire Team Championships, several members of the team submitted to strangles. So as the coach I watched in horror as matches were lost as they tapped out.

So for the past month or two at the club I have been doing regular drills around strangles. Mainly getting players to lie on their front and allow their partner to place their arm under their chin and around their throat. On Hajime, the person underneath must defend the strangle. We did several variations, such as quickly turning away from the strangle or popping the chin under the arm (read Dr Annmaria HERE for more thoughts on this ).

I did very little instructing on how to defend a strangle or even how to apply one. I was more basic, put them in the position and shout Hajime; then Matte. repeat, repeat, repeat and yes you guessed it repeat again.

This past weekend, the team again took to the mat and fought in the next round of the team championships. And not one of the players tapped out to a strangle. This despite several pretty good attempts by their opponents, purple abrasions galore afterwards.
But none of the people in my club got caught; the reaosn? Mainly they were comfortable knowing when they were in trouble. They knew the point where they were going to go to sleep. They knew how to defend via experiencing it in the club in training.

What I did not do was spend long periods of time showing variations and tricks around defending strangles. What I did was put the players in competitions, observe the players in action and identify areas needing improvement. Having identified areas I spoke to the players and then did specific training to address the weakness over a two month period or so.

The players learned in training and when they were attacked in the competition with strangles they had taught themselves what to do.

This is an example of coaching. I did not instruct the players what to do; rather put them in situations where they could learn for themselves. This is coaching for me. Using my eye, knowledge and experience I created a series of situations where players learnt.

I didi not instruct them on how to defend from position "X" or from specific strangulation techniques from books or form competitions. A majority of my exercises were just player one face down on their front with their partners arm under their chin holding the jacket on the far side. I just called Hajime, counted the time and called Matte, got them to swap over or swap partners and called Hajime again.

The result, the team learned how to defend a strangle.

Having watched this weekends action we have more to focus on and that is what the role of a coach is, to observe and adapt. To keep tuning the training to help the players get better and better week on week.
It is not my job to instruct them on how to do everything they need to do. I can not teach fast enough or well enough for this to work past the novice levels (if that).

I hope this little example helps to express what I mean when I argue about coaching versus instructing in a Judo context.

Let me know what you think.

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2013 it's going to be a busy one! 

Hi everyone!

So here we are at the end of January and the Judo year is about to start, all guns blazing! And my year starts in earnest too.

This weekend I have a busy one, this morning I took a session for Holbrook Judo Club as guest instructor for their monthly squad session. Tomorrow I shall attend the Hampshire Judo Junior and Senior squad training sessions. After which I shall be taking my regular sunday training session at Southampton Solent University Judo Club (aka Southampton City Judo Club). Monday I'll be taking the Alresford Judo Club, Tuesday (7am) and Thursday (6:30pm) Solent again.

Then on Sunday the 3rd I shall be in competition organiser mode running the fourth in the Hampshire Team Championships series of competitions, the first of 2013.

Come the Tuesday (5th), I fly to Paris to help stream the Paris Grand Slam tournament for the IJF. This is a huge event and one not to be missed, I hope that we will be able to share the stream for all of those unable to attend in person. Thankfully my good friend Danny Murphy is taking the session at Solent whilst I am away! When I get back I have Tina and Dennis Penfold coaching the Solent Judo team in Kata in preparation of the Hampshire Kata COmpetition later in the year.

Later in February I head to Samsun, Turkey for another IJF event. I will also be taking the team from Solent up to Sheffield for the British Universities Judo Championships. In March another Team Championships and then the big event for the first part of the year for me, The 2013 Hampshire Judo Championships (Hampshire Closed). This is the biggest event I have run to date so i am looking forward to it. Entries opened on the 19th and are coming in steadily.

This year is looking very exciting and I am looking forward to it hugely.
I am also, trying to breath new life into the podcast, work on the JudoTicker, and generally keeping busy!

The truth is there is far too much for me to do, so I am actively looking for people to help. I need to find some volunteer coaches for Southampton and Alresford, I need people to help pull the events together to take on some of the little jobs and some of the big ones. So if you want to help me out or mosre likely you would like to help out Judo in Hampshire then drop me a message and let me know!

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Last weekend at the British Cadet Championships there was an incident where a hantei decision was changed by the referee in charge after the match had finished.

It was a very close match and the decision was a split one, 2-1 for the Player from the Ealing Judo Club. Watching the match online, I have to say I felt that white had edged the match; but did not feel it was a trevesty for blue to get the win, especially by a split decision.

However... much like at the London games the decision was altered by the intervention of the commission/referee in charge.

I just posted on the BJA Group on facebook a quick exploration of the official position of a number of sports including Judo towards the referee.
I thought I would post it here also for a wider audience to spread the discussion about the direction/approach our sport is taking to officiating matches.

It is I think good for us in this period of discussion around refereeing to consider how other sports approach it. Below are some snippets from the official IRB rule book in reference to the referee and match officials:

"The referee is the sole judge of fact and of Law during a match. "

"A match organiser may appoint an official who uses technological devices. If the referee is unsure when making a decision in in-goal involving a try being scored or a touch down, that official may be consulted."

FIFA Rules of Football:
"Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed."

"The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match."

"In respect of each LTA Official Competition, the Referee will:
(a) be the final on-site authority for the interpretation of the Rules of Tennis and these Regulations (including the LTA Code of Conduct);"

British Judo:
"Generally, the contest shall be conducted by one Referee and two (2) Judges under the supervision of the Refereeing Commission. The Referee and Judges shall be assisted by Scoreboard Keepers and Timekeepers."

"Should the Referee express an opinion on a technical result or a penalty of a higher degree than that of the two (2) Judges, he must adjust his evaluation to that of the Judge expressing the higher evaluation. Should the Referee express an opinion on a technical result or a penalty of a lower degree than that of the two (2) Judges, he must adjust his evaluation to that of the Judge expressing the lower evaluation. Should one Judge express an opinion of a higher degree and the other "

I have just read through the document (May 2012 edition) and I can't see anything saying that the commission or RIC can have a decision changed. In fact the only reference to them I spotted as I canned the document is included above.

It is noticeable to me that the other sports are rather clear that the referee is the sole decision maker and the ultimate authority. Other assist the referee be they assistant referees or a video replay, but it is the referee who decides and in the above examples generally at the request of the referee.

Our rules are blurrier, all that majority of three stuff. And no where I saw on my scan through is the a succinct statement that the referee is the ultimate authority.

What do others think?

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Asian tour, new IJF rules and 2013 

Hi everyone,
I have completed my Asia tour, 9 days in China and 7 short days in Japan. It was a wonderful trip with my colleagues in the IJF team helping share the two competitions online with you.

China was an interesting event and my first time in China. Tokyo was very special, only my second time in Japan after about 17 years when I was last there, training that time.

I spent a full day at the Kodokan, where I was fortunate to be able to visit the Museum etc. As the centre of the Judo world, it was amazing to meet to walk up to the building, see the Kano statue and go inside. The All Japan Judo Association staff and Kodokan Staff were incredibly welcoming and it is a highlight in my Judo life for sure.

The Tokyo Grand Slam had my favourite match in a long time, Iliadis Versus Rakov. It was a real chess match between two fioghters who showed amazing respect to one another. It was even better for we who were there all day as we got to see them warming up together first thing, so the handshake and hug after the initial bow really resonated and highlighted the friendship and respect these two gentlemen had for one another and the sport we all love.

Which bring us neatly to the new IJF rules announced this week. One change included is the banning of handshakes and displays of respect in favor of a traditional bow.
The rule is in my opinion daft and poorly written. It is outlawing a show of respect, why? What was the rule written to prevent that was bad for the sport? It certainly is not a safety decision? Although I understand partially the idea that the bow should be enough, then why does the IJF specifically state that after the match handshakes are ok?
In terms of how it is written, the rule is specific and says "handshake", the later interpretation talks of handslaps and hugs etc. But the rules state handshake, so to me a handslap is not a handshake, I would love to be the person who takes this one to a courtroom.
For me, there is no reason for this rule.

The rules in general and in the new rules suffer the regular problem of being vague and coming form non-native English speakers are difficult to interpret as the language (grammer etc) is not good.
I don't understand (and I am focussing on this one rule a lot I know) how you write a rule that specifically says "handshake", then state in the explanation that it refers to other actions. The other rules are even less precise and through up more questions and areas of confusion.

The breaking of grips with two hands is so hard to interpret from the rules and teh additional explanation is not clear also. Does it mean letting go with two hands? or breaking your opponents grip with both your hands?


So 2012 is coming to an end and it has been an amazing year (that I will I hope review in a post before the end of the year). 2013 promises to be even better with the competition schedule in Hampshire, Europe and Internationally promising to keep me very VERY busy!

I can't wait!

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Sometime ago I started work on a project JudoTicker, well it is reaching fruition. Judoticker is a project to collect data from the IJF scoreboards via a Raspberry Pi computer and post live to Twitter and also to a database for research purposes.

This weekend I have been testing the system at the Tokyo Grand Slam and having good results. Below is a Twitter Widget showing the live tweets of the results of every match in Japan.

Please do share the @judoticker Twitter handle and "follow" the results in realtime!

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