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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FDSC, University of Bath, Year Three, Day Eight. 

Almost there for another block.
Today was mainly assignment work, with the two assignments being due in Thursday & Friday I think most everyone spent today working on assignements.

That said, we had a Keynote from Malcolm Arnold (UK Athletics coach, coach to Colin Jackson and others). I found it really interesting although it is a little disheartening in ways. Mainly because he talked about the financial pressures on athletes. As in the pressure from getting paid to attend races. Not the pressure Judo is used to in that we have no cash.

His view was that winning Olympic gold opened doors (financial) to athletes. He is right in his sport, but sadly I don't think that it is true for a majority of the world when it comes to Judo. Winning an Olympic Judo gold I struggle to believe is going to "set you up for life" in a majority of countries.

I do believe it opens the doors to an easier path to the upper echelons of our sport. Which has a degree of financial reward, but I don't consider it the same direct link to financial reward that winning the 100m brings. Not a lot of Nike gold Judogi out there like Michael Johnson is there.

Nick took us for a Strength & Conditioning lecture on Endurance training. Which was interesting and relevant to Judo. What Nick does well is relate it back to Judo with some form of understanding of the sport of Judo. He also keeps us on the straight and Narrow in regard to being sports scientists not just Judo instructors.

The afternoon was purely "tutorials", which is code for GET YOUR ASSIGNMENTS DONE ON TIME!!!

Quiet evening meal, everyone focussed mainly on assignments, which is a shame. A few people have commented to me about how much less fun this block has been when compared to other ones. Even though, for example the first block was so busy it put my head in a spin.

One of the strengths of the course is the (WARNING Trendy business jargon ahead) "networking" opportunity the course provides. By that I mean that I get to sit around a table in the evening with a group of Judo luminaries and everyone shares their opinions and views. They talk about what they are doing, what they have planned etc.

It is a really powerful and useful situation. Shame this block it's been subverted by the need to get some work done. It also makes the general fun level lower.

Not wanting to whinge about it though, because I have been putting the effort in to have a few beers everynight. :) It's a dirty job but someone has to do it!

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Year Three, Day seven - FDSC Sports, University of Bath. 

Hi all, Year Three, Day seven in the bag.
Interesting day, finishing well with good conversation over a quiet drink with friends is always a good thing!
The social element of this course is probably the one element I find the most rewarding and enjoyable, if there was a way of formalising it and making it a compulsory part of the course that would be great. I have some of the most creative and interesting dicussions about Judo over a drink with the Judoka on the course.

We started the day with a lecture Jeremy which was interesting, Juergen had us second. Talking about preparation for Judo athletes and specifically about the importance of the final preparation for competition. By this we are talking about the last few weeks leading up to the big competition. We discussed how to push the athlete to produce the physiological responses neeed to get the peak performance. He covered really well how to measure and manage the process, really interesting stuff.

The afternoon, was considerably different to the morning.
Rather than lectures we learnt a little about the big project for the summer, a conference.
As some will know I have been bouncing that idea around with other people out there independantly of the course, specifically with the idea of how we might to a USA/UK conferenceon Judo. It sounds like the conference in July/August will be primarily an academic (read little practical Judo) event, focussed mainly on performance analysis and metal skills in Judo. With a debate (by the second year students this time) on Video replay asssistance for referees in Judo competitions as a big event within the conference.
Sounds really interesting, although personally I have my concernes abouut the project. perhaps because the ideas I have been batting aorund with people are a bit more risque and inovative perhaps? The great thing about arranging a conference is that after last years debate in 4 days ( ) adventure we know we can pull a winner out of the bag. So people are thinking really big. We have a pretty tight team in ways now and I know we could put on a cracking event. In ways the context of it being an assessment project is a massive restricting and impediment as we are limited to a single day and we all have to make poster and oral presentations on a a limited range of topics.
I would really like to see it progress outside of the limitations of the course and into a proper independant conference where new ideas can be presented to a really broad audience. On a slightly different but related note, it was looking like a bit of a disaster till Mike explained his thinking on it all, I know I had the wrong end of the stick and was getting aggitated about how orgainising a conference fitted into my personal endeavours to get my grades up high enough to stay on for the top-up year.

Each of us by the sounds of it will need to present a conference poster and a oral presentation.
I suspect mine will be on the research I did at the Commonwealth champs (almost a year ago) as it was all about performance analysis. I may also have found a way to get more commonwealth competition data to do comparison work with my data, which would be really great and may be the spur to write up the full academic research paper I have been wanting to compltete for a year now! :) The oral presentation is scarier of course as I don't have an immediate awareness of what I'd like to present on. also because I am a hopeless public speaker! :(

Last thing we had another session on the "Garage Gym" with Wayne Lakin.
Being outside was a bit of a killer as it was not that warm and standing around in the cold watching someone talk about working out with was always going to be a hard sell.
The great thing about the "Garage Gym" is that is is aimed at a low socio-economic group. It's conditioning training on a really tight budget. It is also a really good bit of team building I suppose if you incorporate it into a team/dojo environment. I do have my concerns about it though. It's kind of like looking at Laurie Mexted's tackling sheep to train to be an All Black rugby player. really inspiring and fun, quite nostalgic, but.... and you knew a but was coming didn't you.

But... in the Judo context is it really a productive use of time?? I think the garage gym is great, wish I had had one. I didn't of course, so I went to a weight gym and worked out with a qualified instructor in the presence of a bunch of massive guys into weights. I also did a bucket load of Judo. The argument I suppose for us as Judo coaches is not, is the garage gym good. (It most definately is and in the Rugby context I see it even more so) Thequestion is I suppose is it the best use of a young Judo athletes' time?

All that time they are out there chucking tires about they are not doing Judo.
Maybe that's necessary because there are not Judo sessions available? Maybe (and I don't believe this myself) Judo does not deliver a thorough enough physical workout?
So... should we as Judo coaches and administrators be investing energy into the garage gym or into making sure there are more Judp sessions available? Into ensuring there are conditioning Judo sessions. (i.e. sessions for physical workuts rather than technique work). There is also the argument I suppose that the technical level of most Judo athletes outside the dominant countries is just plain lower than that of the coutries winning the golds. So is encouraging the less skillful players to get stronger/fitter a good idea over say putting time into their technique and the systems in that place to develop technique? There is a view in both directions of course and I know where I sit, where do you see your area? Technical or strong or both? Do your players need to be better technically or physically or both?

I can definately see the garage gym in a dojo situation, it's a great tool and fits nicely with some of the older Judo dojo images I have in my head.
Great fun, hard work, etc.
In fact I see it as a great component for old fashioned (feeling) dojo. Or nice shiny new dojo trying to recapture the feeling of the "sawdust and canvas" days. Thats probably my concern; that the garage gym reminds me of the canvas, sawdust and Judo suits made from coal sacks days. As those who know me will know, I think that was the hey day of western Judo, when a "judo man" was something really unique and special in a way that is difficult to articulate. The Garage Gym reminds me of that and although personally it appeals like you would not believe, I worry about it's relevance within the context of elite Judo sport. Does it have a place in the world of sport science that Judo is trying to survice in?

Answers on the back of a postcard please. :)

P.s. I finished my 2000 word assignemnt today, which I think is probably the single best piece of work I have done to date. Loads of refrences and I've had great assistance with teh report from my lecturer and from fellow students and colleagues further a field. yet again, I have to say I am realy trying to drag my grade average for this year up high enough so that I can stay on for the BSC top-up. It has killed some of my podcast plans as I have been spending lots and lots of time in the library and on the laptop, but I can't express how much I want to continue at University of Bath and continue to take part in this amazing course! (I am such a fanboy of the course it is not funny!)

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Bath University, Year 3 Day 6 

Hi All,
Well an interesting day here in University of Bath. Started with a lecture from Nick Willsmer which was very good. he got all "Good Will Hunting" on us and was standing on tables. :)
Nick is also in my good books as he agreed and took a look at the outline of my 2000 word assignment on Strength and Conditioning. He also discussed the assignment with me last week and really helped me get started. One of Nick's strengths (along with being really willing to help generally) is that he's tried Judo so has some knowledge of the sport which helps as he knows what it is like to get bashed by a Japanese player! It also helps him help us bring theory into application in Judo for the assignemnts.

We were rather physical today. The morning had a Ne-Waza session with Juergen Klinger. It was interesting as it was so simple, all about holding people down via the securing the hips and shoulders. Basic "kids stuff", but you know what thats what Judo is like sometimes. After you've been through the basics and learnt all the tricks and sophisticated moves, you end up coming back to basics you learnt when you started. I'm no ne-waza legend, but I know I have been returning to Osae-Komi. Last year I bought the Len Hunt DVD from The Kano Society, again basic Judo osae-komi waza, but I remember trying it in a Randori or two and being impressed by how darn effective Len's basic position and strategies were.

In the afternoon we finally got to our practical session on Olympic Lifting, which is important as we'll be coaching one another in a assessment assignment later this week.
Given I have never done Olympic Lifts before I have been rather concerned about this assignment as I've been raised with the strict rule that you don't do Olympic Lifting as it is a complex and sophisticated sport with great risk of injury (take a look at the stats one day, I dare you) and as such I'm really struggling to get my head around this idea that we'll be coaching others on it this week. Weird, I am not entirely sure what the assignment is supposed gto be proving/assessing really. It's part of our strength and conditioning work, so it I would have argued is not about our coaching skills rather our knowledge of strength and conditioning, but what level of knowledge are we expected to have from two sessions? We have a written assignment on Olympic Lifting also, which is a better vehicle I suppose.

It was good to discuss with our lecturer (Kate Eddy) after the lectures, what the relevance/application was to Judo with my fellow students. Also to discuss the general state of Strength & Conditioning coaching and some of the trends in it. Still not 100% happy with this module. Happier now and happier that Olympic Lifts MIGHT be part of a Judo athletes programme having discussed it outside of class with Kate. Olympic lifting seems to be all the rage and I think I have been worried that it is just gym fashion rather than something that is being included due to some deeper thought.

Well, there you have it, year three, day six.
Hoping that with Nicks kind help my assignemnts will be up to scratch and I'll get the grades required at the end of this year to attend the proposed top-up year next year, which I gather is a honours year or a BSC or something. Not that it matters really, I just want to keep coming back here and gaining personally from the brain strain. :)

P.s. Happy Birthday to my kids!

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University of Bath, FDSC Judo, Year Three, days 4 & 5 

Hi All,
okay this blog entry is a little delayed, primarily (and if you are listening University of Bath accomodation people, I am very VERY angry) because for some annoying and from what I can tell stupid reason, we are not being granted access to the internet access in our rooms like we had the past two years. (We also do not have a TV in the shared kitchen, but I seem to recall the price being as high if not higher than last time, how does that work?)

Anyway.... I don't want to dwell on that as there is much to write about and it is all excellent, like the course itself. I must make an effort not to let the niggles ruin what is a fine course.

Over the past couple of days, we've been really spoiled. The quality of what we are exposed to is simply amazing. We have spent quite a bit of time with a chap called Aurelian, from France. He is working with Jane Bridges' Judo team (professional team) and has shared his excellent performance model for Judo along with his ideas and experience on conditioning for high level Judoka. This covered both Flexibility and Strength.

His model is very interesting, not only because it is excellent, but also because he is not a Judo player as such. Yet, unlike probably most of us, he had sat down and considered what performance in Judo means. A lesson to all of us.

He spoke about the need for flexibility training and stretching in Judo athletes. He covered the types of stretching he thought should be done and when. He does not advocae for example trying to do any stretching for flexibility gains during a Judo session, he has that sort of stretching done in sperate sessions.

The stretching he does in warm-ups and at cooldown (which he considers important) are aimed at prevention and recurperation. I shall probably write more about the intracacies at a leter date.

He spoke also about strength training and again it was interesting.

Today he and Jane also did a practical session which was primarily about use of hips in Judo and included great fun with many games. The games revolved about instabilising athletes with various thinsg like wobble board type things, soft mats (crashmats etc) Then doing games where partners try to break the others balance.
Fun and practical, what more can you ask for eh?!

We had some heavy going lectures on Anatomy and body function. So skeletal and neuromuscular stuff. Also energy systems and the physiological makeup of Judo.
We also did a practical session with Stanislaw Sterkowicz' Special Judo Fitness Index test. Which was (on a personal level) rather great as a)I am fortunate enough to have spoken with him, 2)The video of the test being done, which didn't actually play, was the one from this very website!
It is nice also that I have been able to point my fellow students towards the resources that Stanislaw & I put together after hsis appearance on the podcast. I got a real "warm feeling" from actually having produced something (the podcast with Stanislaw) that produced some new materials (the video, spreadsheet, documents) that is now being used by real live sports scientists, lecturers and Judo coaches! Very cool!

There has been much more, but having missed a couple of days of blogging properly, I am forgetting them. Sorry!

A highlight for me to date, is that the assignment I am writing for next Friday is taking shape nicely. Not least because of the help and encouragement I have received from people on the course, the lecturers and from people I know solely from this website and the podcast.

I hope I can write it well enough to express the great ideas and help they have given me. I also hope I write it (and my other assignments well enough) to get a hieh enough grade average to be accepted back next year for the honours year (well 18 months). Which is a top-up year which I understand would earn me a BSC.

More improtantly for my personal desires, it includes a large research project and education on research methodology. Research is big motivation for me and I would like to do more of it and expand on what I have done and do it better, so I really want to make it onto the course. If only I can get my brain functioning at a high enough level!! (which is a struggle!)


till next time.

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Bath University FDSC. Year 3 Day 3. 

Day three was very good. I finally managed to obtain some good equipment for recording audio, so shall hopefully be recording interviews for the podcast from now on.

Today started with a highlight, George Kerr & Peter Seisenbacher!
George Kerr, 9th Dan I have met previously in Edinburgh (where he is from) and is a legend. He coached Austria and Peter Seisenbacher. Peter Seisenbacher is of course the forst person to win two Olympic gold medals in Judo.
George's keynote lecture covered a really long time period, from his starting in Judo to beyond Peter winning his medals.
It covered the interesting period in British Judo with the Budokwai in ascendance and the growth of Judo worldwide and the names and places mentioned are beyond amazing! From Geesink to Koizumi, From Japan to Autria via England, Mumbai and Edinburgh. It was one of those lectures where you realise that you are so fortunate to be there, that what you are hearing is gold dust!!! Much like some of the previos lectures from the likes of Syd Hoare, Tony McConnell, Neil Adams we are fortunate to be at that place at that time when these people share this information with us. It could so easily never be shared.

I am really pleased and honoured to say that I recorded the lecture (without the equipment I have now) and asked both Mike Callan & George if it would be okay to post it on the internet, where a wider audience might be able to share in the amazing lecture. They both agreed and I have now posted the interview over at http://www.the The audio is not great I warn you now, but be patient and try and listen to it all as the contengt is terrific!

Having spent so much time talking about the fist session, I must move on as they were excellent also.
Peter Seisenbacher continued imediately after George and did a practical session in the Dojo, which was both technically excellent and very humourously and honestly presented. Everyone I have spoken to today has commented on what an excellent session it was!

Later we had a very academic and worthwhile lecture on anatomy, which has improved my Latin no end! :)
Very dry and hard going, but exactly what is required when you are studying and trying to articulate your ideas in the assignments. You need the technical language (and understanding) to be able to get your Judo specific ideas across. It was very good.

Lastly we had a rather interesting Strength & Conditioning lecture with Auerelian Broussall, who is working with Jane Bridges in France with high level Judo players.
Aurelian is a conditioning coach and his lecture waqs very interesting, he covered primarily flexibility and stretching in Judo and when and where to use stretching correctly.
I personally, was fascinated by the early part of his lecture where he outlined his persinal view of Judo performance. His "Model" is based on performance, not results. Specifically the act of winning by Ippon, not getting medals. So a good performance by his view could be for example winning 4 fights by Ippon, and losing one by Wazari, rather than winning a gold with nothing but Kokas and penalties.
Mostly in Judo we are results oriented when we discuss performance, so winning. But Auerelian's model is performance based. So based on how well you perform actions rather than the results those performances earn you. Does that even make sense? I am not sure it does, sorry. It is a difference, it's (to me at least) about caring about how the athletes does things rather than caring about if they win or lose.
Outside of Judo it is the norm, so golfers care about making Par and measure their performance based on that, not on if they win. In Rugby, we care about the percentage of goals Johnny Wilkinson kicks successfully when we discuss his performance, not if the team wins or loses. In basketball it is the looking at the points, rebounds and assists not the outcome of the game. So I was very interested in this different perspective, probably more so than I was in the excellent flexibility information. I hope to speak in more depth with Aurelian over the next couple fo days.

The one thing he had not got to was a method of maesuring in a quantifiable way was player perfomance based on his model. Though he did say he had started/tried. My research at the Commonwealth tournament last year (and to a degree my assignment in year one looking at player selection based on medal tally) is looking in this direction to see A)if it it possible to quatify these elements and B)if it is useful.

After lectures the discussion and debate in the ba was as healthy as always!
I can not overstate how worthwhile these social converstations are. It is a great opportunity to chat and discuss and debate and outright argue with other Judo coaches. An opportunity that is offered almost solely by the course hear in Bath.

The learning opportunities outside of the formal lessons are as important as those inside the lectures. I value the arguments I try and stir up immensely!

Looking forward to Thursday!


P.s. Don't forget to visit and listen to the lecture by George Kerr, it is worth every second you spend listening to it. I am so honoured and privaledged to be able to share it with everyone who wnats to lesson. I realise how lucky I was to be there and hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.!
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