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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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 9.  

Hi all, just a quick post to basically ensure that I keep my record of posting everyday in tact.

Today, again, we only had two lectures which is a shame, but at least they were two good lectures. The first was Andrew Moshanov on Effective Research Strategies, the second Katrina McDonald on Literature Review.

Both lectures were really useful for our research projects.
Andrew's really had some great stuff for my research and Katrina's was great help for our literature reviews.

After which we had.... nothing, just plain old nothing.
Bit of a shame really, that is two days in a row where the afternoon has been wasted. It is good time for getting into the databases looking for research papers, but I'd rather be in lectures while I am here. Seems a shame to pay all this money and commit all this time, just to spend it on the web. I can do that from home!

Weird, in the first block of the first year of the FdSc, I am sure I whinged the other way, about how intens ethe lecture load was. Now I am complaining it's too light! One thing that has not changed is the insanely short timeframes for getting assignments in. We have 6500 words and three videos to get in byt May 16th. The first due on the 11th of April. The big worry is not getting it in on time, rather getting something you are proud of in on time.

This evening we had our traditional end of block night out. This time we have a reception with The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Bath, Councillor Mrs Sharon Ball. We got to sit in the council chambers and meet her in person and got some stories about Bath also.
Afterwards, we all headed into town for food, drinks and general fun. Blowing off steam after two weeks of having our brains crushed with information.

Here's my tip for the day, skip the mayor visit and go straight to a night out if you are in Bath. It was very impressive and quite an honour I am sure to meet the mayor. But to be frank... not the highlight of my two weeks here, far from it. I think a nice informal dinner together would have been much better fun.

Of course then i would not have learned (twice) about some of the history of Bath, or gotten to handle things like the offical "Master of Ceremonies" medal, valued at something in the range of 30,000 pounds. Or heard the lovely ladies insult the French (in front of Patrick), the Germans (in front of Jurgen) and the Spanish (in front of Carlos). There was crack about AUstralians, which I will assume was ained at me, but the got my accent wrong. ;-)

Afterwards, we visited some nightspots and relaxed, very good fun and I feel better for it. As you may have picked up from yesterdays post, I miss my family and am looking forward to getting home! I can't wait to see my wife and kids and have some serious cuddles on the couch!

Tomorrow is the pack up and get out routine, so I doubt I'll have much to report. In fact I suspect I might have a little break from the blog till perhaps my assignments are done. So untill next time... goodnight!

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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 8.  

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday my twins.... Happy Birthday to you!
(It is my twins birthday today)

So here I am sitting in my room, blogging when I should be at home with my whanau (family). There is a definite part of me that will be very pleased when I run out of courses to do at Bath. I missed my kids a lot today especially in the early evening after calling home. :(

Anyway... I was rescued by a nice evening with some of my fellow students. It pulled me up from a bit of a down mood.I am a Judo person, being with Judo people cheers me up. I wonder if all sports are like this, I presume Judo is not unique in that I can sit with a group of Judoka and feel immediately comfortable. The camaraderie of Judo is something I suspect is not common in the "real world".

I did, I think, last year describe the Judo world as a "Whanau". Which as the Wikipedia put is is the New Zealand/Maori word for "extended family". even in my first year here at University of Bath, in my first block, in my first days, felt comfortable with peole on the course in ways that most people feel only in their immediate family. If only we could market the feeling you get around Judoka, then Judo would be huge!!

Anyway... enough waxing lyrical about such airy things, down to the nitty gritty of the course here at Bath.

Today... well today was pretty light and pretty darn good.
We only had two formal lectures this morning and the afternoon was dedicated to "Self Study" and "Tutorials". Which means basically all afternoon for me was spent dredging the internet looking for journal articles relating to my research project. WHich was actually quite productive, I have a good number (100+) of articles in my "to review" folder, which I will scan and narrow down to maybe 70 articles and will hopefully use about 50 of them in the literature review I need to have done by the 16th of April. (not long!)

Our two lectures this morning were a relaxed session with Patrick Roux about our assessment assignments for him. We have to produce three videos and a booklet of Judo fundamental technical skills which are due on the 2nd of May. I to be honest have not even really considered how to put this together as I am really focussed on the literature review and the finance paper. So it was good to get a clearer view of what is expected from us for that assignment.

Afterwards, Bob Willingham gave a keynote lecture about his work producing his PHD thesis and book "The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat". As you can imagine (if you know Bob from his formar role as IJF photographer), the book and his lecture were packed solid with amazing photos of Judoka. The book and his PHD was produced by Bob interviewing medalists from the Athens Olympic games about their experience in the event.

The lecture was full of amazing anecdotes he gained both from doing the interviews and from the interviews themselves. The book and his lecture are a real insight into the Olympic level athlete, something not many of us will ever get to experience firsthand unfortunately.

Bob has recently stopped publishing "The World Of Judo" magazine and ceased to be the official photographer of the IJF. Bob has also agreed (prior to today) to come on (or ) and talk about the amazing things he has seeen and photographed in the Judo world. So as soon as I can get organised to to that with Bob, I shall let you all know.

Tomorrow (Thursday), we have lectures from Katrina McDonald and Andrew Moshanov, which should be good and more time to work on our research and other assignments. In the evening we, I believe, are supposed to meeting the mayor of Bath at a formal "do". not sure if I'll attend, I'm a jeans and tee-shirt kind of person afterall, we shall see. I am not sure how many peopple have the appropriate atire for the occasion and I don't think any of us are entirely sure what one wears to meet the mayor?!?!

So all in all a good productive day, Bob;s lecture would have to be the highlight of the day. That said, getting stuck into finding journal articles around my research topic was disturbingly rewarding. The downer, I guess is being away from home on my kid's birthday. :( But saved partially by the great people here.

Okay, last and definitely not least, if you get five minutes check out you have probably heard about "Camberley" if you live in the UK or are in the Commonwealth in particular. It is one of those places that is international renown and I have been remiss in not mentioning it. I perhaps get blinded by University of Bath's amazing programme and foget to mention places like Camebrley and of course Edinburgh here (and of course Wolverhampton). Anyway, I feel better now having linked to Camberleys website.

Till tomorrow (only 2 days to go of this block),

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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 7.  

Tuesday, three days to go.
Today I had two lectures with Andrew Moshanov from Russia. The First on Research Project design and the second on examples of Technical Analysis. I really like Andrew's lectures, his laid back style perhaps appeals to the New Zealander in me. He is very much biomechanical in approach. Today for example we discussed for quite some time the significance of the allignment of feet, hips, shoulders and head.
It can be quite impressive how good you can predict what happens next, when looking at a static photo, if you consider the alignments. Andrew has a vaslid argument to make that if biomechanically you are all out of alignment, then chances are you'll fall over.

Today we also spent more time mulling over our research assignments and trying to tie them down to a solid, specific project that we can crack on and start our literature review on. It was really useful for me I must say. Some good holes in the design were spotted that I had missed and it'll be better for it! :-)

Our last lecture of the day was a keynote from Margaret Hicks, director of "World Class Programmes" for the British Judo Association. Margaret's lecture was on the "World Class System", AKA "Building the Judo performance for 2012". It was an interesting speech. She went through quite a bit and I took a bunch of notes and also "tweeted" a bunch of comments in realtime, which youu can find at
Like many speaches, the last slide of the powerpoint contained it all in a nutshell. And one could say it boils down to these points:

* The performance Network and Performance Institute
* Talent Selection/Development and Performance Player Tracking
* Next Generation coaches (and fast tracking them)
* Next Generation Judo sport scientists
* Partnerships - With various bodies.

It was really interesting and it will be interesting to see how this all pans out in the time between now and the London Olympics in 2012. And of course beyond that short-term goal and into the future. I am not sure if I was 100% convinced by the speech, there are a bunch of question marks hanging there perhaps.

In the evening, I spoke with my family who I am starting to miss terribly! My twins seem to age incredibly everytime I come here. There is a part of me that goes... "Lance you muppet! This is the fourth year where you will not be spending your 20 days leave a year with your kids somewhere nice like Disneyland and instead spend those days in lectures and writing thousands of words for assignments... for what???"

And then, this evening, the answer hits you square between the eyes.
I love this course becuase of the people on it. I had the great opportunity to sit at a table with a Olympian (multiple Olympics) and hear him describe both the highs and lows of the L.A. Olympics. Also at the table were former amazing coaches, both of the in schools and elite athlete variety. I mustn't forget the scientist, magician (yes magician), area level offical, and other talents sorts. And there I was able to mix with these people and learn their views, share mine, ask questions, learn some more and generally gain from the experience.

Forgive me being all "gushing" but this is not the run of the mill crowd. It's not like everyday I get to sit down and chat with former Commonwealth, World and Olympic level players who have all gone on to do awesome things in the Judo world.

But hold on a minute, every time I come to Bath that exactly what happens everyday!! As I have said before, for me the degree and coaching certification means little compared to spending 4 weeks a year in the company of the people on the course, in all the 4 years here!

I don't think I have done a blatent plug for the course for a while, so here it is an unpaid advertisement for the course! This course is the best Judo experience of my life and I thoroughly recommend you (YES YOU!!) consider signing up! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON THE FOUNDATION DEGREE or HERE for info on the BS(HONS) course I am on. (if you do end up signing up, tell 'em Lance sent ya.

So onto Wednesday, when we have Patrick Roux of France and Bob Willingham (UK) of the recently departed "The World of Judo" magazine. Till then... goodnight all.

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University of Bath, Bsc. EJU Level 5 - Block 1, Day 6. 

Hi everyone, so today is Monday and I didn't go home for the weekend, I stayed here at the University of Bath and worked on my assignments. Very quiet as teh student bar was shut all bleeding weekend. So getting fed and watered was an issue.

Over the weekend I worked pretty consistently on my assignment to write a development plan. Which has been rewarding and frustrating all at once. I spent I so many hours and rewrote quite a bit, but the word count is almost identical, I think I just changed one word for another.

Anyway... so what did we do today.

The day started with a keynote lecture by the clown prince of European Judo, Daniel Lascau. Daniel's lecture was on training diaries, specifically the one he developed in 2006. The diary is a great idea, I am obviously a big supporter of the idea your should write down things... else this blog would not exist. For us of course, we've seen his slides before, but I am sure it was of more interest to the new students starting this year.
I have to agree with Daniel and say that a training diary is the data for a coaching conversation. It give you and the athlete something to discuss. I am a quantitative person by nature, show it in a graph and it makes sense to me, so Daniels work in this area is right up my street.

After a short break we were in the Dojo with Andrew Moshanov. Andrew's practical session was pretty darn cool! I really enjoyed it, his bio mechanical perspective on Judo is really great. Interestingly, although Andrew, Patrick, Jane and Jurgen have differing styles, theories and opinions on things; they all teach the same stuff.

There are serious differences in what and how they teach, but the underlying principles end up being the same. Different "Judo languages" perhapsbut similar messages. That message being proper technique applied properly (using scientific principles) equals good Judo.

In the next lecture (after lunch) we had a lecture from Patrick on Judo movement analysis, where he applied different ideas to say the same general concepts as Andrew.
In Patrick's lecture he showed some great stuff, not least of all was the fascinating videos of athletes throwing with motion capture suits on. There movements being analyzed on cimpueters, to prove what is mainly "received opinion" for us on the course.

Poor old Jonathan Robinson had us last for a lecture on Analyzing data. Obviously a pretty heavy topic anyway, but with the added pressure of being the last lecture on a Monday I thought he did really well keeping us all vaguely on topic! ;)

In the evening I went along and did the Randori session. Andrew and Derek were there from Gosport which was nice. I did quite a bit of Ne-Waza and a semi-repsectable amount of Tachi-Waza. Old age and being too heavy kills me though.
I get more "canny" now days and take it more sensibly, especially as my knee was giving me gref all day, though it stopped hurting in the Randori.
My favourite two fights were with Matt, one of the athletes here, who had a nice light rumble with me and caught me with a couple of really elegant Seoi Nages. Upsettingly, I think the strain of lifting my bulk of the floor may have hurt him. :(
The second was with my fellow Kiwi, it was maybe 3/4 of the way through and it was good to have a Randori and see how the attacks/throws felt. Obviously, there was national "pecking order" to be maintained so I think I workded harder than I normally do to execute my fair share of the throws.
Expereincing and watching this player over the past week has been great. The University of Bath environment has delivered substantial improvement in the quality to their Judo compared to my first viewing of it in 2006. A stronger, better, more mature atjlete fought with me and without old dirty tricks and a substantial weight advantage, it would have ended even worse for me! A pleasure to experience first hand a much improved athlete. Well done my anonymous but hopefully proud fellow Kiwi! At leats one of us is fit!

One thing I think I am accurate in noticing, is the work rate in Bath is high. There is lots of attacking and lots of throwing. And better yet, lots of grip and attack/throw. As opposed tomy own style of grab, slow them down and pounce on a mistake in balance approach. They are attacking positively all the time, it's great if a little tiring. :-)

With the student bar open again, more "networking" was done after the session.
As I have said before and restate now, the social element of this course is the single biggest plus for me. Over the weekend I learned a lot about real world Judo from people teaching day to day. This evening, the discussions were so great, I learn so much and get such great ideas. If you came for nothing else, coming to chat would be worth every penny!

What is happening here in Bath isamazing. I watched the other today as Yuko, Jane, Patrick, Andrew and Jurgen sat around a coffee table and discussed things. What a calibre of good Judo people, surely the best in Britain?? yes, there are loads of great coaches in the UK, or the world, but to have that density in such a facility/set up is incredible.

Tomorrow I ahve to hand in my first assignment, which to be fair is only the proposal for my resaerch, which I am pretty confortable with. We also have lectures from Andrew Moshanov and Margaret Hicks. Margaret is I think the head honcho of performance for the BJA and her lecture is on the "World Class System" so should be good I hope.

So stay tuned till then...


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What would be the impact of high tech Judogi in Judo? 

I read this evening during a bout of catching up, a blog post by Ross Tucker about the new Speedo LZR swimsuit and how it has been attributed with contributing to the breaking of 13 world records in the last 40 days or so.

It's a causing all sorts of controversy in swimming and it got me to thinking about Judo and the Judo suit.

I have been thinking about the Judogi (Judo suit) for a while and wondering if the design could be altered to take advantage of modern technology. Watching the Rugby World Cup made me think that modern synthetic fabrics could take the strain that Judo creates on the cloth (maybe).

Or even just alterations to the gi, say lining it with a moisture wicking material?

With the kerfuffle over the Speedo swimsuit, I wonder if Judo has the right idea in keeping an archaic piece of clothing? Then again, the new swimsuit has allowed athletes to perform at a higher level than ever possible before, would high tech' fabrics allow Judoka to perform at higher levels also?

Would it even have an effect?

It would be an interesting experiment, maybe someone could try it, if you do, make sure you send me a fancy new Judo suit please. ;-)


P.s. I thoroughly recommend the "THE SCIENCE OF SPORT" blog, that this story came to me from, well worth a browse. It is run by Jonathan Dugas and Ross Tucker who both have Ph.D.'s in Exercise Science. There are some terrific sport science articles on the site.
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