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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Dr. De Mars on make or take. 

Dr. AnnMaria De Mars over at has written an excellent post titled "Do You Want to Make Players or Take Them?" which is all about the difference between coaches who want to "grow" players from newbies and those who want the "elite".

It is a great article, go read it.
If you don't know AnnMaria won the 1984 world championships and is heavily involved in the Judo scene, not only through her role within Judo in the USA, but also via and her own section on and as if that is not enough, she is parent and coach to Ronda Rousey who this year alone has won gold at the following events:
2007 British Open, London, England
2007 World Cup Vienna, Vienna, Austria
2007 US Sr. National Championships, Miami, Florida
2007 Pan Am Games, Rio de Janerio, Brazil
2007 US Open, Atlanta, Georgia
2007 Finnish Open, Vaantaa, Finland

I too have seen those people who just want the cream of the crop and don't want to "waste their coaching" on kids. It is, I think, partially a natural desire to work with elite players and part culture and part other issues.

I too dream of sitting matside as my player throws their opponent for Ippon in an Olympic Final, I'd like to coach a mat full of the best talent in the area/nation/world.
And that is great and all good, what is not however, is if you don't want anything to do with grassroots, kids!

I'm not saying those few coaches who are coaching the elite should stop and start a kids class. But I hope that as with the example of Chuck Jefferson in the post those coaches would happily give as much effort and benefit to a group of six year old beginners.

My concern most of the time is that there is a cultural bias within Judo organisations against the grassroots, against kids coaching, against recreational Judo. This, despite kids and non elite players being the lifeblood of Judo.

Too often we get a two-faced response from Judo organisations. There is acknowledgement of the importance of kids/club Judo, yet all the time and resources (including money) goes into the elite programme.

Sure medals means funding and prestige and that equals resources for the masses. And, it's a sport and we all want to see gold for our nations, clubs, etc. I don't want to sound like I want to kill off elite Judo.

Thats said, at what point does there become an imbalance? At what point should a governing body say "Hey instead of pouring money into the top 1%, lets pour it into kids?" Instead of paying the best coaches to coaches the elite players how about paying the best coaches to coach kids?

Again, why is it that all the coaching systems I have seen, they are about going "up" to elite level coaching? I am a EJU Level 4 coach, I have spent the last 3 years studying coaching at elite level. Not a single session on kids Judo. Like I say, that's good, I want to help people "seek the heights" as was the motto of my high school.
But is that indicative of the problem? The "low level" coaching awards are basically about coaching kids, the high levels about coaching elite players (in theory). Maybe that should be tipped on it's head? Highest level for the shortest players?

Or better yet, a coaching system that encourages/awards coaching at elite player level, recreational player and kids levels. I'd love to see the day when a country's highest coach is solely involved in coaching kids entering the sport.

But... I am not going to hold my breath.

Thanks again to AnnMaria De Mars for continuing her terrific blog!
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World Masters Training, Week Summary 16/46.  

Not alot to report here sadly.
I didn't do alot (okay any) training this week for various reasons, except for a 3 mile run on Saturday morning.

Christmas, work, lazy... 'nuf said.
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A new Judo blog in the community! 

Today I came across Judo-the-Blog which has been on the net since November seemingly. I have added it to PlanetJudo already.

It is associated with (and possibly written by) Jan Snijders, the Dutch Olympian who (and I quote the site here) is a well known Dutch judoka. During his active competition period he has participated in all major contests like the Olympic Games in 1964. Jan Snijders became amongst others European Champion in 1962 in Essen. Nowadays Jan Snijders is Refereeing Director of the European Judo Union but still also teaches judo in Oirschot, Bladel, Deurne and Gemert Netherlands). Not to mention being an 8th Dan.

The site has a Science slant, so I look forward to reading more on the site.
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Judo - The Open Source Martial Art and Sport. 

Judo is "Open Source", awesome, great, what the heck does that mean Lance?
What it means is that Judo is open and we share and grow as a community, the quality of the sharing detrmining the quality of the sommunity and that in turn the quality of the Judo.

Judo, unlike traditional/historical arts does not have "secrets" or as you might call it now days... "proprietary". It is in part the reason Judo was/is the most popular and wide spread martial art in the world.

Being open and having a strong community is the path to success, keeping to yourself is the road to failure, both for you and for us all. One of the best examples of this open source method succeeding is University of Bath, here in the UK. I consider myself fortunate to be involved with the programme there and it has been showing results for all involved.

In Bath, Mike Callan has assembled a cohort of players and coaches and scientists who are pushing forward Judo there and in the UK, and it's all open and if you had the gumption to, you could copy the setup yourself and Mike would probably give you more help than anyone else.

In Bath, I attend a course where I and about 60 other Judo coaches visit for two weeks, twice a year. We study, we train, we chat, debate and argue. We learn from one another and we and Bath benefit.
Mike has build a "community" around Judo in Bath. this community shares and works together both for Bath and on individual projects. This is exactly the same sort of community that people talk about in computing.

So... How have you contributed to your Judo community?
Me, I have done Judo research, I've coached clubs and players and teams, I have helped my colleagues with their studies. i started the Judo podcast and Planet Judo and all the other sites. i have done websites for my friends in Judo and chatted over many a beer with people about what they are doing in Judo.

What are you doing? What could your role be? maybe you are a conditioning coach? maybe a business person with the ability to bring in sponsors. maybe you are a physio ora artist or and accountant? maybe you are just a motivated parent? maybe your contribution is beiing a green belt who makes a black belt work hard? maybe you are the Dad how brings players to events?

we can all contribute, and we all should.

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British Interservices Judo Competition 2007 + RWJL thhoughts. 

Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend the Interservices Judo Competition at the British Army PT college in Aldershot.

The event is one I have been to before both when hosted by the Army as in this case and down in Portsmouth when hosted by the Royal Navy. The event has always been one of my favorite Judo competitions. Unlike most events, the interservices has many many years of history and rivalry between the RAF, Army and Navy. The Team fights are the highlight and I always enjoy the competitions.

I enjoyed the event and the Navy did well despite having the smallest team there. The lack of players meant that the other teams had quite a few occasions where the Navy was unable field a full team and gave away fights in the team events.

The interservices is a great event that I think other tournaments could learn from. The team format is excellent and having both Dan grade and Kyu grade works well. Dan grade is actually brown Belt and up, separating the more advanced players from the lower grades is excellent as it gives the lower grades something worthwhile to compete in, where they can win fights for the team.

Mike, over at has been talking about hosting a competition and making it a team event, I hope he does as the more I look at the format, the more it makes sense to me. Another friend of mine helps run a team league here in the UK for juniors and it seems to work well as well.

One of the nice things about the Interservices is that the levels are fairly well matched. One of our Navy players has only been doing Judo for 4 weeks, yet managed to win 2 of his 4 fights. That is awesome!

Working on the WWW.RWJL.NET site/project has had me thinking about this sort of thing. The idea behind the RWJL is to allow us all to find people in our ability range to fight, the idea is to use the ELO ranking system to sort players by their results.

My idea is that you will be able to visit the site, find your name and next to you see players of your approximate ability. The ELO system basically gives starting players a standard base score say 1500. Then you get points for wins and lose them if you lose a match. The interesting thing is that it is not a fixed amount you gain/lose, the amount changes depending on how far above/below you the other player is.

What this does, is reward people who win fights against players who should beat them. It gives them a smaller reward for easier fights closer or below their level. The ELO system "should" prevent people picking on "newbies" or fighting below their ability all the time. It is a mature ranking system used primarily in Chess, but also in adapted forms in other areas including XBOX Live.

Progress on the RWJL is progressing slowly but steadily and with increasing pace. I am using the CakePHP framework, which I have not used in the past, so it has been a learning curve. I have however almost got it sorted in my head (associations are still not quite right in my head) and have not prototyped the majority of the basic code, except for the ELO ranking itself.

I foresee something "Alpha" getting finished over the Christmas period, so if you are interested in helping out with testing it, let me know.

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