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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On Judo clubs and Judo societies. 

Judo Societies or Judo clubs?

Today I want to try and articulate a series of recurring thoughts I have been having lately. These thoughts have consumed quite a few cycles in my brain and I wanted to put them "out there" for your consideration, contemplation and recommendations. This is really a case of me trying to crystalize my thinking in words, so do comment on them, but be gentle.

So, here we go…

Judo is a sport, it is more than sport. In fact "More than sport" is the slogan of the European Judo Union. And they are right, Judo so fantastic, it is an exciting sport. It is a sport that tests the body, mind and spirit of all that play it. Be they great olympic champions or novices in their first match.

Judo gives those who do it all the great things that sport offers. Areas like personal enjoyment, personal growth, social integration, and social change (M. Csikszentmihalyi. 1982). That is not to exclude the physical benefits of sport.

Judo offers, as the EJU slogan says, "More than sport". Judo's culture promotes self-discipline, respect, honor and much much more.


Is Judo a sport everywhere? I would argue no; not everywhere. I compare Judo to other sports and notice some oddities. Lets start with the British Judo Association.

The BJA offers no inter-club competition structure. It does encourage individual participation in events, but there is no effort put into encouraging clubs form competing against one another.

Equally, if I look at my local area Hampshire, it offers only 4 competitions per year usually. And not all of those happen or are suitable for all Judoka in Hampshire.

Part of the reason for this I guess is because many clubs don't participate in the events on offer. This is partly because the events are too far away or not appropriate for the players in the clubs.

The lack of events is I suspect a symptom rather than anything else.

However, part of it is also that the clubs are not offering the sport of Judo. Many are solely there for the training. Clubs teach Judo techniques, but how many compete against other ?

This for me is where the real problems/concerns start.

In Judo we use terms like "Club" and "Coach" and "Player". Club is a pretty generic term which covers sports clubs and of course poetry clubs, etc. Universities have had this issue of definition for some time and they have done quite well at deciding that clubs and societies are different things. CLubs being sports related, having matches, competition, etc. Societies being groups of people who do an activity that does not include competition.

So for me, many "Judo Clubs" are by this point of view "Judo Societies". Which is fine, but they don't call themselves societies, or I suspect think of themselves as such. Equally, there are Judo Coaches who do nothing but teach techniques. And Judo players who do not play the game of Judo… i.e. do not compete.

So why does this matter?

Returning to the EJU slogan, Judo is "More than sport". However, if Judo is not done for sport, then it becomes less than sport.

It remains beneficial and positive, but it goes from being more than sport to being less.Of course there is an argument that we are better off without sport in Judo… it's a point of view that some have, but I don't want to argue about it as I don't agree with it and I think it lessens Judo. It also ignores the reality that Judo is a sport. It may not have started that way, but it is one now. Perhaps that is not right, but that is the reality of the situation.

For me sport is a hugely powerful force for good and for the development of people. Competition and the need to prepare creates better people. Winning and losing teaches people about… well winning and losing and how to cope with both situations. Competition brings different things out of people and tests us in different ways than practicing or randori. You learn different things.

If you attend a Judo club, or run one. Take a close look at yourself and your club. And decide if you are a coach of a sports club or the instructor at a Judo Society. Do you train people and give them opportunities to compete? Or do you teach throws and other techniques that are not tested in competition?

And consider the percentage of participants in your club/society that compete. If it's not a majority then you are not a sports club. Having one player who competes and 20 who don't means that you are not a sports club. You are a society with a member who participates in sport.

Consider the local gym. A vast majority of members in most gyms are there or recreation and physical fitness. There may be one or two who play sport. Just because they play sport the gym does not get to call itself a sports club, its a gym. Equally, if only a minority of members of a Judo club compete, the club does not get to call itself a sports club either.

These are just my random thoughts on the matter, but I wanted to push them out there to see what people thought.

For me Judo is more than sport, it is a way of life and a life to live. But for me at least, if you take the sport out of Judo it devolves into something less than it is today. Just another hobby, just another "martial art". No more and no less than going to the gym. It's still good for you and a great way to spend your time, but it's not Judo for me.

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European Judo Championships u23 

I am currently in Siberia (Tyumen, Russia) working at the European Judo Unions European u23 Championships.

We are streaming the results live onto the internet at ... amp;id=661

My colleagues are in Amsterdam streaming the Grand Prix event which you can watch at:
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Daniel Lascau visits Camberley Judo Club 

On November 2nd, British Judo Performance Director, Daniel Lascau visits Camberley Judo Club.

On only his second day living in the UK, new BJA Performance director Daniel Lascau visited Camberley Judo Club and watched the training and also spoke with the athletes.

He spoke about what the athletes had to do with less than 10 months to the London2012 Olympic Games. He spoke about how he wants to have nationwide TUesday and Thursday randori.

He spoke about how he would have different teams, those in the top 20 in the world, the top 8, etc. Also he spoke about the top fifty players and those not in the top fifty.

I was very impressed that on the second day living in the UK, Daniel was at Camberley. The next day he was off to Bath and only on the fourth day was he going to visit BJA HQ.

I am hopeful that Daniel will be able to create as he describes an objective and open system that earns the trust of the players and coaches around the country. That includes the elite level and the grass root.

Music: Ignition Sequence by Jurassic 5.
Voiceover: Lance Wicks.

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Coaching Digital Natives, Social Media and Social Hardware Talk at ARU. 

On the 27th of October I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to deliver a talk at Anglia Ruskin University on coaching digital natives, social media and social hardware.

The talk is the v2.0 of the original DIgital Natives talk I gave at the University of Bath in 2008.

In the talk I tried to cover in a fairly short time what a digital native is, what social media is and why either of them matter. I also added a section on Social Hardware or the "Internet of Things" and how it relates to coaching.

Anyway... I was able to take a video of the talk and here it is:

If you can't see the video, try it on ... lMediaTalk
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All changes at the BJPI 

We are about to go into November 2011 and since I last posted about the British Judo Performance programme a lot has changed.

Margaret Hicks, Jane Bridge and Patrick Roux are out and Daniel Lascau has taken on the challenge and is the new Performance Director for British Judo.

He has a big challenge ahead of him and I hope that it goes well. The players deserve a chance to make a good go at London2012 and the previous management team were not doing that.

My hope is that Mr. Lascau is able to make the sweeping cultural changes needed and become trusted by the athletes and coaches... and teh wider Judo community. The trust issue is I feel the biggest hurdle he faces and I hope he is able to get the mindset of the british Judo performance athletes and wider community and make some positive changes.

I will support and trust him, you should too.
We the wider community need to give him a chance, and to give him our trust and our support. We need to risk that he lets us down. We need to take that risk and take the chance that he will burn us.
We need to take the risk and take it on behalf of the athletes, we need to support him 100% until he earns the trust or loses it.

With only a few short months till the games, I think we can all take that risk. And we need to step away form the bad history and burned bridges and focus on the next months and give every chance we can to the hopes and dreams of the athletes who are trying to be the best they can be despite the difficulties they have faced up to this point.

They need us to support them and top give them the chance to succeed. And we need to support them and get behind the programme until London2012 is over.

It has been a rough road so far, but as I've said to others: I see this as a Hollywood Blockbuster.

We are at that point in the movie where the hero has been beaten to the floor, had sand kicked in his/her eyes and is on deaths door. BUt this is the point in the movie where the hero sees his mother/father/wife/husband/coach and realises that they can get up. They will get up; they will fight on.

From this moment they fight back and win against the odds, this is where British Judo is and we need to help the fairytale finish happen. When the players look up they should see all of us, screaming that they can and will do it! They should see us supporting them and putting any differences aside. They should see the light at the end of the tunnel, the moment of glory on the biggest stage in sport!

So, take a moment this week to consider what you can do to help Daniel Lascau and all the athletes. Take a minute to contact someone and ask what you can do to help. Take a second to tell the players in your club that great things are happening in British Judo and that we all need to give our support to the players.

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