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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Skiing and Judo, Apples and Oranges. 

In my last post I wrote about my thoughts on Judo, based on looking at it in comparison to Skiing. I've had more time to think about it and think about others feedback etc and thought I'd write a follow up post.

58/365 apple or orange?

The big issue people seemed to have with my previous post was that the idea of comparing Judo and Skiing. Which is in places valid and in other places completely invalid IMHO.

Judo is after all a combat sport and skiing a snow sport.
Judo is a fight where the forces being used/controlled are generated by the athletes themselves. Where as in Skiing Gravity and friction are the forces involved.

BUT... I think we can compare the two sports/activities and learn from the process.

The Snow Plow.
Since writing the previous post, I have discussed with a number of people on and offline, the Snow Plow used in Skiing. This includes discussing it with an experienced Ski Instructor.

My hypothesis (if you can call it that) was/is, that the snow plow perhaps need not be taught. This is becuase as the participant reaches a certain level, they cease to use the snow plow.
So why teach it?

It was interesting to learn that in some areas, the snow plow is not taught as much as it is in others. Namely in ski resorts where space is not limited, where skiers can use the "turn up hill" braking method to start with.

But on the whole, the snow plow is taught. The ski instructor I spoke with agreed with some people that emailed me, in saying that the principles of the snow plow maintain their validity with parallel turns etc. So teaching it should be helping learn more advanced methods.

I am still not convinced one way or the other if the snow plow is something that is right to teach or not. More likely it is different in each case. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not.

This is exactly like Judo, there is not often a "right answer". It is normally a spectrum of right answers.

Doing versus being taught
Judo is I contend often over taught, much like the first days on the slopes, we spend hours teaching technique, BEFORE letting the newcomer participate in the game; Randori or Shiai.

A comment from a ski instructor talking about teaching kids was "... the first two days are hell, then it clicks for them and from then on its great fun...".

Now, I wondered immediately if the same is true of Judo? Do kids coming into Judo have the same sort of delay before it clicks? Should we be planning around kids (and adults) not especally liking/enjoying Judo for about 8 hours of Judo? Which means that maybe a newbie needs 4-8 sessions? So perhaps we need to force newcomers to do 8 sessions before letting them on the mat?

Also I would suggest perhaps we need to look at the idea of allowing students of Judo to learn by doing, rather than by being taught.

After the first couple of days, skiers learn mainly by being taken out on the slopes and copying their instructors as they ski down the slopes. Some instruction is given and then a much longer period is spent skiing and trying the new skill(s).

Could we do this in Judo more? Outline a technique or principle, then allow the new Judoka learn by doing?

Should we be allowing our Judo students to play Judo for fun and spend very little time "teaching" them? Randori only sessions perhaps? Can it be done within existing club structures? Or is it a change so large that it could only be used within an entirely new culture?



I think you're onto something. I was a skiing coach for many years and also raced downhill. I was taught the snow plough first. And went on to teach that way too. The most difficult part of the snow plough method was the fact that using the plough to stop, was wrong, not the actual turning process. The new "Direct" method resloved that problem. I was against the new method initially, but after switching, found a massive increase in the speed the students were able to parallel ski.

However, the students that used the snow plough traverse method, had a more detailed technical model of what they were trying to achieve. The method involved an understanding of the moment of upweight, free run in the fall line, then the moment of downweight. It broke the turning process down into a series of drills. Small parts allowed a more detailed picture.

I think now as a Judo coach, I can see clear similarities. I also now know that were I teaching skiing now. I would go back to the snow plough method. On the condition that were were trying to gain quality product over fast results. If you have lots of time, and want a top end skiier, I would break it down. If its a holiday skiier that wants quick results and lots of fun, then the Direct method, no jibber jabber, follow me down this hill.

You can draw your own conclusions as to my Judo coaching philosophy.


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