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.

Paying the bills

Exclamation mark Blog by Lance Wicks a Social Fight Network. 

Hi all, this/last week I launched a site I am developing to promote competition for those people who don't go to competitions.

On the Real World Judo League (RWJL), you register an account and then tell all your friends at your club. Then they register too. Once you've done that you decide to have a "fight" and create a fight on the site. Basically, you just put your name and the person you are going to fight.

Then go fight, referee it yourself or get someone else to do it.

Then both of you have to record the result of the fight. You also get to leave a comment on how the fight went. Okay, if you disagree as to who won, well, nothing happens. You both have to agree the result first, once you do, the cool stuff happens.

Once you both agree, a result is recorded and points are awarded. I am using a system called the ELO system. Which is used by Chess and a variation in the XBox live system. ELO awards ranking points based on the expected result, so if you beat someone well below you, it awards only a small number of points. If alternatively you beat a much higher ranked player, you earn lots of points! :)

At the moment the system is BETA, in that I want you to test it out.
Let me know what you think of it, let me know any problems you have.
You will notice that the system is "bare bones" in that there is very little in the way of options, features, etc. This is by design, I decided to try and build something really simple and then add stuff as and when people want it.

So, let me know what you think.

Sign up, tell your friends, have fights, record them on and lets see how it goes. I have thoughts of running sub leagues for countries, areas, clubs, groups of friends. If that sounds cool, please let me know.

Thanks all,

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Thoughts for 2008. 

Hi everyone,
So here we are coming to the end of January 2008 and I have been slack on the blogging front, the training front and the coding front too. One area where I take some consolation is that the Podcast is going well. I have changed the format from last year to a news format, which I am putting out weekly. So far the feedback has been great and I am finding it much easier to do a short solo effort on a weekly basis than I was to try and get interviews together. I still want interviews, but the new format is really achievable and also I think/hope provides a news source to poeple.

This weekend I helped coach at a re-validation event at HMS Collingwood here in the UK. It was a good event with about 30 coaches in attendance, I enjoyed spending a whole day on the mat very much.

This morning (Sunday), I have been revising my training plan for the World Masters 2008. It is now just 20 weeks till the event and my training to date has not been very good in my opinion. A variety of reason for this, really a variety of excuses, none worth discussing. Mainly being old, slack and struggling to adjust to regular training from a zero start.

Twenty weeks is a pretty good window to plan to, I would have preferred to have been fitter, lighter and so forth by now, but it's not the end of the world that I am not. At the end of last year I started training and broke the ice, I think I have cleared most of the cobwebs and dust from my Judo brain and feel that I am ready to go.

20 weeks is a good period in part because you can accurately schedule events. When I did my initial planning it was close on a year away, so lots of things were not on calendars or were provisional. Now however things are pretty set in stone.

Knowing what events are there means you can look at the training windows between your big goal (Word Masters 2008), and then choose events tracking back from there to participate in that provide what you need and also give suitable windows for your training cycles.

In my example, I have the World Masters on July 28th. Working backwards I have scheduled to compete in:
Hampshire Grading, 15 June. Which should be a scrap, but not dangerous injury or having to fight too many times. But it'll be a good "sharpener".

Just before that, I hope to go to the Northern Ireland Open on May 31st. This should be a bit more serious and a real rumble. Hard day expected, but a good way away from my big event, so even if I get hurt I should be able to recover.

On May 17th, there is the High Wycombe Masters, which I think should be fairly competitive. It is also a masters event, so is (maybe) more specific than the NI Open which I suspect I shall be finding younger folks.

On April 27th, is the Brussels Masters. This is My #2 event after the Worlds. It is nicely placed abut 10 weeks in. It is in Brussels where the worlds will be so lets me test hotels, travel, the people etc. It'll be pretty hard I suspect.

Now I have a big break fight wise, nothing else scheduled till Feb 24th (Hampshire Grading). I want to do this one to shake of the fighting cobwebs, have a fight and remind myself how fat and unfit I am. I "may" and it is unlikely go over to the AMCAM event with the Navy on 16 March, but I doubt it.

The big empty gap is not obviously me on the sofa, it is my main training window. I am fortunate that I shall be spending two weeks at University of Bath (March 24th - 4 April) where as well as doing my studies I shall have the privilege to train with some of the best players and coaches in Europe.

I am a "Metrics" person, so I have been incorporating much more training that I can measure in my training plan. So I have a week by week breakdown of the miles I plan to run, the number of Uchi Komi & Nage Komi I will be doing.

I have some hurdles to overcome, primarily being a lazy whatsit!
More seriously, at work were are swamped and I have lots of coding to do on pretty tight deadlines, so I suspect I shall lose sessions and energy to late nights in the office. Also, at present I don't have a training partner, nor a coach, I am considering how I attack that issue.

I am also considering expanding this project. I Just watched "Cauliflower Ear & The Modern Day Warrior" which makes me consider recording more of this experience in audio and or video. Maybe I could find a young film maker? Or in the spirit of Kiwi Ingenuity, I might just muddle on through and do it myself.

It'd be really interesting for me at least to be able to review how everything goes. And maybe, just maybe it might be interesting to others. Thoughts?

Anyway... this has become a bit of a epic post, so I shall wrap up here.

Please let me know what you think.


p.s. If you live near Southampton in the UK please let me know. Especially if you are interested in maybe training with me, or helping in other ways.

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More thoughts on "Fundzamrntals" 

I am sat right nows watching my son at a Football/Soccer lesson and it gives me a moment to think outside of Judo.

My son is 4 going on 5, the lesson has been going for maybe 20 minutes aznd a football is being introduced for the first time. All the session to this point has been fundamentals, by which I mean running, jumping, etc.

Now, how does this compare to Judo classes at the same age?

Yup, trick question.
If you've been following this blog for a while, you will know that my local kids Judo class said no to my son as they don't take them till six years (BJA directive I was told). Now, my kids do swimming, gymnastics, football, dance and tennis. All of which are clamouring for young kids. But not Judo.

Why not?

What is the reasoning behiund this?
which azpproach is best, get them young and try and keep them or try and nab them later. I am biased and it shows. Letting the other sports get in early and basically accepting those who drop out does not seem sensible to me.

Judo is or at least can be an amazing form of fundamentals worrk, and great fun. My kids love nothing more than pl;aying in my dojo. It is not as if Judo is no good for young kids, quite the opposite.

If Judo is going to grow and improve I think the governing bodies could do with getting out and observing how the other sports and activities are competing hard to get the kids as young as they can! Then hold onto them.
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BJA failure at what should be job one! 

So yesterday I was in Macclesfield, just south of Manchester here in England on business, and brought a Gi with me "just in case". After checking into my hotel, I decided to try and find a club.

Step 1. Call the British Judo Association.
Unfortunately, their "telephone service" operates 9:30 to 4:30, so being 4:45pm it was too late to get anything from them.

Step2. Visit the BJA Website.
So I fired up the laptop and tried the BJA website. So, the link to find clubs is that small button down on the bottom right corner of the front page. The worst place on any website to put things. Top left people TOP LEFT!!!

So when you do that, you get a map of the UK.
Now, I know my knowledge of British geography is a bit ropey, being foreign and all, but I struggled to work out what sub region Macclesfield was in. it's North West by the way.

So that gives you an long list of clubs from the region, hey did I mention that the Northwest region is quite big and that I don't know my way around? There is no search function and if I am alittle honest, I know from previous experience that the lists are not exactly 100% up to date anyway, but anyway.

So after much scrolling up and down and running town names through google maps, I worked out I was in Cheshire and that helped a bit. But basically the BJA site was of completely no use and of course no phone number of use.

So I eventually searched for the North West association and found their site which was MUCH MUCH MUCH better, it has a google map and everything, which gave me a good indication of where the clubs near where I was, were. Could be improved, say using the cool prototype Yonah on the showed me a while back and I forwarded onto the BJA more than once, with no response!

Step 3. Try the BJC website.
So having found the BJA rubbish, no suprise really, I tried the BJC website. The BJC is the "other" association here in the UK. Getting bigger all the time I gather. Now their site was not intuitive to find a club, but once I found the non-visible link the list itself was much better than the BJA's, it has a decent search system and was pretty good. Still not as good as the NW Area site.

Step 3. Try
Latsly I tried Neil's website and the club database there. which I should mention is what the prototype Yonah did was designed for. I was quickly able to get to the UK and the Cheshire and a brief list of clubs, one of which was relatively nearby, Crewe. Sadly no Judo on that night, but I found the info quick.


The point here:
What is the point of the BJA?
What is the point of the BJA website?
What are people who visit the BJA website looking for?
Does the site deliver?

Now, perhaps I am a minority case, someone who does not know their geography that well. Perhaps some people like the idea of looking at an ugly, out of date list of random details?

Personally, I feel that the BJA's purpose and the websites purpose, is to get people into Judo clubs.

Now,obviously having read the tirade above, you can tell I think they are failing in this role quite badly. All that other stuff on the site could be hidden away behind a link to say... "other stuff..." and there could be a simple interface to an accurate easy to navigate (in multiple ways) a database of clubs, sessions and dojo locations.

A search, that pops you onto a map, with the clubs shown on the map too. Click on the icon for a club and see all the details. All easily done and done for free using Google Maps for example.

Also, rather than spending all the money of supporting a secret forum and yet more paid employees, etc. How about setting up a 24 hour (or at least extending into the evening) telephone service where you could call up and a human could tell you where a local club is and maybe tell you a little about Judo?

Let me know what you think?


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Back to the grind stone! 

Hi, all, so I am back to training after the Christmas break, and it hurts!!!
Last week I started with a couple of road runs, and tonight I got along to Paul Jones' place in Basingstoke. It hurt!

The downside to getting older is that you seem to lose fitness faster and it takes longer to get it back. I have just got back from training and am knackered! During the session I was sweating and puffing like a made thing!


On the plus side, last week i managed to get the podcast back on the air again! Last week I posted the first episode on the second series last week. Shoot on over to and have a listen.

Also, I did some work on the website over christmas and once I get the user authentication in place it'll be ready for some user testing. Let me know if you'd be interested in trying it out. As I've said before is a way to track fights you have and earn ranking points as a result.

One of my hopes for the system is that it shall provide a mechanism to give ALL people who do Judo a chance to compete against people. The ranking system will hopefully allow you to find people of your level to fight with.

I find it really difficult to understand the people who came into Judo later than I did. I loved competing and going to Judo competitions. I'd like to think that will allow people who don't do the formal competition thing an opportunity to compete.

Anyway... I must away!

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