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 Block 3, Day 8.  

Nice short blog today, honest, so my pals upstairs can get on with their meeting. ;-)

So yeah, “World Judo Champion Week” ™ carries on along the same vein. The day started with a Dojo session with Kosei Inoue, as the good folks from Wolverhampton ( put it, “Guess what throw we did today?” Yup, Uchi Mata!


Reviewing the photos confirmed what we saw, Kosei Inoue's Uchi Mata is pretty much identical each and everytime he does it. It is consistent, it is right, it is lovely and looks so easy. In gold they understand this, the idea that your swing should be identical everytime, you are aiming to get as close to “the perfect swing” as you can and to be able to repeat that swing over and over and over.

Inoue's Uchi Mata has that look about it. I suspect if we got the video analysis involved we could prove that his movement is the same everytime. He answered some questions about combinations and being countered and if I can sum up his answer it was/is “I Do Uchi Mata”.
Meaning that if you do it right (i.e. good movement, kuzushi, etc) it will work. Obviously there is more to it than that, but it was clear that the opinion was, just get the throw right, don't worry about tricks too much.

For me the training session was made even better by getting some 1-1 coaching from another World Champion who I have liked since I met her, Loretta Cusack. She and Mike ( started correcting some of the mistakes I was making.

As a black belt one of the things that happens often is people stop coaching you for some reason, perhaps manners. For me as someone who is not very good at “feeling” what I am doing wrong and thrives on verbal feedback, it was fantastic. It can be quite frustrating doing Judo and never getting any coaching, you make mistakes and have bad technique and people don't correct you. But you know you are doing something wrong, but need an outside perspective to describe it and correct it.

So to have some very accurate and perceptive feedback from Loretta and Mike was such a buzz. I came off the mat on a little bit of a high I confess. You would have too if you'd had just been on the mat learning from one World Judo Champion and getting personal coaching from another World Judo Champion. Those of you training with Loretta, count yourselves lucky! (And those with Mike too of course!)

The take away from Kosei's session might be perhaps that sporting cliché that the way to be great is to do the basics better than everyone else. Kosei Inoue's Uchi Mata is quite simply a wonderful plain simple Uchi Mata practised to perfection. For any players who might come across the post, if you want to be a great champion, you could do worse than to mimic Kosei Inoue and perfect your basic technique to a point it is better than the so call advanced stuff.

After the practical session I have to confess I went back to my room and had a siesta, which was much needed as I had stayed up too late the night before working, chatting, helping others, chatting, working and of course blogging. It was a bit of a worry to look at the time at 2am and realise I had to be on the mat first thing with Kosei Inoue!

After my refreshing Siesta I joined my colleagues in the University of Bath library and tried to continue making progress on my assignments for the rest of the day. I should mention at this point that it is pretty amazing to be able to ask the guy on the other side of the table you are sat at about how the Judo World Cups work and have them be able to answer accurately as they are one of the European Judo Union (EJU) Sports Directors, not to mention a British Olympic Association member and Chairman of the national governing body, cheers Densign!

Once again I have been struck by how easy it is to forget the calibre of those on the course with me. We were joking that we could almost write all our assignments just using conversation on the course as references. What is a better source of information on how the World Cup's work, than an EJU sports director?
Progress on assignments is slow but steady which is a good thing I guess.

This evening, I decided to have a play in the Randori session run by Juergen Klinger and of course with Kosei Inoue participating. Being the peak of fitness... not, I took it pretty sensible/easy. Which was good as it gave me time to observe and appreciate the work being done in Bath. It was a solid session with a consistently high work rate with good attack rates and throw rates.

The level in Bath (I think) is higher than when I first started there in 2005. The intensity of the training is higher and the technical level is higher too. I think last summer I commented on the shark like predatory nature of the players in Bath. Which I should add is a positive thing. They look for people to train with, Kosei was being asked to fight by all the players who should be asking the best player in the room. And they gave him stick! They were trying to compete with him, and not being scared of being dumped for 10 (or perhaps 11). Their ability to throw is constantly improving and physically they are fit and robust, able to work hard whilst maintaining technical ability.

Now I am back in my room, determined not to have yet another late night, and looking forward to another busy day in Bath. It is the second to last day and in ways the last “proper” day in Bath. Building up to Friday which is genuinely the last day of my time at Bath. I have no idea what I shall do not spending 4 weeks a year in this environment! I am already sad everytime I think about about not coming here and seeing the familiar faces and enjoying the debates and discussions with some of the top minds in Judo. I had a pang of jealousy today thinking of the first year students who shall be here when I am gone, they are so lucky and like I was in 2005, I doubt they appreciate the amazing thing they have engaged in.

The Foundation and Bsc courses are a unique and special opportunity for all of us lucky enough to have enrolled. You can't do this anywhere else in the world and it is an incredible educational opportunity both in terms of “Academic” learning and “Judo” learning.

One of the reasons I started this little blog way back in 2005 was because I wanted to capture for myself the university degree education experience my parents always told me I should get, and I the foolish young man I was did not pursue when I was younger. University of Bath and the EJU has given me the opportunity to achieve something that would make my late mother very proud I am sure, she supported my wanting to do Judo more than University, but in my heart I think I know that she wanted me to go to Uni. Mike Callan (via Joyce Malley) allowed me to actually fulfil my mum's dream and I am amazingly grateful for this, She missed seeing me start of complete this but I feel amazingly emotional as I write this and consider how she would feel about me sitting her today.

The other reason I decided to blog everyday I attended the FdSc and the Bsc was so that there would be a record of the course from a students perspective that would perhaps be useful to others considering attending the course(s). I have tried to share the experience “warts and all”. Those of you who have followed the blog will know that sometimes I tear into the course (or elements of it at least), so I have not just been pumping out propaganda for the course. I suspect that I am in fact one of the loudest critics.
I have a small sense of pride that I think I am in ways also the loudest voice singing the praises of the course too. I like to think that those who stumble across my posts understand the pros and cons of participating in something as long and challenging as the course(s). It has not been a easy process, I have made it harder of course at times by blogging and sharing my feelings positive and negative about the course, a wiser person perhaps would not have shared as much as I do, but that is not me, I am who am I am and as I state over and over, I “call them as I see them”.

As this final block draws to a close and I shall soon leave and have to complete a stupid amount of words in a silly short amount of time, I feel the aggravation of my peers at the way things run sometimes. The disruptions we have had this block have been maddening! For the University to mess with our course work and our learning environment (Moodle) etc. like this is bordering on unbelievable, after 12 months working on a research assignment to have the goal posts moved as they have is a knightmare! To have the resources moved about randomly on the first day we arrived was insane, we've been here 5 years almost and the Uni thought they'd just change everything on the first day... cheers for that!

I feel the stress of knowing that I need to get good grades to try and crape into a “First”, a “2-1” should be feasible, but I know that we are all trying to hit that 70% and get the first. Not helped by radical change, but as with every block and every year we shall perceiver and in the way of Judo, overcome! We are after all Judoka, we live and breath Judo, it is our lives.

After our session with Kosei Inoue, the nine of us who shall compete the BSc on July 1st posed for a photo with Kosei Inoue. I have spent 4 weeks every year since 2005 with these guys and it was an genuine honour to be part of the photo. That photo shall be framed and take a prominent place in my home where all visitors will see it, and I shall be able to with pride say who each of them was and how great an experience it has been to get to know them and share this experience with them.

Cheers Guys!


P.s. You may notice that I am finding it harder and harder to restrain my introspective reflections on the course, please forgive my sentimentality, but this is an AMAZING course, one that has changed my life in ways that I can't express.

P.p.s. Sorry, I guess I failed to keep this short huh?!
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University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 7.  

Hi all,
this week is now unofficially dubbed by me as World Judo Champion week. Another day, another great champion sharing with us. My morning here at University of Bath started with Kosei Inoue delivering his keynote “My Life in Judo”, with the help of Yuko Nakano.

I love these keynotes, you learn so much from a champion's life story. The insights you get are wonderful and this lecture was great for that. Kosei shared a lot about his life, his life in Judo and also about those key moments that have impacted his life and the people that have been involved.

What to say about it is quite difficult to decide, I have 7 pages of notes from the lecture!

Kosei's father introduced him into Judo and taught him the fundamentals of both the sport and the life. Kosei emphasised this yesterday and today, the importance his father put on teaching him how to be a man, a Judo man.

He spoke about the training environments he experienced, which was great as Yuko last week spoke to us about the High School where Kosei went. So I felt I had a more complete picture of this essential stage in his development.

The thing I think I am taking away from the lectures this year in ways is the importance of the training environment and culture. Brian Ashton's description paired with Kosei and the other World Champions give an idea of how vital a training environment can be.

Brian spoke about the coaches job being to create a learning environment, Kosei described a powerful learning environment (Tokai Sagami High School and Tokai University). Yuko also described the Company Dojo setup in Japan and it to centred in ways around the environment. Obviously sitting in Bath at he first European Judo Union endorsed Training Centre, I have another view of what a training environment can look like.

Kosei's talk had some recurring themes, hard training, respect, learning, passion, dreams, persistence, father, fundamentals, learning to be a good man, loving Judo, team support, targets/goals, support, converting pressure into power, expecting success, spirit

I think the part that grabbed me the most was when he spoke about fighting his own Brother at the All the Japan Champs. He spoke about how giving it 100% was how you respect someone in Judo. That not giving your all to beat someone you fight is not showing respect.

The highlight I suspect for most of us was him telling us he did not take a white suit to the event in Athens, as he thought taking a suit would be him preparing to lose. That commitment to winning is a powerful force. Sure he lost and there were some amazing words shared about that. But that image of a man not taking a white suit (as he was on the top of the draw, hence in Blue and would stay in that suit if he won all his fights) is really really great for showing a confident champion.

The next lecture was with... Emanuella Pierantozzi (another World Champion, you can see what I meant about this being World Champion week). With her we looked at the academic paper of David Matsumoto and Bob Willingham on the emotions displayed by athletes in Athens. It was pretty heavy going as it was part of our education on how to read scientific papers, but it was interesting to discuss it.

Our Afternoon was taken up with us presenting 15 minute presentations about our research projects. Which Emanuella gave us the biggest compliment of staying to listen too... no pressure. It was to be frank quite amazing! My fellow students have done some incredible work and each one could be a Keynote lecture on it's own. The topics covered Warm-ups in Judo, Long Term Player Development, Learning Styles, The repecharge system, the history of British Judo, an examination of different ways of teaching kids, a study of a highly successful Spanish training centre/club, have the rule changes actually improved Judo and my own work on attack rates in Beijing.

Pretty wild!
It is slowly dawning on us all I think that our 5 year journey is coming to an end, presenting our research and listening to each others work was quite amazing as 5 years ago we were not the people we are now. The knowledge and the focus on “Evidence based Coaching” in all our work is I hope a validation of the efforts that People like Envic Galea and Mike Callan (and others) have put in to make the course a reality

I shan't dwell too much as I plan a much more reflective piece for Friday.

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University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 6. 

Highlight for today:
listening to 3 World Judo Champions talk together. Jane Bridge (1980), Loretta Doyle (1982 & EC 1992) and Kosei Inoue (3 x word champion, Olympic champion and 3 x all Japan champion) together in the same room sharing with us all!

I caught a small amount of the interviews on video which you can watch via YouTube below:

It is very quiet and the frame rate is only 10 frames per second, so consider it trailer for the podcst that will follow later this week. :-)

If that does not make it to you, visit the Youtube site at ... BC30EE5CD3 I Also recorded the entire session on a audio recorder and shall post it on the podcast later this week.

It is almost impossible to express quite how fortunate I feel to be able to participate in an event such as this. All three of these champions has done an amazing thing, they have been the best at what they do in the entire world. That is unfathomable I think for the rest of us.

To be able to hear direct from them their views on things was a complete honour, and it was even more of an honour to be invited to record it and share it with you all, so please enjoy it!

Our other lectures I shall cover very briefly, not because I wish to devalue them, but because I do not want to detract from what Mike Callan and the University of Bath are achieving. To have 3 world champions share their views and opinions to a group of student coaches is amazing. We got to hear from people people who genuinely know what it takes to be the best at Judo. What better source can you have!

Where else in the world can you get an opportunity like that? I suspect the answer is no where, this is a unique programme, University of Bath is providing something amazing that it I feel raising the bar when it comes to coach education like nothing else out there. Bravo!

We started the day with Juergen Klinger, critiquing a Polish scientific journal article and trying to consider it in terms of Judo in general and also in terms of performance Judo. We Then looked at Judo Support Services with Mike Callan and finished the day looking at Transition theory with Martine Woodward.

All in all a fantastic day, it is sadly not everyday that I get to record a conversation between three World Judo champions, discuss a Judo specific journal article, debate what support services Judo teams need and the implications of the new Olympic qualification system and look at the issues around athletes transitioning in their lives.

What did you do today?

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University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 5.  

Hi everyone,
well week one is over pretty much. I sit here in my student accommodation reflecting on a busy week, a busy week to follow and many busy weeks to follow that! We have a mere 17,000 words to write between now and May 15th.

I started the day by working on my “Managing Marketing” assignment (rather than my research project for a change), which turned out to be a good thing as it broke my negative cycle a little and I actually got some good work done.

The first lecture of the day was Dave Southby of on “Applying health and fitness marketing to Judo”. Dave is a BJA Technical Officer and had/has some good ideas. Lots of good words on setting up clubs and how to make them viable ventures that don't rely on a single person. Lots of good ideas.
He spoke about the importance of situating your club near/within the areas with large numbers of under eleven year olds. The main “consumers” of Judo. He also commented on the length of time the average new BJA member remains in Judo, a mere 12 months or so. He spoke also about ideas to tackle this.

If I was to sum up Dave's talk in a word it would be the word “Evolve”. As in evolving new methods and importantly evolving people. So evolving volunteers, players and the club itself.

The second lecture was with Jane Bridge about our managing the performance athlete assignment. In this assignment we must consider the changes to the qualification system for 2012 and how this may alter the dynamics of a Judo programme. We were fortunate that one of our class members is Densign White, who is BJA Chairman, an EJU sporting directory and also involved in the British Olympic Committee(Association?). So knew a huge amount the more intricate parts of the qualification system. We had a good long discussion about various hypothetical scenarios for Britain and the EJU and of course for other nations Like New Zealand and the OJU.

We talked about what the qualification belonging to the player not the nation might affect the relationships between athletes, coaches, managers, associations, national programmes, continental unions too. Also we talked about the introduction of prize money and how it too might affect things. It was an interesting discussion about a rather complex subject, very enjoyable.

Our final lecture in the afternoon was with Yuko Nakano, who presented a great talk about the lifestyle of a Judo athlete in Japan. She shared with us much about how all levels of Japanese Judo work, from Junior High School to Elite A players. We learned about the locations that players trained (company teams, universities, etc), the differences between the systems.

It was probably my favourite lecture of the day. She gave us real insights via hard facts about what the Japanese system is actually like. Now myths or vague ideas and impressions. It was good reliable information with evidence to support what she was saying. The mix was just right, personal experience, general information and some hard specifics.

It is a very different system to the UK obviously. I found it very interesting that the elite players worked, maybe only a few days a week and maybe only a few hours per day they work. But they worked, they gained work experiences and skills. I wonder if this means that when they retire from Judo they have an easier transition as they have done office or other work and can simply expand it from a small subset of their activities to the majority.

There is a train of thought that also says that the working gives them opportunities to develop in different areas like management and decision making, which perhaps makes them better Judoka.

We also looked at the scale of the Japanese Judo system and to say it is impressive does not do it justice! We are talking about elite athletes all having two coaches allocated to them, both in terms of coaching resources and financial resources. Of course there is the matter of money, basically an elite Japanese Judoka is “sorted”. They have a job (with salary) they have free accommodation and little/now living expenses. They also receive funding from the JOC. There is also the advantages of being a celebrity and the potential earnings from that.

Another element of Yuko's talk was to cover the training of the Tokai Sagami high school Judoka. Which I shall summarise here:

6:10 – Running
7:20 – Tidying dormitory
8:00 – go to school for breakfast
8:30 – 3:30 Attend school.
3:40 – go to Judo
4:00 – 7:00 Judo training.
8:00 – Evening meal, then return to dormitory.

This would as per the norm in Japan be a 6 or 7 day week. Where I trained in Japan the high school operated a 7 day week followed by a 6 day week. With one day off before starting a 7 day week again.

What was quite interesting was that this rough schedule was pretty consistent from Junior high school onwards with very little difference between junior high and even the elite level. The company players were running in the morning and doing approximately 3 hours of Judo everyday in the afternoon/evening.

Prior to Junior high, students were/are exposed to a variety of activities, but specialisation in Judo starts at about 13 at which point it is Judo almost every day. It is interesting to compare this to the UK system(s) and consider the theories around athlete development.

Fascinating stuff, presented really well by Yuko! THANKS!

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University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 4.  

Hello all,
So today was a more intense day, in fact the most heavy day so far. A full schedule of lectures starting at 9am. The free time we have is great for looking and working on assignments, but in ways it is much better when we are getting intense learning opportunities. I can type assignments at home, when I am here in Bath I love it when I get days like today when it gets really close to my upper limit of input handling.

So today we started with Brian Ashton, our second lecture with him. Today he spoke about the academy system in English Rugby. Brian was again excellent value. It is hard to describe in written words what it is like to be fortunate enough to spend time with someone who has coached at the very highest level (2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups, not to mention 6 nations). To “chat” with him is awesome.

His perspective is obviously flavoured by his experiences. and that is worth... well it is priceless. Also to be able to receive the information he is able to impart is an amazing opportunity. We were able to learn about the process of setting up a system that has engaged a large number of elite rugby players is something that not many of people are able to experience.

To be able to ask him questions and get his honest responses was great, to have him consider our situation in Judo and share his views and perspectives was terrific.

Do I sound like a fan boy? Is my native adoration of any high level rugby coach coming through here? We Kiwi's love Rugby okay, I admit it and I apologise if I am getting dull.

I wrote 4 pages of notes from Brian's lecture not much of which was about Rugby Union. Most of it was snippets of information that triggered Judo thoughts in my head. One of the points he made about the academy system and developing young players was about the need for elite training to be balanced against elite level competition. It is I think the big advantage of European Judo. there is international Judo training camps and international Judo competition in easy access. In Oceania where I am from, it is not that easy, we need to travel a long long long way to get to the high level Judo competition.

I also liked Brian's emphasis on coaching individuals, not the team. That you need to cater to the individual.

Our next lecture was with Sandra Klinger, a 12 year member of the German national team and was the Cadet coach for Germany for 5 years. She also coached at the National Olympic Training Centre. She spoke about the cadet system in Germany and the stage before and after the cadet level.

It was good to hear a cadet coach describe with some energy about long term player development and how coaches at all stages in an athlete can work together to develop an elite athlete. She obviously believed in the idea that as a cadet coach she was part of the machine that would produce a champion. The idea being that as per the Royal Navy adverts, being a cog in the machine is not a bad thing if the machine is worth it.

It is I think a common thing that perception is that the performance level coach is better or more important than the cadet or junior level coach. Sandra painted a different picture, one where all the coaches met and discussed the players and all were equal. That the cadet coaches were developing the skillbase for the performance/senior coaches in collaboration so that they would win.

She also did some practical conditioning exercises in the dojo which were all body weight based, so ideal for younger athletes. Lots of development of “the core” and stabilising muscles around joints. It was great fun, lets face it not too many of we coaches are at our physical peak. ;-)

Of course like any exercises, you need to consider the level and development stage of the athletes. For example, she showed some exercises that included balancing on the head, you certainly would want to avoid that with young and inexperienced athletes. Not something for your recreational club session. Much laughter in a practical session is always a good sign, so I think that Sandra's exercises went down well.

Next Diego Scardone spoke to us about Judo Research. Diego has been working on the project and it was an interesting lecture. We discussed what we thought Judo research was, what was important about it, etc. We also discussed the and it's activities and of course where and how much research is happening around the world.

The last lecture was with Simone Lewis about support services for sport. She spoke about the excellent facilities and services that University of Bath offer. They are doing good stuff. She actually had some wise words about the new Dartford training centre for the BJA. She spoke of the transition process and the psycho-social impacts that it will have on the BJA performance players. Stuff like, changing physios, etc.

She also spoke about the research and application of services that support services in Bath provide across a range for sports including Judo. They have helped with support services and research with Olympic and European level Judo. They have IMHO a good model, they seem genuinely focussed on both the athlete as a person and on performance.

Often, physio and other support people, especially outside of environments like Bath, do not have this balance. Most Judo players who have been injured (including myself) have had a doctor or physio tell you that the solution to the injury is to stop training or stop doing Judo all together. That is maddening as a player. The other side of that coin is the support person who is too focussed on performance and is willing to risk a players health for a performance. The physio with the cortisone injection for half-time, the team doctor who tells the coach about a serious risk and not the player.

After this last lecture I spent a little while with the new intact of students (who I lectured to yesterday) in the library in an unofficial workshop installing referencing/bibliographic software on their laptops and showing them how to use it a little. Matt did most of the work I think, but I helped a little in showing them how I have used Zotero ( ) and hopefully it will help them collect and compile their information and take the pain out of writing assignments and perhaps help them spend more time on the content than the mechanics of writing assignments.

It was great to be able to help people like that, hopefully it means that the lecture I gave yesterday pushed some of the right buttons. Hopefully it will also mean that some of the other stuff I talked about was what they needed to hear too.

Of course the downside is they will all get better marks than me as a result, doh!

Tomorrow we have some interesting lectures. Including lectures from Dave Southby, Jane bridge and Yuko Nakano.

In this my fifth year on this course, I have to say that I am finding the process harder than before, but not because of the university rather my own mental “funk” as I described it yesterday, I should have got Simone to sort my head out I guess. :-)
I shall, I am sure, get it together in the end but so far my assignment work has not been rewarding. The lectures are cool, but assignments are not flowing yet.

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