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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2012 here we come!!!! 

So this weekend the first event in the official qualification period for the London 2012 will be held, this is it, the big one!

The games start now for the Judoka of the world, from this weekend every result matters. Every point gained is another point towards being on the mat at the biggest Judo event the UK will probably ever see!

Now the rest of this post is political in nature, so turn off your eyes now if you don't want to hear my rant!



I live in the UK, I am a member of the BJA and I care about how British Judo does in 2012. The BJA has a big budget for this Olympics, huge by comparison to my native New Zelaland. There are 18 staff listed on the BJA's High Performance website including two of Britain's female World Champions (Jane Bridge and Kate Howey). They have a stunning dojo and all the rest.

The elephant in the room however is the level of disquiet in the BJA.

I, for example, have been a vocal critic of the BJA. I have asked questions publically about the past performances and the direction of the performance programme in British Judo. I have complained regularly about the BJA's approach to IT and the web in particular. And area they don't understand and are stumbling regularly in.

However, despite what some people think, I am a HUGE supporter of the BJA. That is why I have always voiced my concerns, because I support the idea of the BJA and want the organization to succeed.

So why do I bring this up?

I mention it, because this weekend is the "point of no return" for British Judo. Qualification begins and all bets are final. It is too late for the BJA to change direction, this is the situation and the opportunity to make changes is gone.

And it may also be a good thing.

Now that we are committed to this direction, the rank and file of the BJA need to forget the past and commit to the path chosen. The time is past to debate the direction and the time is past to suggest changes.

What "we" need to do is get 100% behind the BJPI programme and try and help each and every athlete in what ever little ways we might be able to.

Now, some might see what I am writing today and say it is contrary to what I have said in the past. And this is true. I am contradicting what I've written as I'd have liked to seen change... past tense.

Now, the reason I wrote the critiques in the past and that I write this post today is the same... I care about the athletes and what they are trying to achieve. I've not felt that the system is right, but as I have said above, the die is cast and now there is no point trying to make change, now we support what is there and the athletes who are the ones that matter!

So what should "we" do and what shall I be doing.

As of right now, the only thing that matters is the athletes.

Perhaps you and your club can adopt a player? You can write to them c are of the BJPI and say that you are supporting them. When they compete you can care about the result and put the wins on the noticeboard at the dojo. Put up pictures, posters.Maybe take a group of people to competitions and make as much noise as possible when your chosen player fights.

Perhaps this support might lead to a wealthy parent in your club donating to the cause. Maybe someone in your dojo has a skillset that the athlete needs? For example, maybe your athlete needs say... a website ;) and maybe someone within your club could help?

Maybe over the next two years you will build a relationship with the athlete your club has chosen. Maybe when that player is feeling the pressure of the struggle to be an Olympian they might think of all the members of your club and find it helps.

Maybe, you and your club could attend BJPI randori session regularly.

Maybe, you and your club could write to the BJPI and pledge your support and ask them how you can lend your support?

Me... well time will tell, I am starting with this blog post. I am publicly restating that I support the BJPI athletes. That should they need some "geek" stuff, I am happy to help. I've offered in the past and continue to offer to help, we have from now till 2012 to cover a huge amount of progress, and if some geek help from me makes that journey easier for a single athlete; then I am there!!

I've met some of the Olympic hopefuls, British and otherwise. I hope they knew it already, but in case they didn't... I support them 100%.

And so should you!

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Welcome to The Edge! 

The Edge @theedge on Twitpic
This weekend I attended the opening of The Edge's new Dojo at The Stow in Harlow. It was a great event and it was terrific to see one of my colleagues from the EJU Degree course in his new Dojo.

Mark Conway hosted a fun day which was attended by the club members, some local people and also several of the people from the EJU Degree. Bob Challis from Comberton Judo Club (and ARU) attended as did Nigel Thompson from Elite Strength and Conditioning and Norwich Premier Judo Club. Danny Murphy of the Budokwai and Hampshire Junior Squad manager was there too.

I was fortunate to be able to spend some time showing the junior members of The Edge some "Cowboy Judo" direct from OKCDT. ;-)

It was a pleasure and a great privilege to attend the opening and to be allowed to coach the players there.

So thanks to everyone involved and good luck with the new home!
If you live in Harlow (UK) or are passing by, pop your head in the door and say hello.

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Emotional Content... not anger! 

Hi everyone,

This week has been great, Judo is back in full swing at the Alresford Judo Club and at the HMS Collingwood Judo Club. As I’ve mentioned before the cultures of both clubs are quite different. Alresford is Juniors only, with a focus on the wider elements of Judo; for example this week we covered Taio Toshi and the idea of emotional content within Judo matches/fights.

By this I am referring to the famous quote of Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon” where he is working with a student and says “Emotional content; not anger”. This is very true of Judo IMHO. We as Judoka have this great opportunity to release stress etc by fighting hard amongst ourselves. The anger of a hard day at work, annoyance from teachers or parents is fuel for the engine that drives us in Randori/Shiai. In the Monday session I was trying to express this to the kids, explaining that they were very lucky that in Judo they have a way of expelling the “cross feelings” that everyone gets sometimes.

I told them that I (unlike their teachers or parents) actually want them to bring that energy to the class and express it physically through their “fighting” on the mat… and only on the mat! Of course I didn’t encourage them to beat each other up. The message is that I wanted them during Randori to be using the “emotional content” to attack with energy and purpose, rather than limply moving about and sticking legs in the way.

Wednesday’s session with the Navy people at HMS Collingwood is a very different affair. They are all seniors/adults and due to being in the military all of good fitness (especially if we were to compare them to the general public I suspect). Also, they have a competition focus; which affects how I design the programme there. We spend less time on the history and cultural elements of Judo and most of our time on Judo as a Game/Sport.

At the end of May they are competing in a competition; so we are focussing on what they need to do to win at that event. This is quite different to helping people to perfect their technique, learn techniques or understand the culture of Judo; or try and develop people through Judo physically and mentally. Those are elements of Judo that presently at the club we are not working on; we are working on winning the fights at the end of May.

This is entirely different to trying to teach them great technique, strategy, tactics, etc. This is about preparing people to win. Sure, those things if you have them will/might result in a win, but they are not pre-requisites to winning in Judo necessarily. Winning is about scoring more points than your opponent… that’s it. To score points you need to throw your opponent, or hold them down or make them submit. You don’t need to have perfect technique to do this necessarily.

So the session focussed on the players own Judo, what they felt was their successful waza, when then worked backwards and looked at their kumi kata (grips) and how these need to integrate together to be successful. Rather than prescribing how they should do things, they worked on their own techniques and found their own solutions. I tried to help, but mainly it was the player and their partner working out what felt right and what worked.

Later in the session we had Randori in which we focussed on using what we had been working on. What often happens is that players start a fight following “the plan” then part way through start improvising and that can be disaster. So as coach, I tried to watch for this, then if they strayed off “the plan” I would encourage them back to what they had been working on.

This week I have been taking a break from “Judo Geekery”, by which I mean I am not writing any code this week on www.dojolist,org or (or anywhere else) as I have put quite a bit of time into the DojoList code recently and had a heavy blast getting the Planet Judo iPhone application completed and submitted to the App Store (still pending review from Apple).

I also knocked out my first 5 mile run in far too long this week, on Tuesday evening. It was nice to get back to a level that I haven’t been at for quite sometime. I know there are differing views on running for Judo; especially distance running. But personally I think running has a valuable place in Judo training… and lets not forget I am not a Judo athlete in peak fitness. Running for me is as much as calorie burn as cardio-vascular development. It has little to do with my Judo fitness, other than my general fitness.

Lastly, this weekend I am really looking forward to visiting my EJU Degree colleague Mark Conway’s new dojo! I’ll be taken a session I think along with some other guests. Mark has had a permanent dojo in/near Harlow for sometime and this is a new permanent place. I am hoping to learn about how it all works as I’d like to do similar things down here in Hampshire (see ). I’ll have my video camera and my audio recorder with me, so hopefully will post some stuff online afterwards.

If you are attending, please say hello! Be sure to check out their website too at


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My project hits 0.6.0. 


So, my little DojoList project is progressing along and today I finished my latest milestone, what I am calling 0.6.0.

In this version of the software I've added:

* Cleaner CDATA in the XML file.
* Ability to centre the map on your address/postcode.
* Fixed up a bug in the logo upload routine
* Added email notifications of modifications to dojo information.
* Started abstracting the XML processing out of the controller(s).
* Added the ability to delete or replace the logo from the edit screen.
* Modified the main club listing to be sorted alpha numerically on dojo name.

In the next iteration I plan to add proper data validation of input from form on create and edit screens. For the 0.7.0 milestone, I want to add the following:

* Data validation.
* Search function on Dojo name.
* Option for unformatted HTML list for embedding within another sites layout.
* Tweak formatting of club view page to work better on Google.

So thats what I added that was planned and what I have planned. During the 0.6.0 cycle I learned alot and added some things that were not planned. For example, I added a feature that imports data from the very cool site (which also licenses it data with a creative commons license).
I did quite a bit of structural change to the software. Moving things around between the controller to the model for example. I also started abstracting things better for later when I want to add more flexibility.

One of the things I have found hard, is the handling of XML data in more complicated situations. Specifically sorting the XML data file. WHich I have not actually done yet. Currently I am trying to find the best way to do this. I am swaying between using XSL transformations and pulling the SimpleXML Object into and array, sorting the array and then pushing it back out as XML. If you've got experience in this area, please let me know.
Having this issue is kinda self-inflicted from the design decision to use XML to store the data (as opposed to using a database like MySQL or SQLite; although I want to add them as a option later).

I Look forward to the next iteration, but it looks trickier! :-)

This post is cross-posted on

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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?

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