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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Judoka Quarterly - A new Judo magazine for English speakers. 

If like me you are a English speaker, you are missing out on so much Judo! Speak or read French, German or Japanese for example and there are some amazing Judo magazines you can enjoy.

If you are an english speaker however, since the sad death of Bob Willingham's TWOJ there has been a void. But the void may soon be filled, and we can all make it happen!

David McFall and Rafal Burza have started a kickstarter campaign to produce an english language Judo magazine called "Judoka Quarterly"!!!!

David McFall lives in Japan and trains regularly at the home of Judo, the Kodokan. He also commentates for the IJF. Rafal is a respected Judo photographer and together they will be producing the magazine.

Here is a video from David explaining it:

Now... here is the exciting part. You (yes you!) are the one who determines if this magazine gets past the planning stage and into your hands.

The magazine is being launched via crowdfunding, so it's a case of if you want a Judo magazine become a financial supporter via Kickstarter.

If enough of us want it and support it, then the magazine gets produced. If you support and not enough people join you, then you get your money back. So it's win-win. You invest as little as $10 USD and help create something special for Judo.

Or you don't and... well lets not think about it!

The campaign is time limited, we only have till February 20th to invest. So please do, via the simple payment options on the kickstarter page.

Please also spread the word, tell everyone down at the club about it. Share the link with them, make a poster and put it on the bulletin board.

Together we can get this magazine produced, we can get quality Judo content in english in a glossy magazine format (as well as electronic versions).

So please, please consider investing at



P.s. Just in case you are wondering, I have no stake in the magazine other than know Rafal and David. My interest and enthusiasm is about my personal desire for a quality English language Judo magazine.

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2014: My year in review. 

As is common at this time of year, I want to look back at my 2014 and reflect on the highs and lows so it may influence my 2015.

In 2014 I had a somewhat restricted Judo schedule only making it to 8 events. :-( This is almost entirely due to commitments outside of Judo that I use to pay my bills, AKA a Job.

It did mean that I got to attend the European and World Championships as well as EJU Opens in Italy, Estonia and Glasgow. I also Attended the Jeju and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events along with the EJU coach education (Judo Knowledge) meeting in Cambridge.

I continued to work with my colleagues in the EJU and IJF and and the live streams are better than ever. A new role for me this year was to administer the newly formed IJF Junior World Ranking List.

Given my financial position I expect to do approximately the same level of travel in 2015. :-( However I really want to push forward in different areas to try and engage even more with the Judo community.

Locally and personally, 2014 was a tough year Judo wise. Balancing a fulltime demanding job, a family, Judo coaching EJU and IJF roles means I end up spread very thin.

Too thin, unlike me. My health (primarily my weight) has suffered and I have to try and resolve that in 2015. Also, I had to in 2014 make some very tough calls in regard to Judo. My beloved Alresford Judo Club is now closed. After struggling to keep it afloat for a number of years this year I finally had to make the decision to close the club.

The Judo community for me has been interesting and challenging this year. Especially the local UK community.
For me, the UK Judo community is not healthy. Where I see growth and exciting times ahead the UK community is depressed, disenfranchised and worrying about MMA, BJJ and UFC when the rest of the world is focussing on Judo and going forward.

2014 marked I think the 6th year that I have administered the unofficial BJA facebook group. Which continues to be an open discussion area and I enjoy "most" of the interactions I have on there. This year I "bit back" at some of the trolls and those who misunderstand the purpose of the site. A couple of threats of physical violence from some not really Judo people and it settled down and the discussions regained the foreground.

My coaching at the Solent University continued. It was a tough year with my travel and other commitments when combined with some core members graduating away and a poor freshers intake affecting the clubs progress. I really enjoy coaching the club and we hosted some more events in the first part of the year.

Hampshire Judo has had a shaky year this year. But looks to be on the mend with the good folks at Fleming Park really stepping in and putting on some events. I genuinely hope they get back on an even keel and the innovation can restart soon as the problems have resulted in it slipping back to old models of operation that are far from ideal. Again, I think that hole may have been escaped and in 2015 I hope they are on the path forward.

British Judo has been interesting, it hosted two strong events (Commonwealth Games and Glasgow Open). And in 2015 will host the European Championships in Glasgow. The europeans will be good I am sure. It will be a challenge for the BJA to step up from opens but I am confident they will put on a good event.

In 2014 I continued to be a open voice of opinion in the BJA. Where as many are hesitant/afraid to speak out I have no problem in doing so. I have no elite player I am coaching and have nothing to lose; so have a more free voice than my colleagues.

There have been some really positive signs coming from the BJA. Kerrith Brown and the Board do appear to be at least trying to get the BJA back on track. It can be hit and miss, but there are signs that they are trying to clean house and catch back up with the rest of the world.
Unfortunately it has not all been positive. They persist with Walsall which is a project that even after spending a day trying to persuade me by the Chairman and Performance Director I do not feel is the most effective direction for the BJA. It is not a disaster and to be fair they have little choice as the piss poor performances of the past mean that they have weak positions against the funding partners who are dictating what they do to a large degree in the performance programme. Rod Carr (and his board) I would contend has more influence on the direction of the BJA performance programme than the BJA does; which is sad and not I think good when we need radical change to escape the culture and status quo that persists in the BJA.

The BJA and British Judo community has proven a bit out of step with the rest of the world of Judo. We are isolated some what and have made some moves that raise eye brows.
The BJA signed a partnership deal with the UFC; the former Chairman took a CEO position with a MMA orgabisation. Quite a vocal proportion of the BJA community are obsessed with BJJ, MMA and UFC and it's cage fighting lesser orgainsations.
All at a time when the IJF is pushing hard to distance Judo from the world of MMA. The IJF, EJU and most of the wider international Judo community is from the perspective I have been fortunate to have been focussed on growing Judo and it's working. For me it hurts to see the BJA community of which I am a member of getting it so wrong and wanting to go down a path that the rest of the Judo community has looked at and went "no thats not for us".

Judo is (despite what people keep saying) not dieing. It is not getting smaller or worse. It is getting larger and more popular and better. It is gaining in fans and events and athletes.

A big issue we need to overcome is this idea of recreational and competitive Judo players. Of technical and competition dan grades.
The reality is that they are one in the same. One of the reasons that Judo is struggling in this country is because of this weird differentiation I feel. All Judoka should compete, not at the Olympics or with a "at all costs" approach. But we should all be enjoying the sport we have. To have a football club where 90%+ of the members never played a match is unthinkable, yet this is the norm in the BJA.
There is no seperation between competition player and kata exponent. There is no difference and we need to stop creating these artificial barriers.
Especially as when compared to the rest of the world, all but a few players in the UK are competition players and if the rest of the world had our perspective we would all be "mere recreational" players.
Of course the rest of the world does not have this warped perspective (on the whole); they see the 6 year old who comes to run around on the mats with his older sister as a Judoka. They see the 18 year old sister who competes at county level as a Judoka. They see the father who does kata and helps coach as a Judoka. All are equal and just in different places in the art of Judo. None of which are inferior to the other, just different.

We now have a large international circuit. 2014 saw the expansion of this circuit to include Junior and Cadet athletes. The team format continues to grow in popularity and significance. It is now a popular fixture in continental and world championships and the EJU leads the way in club based team events.

I saw first hand in 2013/2014 that our small local team based circuit was popular and successful. It has been an experiment that proved what is possible with little financial investment and only a small core of supporters.

I have been researching competitions formats in and outside of Judo and plan to contribute a document that outlines some ideas on how a BJA structure could be formulated.

We need to push hard to catch up with Europe and the world. Britain "was" the world leader in Judo and has a history of success both in Shiai and in the other important areas of Judo. But today we have lost that position. The BJA no longer performs well in competitions internationally and local competition is unstructured and low level at best.

We need to learn from our European Judo neighbours and learn fast. We also need to learn from other sports.

Mainly I think we (the British Judo community) need to re-learn what Judo is about. That it is about doing Judo at all levels. That the striving for competition is part of the path to improving yourself and to having the understanding to be a better person. That the technical skills you learn in competition assist your kata and vice versa.

We need to re-learn the meaning of sport, the meaning of it that existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s when our founder was active. That sport is more than just physical activity, that it is a way of life. That through sport we make ourselves better and our community.

We need to realise that only by competing do we learn and that our lack of competition success is a direct result of our lack of learning. We all need to compete against one another to learn and to improve and to make ourselves and the British Judo community better.

Alternatively, we can invent technical/competitive pathways; partner with cage fighting entertainment companies and continue to have no national competition structure and no international reputation.

We can continue to isolate the clubs and the coaches and continue to fester whilst the rest of the Judo world expands and shines.

I know which vision I want to be part of and what vision I want the Judoka I am involved with to share.

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My visit to the BJA Walsall centre. 

This past Saturday I travelled up to Walsall to visit the BJA Centre of Excellence at the invitation of Nigel Donaghue. Upon arriving I got to sit down with Kerrith Brown and Nigel after getting a tour of the facility.

After 8.5 hours with these two men, I was in the car and on my way home having learned more about the changes happening within the BJA and the setup inside the Centre of Excellence and the performance programme.

I'm writing this on Sunday evening after having a little time to review what I saw and heard as well as to consider how it ties into what people asked me publically and privately to looks at.

What I would like to do is divide this into two parts, one about the association and second the performance programme/centre of excellence.

For those of you prone to TL;DR, here is a summary:

I think the BJA is in a state of change. Kerrith Brown (Chairman) spent a long time sharing the changes that have taken place, are taking place and he wants to see happen within the association/ His approach is to find a segement of the organisation and dig into the heart of it and change what needs changing. Given the current negativity I sense in the membership; I think he is following a wise strategy which he hopes will leave a stronger more closely knit association in the long-term.

On the perfomance side, I think Nigel Donaghue (Performance Director) is putting in place a structure based on what he has been told to deliver by the BJA and it's funding partners. I think he is doing it to the best of his ability. I personally don't think the approach is the correct one and worry that culturally the performance programme feels very similar to the Dartford experiment that it mirrors so closely.

So on with the long version:

BJA Changes:

I spent almost 8 hours with Kerrith and Nigel on Saturday, both in quite formal presentation mode and also in more relaxed situations over food or walking around the campus.

Kerrith spoke openly with me about the situation he walked into as the new chair and how he has approached making changes internally. Obviously, as he took post British Judo was on a precipice; after all the London2012 funding and lack of string performances Judo was hit by funding cuts and targetted for more. Kerrith described how he needed to focus on securing funding first and foremost.

History shows that Judo managed somehow to hold onto good funding both performance and grassroots. Despite protestations I see and hear and have heard; British Judo remains well funded. British Judo has it's performance money and it's grassroots money.

He spoke about changes at board level and how he intends to havr all elements of the association examined and revised appropriately. This will include areas asuch as the grading systems, competition structures, communication, areas and counties, associations with AJA/BJC etc.
This for me is really a positive message and one that fills me with some confidence that the BJA might just dig itself out of the mess it has managaed to find itself in. We spoke about the disconnect between clubs and head office. Between the guy/girl teaching a class of kids in the local school hall and the staff member(s) in Loughborough and how these two groups of people are so removed from one another.

We spoke about the poor communication and how in my view the BJA needs desperately to find a “community manager”, by which I mean a person who is responsible for being the link between the member clubs and the association and it's staff. To date the closest to this I think has been the efforts Andrew Hafflner has been putting online. He is one of the few officials of the association engaging with the wider BJA community and explaining the associations position when appropriate and listening and referring back to HQ where appropriate.

We did not agree on all things, but on some might say a suprosingly large number of areas. It is a tough job, the BJA has lost a lot of control over itself. The funding bodies are demanding that the BJA do what they say it should and given the associations failure to perform internationally and also to increase participation it is not suprising.

Performance Programme:

Again there was a lot of agreement between myself and Kerrith and Nigel. Nigel has put a lot of structures in place and again is not entirely the master of his own ship as the funding comes with a tight leash. The mistakes of the past are still hurting the programme. It is hard to lead the required revolution if someone else is telling you what to do.

What Nigel has done is put some fundamental basics in place, athletes have plans. Not as long as I would like (they are now up to 12 months) and not as detailed as you would like to see. But as Nigel described many of the structures, it is the first time they have been put in place at all. This amazed me as it really is coaching 101.

I am not a fan of the centralised programme. The new world of Judo with the WRL is far more about individuals and building multiple paths. I am not in the majority I think here. A centralised programme is an approach I advocated for my native New Zealand, so it is not that I dont think they can work... it's just that I don't think that in the UK it is a model that will work.

Perhaps it is not even so much about centralisation as it is about how you approach a programme. Walsall is very much like Dartford; an enforced central centre. And Dartford did not work. For me it is crazy to think that the cultural issues that prevented Dartford working would disapear just by moving it to Walsall.

It is a top down decision, the BJA decided to have a national centre (under pressure from funding bodies I am sure) and then hired a performance director to deliver their plan. The Performance director is now making that happen, moving first the Juniors and then the seniors to Walsall on a non-voluntary basis. Time will tell if the clout of the BJA is strong enough to make players move. I would expect that when push comes to chove the BJA will remove the “self-funded” option from players not based in Walsall along with any possibility of funding or selection.

The programme really needs to pick up their act if they want to win the “hearts and minds” of the athletes, coaches and wider community. This weekend was the ONST; Open National Squad Training. People had come from Wales and Scotland to attend. Yet when I arrived just before 11am the 9:30am-11:30am session was finishing early. It was not a “one off”; it was a question raised to me prior to my attending by more than one person via Facebook/Email. Why would a session on a big weekend end 30+ minutes early? It took me over 2.5 hours to get to Walsall, if I had brought a player to train I would be pretty annoyed if they lost 25% of the session for no reason.

The BJA performance programme has I should say gotten a bit more of a handle on the WRL. It notoriously did not understand the importance of it leading up to London2012. Now at least it is front and centre on their minds and they have started to talk with some nuanced understanding of the new reality of our sport. I was also pleased to see/hear some planning around who players have fought as opposed to merely looking at results on the medal table.

There are some oddities I observed during the actual training. There were a good number of coaches bowing on at the front of the group. No bow to joseki, in part because for some reason the traditional portrait of Kano was absent. Not many of the “coaches” were engaged in anything more than taking up space or propping up the walls.

Along with the missing Kano portrait, I noticed one other Judo faux pais. World number 1, Automne Pavia was on the mat. I would have expected that she would have been shown a little respect and invited to stand with the coaches during the bow as opposed to actually standing behind others in the line of players.

Talking to Nigel and Kerrith, it is very clear that Walsall is the future of the BJA. Loughborough HQ will be moving I believe, all players will be there. I would assume (or at least hope) that all coaches will move to Walsall too.

This is putting a lot of eggs in one basket.

Of course the centre is not the entireity of the performance programme. I sat in on a AASE meeting where coaches from around the country involved in the running of this programme to get young people prepared for high level training were being spoken to by the BJA staff about the programme. It was clear that to date there was been little or no real collaboration between AASE and the BJA performance programme. It was good to see the comnversation taking place as the AASE locations really should be the main pathway for athletes to entire the national programme.

I was also shown the new BJA iPad App. This is a comprehensive tool that takes all the paperwork that the programme has and puts it online via an application from ILG. It is a snazzy app, able to do many many good things. As a geek it really appealed and got my attention.

As a coach and obsessive about performance programmes, the iPad seemed like a gimick and like the centre itself indicative of the common “brick and mortar” approach to building a programme. Call it a “bits and bricks and mortar” approach perhaps.

The well regarded Southa African sport scientist Ross Tucker wrote back in 2013 an article called “Bricks, mortar and high performance inefficiency” ( ... fficiency/ ), which resonates very much for me. The gist of the article is that it is not about what you can build or buy. Rather it is all about the athletes and what they can achieve.

However, as the title of the Tucker article suggests; the approach the BJA seems to be implementing is not necessarily a path to failure just inefficiency. The BJA programme for me repeats the strategy used in previous Olympic cycles. A forced centralised programme, heavy on facilities and staff (and now tech), heavy on procedures. But for me it feels light on athlete focus and creating systems that match the needs of the athletes. This echoes the concerns that I have had raised with me directly and indirectly.

As I write this, the centre is now 12 months old. It feels unfair to “pick on” the programme when it has only had a short time to get it's house in order. I as with many others in the BJA want to give the programme a chance... but the clock is ticking.

Kerrith Brown and Nigel Donaghue both seem committed and passionate about making changes and improving the BJA and the BJA Performance Programme. On the association side, I am filled with some confidence. On the performance side it is good to see some structures in place and some planning.

If Rio2016 was today, the BJA would have nine athletes competing, qualified via the IJF WRL. This is actually a pretty darn good situation to be in if the BJA is able to maintain this level of ranking. The approach they are taking is very structured and based on the idea that you can build a “pipeline” where if you feed in enough people at the top a world class champion will pop out the other end. It is not a model I believe in, I am of the philosophy that you take each player on their own merits and and needs and tailor the support mechanisms around them that they need. As opposed to shoe horning athletes into a programme.

The approach is ineffecient, not inneffective. The athletes in the system can make it to the Rio (and beyond). The programme can be stronger and will improve I hope; it already seems to have made some improvements. But is it money well spent? Would the players make it without the BJA performance programme? Would more? Would fewer?

There is a lot of money being given to the BJA and it is being spent. I see millions going in and worry that we are not going to see this translate into medals when it counts. I worry that the talent is not being nnurtured if it does not fit into the rigid structure of the centralised programme. I worry that the culture of the BJA has not changed enough especially on the performance side. On the administrative side I think I am seeing more rapid change and improvement.


My overiding impression of the trip to Walsall was that it looked and felt a lot like Dartford when the BJA Performance Programme was there under Margaret Hicks, Patrick Roux and Jane Bridge. The facility is smaller and less polished, there is accomodation onsite and a university campus and facilities there which is a big improvement.

Kerrith Brown impressed me on several occasions. He was very open and communicative and very much convinced me that he wants the BJA to change and to change for good. Not only was he there talking to me, he was also on the mat. I had to laugh and call him over and say “I doubt you'd see the Chairman of the Football Association training with the team!”. This is not a man sitting in an ivory tower looking down. This is a man getting stuck in and trying to implement change it felt to me.

Nigel continues to be one of those people who you know is pouring every hour he has into his job. He is in a tough position though. The BJA is being pressured (as a result of it's failures in the past) by the funding bodies. When Nigel took post in March 2013 the BJA had already decided on a centralised programme and to put the centre in Walsall. So he is not really the master of his domain. He is, I think, building the structures that others have decided should be there. He is adding his own touches but the programme is the same as leading up to London2012, but in a new location, a smaller budget and a harder mountain to climb to even get players to the games. The “bricks and mortar (and now bytes)” aproach as Ross Tucker describes it is symptomatic of a 1st world country with money to spend.

I would prefer to see the BJA invest the money it receives on success. By which I mean on the players and coaches in the country who have proven they can produce international level players. I look at the top players and have to ask why the money is not invested in where they have chosen to train. Where have our top players come from? What could those clubs do with the money the BJA has spent on Walsall? What could the money spent on the new iPad app do for the self-funding players?

My genuine hope is that I am being a “grinch”, that I am being a pessimist and that come Rio2016 Nigel gets to laugh in my face and tell me I was wrong, I really do.

The simple fact that Nigel and Kerrith invited me to visit Walsall and spent their time with me fills me with some confidence that I am wrong. It shows a level of interest in engaging with others I hope is a sign of change.

The BJA is changing and I look forward to seeing changes in the competition structures when theycome in particular. We are a sport where the national governing body does not organise competitions; this is pretty odd. I wonder how many other Olympic sports NGBs doing organise inter-club competitions on a national scale.

The openess to engage and link with BJJ I think is good if done properly and with the right reasons as the drivers. I understand the BJAs perspective on the UFC partnership; I see the benefits to the BJA and although ethically I can't agree with it as UFC is cage fighting; I do feel the partnership has the potential to really help the BJA if it goes well.

The performance programme is getting it's act together. The basic structures and planning seems to be put in place. Where I feel an athlete-centric programme is required, the BJA is going for a centralised one size fits all approach, like it or leave. I feel like we are repeating the approach used in previous cycles and expecting different results.

I worry immensely that so many people I respect do not feel that the performance programme is on the right track and that some of the really awful things that pagued the previous performance programme seem to be re-occuring.

So here is a few thousand words written on my time in Walsall.
Scanning back over what I have written I realise there is plenty more to write.

I'd like to congratulate and thank Nigel Donaghue and Kerrith Brown for making the effort to invite a vocal critique in and to share with me their time, opinions and passion.

I hope that history will show that I was pessimistic and that 2014 was the year that the BJA started to change direction, and that success followed on the foundations built this year. That the cultural and orgainsational changes in the BJA and the BJA Performance Programme made a real impact and change the tide of public opinion. That it was in 2015 the BJA membership started to fell some confidence in the association again.
I hope that 2015 is recorded as the year that the players felt the performance programme were on their side and bending over backwards to help them. That the club coaches felt that the BJA was taking work off them and making their lives easier and better. That the members of the clubs felt part of the association and that their association was building for Rio2016.

I have strong opinions obviously, and am happy to discuss your strong opinions. Please do leave a comment below or email me via


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On the UFC and BJA partnership. 

Today the BJA announced the UFC partnership that was hinted at earlier in the year. The BJA Facebook group is currently debating the heck out of it over at

I thought I would write a blog post to help me clarify my thinking on the partnership. So, below are my ramblings:

* A Big Sponsor.
It has been a stated objective of the BJA for more than a decade to secure a big name sponsor. This has been a massive failure until today. Finally the BJA has a big name sponsor.

* UFC and Judo.
The BJA is following the lead of USA Judo here. USA Judo has had a relationship with UFC for a while now. The USA Judo brand has appeared in the octagon and there has been advertising in UFC magazine etc.

But should Judo be involved in the UFC at all?

I am not sure it should. For me I have watched many (including the original UFCs) and can appreciate the combat. But although I can watch and appreciate UFC, I don't consider it something I want to be associated as it is a bloodsport.

It is impossible for me as an individual to remove the fact that the purpose of a UFC match is for two people to beat upon one another until one is unconscious, can't continue or is forced to submit to prevent being injured.

I don't like the fact that the UFC is basically a plot device from a whole sub genre of B Action movies. You know the ones where the hero ends up in an underground cage fighting ring.

It is a throw back to the days where we watched men kill one another for the entertainment of others. It is like the WWE in that it is entertainment NOT sport. The combat is real, but from that point on it is almost as scripted and dramatised as WWE. I might contend that WWE is more of a sport as the feats of agility they perform are incredible.

So for me, I don't like my sport being associated with a bloodsport.

Whats in it for the partners?
This is a tough one, especially as so far only the BJA have put anything on it's official website and that is a simple press release with few details.

If we look at the UFC we have a multi-million dollar, multi-national entertainment business. They have money, huge audience and are riding a wave of success.

If we look at the BJA we see a small niche Olympic sport NGB with shrinking membership and poor competition performance internationally. It struggles with marketing and promotion.

So on the face of it, people seem to see a cash injection and lots of free publicity for Judo.

I am more skeptical and don't see why UFC would invest large amounts of money into the BJA. The only asset mentioned in the BJA release is advertising UFC to the membership and via the BJAs social media channels.

This I suppose is worth the UFC investing some money in, but not much. Perhaps the BJA is giving the UFC access to the membership; which they might consider a target rich environment to see pay per view and tickets to live events.

It is conceivable that UFC see the BJA as a talent ID and development project. Unlike BJA or boxing; UFC fighters are salaried employees so you sould conceivably see them using Walsall as a place to identify fighters.
Of course this would skim the cream of the talent out of the BJA potentially... so I don't see that as a plus except for those individual athletes who suddenly find themselves with regular income and a more stable financial future.
But from a BJA perspective it is suicide as it's potentially depleting the talent pool for future Olympic cycles.
I would further suggest that the UFC really does not need to do this; the lure of money must be pretty gigh already for our players that are already forced to self-fund are being let down by the BJA and see the success of people like Ronda Rousey and see a new path potentially.

* Tieing our "Brand" to UFCs
Not that our brand is worth much, but we really have to consider the entity that is UFC. It is a business with the aim of making money for it's shareholders.

The UFC has finally started putting doping controls in place. But like most american sports they are not signed up with WADA. Doping has been and remain rife in the UFC.

Then there is the scandals. The BJA has had it's share but the UFC makes the BJA look pure as driven snow by comparision. It takes about a 5 minute google session to find lots of news reports about UFC scandals. Armed standoffs with the police does not really sound like a brand we necessarily want to be associated with to me.

* Confuding the Judo brand.
So, Judo has been a mainstay skill in UFC for years. Ronda is making it even more so. Yet a harai goshi is a "hip toss" and juji gatame is a "straight arm bar" still.
Although the word Judo perhaps is being used in UFC; it does not seem to be translating into any form of education about Judo to those in the UFC universe.

Judo is not UFC, we don't punch, we don't kick we don't aim to knock out our opponents. We are a sport and to quote the EJU we are "More than sport". We are not part of the "kicky punchy" crowd; parents looking for an activity for their kid can easily understand that Judo does not have kicking or punching.

But if Dad follows UFC and suddenly learns BJA is partnered with UFC; won't he rightfully expect what we do in the club to resemble whay he sees in the octagon?

Won't some parents like myself see the partnership and say "I don't want my son/daughter involved in cage fighting!"

So both sides of the coin are potentially end up with the key decision makers in our "market" deciding Judo is not for their child as potentially what Judo is is more confused than it was prior to the partnership.

Given that 90%+ of the membership are kids under 12, we need to think about what parents reactions will be. I suspect there is a much smaller group of parents looking for a hobby for their kids that is cage fighting than are looking for something like what Judo really is.

* Incompatible markets
I don't feel that a partnership with the UFC is going to help grow Judo. Our key market demographic is not a UFC demographic. be that counting the actual members (kids under 12) or parents of those kids.

The UFCs market is guys in there late teens and above. Preferably single with lots of disposable income to spend. This is not the proven market of Judo in the UK.

So the partnership ties us top the UFC, excludes us from partnering with a compatible brand. I.e. a someone like McDonalds who target kids directly and their parents. I'm not suggesting we go with junk food companies either; merely highlighting that McDOnalds knows, markets to and gives access to our proven market better than the UFC.

* UFC Cage fighting is not compatible with Judo.
Where Judo aims to improve society and individuals; UFC aims to entertain people for profit.

Judo "fights" are controlled, safe and sport where the aim is to test yourself against others. UFC "fights" are brawls where the aim is to injure the other person to the point they can't continue; for the entertainmet and profit of others.

They punch and kick, we don't.

We try to avoid bloodshed and in fact avoid even televising blood injuries; they revel in it.

* Losing Judo.
Another problem I see whenever UFC comes up is the attracting of internet trolls. The BJJ/MMA/UFC trolls see no problem with basically saying Judo needs to be BJJ/MMA or it will die.

Judo on the other hand looks at it's long history and says, Karate came and we grew; Aikido came and we grew; Kung Fu came and we grew, Karate came and we grew; TKD came and we grew, BJJ and MMA has come and we are still growing (at least outside of the microcosm of the BJA).

For me, when I hear UFC announcers talk about Hip tosses and straight arm bars after years of Judo being in UFC I see that UFC does not draw in Judo culture it strips it out.

When I hear Judo people coaching in Judo clubs talking about "sweeping the guard" or being in the guard position I fear we are the creators of our own destruction.

We seem so focussed on the scary news kids on the block with their fancy octagon and tap out clothing brand that we forget that the eason that the UFC is popular is because the UFC organisation promoted UFC and had the timing and luck to catch the decline of boxing.

The BJA seems obsessed with selling everything except Judo. We have seem multiple projects like JudoFit and Gymnastics for Judo yet we still have no national competition structure.

We have staff who do all sorts of jobs, but no staff organising competitions locally around the country.

We have a NGB that sees the volunteer coaches as "work force". That has lost the engagement with the members so badly that a mere 30 (of approximately 800) clubs attend the AGM.

An NGB that does not even cover it's international athletes performances in real time.

The BJA is for me not focussed on Judo enough and I see the UFC partnership as another giant distraction from just helping people do Judo and enjoy doing!

What are your thoughts?


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On the format of Judo competitions.... 

As many readers will know I have an obsession with elite Judo and spend majority of my freetime working on projects related to that obsessions.

I travel to many international Judo competitions and administrate the Junior World Ranking List on behalf of the IJF.

And increasingly I ponder the format of Judo competitions and if we should be trying alternative formats.

The most visible evidence that this might be sensible and that others are thinking about this also is the introduction of IJF Team events at World level.

It is really a re-introduction in fact. British Judo has long had a team championships by area. Further back the Budokwai fought team events against other nations.
It is however a new format; 5 players rather than 7. It is exciting and great viewing. Hopefully it will soon be a fixture in the Olympic programme.

But for now, the format we use at most events is knockout with partial repecharge. What this means is that even if you face the eventual champion in the first round and lose, you are out and done for the day.

The old saying is that half the competitors go out in the first round. And there is a lot of truth to this idea. Maintaining the Junior WRL I estimate about 30% of all the athletes on the list have never made it out of round one.

So for them, it's an expensive event. 5 or less minutes of mat time and they are out. For the player, coach, team and nation it is saddening.

But what is the impact for the sport?

I would suggest that it is bad for us too. We are trying to make our sport presentable to the TV networks and spectators. Sport is one of the few types of content on TV that is popular with advertisers as being live matters.

But given that at most events half the players are out in the first round, what is the motivation to keep watching? be you a parent, club mate, countryman? Or just a member of the public watching?

If you are the BBC or any TV sports show producer, what do you show the local audience? Unless you are French, Russian or Japanese can you plan around having some good footage of the local player(s)? Probably not.

Judo is a niche sport, interesting but as yet not main event news. It's something that might get a few minutes at the end of a news broadcast. But if you are the BBC, will there be any British players to show? Any footage to cut together to to make a little news piece?

Now imagine a world where we try round-robin (pools). Everyone fights everyone in the category?
If you are the BBC suddenly you have multiple fights to get your footage from, even if the player(s) lose in the first round.

If you are a fan, you can watch that first round contest, and look forward to the next round where your favorite comes on the mat again and again and again.

This is just a concept, an idea, not a comprehensive plan. A think piece.

Another area we need to think about is if we should let just anyone enter any competition. In Britain I can enter the British national championships simply by sending a cheque.
At the Junior worlds this week, players who have never attended a world ranking event can step onto the world championship tatami.

Do we need to look at other sports formats and have leagues where you get promoted or delegated from depending on your performance?
Drop too low on the list and you can't stay at that level, down to level 2. Do well and get back in the top league.

This would perhaps decrease the number of players in events? This might be a good thing especially if we went round-robin.

Smaller player numbers might mean less mats, smaller (cheaper) venues, less admin costs for organisers?

Smaller venues, with less tatami might be worth considering anyway. Just for the spectator value.

By this I mean, watching 4 (or more) tatami is a less than satisfying experience; even for the most dedicated Judo fan.
We have all experienced that moment where you decide to watch mat 1 for a while, just to miss the amazing Ippon on mat 4. So you watch mat 4, and miss the Ippon on mat 2.

Equally, perhaps we need to consider what information we make available to spectators in the hall and on TV.
In the hall we have all watched events and wondered what stage the event is at, has so and so player been on again yet? Is this the semi-final?
We need to explore how we can inform the spectators (and participants) as to what is going on.

You can see, even in these few paragraphs, that there are many areas that need exploring so that the growth of Judo can continue.

It has only been in Marius Vizer's time as IJF President that Juso has made real changes to grow the sport. In recent years Judo has grown bigger than ever before, the IJF has gone from organising just the World Championships every two years to running events almost every week of the year.

Judo is on TV in more countries and practiced in more countries than ever before. Large and small nations are winning medals. We have live video streaming of all the senior events and many of the junior and cadet events.

Never before in the history of Judo has the IJF been promoting it wider and the momentum I feel is growing.

So for me now is the perfect time for us all to explore ideas and experiment with new ideas locally and share those experiment results online so that the good ideas spread.

I feel very positive as I write this, with the IJF Junior Worlds footage playing live from the USA.

I feel like we are on the cusp of something, it can go forwards and grow or shrink backwards. And the people that decide that are not just the IJF senior officials. It is you and me, the rank and file members of clubs and federations.

You can run a club championships in this day and age and have a live internet stream. Your city championships can have a new and exciting format. Your national championships can have that new innovation that gets the crowd more engaged.

Please, if you read this, take your ideas and share them. Crazy has never been more possible in history; if you have an idea it might be the idea that changes everything.

Good luck and let me know what you think!

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