Monthly Archives: February 2011

Minimum grade requirement for competition

I was involved in a debate today and I thought I would share it here.

It is common practice for judo competitions to stipulate a minimum and/or maximum grade requirement. The reason for this is that if the competition is of a certain level, lets say national level, then a minimum grade requirement, lets say green belt for now, means that unsuitable players will not enter.

We all know that the belt system is based upon this, it is a safety mechanism when you train the the club environment. If a blue belt faces a yellow belt in randori he has an idea of the level of the opposition and knows to “take it easy” or maybe put some shin pads on 😉

This has worked fine for many years but there is now an issue with it, especially in the UK but I am sure in other countries too. recently British judo changed their grading system to a non-competitive system. This means that instead of competing the players have to demonstrate a number of techniques (waza) from a set syllabus. This is a move I fully support and I think it is a good thing for British judo.

The problem arises with then using this grade to predict or inform of a players ability to compete. How can it? The player has demonstrated a number of techniques from a set syllabus and contest ability is based upon skill. Technique and skill are two very different things, for more information on this in a judo context you could read “judo inside out” by Gleeson (1983). You could read almost any motor learning or skill acquisition book to read about it in a non-judo context.

Neither can we assume that knowing more techniques will improve competitive ability. In fact an increase in options (in this case the number of techniques available) is know to increase reaction time (you could read into Hicks law for more on this). It has also been shown by several authors (including Weers, n.d.) that elite judo players only have 4-6 standing techniques (tachiwaza) and 3-4 groundwork techniques (newaza).

So, in my opinion using the current grading system to asses competitive ability is a little like using knowledge of spelling and grammar to assess an individuals ability to write a novel.

Of course, it is one thing to say something doesn’t work but quite another to suggest something that does. I do not have all the answer but the suggestion I would make would be qualifying events. For example you have to have competed in x number of events that year of a specific level/standard. Admittedly this wouldn’t be easy to monitor or check. It might,however, mean that less competitions are cancelled due to low numbers.

 

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Paris tournament 2011

This years Paris tournament was very different for me. I decided to take some young judo players from the club, this was their first major tournament and I think this is as good a place as any to introduce them to major tournaments.

We set off very early Saturday morning so that we would only have to pay for the hotel for one night. One of the parents who came with me speaks French and had booked a taxi to meet us at the airport, this cost €75 so I wouldn’t have paid it if I was by myself but it would have cost similar to get all five of us there by train.

When we got to the stadium the first person I saw who I knew was Nuno Delgado, he now works for the EJU on social inclusion in judo, there is a website – www.achievecollectgiveback.com that outlines this project. Personally I think it is great to see such a competitive player focussing on such a project.

We managed to get tickets with ease and the first fight we saw was Gemma Howell against a girl from the Netherlands. Unfortunately Great Britain only had three players in this competition and none of them progressed, pretty poor really.

That didn’t stop the razzmatazz of the event though. It was lively both days but especially Sunday as Lucie Ducosse  and Teddy Riner Fought. Personally I wanted to see Georgii Zantaraia (UKR) as he has been amazing in Tokyo at the world championships. He didn’t disappoint here but was strangled unconscious in the semi-finals.

I think the trip was a success, my young players got to meet Cuban coach Ronaldo, Greek judo legend Illias Illiadis and Henk Grol, who was fantastic with the children and let them wear his medal.

I would like to say a big thank you to two particular people, Abbas Salihu who competes for Nigeria and is a member of the British Army. He made it possible for the children to meet so many athletes they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to meet. Also Nicolas Anolinos, who used to train with us at Anglia Ruskin Judo Club and is now living at home in Paris, he was very supportive during this trip.

 

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