Many studies have looked at the physiological responses to a single judo contest (Cipriano, 1993; Degoutte et al, 2003; Sterkowicz & Maslej, 2000; Wolach, et al, 2003) but in reality, to become a successful judo athlete, several judo contests must be fought in succession. On a single day of competition, a judo player can expected to have 4-8 fights (Cipriano, 1993; http://www.ippon.org) in order to win a gold medal; there is usually a gap between each fight of approximately 20-30 minutes. In training athletes are expected to fight 10-15 fights back to back in order to master the technical skill in a combat situation within the time constraints of a lesson/session (Inman, 2004), it should be noted that the success of Japanese judo has been attributed to the number of fights in training being much higher and their duration longer.
Studies have shown that Olympic wrestling and judo are physiologically similar (Pulkkinen, 2001). Studies into judo and wrestling have shown a high anaerobic contribution to both sports (Nilsson, et al, 2002; Pulkkinen, 2001; Sterkowicz & Maslej, 2000), indeed Pulkkinen (2001) suggests that the ATP-CP system and the anaerobic system are the primary sources of energy during a judo contest.Personally I am not convinced that wrestling and judo are as similar as some researchers suggest, certainly time motion research suggests they are very different and anyone who has done both wrestling and judo will tell you they are physically very different.
Time-motion analysis (Cipriano, 1993; Sterkowicz & Maslej, 2000) has shown that judo contests are characterised by maximal (100% VO2) efforts of 10-15s interspersed with recovery periods of sub-maximal efforts that include pushing, pulling and lifting movements.I will be doing a separate post on time motion analysis in judo at a later date.
The anaerobic system has a tremendous ability to completely replenish stores after depletion within 2-3 minutes (Astrand & Rodahl, 1986). High lactate scores have also been observed in judo contests (Callister et al, 1991; Nilsson et al, 2002; Sikorski et al, 1987), these authors have reported lactate scores of between 8.4mmol and 17.2mmol.
Several authors have suggested the following attributes, normally based upon the physiological profile of high performance athletes:
• Anaerobic power and endurance within a large aerobic base
At Anglia Ruskin University we are investigating the demands of high performance judo in two ways. Firstly my PhD research is focussing on the time motion analysis of light weight women’s judo. You can see the pro’s and con’s of time motion analysis in the previous post. Secondly the next block of the European Judo Union Level 4 performance coach award and Level 5 high performance coach award will focus on physiology. By educating and equipping coaches we hope to further our understanding of the physiological demand of judo. For now though more information on judo physiology can be found by sourcing the reference list.
If you have any questions about the physiological demands of judo please ask in the comments below.
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