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Is British Judo on the rise?

With the fantastic results of the European championships this week there will be the inevitable response of how great British judo has become/is becoming since it moved to a centralised programme at Walsall but what do the numbers tell us?

First of all, this has been a valiant effort by the British team and I would like to congratulate all the athletes, in particular, the 5 that won medals.

Sally Conway – Silver

Ashley McKenzie – Bronze

Gemma Howell – Bronze

Lucy Renshall – Bronze

Natalie Powell – Bronze

So how do these results compare to previous years? I’ve decided to stick to this century and go back to 2000. It would be hard to compare going back much further and 2000 seems like a good break point to me. There are several ways to present this data, I could do what most people do and select the one that suits my agenda or what I want to say but I think that isn’t fair and to be honest, if I have an agenda its objectivity so I have decided to present the data in a number of ways and let the reader make up their own mind.

If we base performance solely on medal count then 2018 is our most successful performance this century (since 2000). Personally, I am not convinced medal count alone is a good measure but winning 5 medals, the most we’ve won in 19 European championships is great. Below I have broken our medal tally at the European championships down by year and equating medal colour to the current number of points awarded on the IJF world ranking list. I think this is a fairly good way of presenting the data.

 

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Figure 1: World ranking points that would have been awarded based on the current world ranking points systems from 2000 – 2018.

 

If we ranked the results in order of points awarded then 2018 would be our joint 3rd most successful year. Table 1 shows all years ranked in points order.

Rank Year gold silver bronze score
1 2006 2 2 2100
2 2005 1 2 1 2030
3 2003 1 1 2 1890
4 2018 1 4 1890
5 2000 3 1 1820
6 2004 2 1 1330
7 2002 1 1 1190
8 2016 1 1 840
9 2007 2 700
10 2010 2 700
11 2011 2 700
12 2017 2 700
13 2009 1 490
14 2001 1 350
15 2012 1 350
16 2013 1 350
17 2008 0
18 2014 0
19 2015 0

Of course, there are the purists who would only like to count gold medals. Well, it is 12 years since we won a gold medal and in those 2006 European championships, we won two golds – Craig Fallon and Sarah Clarke. In fact, we have only won 5 European gold medals this century, the two above and Karina Bryant in 2005 and 2003, Georgina Singleton in 2002.

Of course, there are others ways to measure the performance, the number of fights won compared to the number of players competing (too much work for this post i’m afraid) and the quality of the fights are two examples. I did watch all the GB fights but I would want to watch them again without the emotion to judge that and give an opinion. My first impressions are that actually, our players are fighting very well at the moment. Natalie and Sally are extremely consistent and easily world class. This was Lucy’s first Europeans and she won a bronze, how Gemma has come through so many injuries and three weight groups to medal at this level is nothing short of miraculous and Ashley has achieved a second bronze despite fighting his opponents and the system simultaneously. If I was to pick one thing I find frustrating it would be this new habit of some British players to “beg for a score” or “beg for a score to be upgraded“. I don’t like this, I think they miss opportunities, particularly in transition to Ne-waza and arguing a score is arguably the coaches job, the athletes should focus on nothing but fighting. I don’t blame the players, there could be a number of reasons, lack of trust in the coaches, lack of faith in the referees, or the constant changes in rules (although not all athletes from all countries do it) to name a few.

So what do we conclude? Well based solely on medal count we’ve done very well, our best Europeans this century. I am sure most people would agree the medal tally of 2006 (2 golds and two bronze) is better than of 2018 (1 silver and 4 bronze) as we regularly see medal tables with gold medals taking up the top slots ie one gold medal would put you above teams with multiple medals (those pesky purists!).

I think the fairest way for me is the points system, its objective and based on this system we can also look at trends in more detail. There does seem to be a trend of improvement from 2016 onwards, in fact, may be looking in more detail we just had a number of ‘difficult years’ between 2007 – 2015 and really we’ve always been great in Great Britain!

Anyway, our best European championships since 2006 and a trend for continuous improvement over the last three European championships. We should be pleased with this and hope a similar trend is seen at world level in Baku 2018 and Tokyo 2019 over the next two years and of course at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.

 

Sources:

http://www.Judoinside.com/uk

http://www.judobase.org

http://www.ippon.org

http://www.EJU.net (image source)

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Ph.D completion!

Well it’s been a long time coming but I have finally completed my Ph.D! The thesis was handed in back in September (seems ages ago now) and was 200 pages long. I successfully defended it in my Viva on Friday and now I just have minor amendments to go!

So many people to thank, it is easier just to add the acknowledgements below.

 

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The only people I think I have missed from here is Prof. Mike Lauder from Chichester University and Dr. Leonardo Mataruna-Dos-Santos from Coventry University.

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Any questions please fire away! Once papers are published, minor amendments are done I will be able to share some of the data on this blog.

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Youth Strength training

Following a Facebook discussion on the GB judo underground page I have decided to write a post about strength training for adolescents. There appears to be two common misconceptions, firstly that resistance training is bad for adolescence and secondly that they should be working on only judo skills. Hopefully I will dispel both of these.

Long-Term Athlete Development:

The LTAD model was introduced to British judo in 2006 and around this time to most sports in the UK. I am not going to discuss the rights and wrongs of this model in this post (although I am happy too in the future) but I will highlight what Balyi suggests in relation  to strength training.

Balyi suggests there are “windows of trainability” based upon an athletes developmental age (where they are in relation to maturation and peak height velocity). There has been huge criticisms of this because there is very little evidence to show there is accelerated adaptation in these stages but much of this criticism is based upon a lack of evidence and not evidence to the contrary. Balyi’s work did do something great for sport in the UK though, it suggested children could do strength training younger than 16yo and there is a lot of evidence, and consensus statements to suggest this is fine.

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Figure 1: Windows of trainability presented by Balyi.

Strength training is dangerous for adolescence:

There is a wealth of evidence that structured, progressive and guided strength training is hugely beneficial to children whether athletes or not. I work in an environment where we coach full-time athletes and to see “good judo players” come to us at 16-18yo who have never lifted is often difficult for us to comprehend (the judo is often very limited too but that’s another story!). Here are some of the consensus statements shared in the FB group with their conclusions underneath and these are just some of the many:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256929167_Position_statement_on_youth_resistance_training_The_2014_International_Consensus

“A compelling body of scientific evidence supports participation in appropriately designed youth resistance training programmes that are supervised and instructed by qualified professionals. The current article has added to previous position statements from medical and fitness organisations, and has outlined the health, fitness and performance benefits associated with this training for children and adolescents.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11019731

“With qualified instruction, competent supervision, and an appropriate progression of the volume and intensity of training, children and adolescents cannot only learn advanced strength training exercises but can feel good about their performances, and have fun. Additional clinical trails involving children and adolescents are needed to further explore the acute and chronic effects of strength training on a variety of anatomical, physiological, and psychological parameters.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445252/

“Youth—athletes and nonathletes alike—can successfully and safely improve their strength and overall health by participating in a well-supervised program. Trained fitness professionals play an essential role in ensuring proper technique, form, progression of exercises, and safety in this age group.”

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02640410310001641629?journalCode=rjsp20

“Based on the scientific evidence and expert opinion, resistance exercise can be positive when part of a balanced activity programme. Providing that professionals who understand the key principles of child growth and development adequately screen and supervise participants, then the combination of low risk of injury and positive physiological, psychological and sociological benefits can promote health and perfor- mance in all groups.”

 

Common themes throughout these are –

  • Progressive/structured
  • Supervised
  • Safe

You should focus on skills:

I would argue that for 10-12yo’s (just a guide because we’re talking about developmental age) skill training should be prioritised. They’re in What Balyi would describe the “learn to train stage” and I wouldn’t agree with this structure approach. This doesn’t mean they cannot do both and it doesn’t mean the coach cannot support the athlete in this. For example, how many coaches “walk around the mat” to “flush lactate” after a session, especially Randori? So with a young group why not practice unresisted squats or squats with a broom handle to “flush out the lactate” instead? Whether pre-adolescents need to flush out lactate or not is another questions but regardless wouldn’t this be a better way to end the session?

So what should you do?

I understand that this is an area that worries parents (and probably coaches) quite a lot and I am not trying to be flippant in this post. The real question is what should you do? Well, the answer is above really – structured/progressive and supervised. So how do we do this?

My honest opinion, and some won’t like it, is that I wouldn’t trust anyone to take my S&C classes without at least degree knowledge and if I was a parent paying I’d want an S&C MSc and UKSCA qualifications. The days of trusting someone who is a “personal trainer” who has probably done a two week YMCA course is gone I am afraid. If you get the right person then the structure and progression should look after itself.

Summary

There is a wealth of evidence to support the use of strength training in children and adolescent, the general consensus suggests this should be structured, progressive and supervised in order to be safe.

I think it would be good to have some sort of coach education and parent education in this area because judo is a demanding and often brutal sport, strength training will help athletes throughout he tough transition stages and help prevent injury.

 

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What a great weekend for Comberton Judo Club!

This weekend was the 2017 Eastern Area Closed. This event decides who are the area champions across a variety of ages and it is used to ‘rank’ clubs within the Eastern area.

Comberton judo club finished top of the table for the first time. We took 18 athletes and to be honest we wanted more, we were aiming for 30! We were missing some strong athletes too who I am sure would have won a medal. You can read more on our medal haul here and see some pictures here.

The reason for this post though is not about our performance at all. This has been a year of turmoil for me personally and the club and things are coming together really well. We won gold for the women team in May at the Eastern area team league and the men secured silver. We have five athletes competing at the British junior and senior championships in December, we have been to Japan, we have competed in two European cups …….. things really are great. But this weekend was different, it wasn’t all about performance and making those ‘inch by inch gains’, it was about the club coming together, it was about the younger players being able to watch the performance players, for me it was great just to coach kids again!

I am pretty pleased with how things are going, creating a culture for a performance team is not easy so to have to do it twice in two very different environments has been a challenge but right now, things are great!

Some pictures from the Eastern area closed, you can see more here

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Big changes……

Lots of people have asked me what is going on with “my job” at Anglia Ruskin so I thought it best to clarify my current position. I am a senior lecturer at Anglia Ruskin and was not employed for the judo at all, this was all something I did “as extra”.

In 2009 I started a judo club at Anglia Ruskin University, I remember telling the SU staff that I wanted it to be the best university judo team in the country and being laughed at. In 2010 the European judo union moved the performance coach awards to Anglia Ruskin with me as the course leader and this was the start of a “judo programme” that consisted of a high performance coach education pathway, full-time athletes, a community programme, the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence, recreational judo and a judo research group. I am quite proud of what was achieved here, predominately in my own time and with no extra pay. As much as I enjoy research and coach education my real passion is in athlete development and ironically it was this part of the judo programme that would prove its eventual downfall.

I set the target of providing 20hrs of training a week and we managed this with the same support as other clubs had (often less) for a sustained period of time but eventually things change. In my time managing and coaching the athletes at Anglia Ruskin they have performed very well in the British University and Colleges Championships, the results are shown below for this –

  • 4 x mens team champions at BUCS (the only Anglia Ruskin University team to win BUCS) plus one bronze
  • Women’s team bronze
  • 10 individual dan grade gold medals
  • 3 individual dan grade silvers medals
  • 10 individual dan grade bronzes medals

Over the years thats is 288 BUCS points for Anglia Ruskin University. Add to that around 15 peer reviewed journal articles specific to judo, three judo PhD students, countless students who have attended the university because of judo, income generated and the marketing i’d say it’s not a bad job.  Still the head of sport decided he didn’t want me involved in the judo anymore, this is his choice to make and I accept that decision.

So I move on! I will stay at Anglia Ruskin as a senior lecturer, a job I have enjoyed very much over the years to be honest and the one I am actually paid for. I think it is fair to say that my club that I have run for 18 years, Comberton Judo club, has suffered over the past 5-6 years with my main focus being on the Anglia Ruskin Judo Programme and the good news is that is changing and it is changing fast! Very fast! Comberton Judo club will now provide full-time training and many of the students who previously trained within the Anglia Ruskin Judo programme have moved to train with us.

I am now more positive and more confident in the judo I can deliver than I have been for a very long time, this might be a forced change but in many ways I feel it will be for the best. I would really like to thank the coaches and athletes who have stood by me throughout this two year period – Natasha Collins, Alex Hemming, Holly Newton, Ben Caldwell and Tara Fitzjohn have been particularly affected by all of this and have been strong throughout.

I will follow this post with another one about all the changes coming on board at Comberton Judo Club in the very near future (to be honest it might take more than one post!). In the mean time I wish the Head of Active Anglia and his new Head Coach, Michael Stewart, all the best for their venture into running a full-time training programme and we’ll see you on the mat!

Soremade!

 

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Filed under AASE, Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence, Anglia Ruskin Judo club, Anglia Ruskin Judo programme, Anglia Ruskin Sports Coaching & Physical Education degree, British Judo, Coach Education, EJU level 4 & 5 coaching awards, Judo, Uncategorized

Leadership

Firstly, I am sorry this is not a judo post!

I am seeing lots of posts on my facebook page at the moment about how intollerable Trump is. I don’t really read them to be honest, not because i don’t care but because in the main most of the people posting know little about leadership. Over the last nine days I have read some facebook posts that show true leadership though and it is those I want to write about. Before I get to them though a little background.

I joined the army at 15yo as a junior leader, probably one of the best decisions of my life, if not the best decision. As someone that joins the army as a soldier you nearly always have the ambition of becoming the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of your Battalion, this is, for the purpose of this post ‘the boss man!’ The RSM is the Sergeant Major of the Seareant Majors, he is in charge of discpline, is generally feared and is usually considered the top soldier of the battalian, he represents the fighting men. As a young soldier you often imagine what sort of RSM you would be, would you be the streotypical screaming, shouting man of discipline or would you be the war hardened man of few words? There are examples of both across the movie world. There are some examples below.

Now we’re clear on what an RSM is like I want to be clear about something else, some of them are shit leaders! They just want to tick boxes, kiss arse and move on. They’re in camp, pacestick waiving, crayon eating spunktrumpets who got to where they are by kissing arse and doing a few courses. Some however inspire soldiers, these are the men who win battles and it is one of these I would like to introduce today.

WO1 (RSM) Steve (Spud) Armon is the RSM of the first Battalian the Royal Anglian Regiment. Over the last 9 days (the same amount of time Donald Trump has been president) Steve has walked the 9 highest mountains in the UK to rememebr the 9 members of the Battalian lost in Afghanistan on Op Herrick 6 10 years ago.

Steve is posting his journay each day on his facebook page in order to raise money for the army benevolent fund with the story of how each soldier died. I have screenshot some of the posts here:

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Steve is without a doubt a soldiers soldier, he leads from the front and is the epitomy of leadership. He has an empathy with the soldiers and commands their respect from years of war fighting, most importantly he sees himself as a servant of the soldiers, a leader who is there to support, guide, mentor and inspire.

Maybe Donald Trump could learn a thing or two!

Anyway, the real aim of this post was to ask you to donate! So here’s the link 🙂

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/steven-armon?utm_id=1&utm_term=4j4NZVVJ3

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Just a very short post about GB’s performance in Paris 2016

I thought I would just write a quick posted as I haven’t posted for a very long time. Team GB sent 12 players to Paris this weekend to fight in the Grand slam. I think hat firstly, sending 12 players is great, it is a definite step up from previous years.

In terms of performance, well this is the first time we have won  medal since we moved to a centralised system around 2009. In fact out last medallist in the Paris Grand slam was Euan Burton in 2008. This time round Sally Conway won Bronze in the -70kg and Natalie Powell won Bronze when she beat Gemma Gibbons in the -78kg. This is a good result, two bronzes and a 5th.

Of course there is a long way to go, of the 12 players we sent most went out in the first or second fight and I think we should be pushing for most players to finish with at least 2-3 wins but if we look at where we have been for many years, think this is a great result and we should be very happy, also sometimes this is just judo, you can’t win them all and many of the players were more than capable of winning a medal on the right day.

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There is of course a little controversy! Philip Awiti being disqualified for a leg grad during transition. I am not going to say anything about this now, I am going to try and write a post later this week.

So for now that’s it, I really just wanted to say well done congratulation to all those who medalled and just a shout out to all the GB judo community really. The next Open National Squad Training is in April and this is part of the final prep for the Europeans. If you’re a dan grade that competes then I think you should be there. Our athletes need to train hard with a variety of players, at the last ONST we had maybe about 150 players which is great but we should have more.

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