Tag Archives: Bob Challis

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 17.07.19.png

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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Filed under British Judo, Judo, Uncategorized, Women's judo

To have rankings or not to have rankings that is the question?

I have been involved in a few conversations recently about the worthiness of the GB ranking system so I thought I would put my thoughts into a blog post. As some who lectures in talent develop and identification this is an area I know a little about.

Firstly what is the GB ranking system? Well figure 1 below shows the current GB system as it stands for 2015 for seniors. Basically you accumulate points for placing or winning a medal at a variety of events and those points vary depending upon the  level of the competition.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 14.09.34Its a very simple system in my opinion and to be honest I think it works pretty well, below I have outlined what I feel are the advantages and disadvantages. We have to remember that the ranking system is ultimately about two things – Talent Identification and Talent Selection.

Advantages

  • It means selection in not based on a single event – single event are well known for “missing talented athletes” often because they miss an event, have one poor day performing or a ill and sometime because of relative age affect
  • If we consider it from a domestic perspective it can be argued that travel is split around the country with each area represented evenly and all four home country represented
  • The system is tiered, what I mean by this is a younger or less experienced athlete can gain ranking points at area event; more experience athletes can decided to only look at home country events to secure points (because you get more points) while taking chances at European cups. Furthermore international athletes can focus on international events and still remain top of the domestic rankings. They do not need to attend these events although they may decided to do one or two home country one. What this means in effect is that athletes 8-10yrs from podium can focus on area events and home country events, athletes who are 8-5 year from podium can focus on home country and European cups whilst those likely to hit podium in this Olympic cycle can focus on world ranking events (these years boundaries a rough and off the top of my head! I appreciate many athletes need long at world ranking level and appreciate many have already come through the cadet and junior system)
  • It is great for marketing and promoting judo. If someone is 10th in the +78kg in GB for example we might not think about it but going to that athletes college, university and local press they see this as a big thing and that really helps promote judo and support the athlete
  • It allows athletes and coaches to start appreciating a ranking system and how to “work it” and this is very helpful when athletes progress through to world ranking events
  • You’re still testing an athletes ability to “perform on the day” because of the weighting of points in relation to the British champs

Disadvantages

  • Arguably it can be expensive, especially if “chasing points” or you’re injured when the ones nearer to you are running. My personal opinion is if you’re “chasing points” you’re better off spending the money on some training camps or an extra nights randori a week and think about ranking the following year. of course everyones situation is different though
  • A ranking system needs depth to work and unfortunately many, if not all, of our ranking events are lacking depth at the moment, below I have outlined why I think this might be. without depth the wrong players can end up ranked, in theory this should sort itself out at the British champs but not always
  • You can end up with too many events if you’re not careful, I think in GB at the moment the issue is more around the somewhat horrendous calendar control though and this is quite frankly because of some areas poor understanding of the affect they’re having with the petty, mindless, bullshit politics
  • I will talk more about quality control below but lets be honest, the way many of these are run is nothing short of appalling. People have to understand that this is our talent identification system and talent selection system, it does matter how good our centralised programme is if this system is wrong. We have a £7.4m budget for producing medals but we cannot do this is the wrong players are being selected or if the real talent is leaving the sport

Why are people not attending?

  • Quality of the events – No care system, poor mats, manual score boards, awful venues, rood staff/officials, no warm up area… the list goes on. If we want a decent ranking system we need to change how we think about it.
  • Quality of refereeing – of course referees make mistakes, no problem. With the CARE system there should be very few though. The level of referees at these events often need to be considered more closely and some areas are going to have to invest in paying for referees to travel and stay over because you haven’t got enough decent ones in your area – this is the price of neglecting referee education and training over the years i’m afraid. I love the comment we always get when we complain about refereeing… we’re all volunteers! Yes we know that but your travel and food is paid! Most of the coaches are volunteers to and their travel and food isn’t paid. And guess what? The athletes are paying customers and they don’t give a shit if you’re a volunteer or not, they have paid for a service. Like I said at the start, of course referees make mistakes, everyone does, no problem but for referees to not be using the CARE system properly or to have two kids sat there who don’t dare to overrule the IJF in the middle is not right and you know it!
  • Calendar control – This weekend we have the Great North and the Southern area – how? Who let this happen? One was a cadet ranking and now isn’t…. come on!
  • Centralisation – lets be honest, it has an affect and we all know it
  • Online calendar – OMG!! Seriously no entry form the Welsh on the BJA site yet! BJA site still say no date for the Easter area ranking event that was in August. We cannot generate depth with such awful communication!!

Some ideas for improving the ranking events/system…

  • Quality control similar to that of the EJU and IJF. Areas and home countries can still run the event but these are monitored by either the BJA events team or a bespoke team that is designed to manage British ranking events (PMG maybe!?!?!)
  • Should the BJA have a set of mats, a CARE system (with two cameras per mat), score boards and TVs for the draw etc in a truck that goes around to every ranking event? Personally I think it has got to that stage or they should invest in this for each area
  • If we sort this out, banners, decent mats, online registration, good referees etc etc could we attract sponsorship? I think we could argue it is pretty much a national league, maybe we could attract prize money or maybe they just pay for some of things we need to make it all more professional? The British champs are run well so we have a model already
  • You know what I would really like to see, it would take some work but I think each home country event should be run on the first weekend of a school holiday or half term and they should all be followed by a hard training compound this camp should be part of our talent ID system
  • The calendar needs aligning, British champs first, then Home country and then are and ideally they’ll alternate what end of the country the area ones are in to help travel

To be honest this little rant has gone on much longer than I thought and I need to get to training so i’ll call soremade!

Here’s the real question though, get rid of it and what do we replace it with? Please comment below!

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World championships 2015 – Team GB

Well, it is fair to say I feel strongly about our performance in the world championship, not just this year but every year. I have attended every world championships since 1999 with the exception of this one in Kazakstan and I feel world championship performance is good indicator of our performance at the Olympic games. So where do we sit?

I have  reported in detail on our performance at previous world championships and my disappointment in no secret. In 2011 we had our worst world championships since 1969 and things have not improved. In Chelyabinsk in 2014 we took four athletes, Ashley McKenzie, Collin Oates, Sally Conway and Natalie Powell, they won four fights between them (two for Ashley and two for Colin). It is fair to say will did a little better this year – we took double the number of players which is good. We won 9 fights in total so I guess our performance hasn’t really improved (it is still roughly 1 win per athlete) but we did get a 7th place. Lets be honest though, a country with a great tradition in this sport and a great budget should not be happy with this result. So what’s wrong? Well the truth is no one knows, if they did we would fix it! But here is some options based upon my personal opinion.

Is it the athletes?

I think the athletes should and will take responsibility of their own performance but I don’t think we can blame the players at all because it is inconceivable to me that any one of them didn’t give 100% and even if one or two didn’t then that wouldn’t explain why the whole team didn’t perform. So as far as I am concerned this is not about the athletes unless you believe that it is their fault for not all moving to one central location and i’ll discuss that below.

Selection policy

There has been a lot of discussion about British Judo’s selection policy for this world championships. Many feel it was too harsh. I think there does need to be a selection process and it should be difficult to qualify, for many years we have sent teams that are too weak for this level based on the fact the player was British number one, there does need to be a balance between the money we’re prepared to spend to send people and their actual chance of medalling. That said there are players who I feel should have gone – Danny Williams, Owen Livesey, Frazer Chamberlain, Gemma Howell, Nathan Burns and Andy Burns all come to mind immediately (of course there are others). Whilst I disagree in general with self-funding maybe this would be a solution here. I think there needs to be a very different mind set in terms of selection, it should be more of a “send them if I can” rather than “send as few as possible”. I also think it is inexcusable for someone who has met the criteria to not be sent!

I certainly don’t have all the answers in terms of selection policy, I don’t think it should be a free for all but at the same time I feel there was a huge injustice in the selections for this world championships. If someone is qualified for the Olympics or within range of qualifying send them, don’t hide bullshit politics behind policy and pretend it is all transparent!

Pre-world training camp

Prior the the worlds British judo run a pre-training camp, they did the same before the Olympics. I have never attended a whole one but I have been to the odd day of some of them and I have always looked at the training programmes for them. My general impression is that they seem good and whenever asked players seem to say they feel ready for the competition and preparation was good (maybe just the standard answer!). Whilst I generally have a good impression of these we maybe should question them, after all the players we send to the world championships can compete on that level. All (most) of them we sent this time had GS and GP medals so there has to be some reason for the performance and they don’t have these pre-camps prior to GP/GS I believe they train at their own training centre.

I’m not saying it is right or wrong, just that we need to consider it.

Centralisation

Well… the premise of centralisation is that you can pool your support services (doctors, physio etc) and that there will be more training partners (because everyone is in one location). My understanding is that after Rio everyone will have to move to the British Judo centre of excellence.

Personally I am not a fan of centralisation for this country, we should remember that this is a system Nigel inherited rather than created and is enforcing what UK sport are forcing us to do (I do not know whether Nigel is a true advocate of centralisation or not but certainly in his current role he gives the impression he believes in it). We should also remember that UK sport are enforcing centralisation because this is what was sold to them in the previous Olympic cycle (maybe even the one before) by performance directors and the then CEO.

My personal opinion is that centralisation will kill British judo and arguably already is. I would be interested to know if anyone knows of a western country where centralisation is working? Please comment below if you can think of one, I would genuinely like to be proved wrong.

I do think however that one good thing to come out of centralisation is the England Performance Pathways and AASE, I wouldn’t say they have been developed because of centralisation but the fact the the BJA is now more focussed on the pathway and the pathway is led from Walsall is good (it is led from a performance environment rather than some office where no-one actually does judo).

British judo in general

Lets be honest, our issue are much bigger than only getting a 7th at the worlds, we could have an all singing all dancing centre of excellence and we’d still struggle because what is happening below that is far from excellent. Our coach education system is far from great, our competition structure lacks, well structure! and our referee education is awful, I mean we’re worried about one 7th place at the worlds, how many referees qualified? All of this needs urgent attention. Furthermore our former chair (and therefore our board) have just allowed us to embarrass ourselves and lose a European championships showing just how disjointed with are from the EJU and IJF.

I know I sound like like a constant cynic and in honesty I am not, there is some great stuff going on but it is hard to sit by and watch our “performance management group” allow this constant repetition of poor performance. It is not fair on the membership and most certainly is not fair on the athletes.

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Some pics from BUCS….

Here are some pics from last weekends BUCS, more to follow soon….

 

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Filed under Anglia Ruskin Judo club, Anglia Ruskin Judo programme, Judo

BUCS pre-training

So, it is nearly upon us! The British University and Colleges Championships 2014. Our men’s team are hoping to defend their three year reign and we’re also hoping our women’s team will medal for the first time ever. The good thing about judo is you just never know! Even through we’ve trained pretty hard we could go out in the first round. Anyway, below is the five weeks of training we have done in preparation. We’ve been pretty busy and just have to hope the hard work pays off 🙂 Unfortunately some of our key players are injured and won’t be able to fight but that’s just something we’ll have to get on with.

We have around 12 full-time athletes currently and we’re hoping this will raise to around 20. We feel 20 will give us enough to run strong sessions but few enough to be able to focus on individuals. Our full-time players are boosted over this period but he stronger kyu grades who will fight in BUCS, this year we’re taking our biggest team ever – 20 athletes and all have trained hard.

Here are some pictures of our training programme. Obviously we don’t just train like this for BUCS, our full-time athletes train throughout the year.

Microcycle 20 Jan - 3 feb 2014 Microcycle 3-9 Feb 2014

Microcycle 10-23 Feb 2014

Here are some pics of our training sessions throughout the five weeks 🙂

And here are some pics from the NHC open, one of our preparation events …

If you would like more information on the Anglia Ruskin Judo Programme please visit http://www.anglia.ac.uk or email judo@anglia.ac.uk.

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Filed under Anglia Ruskin Judo club, Anglia Ruskin Judo programme, Coaching Judo, Judo, Uncategorized

Open National Squad Training (ONST)

This weekend was open national squad training. This is the GB squad training that is open to anyone who is at a suitable level and there were about 130 on the mat. The format is quite simple, predominantly randori. There is a picture bellow of the programme and this is pretty standard.

Who we took 7 players although unfortunately not all of them could be there all weekend –  Michal Stewart, Glenn Miller, Matt Kavanagh, Natasha Collins, Tara Fitzjohn, Natasha Gregory-Waterhouse, Alex Hemming.

We also took a physiologist for the weekend – Vivian Merbach,  volunteered to help us out. She tested the players lactate at rest and then after each randori. The aim is for us to collect data over a period of time (not only lactate) and then develop a better profile physiological of competition and training judo. We current have data from our players, some students and some Croatian players.

The weekend was good, a great atmosphere and some very strong randori. I would highly recommend this for all dan grades who want to improve their competitive judo, I believe the next one is in June.

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Filed under AASE, Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence, Anglia Ruskin Judo programme, Coaching Judo, Comberton Judo Club, Judo

New Research Assistant at Anglia Ruskin

We now have a new research assistant at Anglia Ruskin, Natasha Collins, who will focus on performance analysis in judo.

Physiology during judo contest - Lactate testing and heart rate

Physiology during judo contest – Lactate testing and heart rate

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Natasha was originally an undergraduate at Leeds metropolitan university and then transferred to Anglia Ruskin for her final year to train as a full-time judo player. Her undergraduate dissertation focussed on time motion analysis and kumi-kata in British judo and compared juniors to seniors. This has subsequently be edited for publication and is currently being peer reviewed.

She will support a variety of research topics including the coach-athlete relationship, LTAD and athlete monitoring but her main focus will be performance analysis in judo. This will support my PhD work and the work of Glenn Miller.

Natasha will also continue to work as the judo programme administrator and one of our AASE coaches.

Anglia Ruskin has a thriving judo research group that collaborates with academics around the world. We currently have around 10-15 members of staff focussing on judo research including performance analysis, physiology, coaching, the history of judo, child protection in judo and many other topics as well as three PhD students currently focussing on judo topics. The number of PhD students will hopefully increase this year.

Here are some of our research pics…

If you would like more information on the judo research group or the judo programme at Anglia Ruskin University please visit http://www.anglia.ac.uk/judo or email judo@anglia.ac.uk.

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Filed under Anglia Ruskin Judo programme, Judo, PhD, Women's judo