Tag Archives: British Judo

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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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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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.

2014-01-23 18.52.28

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

Implementation of new IJF rules by British judo

Like many people I have some issues with the new IJF rule but I would like to see them in action a bit more before I post on that. This post is more about British judo’s announcement today (1st March) that they will now be using the rules at all national events from the British schools (9th March), I am sure the first thing that strikes you is that there is not a lot of notice!

In many ways I can understand why they have done this, there is a perception that if we do not implement them fast then we will fall behind the rest of the world on the international stage. Apparently the “Performance Management Group” or PMG has written a paper justifying this implementation, personally I would like to see this if it is so convincing.

Here are what I consider some ‘headline issue’

  1. The referees are not yet trained in these rules (let alone players, officials and coaches) and this causes a huge issue because what happens is people read the IJF handout, watch the IJF videos and then forge an opinion of what they are saying. These opinions have not been discussed so what you end up with is differing opinions and a bigger divide between referees, coaches and players – purely through the frustration of poor implementation.
  2. The British schools – really!! You’re not allowed to enter it if you are on the England squad, therefore you’re at least a year or 2 from competing internationally, what’s the point? We should also consider there are non-BJA competitors here
  3. We now have a national ranking system under two sets of contest rules

What I would suggest is a phased implementation starting next weekend with a series of rule clinics designed to bring coaches, players and referees together under a common cause. We must remember that the new rules are being trialled by the IJF and some might not come in after the Rio world championships. I think there are some rules that will definitely stay and they’re actually the ones that need very little training, practice or understanding –

  1. New definitions of score
  2. Golden score continues until either shido or a score
  3. New scoring system for shido’s (more about this below though)
  4. Shorter Osaekomi
  5. I would also introduce the no leg grabs but only award a shido if done in the context of the 2010-12 rules

The more complex skills that require training are also the ones which are more ambiguous to the referees and the ones the IJF are most likely to change in my opinion-

  1. Two hand grip breaking
  2. Taking the leg when transitioning to ne waza (this is particularly subjective – when does tachiwaza end and ne waza start? with no training we should expect issues)
  3. Cross gripping is fairly simple (all though did get a few questions and issues on it last night when we went through the rules) and I would probably implement that rule too but I am not completely sure

Implementing at all national events from now on is interesting and shows that the PMG don’t attend these very often! There were a few events last year where they didn’t even have the correct mat area, one where they didn’t have enough electronic score boards and all sorts of other issues. Not to mention most use the small electronic score that I would guess add the score for shido’s automatically and therefore all need changing or some sort of software update.

I would like to see the BJA use this rule change as a mechanism to bring coaches, players and referees together. A series of clinics that are interesting and innovative, working together to develop innovative ways to use these new rules as an advantage internationally and not see them as a hurdle.

I also feel there are other areas of the IJF rule/tournament handbook the BJA should consider more urgently – temperature regulation in venues, always have a warm up area, player brought from the warm up area to the mat, sokuteiki for judogi control (how is it a player can fight in a kit at world level one weekend and then the referee decides the next weekend it doesn’t fit only using his eyes!) and a CARE system.

Anyway, I have written this quite rushed and off the top of my head but this is my current opinion.

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Karina Bryant Wins Bronze at Europeans

It’s taken a week and a half but I couldn’t let Karina’s bronze medal at the Europeans past without a post.

The Europeans were in Chelyabinks and Great Britain Sent 21 athletes, only one medalled – Karina Bryant. Sarah Clark and Sally Conway came 5th and 7th respectively.

It should be noted UK sport base their funding on Olympic, World and European medals. The funding is based upon potential to deliver at an Olympic games and this is derived from the World and European medals (of course there are other criteria). Funding for an Olympic cycle is therefore based upon performance in the previous cycle i.e. 2008-2012 funding was based upon our 2004-2008 performance in OG, worlds and Europeans. We should look at these and the ones through this present Olympic cycle.

2005 Euro – GBR won, 1G, 2S and 1B

2005 Worlds – GBR won 1G & 2S.

Of these 2005 medal Karina won gold at the Europeans and 2 of the silvers at the worlds

2006 Euro – GBR 2G and 2B (Karina came 7th)

2007 Euro – GBR 2B

2007 Worlds –  1S & 1B

2008 Euro – No medal

2008 Olympic Games – No medal

2009 Euro – 1S

2009 Worlds – 1S

Both of these silvers were Karina and the woman she lost to in the final of the worlds was later found to test positive for drugs.

2010 Euro – GBR 2B

2010 worlds – 1B

One of the Bronze at the Europeans was Karina

2011 Euro – 2B

2011 Worlds – No medals (Karina came 7th)

2012 Euro –  1B (Karina)

Therefore we can say that over the last two Olympic cycles GBR has won 21 medals and 7 of these were Karina Bryant. I think the only other players in the last ten years to consistently win medals at world and European level are Euan Burton and Craig Fallon.

Surely then we can argue that much of the high performance funding GBR has seen for this Olympic cycle (£7.9m) and probably the next is due to Karina Bryant despite being  injured for much of the 10 years.

The reason I wanted to write this post is twofold. Firstly I think British judo owes a great debt to Karina and she should be given huge respect for this. Secondly, in my opinion, Karina’s bronze medal fight in Chelyabinks is the best I have ever seen her, she is strong, has great judo and hopefully ready for London!

Here is Karina’s bronze medal fight

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EJU coaching session by Craig Fallon…

This week, as part of the European Judo Union level 4 performance coach award, we had Craig Fallon for three sessions and I thought it would be good to briefly outline these sessions.

Craig’s first session was in the classroom to our year 2 students who are learning about talent development models. According to Bruner et al (2009) there are two clear talent development models outlined in research, one of these is a transitional model and we had asked Craig to teach about his transitions in his career. This is particularly pertinent for him now as he is in possibly the biggest transition of all – retirement. This is a hard time for any athlete but for a world and European champion it is even harder. The aim is to teach our students, who will be (or already are in some cases) decision makers for national federations how to manage these transitional phases.

Craig’s second session was on yoko tomoe nage, I had asked Craig to teach this and to discuss how he had developed this technique over time. This is so that students can see how techniques for talented players have to be developed over a number of years. Hatsuyuki Hamada (coach of Ryoko Tani) will be showing the same technique next week so that students can compare methods and see there is no right or wrong way.

His final session was in ne waza, and he showed how he developed his famous turn over. It really is amazing to see how he understand every detail and how he has a solution to almost every problem.

When I speak to people in the UK and say Craig is coming for a session, they always say “that’s good” or “it’s great” etc but the reaction I get from foreign judoka is completely different, I told a French guy a couple of years ago Craig was coming over to coach and I thought he was going to fall over! When I told one of our German students Craig was coming on this block he just stood still and said “this is fantastic, he is an absolute genius!” My point is that Craig is one of only three male world champions this country has ever had, he is also the most recent, add to this a European gold, world silver and the fact he has never lost in a world cup at u60kg and he really is something special.

As a judo coach I have been to many workshops, coaching courses and seminars with world and Olympic medallists and for me Craig really stands out, I have been fortunate enough to see quite a few of his sessions, they are always different, he has an amazing attention to detail, he understands how to adapt techniques for heavy weight and females and he emphasises with players. For me he is one of the UKs most under used resources.

Below are some pictures of the session he did on the EJU coaching award and also some pictures from the dojo opening at Comberton Judo Club where Karina Bryant and Craig led the opening session.

I would strongly urge any coaches reading this who are looking for someone to run a session to contact Craig, regardless of what country you’re in. If you need to you can contact him through me.

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Filed under Anglia Ruskin Judo club, Coach Education, Coaching Judo, Comberton Judo Club, EJU level 4 & 5 coaching awards, Judo