Canada Pulls the Trigger

In my last post, I suggested that we should be concerned that national federations would jump on the bandwagon and start implementing the latest IJF rule concerning matside coaching.  This new rule states that coaches will only be able to coach between ‘matte’ and ‘hajime’. Well, it took less than 24 hours to find out that Canada had already issued the command to go forward with the rule.  According to a Canadian colleague, the new rule will be enforced in November at a local event in his province of British Columbia (BC).

I guess what bothers me the most is that the IJF clearly stated the rule change was only “for all the competitions organized by the IJF and giving access to the World Ranking list.”  Clearly, the BC tournament is not an IJF event, nor is it part of the world ranking list, and yet, Judo Canada feels compelled to follow suit.  I don’t get it.

One must wonder about the extent of the deliberations before Judo Canada came to its decision.  More importantly, did Judo Canada fail to read the key part of the announcement, the one stating that the new rule only affected IJF events?  Maybe this is a clue:

I do not know what precipitated this rule change but it appears that the coaches must now be silent between “hajime” and “matte” and can only provide instructions to their competitors after “matte”.

Guy Sunada, Chairman, Judo Canada Referee Committee

My guess is that there was no deliberation per se.  Referees, especially chairmen of referees, just love following orders from the IJF blindly and mindlessly.  I’ll bet there was no thought as to how coaches, players, and parents would react.  Nor was there any thought as to how this would better Judo in Canada.

My colleague suggested that it was, “another nail in the coffin as to the ‘dumbing down’ of Judo.”  I’m afraid he’s right.  Not only that but, if you’ve ever been to grappling events where coaches are literally crawling onto the mat to coach their players, you’ll understand this new rule makes Judo less appealing and relevant, and grappling more appealing to yet another segment of the community.

To my foreign readers, please let me know if your country is enforcing the latest IJF rule on coaching.

4 thoughts on “Canada Pulls the Trigger

  1. Referees enforce the rules, but it is the tournament director’s decision to make modifications as he sees fit. Somewhere along the line tournament directors forgot this.

  2. While it might be true technically that tournament directors have ultimate control over their tournaments, many tournament directors aren’t aware of this, or have simply allowed referees to wrest that control from them. You know the threat- if you do that, we won’t referee your events. I don’t know if you remember, but several years back there was some conflict with insurance beyond the usual lies associated with USJA insurance coverage. USA Judo issued a warning banning referees from officiating at “any non-sanctioned event” and threatening to decertify them! Several referees who had been coming to my non-sanctioned events bailed out of me, although we didn’t miss a beat. Nonetheless, most directors are scared they won’t have enough help so they put up with the threats and referee bullshit. Meanwhile, Judo dies while other arts thrive.

  3. I remember that event well. I actually cancelled a tournament because I was afraid of what might happen, not with the referees, but with some USJI schools I knew might not participate. I chickened out and that has bothered me ever since.

  4. Hi Gerald — I live and train in Tokyo; I can’t speak to the coaching issue, but I have noticed behaviour here that fits with the general trend you point out: even in my local “machi” dojo, populated by about two-dozen working guys who do judo 1-3x per week for a little exercise and who may compete, at most, once per year in a local tournament, they’ve all decided that any touching of the legs is illegal! A result, of course, of their (understandably) limited understanding of the IJF’s absurdly complex rules about this.

    Why on earth local non-competitive Japanese guys should allow the dictates of a European Olympic-level sports bureaucracy to override their hundred-year judo tradition is utterly beyond me — and alas, I think it speaks to the same issue as the coaching directives. Which is to say, too many people blindly follow suggestions and rules without thinking about the wherefores and the whys. Judo is at the very least not immune to this, and evidently unusually susceptible to it — the the chagrin of many and the detriment of all.

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