Of Threats, Fear, and Courage to Change

With the latest scourge coming from the IJF, discussions are heating up, and more and more disgruntled coaches and players are ready to go in different directions.  Some are leaving Judo outright, because they are unable to comprehend that options short of quitting Judo are available.  Some are saying that they are not leaving Judo, but that Judo has left them.  Fair enough.  Thankfully, many more are discovering Freestyle Judo and realizing that FSJ offers a return to the way Judo ought to be played, and that the Judo community doesn’t revolve around the IJF.

I’ve had many discussion with coaches who want to make the switch to FSJ and possibly leave the national organizations, but a common refrain is expressed: what about competition for my players, and what about promotions?  Let’s tackle promotions first.

Historically, promotions have often been used to threaten and keep players in line for political reasons, to punish players for the gall of upsetting the high rank hierarchy, and to stifle ideas that could be beneficial to the growth of Judo.  So it’s no surprise that many coaches are saying that they’d love to go the FSJ and AAU route, but their personal promotions to higher dan ranks are being threatened if they do so.  What to do?

My immediate answer is to have the integrity to do what’s right for the growth of Judo and your players, and to forget about your personal promotions.  That’s where I am today.  I’ll probably never receive another promotion from a national organization, and that’s fine with me.  My peers on paper- guys who are roughly my age having started Judo about 50 years ago- are on average 1-2 dan higher than I am, yet most don’t have the international experience and accomplishments that I have.  So, what good are promotion systems when such discrepancies exist?  What good is it to prostitute yourself for an 8th dan when seemingly every Tom, Dick and Harry can also achieve that rank?  At that point, rank becomes meaningless, and the battle to go up the rank ladder is not worth sacrificing your integrity and ideals.

So, here are a few options for coaches if you’re still worried about that next promotion.  If a USJF yudanshakai can have a promotion committee, why not a smaller group of clubs, or even a club?  Your club alone can create its own promotion committee with its own high standards (this is a key to its validity).  Add a few well-know, high-ranked outsiders who share your concerns, and you’ve now got an organization that will probably have more integrity than national promotion committees.

Another option was reported to me by Steve Scott, the creator of FSJ.  Unbeknownst to him, a student of his gathered signatures from Steve’s peers- I’m talking about guys with real international experience.  He was then presented with a promotion certificate signed by these stars of American Judo.  Now, isn’t this better than having to submit your name to a promotion committee, some of whose members are 4th-5th dans masquerading as 8th-9th dans?

As far as your students are concerned, what’s wrong with dojo promotions?  I know, the national organizations peddle the notion that your dojo promotions won’t be recognized anywhere if your students move.  They say this because promotions are a big fundraiser for them so they have a vested interest in your buying into this lie.  In reality, most coaches are not big on demoting players if they don’t have a national promotion certificate.  In my own forty plus years of coaching, I’ve never cared about certificates.  I’ve had certificates offered to me, but I’ve never demanded proof of rank.  My eyes are proof of skill level.  I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me what rank someone deserves.  I look at the player, plug him into my system, and go from there.  Because standards differ from coach to coach, state to state, and national organization to national organization, there will always be players who are overranked and underranked.

Let’s talk about competition now.  Yes, FSJ isn’t in as many locations as we would like to see it in, but we’re making progress.  To help you make the transition, just because you do FSJ doesn’t mean that you can’t also lower yourself to doing that God-forsaken IJF Judo stuff to supplement your tournament calendar.

To start you off on your conversion to FSJ, you can run small events in your own club for your own players.  Try team competition if your numbers are not great.  You can also run FSJ events in conjunction with just one other club.  With FSJ, you stand a better chance of getting submission wrestlers to participate in your events, so be sure to advertise that your club does FSJ.

My club used to attend 12-20 tournaments a year.  We no longer do that.  At most, our players get 3-5 events per year.  In spite of the drastic cut in tournament participation, we have not shriveled up and disappeared from the face of the earth.  There is still life when you no longer do IJF rules tournaments.

Worried about insurance?  Two options: join the AAU, which offers better coverage for much better fees; purchase your own insurance coverage from an independent carrier.

So, for the timid and the fence straddlers who would like to make the jump from IJF to FSJ, gather your courage, cut the umbilical cord to the repressive IJF, forget about the perceived promotion restraints, and start thinking about what’s right for Judo.  Don’t wait for others to lead.

35 thoughts on “Of Threats, Fear, and Courage to Change

  1. Gerry,
    As always, thank you for your support. If anyone wants a copy of our Freestyle Judo Handbook that includes the rules of freestyle judo and other useful information, please e-mail me at stevescottjudo@yahoo.com and I will e-mail it.
    The AAU Freestyle Judo National Championships will be March 29-30, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri. Again, if anyone e-mails me, I will get them more information on the tournament.
    More and more people are willing to stick their necks out and get freestyle judo going in their respective areas. We know that there will always be people who prefer using the IJF rules, but there will always be others like us who actually want to do something about what is happening to judo and are willing to get involved in something like freestyle judo.There are, however, people who are vehement in their opposition to what we are doing in freestyle judo. At the risk of offending some people, these are the “judo snobs” who look down their noses at those of us who dare try something different. I have received some very supportive e-mails from a lot of people, but I have also received some very rude e-mails from judo snobs as well. As a comment to the critics of what we are doing, I like to paraphrase the person who said; “Jigoro Kano invented judo. He didn’t invent the IJF.”
    We aren’t trying to invent a new type of judo or starting a new “style” of judo. There is only one judo and that is the Kodokan Judo founded by Prof. Jigoro Kano. Freestyle judo is (to quote John Saylor); “Judo, the way it ought to be done.” In my view, the IJF has emasculated judo as a fighting sport, and that is a view shared by a lot of people. Then, there are people who actually like the way judo is developing in the IJF. Obviously, I disagree with their view of judo. In reality, the rules of freestyle judo allow athletes to do the full range of judo skill. If people want to do IJF judo, that’s okay with us. But then, if people want an alternative to what is taking place in the IJF, they might find that freestyle judo is what they are looking for.
    We are not asking people to stop participating in the IJF judo tournaments. Judo is a big sport and certainly big enough for different people to compete using more than one set of rules for the sport. An example I use often is wrestling. The rules for NCAA wrestling is certainly different than the rules for Olympic freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling. Additionally, there are numerous national wrestling tournaments and championships in different national and international wrestling organizations. Sure, USA Wrestling is the governing body for wrestling, just like USA Judo is the governing body for judo. But, there are numerous other national wrestling organizations; with each of them sponsoring national championships and national training camps. So then, why can’t we do the same in judo? Freestyle judo offers another set of rules that are “athlete-friendly” and the AAU offers excellent membership benefits with the most appealing being the excellent insurance coverage they provide. We offer another way for judo athletes to develop their skills. By providing more opportunities for judo athletes to excel, why is that a bad thing? To the critics of what we are doing, it seems that (at least to them), it is a bad thing for judo athletes to have more competitive opportunities. But, in my opinion, if we listen to these people, judo will continue to decline in numbers, and we will continue to lose people to other grappling sports such as BJJ, submission grappling, sambo or other combat sports.
    Again, Gerry I want to thank you for your support in promoting freestyle judo. You have done good work in spreading the word.
    I encourage everyone to go to the facebook group, the International Freestyle Judo Alliance, and get involved in developing freestyle judo in your dojo, city or state. Freestyle Judo is growing and growing because there are enough people who want to see judo thrive as a viable fighting sport and form of physical education. Also, please go to http://www.FreestyleJudo.org to see our web site for freestyle judo.

  2. hi dan again what an idea we started a black belt board about three months ago with in our own club the first reason was no one knows ther own students better then the sensie not (a coach) he brings them through ther years of marital arts not some body they never met you never meet the pople that took your money for your belt they dont know if you are a good person but your sensie should its about the kind of person you are and what you give back and honor senond reason black mail im a fourth degree black with usja as you can tell i cant spell well this dont make me a bad person it was hard to apply for my 5th degree the sas where hard for me to write i have been doing judo for 38 years opened the first club in 1986 we now have 8 clubs all in rec centers except one of them is in a grage and the other in large pole barn the whole time we have supported usja we have put on over 55 usja shiais long story short i will not do a coachs clinic so they will not give me my 5 th I AM NOT A COACH i am a sensie i have the points and has been 15 years sens my last belt rank they try to tell me its because of back ground checks i tould them im a firefighter and red cross instructor so that cant be the problem i dedicated 27 years to usja and this is the honor they give back i would rather get my rank from winth in my clubs as thy know my better the usja when it comes right down to it whos reputaion is on the line usja ji ijf or the sensies i vaule my reputaion as a sensie i know my students better then any one eles have fun play aau judo

  3. This is spot on! Here in Virginia, we are doing our best to make AAU Judo available. In terms of the future, I think a switch in perspective is the only thing that will allow Judo to survive.

  4. Dan, I wouldn’t spend one second worrying whether you are a sensei or a coach. You call yourself a sensei. I might think you’re a coach. What does it matter in the long run? Most people in Judo don’t have the foggiest idea of what a coach is. It’s not an inferior subset of sensei. If you want to enlighten yourself about what a coach really is, I suggest you read Beyond Winning: the timeless Wisdom of Great Philosopher Coaches by Gary Walton.

  5. Dan,
    Will you be able to bring some athletes to the Freestyle Judo Nationals in Kansas City, Missouri March 30? You Minnesota guys are always tough. E-mail me and I will get the pdf tournament information and entry form to you. E-mail me at stevescottjudo@yahoo.com.

  6. I would like to see freestyle Judo get traction in the northeast, especially in the NYC area. But aparrenntly the only alternative to most Judo clubs in this area, since of them serve the various Soviet ethnicities of Brooklyn and other parts of NY, is to affiliate themselves with FIAS Sambo. WE’ve had FIAS Sambo guys come to our club for a seminar and in fact when some of the kids went to St. Petersburg to train at Yawara Nieva Club they also got a chance to compete in Sambo.
    But I’m on prayer that there will be regime change or change of thought in the IJF. The prevelance and the prestige of the Olympics has maddened the IJF.

  7. Revolution is in the air. Transcendence?

    There is only one vote that counts because your vote matters only to you. My vote matters to me. For me, I vote to become a better judoka.

    Unintentionally, the IJF encouraged you to leave judo. Your writing indicates you are undergoing a tranformation from your past identity. You were once a judo player. Now you will move on to something else. Base on what I read here, I suggest a change in your blog to a name more fitting, “Bitter Judo”.

    Peter Fortune

  8. Peter, I thought I’d already addressed your comments. I didn’t leave Judo. The IJF took Judo out of Judo, thus I no longer recognize the IJF or any national organization that supports the transformation of Judo. I’m still a judoplayer who has an affinity for all Judo techniques, including the ones banned by the IJF. If anyone is redefining Judo it’s the IJF. You probably don’t get that considering your low rank and the number of years you’ve been in the sport.

    I think it’s safe to say that most players want to become better players. So, please tell us how having fewer weapons in your arsenal will make you a better judoplayer. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

  9. The topic is, “How a judoka becomes better by having fewer weapons in ones arsenal.” Stated simply, the act of eliminating a few weapons makes the remaining weapons stronger. Judo players become stronger because they now embrace the sword. They are victorious by the sword and are defeated by the sword. Our sword is the throw. When players stand in a position to throw, they are more available to be thrown. Because a judo player must be open and vulnerable to attack, the judoka must become better at defending against the throw. Thus, less weapons make the judoka stronger in both in offense and defense.

  10. Peter, I’ve got to meet you one day because I’m fascinated by how you come about your comments. Since you bring up a real weapon- the sword- let me bring up a few of my own. I’m a Marine with an M-4, a few grenades, a K-Bar, and a sidearm for the hell of it. The U.N. informs the world that you can only carry one weapon, so I choose the M-4. According to you, I’m now a better Marine?

    Back to Judo. What the IJF just created is a generation of players who won’t be able to compete against attacks below the waist. That may not matter in official IJF competitions because all players will be lacking the same skill, but it will matter in training against wrestlers, submission grapplers, BJJers…and in a self-defense situation as well. None of this is good for our reputation.

    My guess is that what you really mean to say is that players will be better at throwing and defending against the three throws left in Judo. But are you really a better judoplayer if all you know is three throws? Is there much to celebrate when you are “good” at so little?

  11. With respect to the use of fewer weapons, I think that you both are missing a larger point. Peter raises the issue that there is a set number of hours that you can practice so if you practice with a variety of weapons you may be less skilled with your primary weapon. For example, we know that the samurai were uparalleled masters with the sword. But looking at it from Gerard’s point of view, the samurai were wiped out by lowly imperial army conscripts with only some basic firearm training (and maybe a side-arm, k-bar, and sword). The samurai had their honor and images intact right up until the last massacre when their bullet riddled bodies were stripped of their magnficent armor. The point here is that in the United States, IJF style judo is trying to control its image while disregarding safety and effectiveness and as a result it is being wiped out. The “gentle way” image was a great marketing approach (although completely false) right after WWII when the Japanese were accused of war atrocities. Martial arts consumers are now much more sophisticated than the IJF gives them credit for and control of the image will not work anymore. If it is not relevant, athletes will not participate and they will look for something else that is more effective (wrestling, sambo, etc). If Freestyle Judo had gotten its start in the mid 90s, it could have absorbed a huge amount of the interest that is now focused on BJJ. Instead, it is playing a catch up game in a last effort to keep judo relevant in the US.

  12. Judo is well established in the world as an education and Olympic sport. Its competition in the global martial arts community is not very strong, so the IJF is fighting a different battle than we Americans are. Judo has never been well-established and Americans have many grappling options. The IJF up to now hasn’t realized that its rules are hampering the growth of Judo in countries like the U.S. where Judo is a minor sport that has to compete against easier grappling sports which don’t have silly rules.

  13. The rules changes foster bad judo. Taking out kani basami–a safe technique, if done properly–led to players (especially left-handed ones) taking extreme sideways stances to protect against forward throws and o soto gari. Kata guruma was an effective way for a player to get under a stiff arm and counter the muscleheads’ defensive gripping, and now that’s gone, too. Te guruma keeps uchimata and seioinage attacks honest. Also gone.

  14. If I fear, I react.
    Fear can paralize and turn an action into a reaction and possibly becomes a non-action.
    The behavior of a judoka is no longer compromised by the fear of the leg grab. On the judo mat, the judoka can stand tall and confident.

    There are pitfalls in this world and in judo, but we live best when we live free from fear. Judo is a combat sport that encourages participants to fight without fear. What is wrong with this practice?

  15. Do you really think that new rules limit or eliminate fear? Do you honestly think that fear disappears because now players can’t be attacked with leg grabs? How about fearing a long-trained reaction of grabbing a leg as a defensive maneuver? Fear doesn’t disappear because the rules change. It’s simply driven by a different reason or circumstance.

  16. I overstated my idea. I will try to clarify.

    I estimate the majority of judoka have not mastered the ippon throw. To me, mastery means throwing a partner cleanly for ippon multiple times in a single round of randori, the ability to maintain your balance throughout the full attack, and winning more than half of all competitive matches with an ippon throw. The ippon throw is very difficult task to master. I imagine the throw is at the top of the food chain, as it may be one of the most difficult of body movements.

    The throw separates judo from all other sports. In a judo contest, the throw is the first opportunity for victory. The sport of judo is obsessed with the throw, yet the ippon throw remains un-mastered by most judoka. An irony exists. It is a problem within judo. The throw is a complex task. If it is possible to simplify a complex task, apply the simplifying solution, and simplify the complex task.

    (I write this next part as my opinion, not to belittle someone elses judo.) The leg grab was the dagger in the back of judo. The leg grabber, the opportunist, sometimes lying in wait and sometime outright with it, capitalized on the exposed opponent. To an extent, leg grabbing stifled a judokas ability to practice and apply the throw. The leg grab added another layer of difficulty to any already difficult act, the ippon throw. Through the simplifying solution, elimination of the leg grab, a judoka who is interested in practicing and apply an ippon throw has a greater chance of success.

    Judo is a more fair sport without the leg grab. Exposure and risk associate with a leg grab verses a judo attack (term used loosely) are not equal. A judo throw contains a greater risk of being countered that that of a leg grabbing attack. However, the reward for each type of attack is the same. Thus, another problem for judo. Elimination of leg grab attacks and counters supports fair play. Fair play dictates the risk and reward are equal for both participants. Now, the two players take equal risk to gain the same opportunity for reward.

    Mastering the ippon throw is now within the ability of all judoka. The next epoch of judo will be marked by more judoka mastering the ippon throw. Success here comes from years of practice. The longer a person practices, the better judo’s values are understood. Mastery of the throw will make judo loved by more people. An ippon throw is like a snowflake melting in your hand, a passing moment near perfection. I imagine no two ippon throws are alike. With so many variables coming together in a brief moment, something would make each ippon different than another. But the outcome is the same, a winner and a loser are decided.

    I have competed in other sports (wrestling, rugby, cross country skiing, canoeing, running), but I am now a pure judo player. This next statement is something I don’t say often… I have four major attacks that contain the dangerous potential to produce an ippon throw. My judo is exciting and explosive. I imagine I do not say that often because it matters only to me and my opponent. Also, if I stop practicing judo, my skill goes away.

    Gerald, I have set forth my opinion in the best way I can. We have different opinions here, but because we both practice judo there are many things we agree on. In writing to you I’ve begun to think about the value of fair play. If you take requests, I request a posting containing your ideas about how judo teaches fair play.

    Thank you,
    Peter Fortune

  17. I think this Peter Fortune guy is just trolling and looking for a reaction.

    The IJF is the worst manifestation of intense groupthink. If you don’t go along like a mindless robot, you are ostracised. And unfortunately, all senior Judoka are too cowardly to speak against the slow murder of Judo by the IJF.

    Judo was already limited as a self-defense art by not including striking. But that was fine. Now, Judoka will also be useless at breaking grips, defending attacks to the leg and fighting on the ground (due to the bias aginst newaza).

    So if you are attacked in a bar and someone graps your lapel, you don’t know what to do because you don’t practise breaking grips anymore (since the IJF doesn’t want you to have defensive skills, so you are thrown more easily). Then he drops down and grabs your legs. You are clueless because you don’t learn to defend leg atatcks. You end up on your back- and are still useless since you don’t practise newaza. And you’re Judo black belt? Jigoro Kano must be turning in his grave.

    The IJF has been wrong so many times, it isn’t funny. They said newaza was boring and discouraged it- and now BJJ is booming in popularity despite being almost 100% newaza. MMA is also booming because it is REALISTIC. The Number on determinant of the popularity of a combat sport is REALISM. This silly artificial upright Judo the IJF is trying to force people to do is failing because it is UNREALISTIC.

    In my grappling club, the Judo class has mostly old people. The BJJ class is mostly young people. What does that bode for the future of Judo? The sad thing is, BJJ is becoming popular using techniques created by Judo.

    The old Judo is what made Judo a popular sport worldwide. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The IJF should stop micromanaging how people fight to force them to fight a certain way. Fighting is not kata- it shouldn’t be beautiful. It should be effective and realistic. The IJF’s image of good Judo is neither.

    And lastly if they wanted to differentiate from wrestling, they should have changed the rules to allow more newaza. there is no shimewaza or kansetsu waza in wrestling. Ironic that the IJF has killed the one thing (newaza) that differentiated judo most from wrestling.

  18. Leg grabs and body lifts produced some of the highest amplitude throws in Judo, and they earned Ippon! So still not sure what your beef is with these techniques.

  19. Etrigan- Dittos, my sentiments exactly; Steve Scott, I love what you are doing with the sport, somebody needed to stand up an create FSJ. I am glad to see osaekomi does not automatically constitute a win, and the Judoka needs to go for a submission. Judo getting back to its roots is the right thing to do! The sport has been watered down for too many years, it took the Bjj and MMA crowd to remind us that we have strayed from some of our fundamentals. I see FSJ as being progressive and in alaignment with other sports such as Sambo, BJJ, & Wrestling.

  20. Peter, If all you want is the “Perfect IPPON Throw” if that is all that is important to you, then why dont we merge Judo with Mongolian Belt Wrestling, and have fun dancing around. Kano would be sick to his stomache if he knew what we have done to his beautiful sport with “OUR RULES!!!”

  21. These new rules have ruined a great sport. Not only that, but it has become increasingly hard to teach due to the constant changes. It is horrible for the sport and confusing for new members of the judo world particularly bjj guys and wrestlers who don’t understand why..fsj is new to me but seems like our only option at this point. I’m all for rules that protect the safety of players but these rules are designed to limit, confuse and discourage any crossover from other grapplers. I am REALLY DISAPPOINTED that there isn’t a huge uproar about these rules. Kano created judo and the ijf has butchered it…for reasons I will never understand. There are now sooo many ways to lose; accidental leg touches (really..do you know how much skill and speed a proper double leg requires?), you can be penalized for a breaking a grip with two hands(wtf) or even better(for who, idk..maybe the guy who wins a championship from a shito) you lose by using techniques we’ve been taught since we were kids. I’m all about freestyle judo. Stand in front of me and let’s see who can take who down using dynamic, realistic and ancient techniques developed before these rule makers (ijf) were born. In short these rule changes are only gonna hurt judo and limit athletes… not to mention put us even further behind BJJ and wrestling which are more popular for now obvious reasons. My kids train all 3. I love judo, practice all my life, but I am very disappointed in the judo community for not being disgusted at what the ijf has done to OUR sport

  22. The reason there isn’t more upheaval about the 2013 rules is because in spite of coaches (and players) hating the rules, they are still chasing national medals with the hope that one of their students will become the next U.S. Olympian. Take away caring about national and international medals and you no longer care about IJF rules. Of course, we can remedy this “chasing medals” mentality by offering an alternative: the Freestyle Judo National Championships. It’s there, but not well attended currently. We need to change that. What also needs to change is teaching Judo according to the rules du jour. I teach the full complement of Judo and no longer warn my students that what I teach them might be illegal in sanctioned events simply because we no longer attend sanctioned events.

  23. As a former high school wrestler, coming into Judo at the age of 35, some 16 years ago, I was stoked to use leg grabs. I did learn other upright throws as well. What I found out was in the novice division, I did well with leg grabs. Later, against black belts, not so much. I love Judo for more than competition. I consider it a great self defence. Without leg picks, what Judoka will know how to defend a tackle from a wrestler/football player?. As for the notion of perfecting the ippon throw because of less weapons in ones arsonel, Why not just allow ippon seoi nage, uchi mata, and O goshi?. And on the mat, one choke, one arm bar, and one pin?. Judo needs to remain full of all throws, full of ground fighting,and come up with more techniques to stay relavant. I’m a shodan who started in 1997.

  24. Coach Lafon, as I’m reading this article Courage to Change I’m in full agreement with going the FSJ route. The IJF is killing the Art/Sport of Judo it makes no sense to me as a practitioner of Judo and other Martial Arts. I’m also a fan of MMA/Boxing as well as other team related sports. The IJF rules are not Judo Fan friendly Judo is an ideal fighting art were you have competitors that can go all out and for the most part be safe in competition. IJF limit to a clean throw ( ippon ) fights over, from a fans point of view you would want to see a match of multiple throws ( Rally of techniques ). Now I have a question on the technical side based on IJF rules in order to avoid ( ippon ) many competitors do turnouts of throws for the obvious reason. In a perfect world with FSJ and other grappling arts joining in the future do you see the disadvantages of turnouts exposing your back. I welcome responses from everyone that is involved with FSJ…

  25. That’s a good question. All of our actions are predicated on the rules and whether we can take advantage of the rules or protect ourselves from the rules. Not all turnouts end up exposing your back to your opponent. When they do, you have to pick your poison. Do I put myself in a bad position to stay in the game, or do I just take my lumps and lose the match? Note that the choice is different when terminal Ippon doesn’t exist. In BJJ, for example, getting thrown on your back only sets you back a few points, but in the process you take your opponent’s back for a possible submission. Regarding FSJ, I’d like to see the rules eliminate terminal Ippon. It opens up the game enormously.

  26. I have to disagree on getting rid of terminal ippon. Get rid of it, and it seems to me judo becomes a takedown game to get the submission. You MUST keep the terminal ippon from the throw – it’s the essence of judo.

  27. I’ve gotten rid of terminal Ippon in all my in-house tournaments and I have not seen matches develop into “takedown and submission” fiestas. If anything, the elimination frees the players from the fear of taking a risk. More attacks, fewer tactical negative Judo acts. Best of all, it teaches judoplayers that there are consequences to throwing and landing in an inferior position. This helps the self-defense as well as the competitive aspects of Judo. I would highly, highly encourage you to run a few mock matches within your dojo over a few months to see the difference in the Judo applied.

  28. Let’s let the IJF and, it’s supporters like Peter Fortune have their own competitions and, let the others have their AAU/FSJ movement without issue. Both have good points for their goals and, let them exist and compete in the same world without issue. The only real problem comes from those who want to bash the opposing view and, prevent it’s growth. Judo is self-defense, physical education and, character development. Both the IJF and, FSJ can be classified as Judo.

  29. Interesting discussion,minus the troll.For the record,both Coach Lafon and Coach Scott are fine people who both have taken time out of their busy schedules to help me set up my freestyle club ,offering both insight and encouragement.They are experts in all things judo,and are innovators who are not afraid to go against the political establishment to preserve the founders vision and advance the art of judo. I am grateful that such men still exist ,for all of the judo Coaches I have dealt with are so tied into the judo “matrix” that they exist only for the advancement of their own personal agenda,which is usually a combination of obtaining advanced Dan grade and finding the magic über athlete that can be the feather in their coaching cap and possible Olympian.
    As to the rules,the issues surrounding the Ijf changes have been discussed ad nauseum.I have many years in wrestling,boxing and judo,and the improvements that come with freestyle judo make it the most effective,hard hitting and plain out fun of competition grappling.Removing techniques that were taught and endorsed by the founder is akin to neutering the art of judo.My Dan grade is through the Traditional Kodokan Judo USA national organization.The name says it all,as I left the USA judo organization after competing under the 2013 rules and realizing that judo was being turned into a form of sumo and Greco roman wrestling.Tkj-USA and Aau freestyle judo represent the best opportunity for the founder’s vision to survive,and freestyle represents the best chance for judo to stay relevant in the grappling community…both aims that the common,non Olympic quality judoka should endorse.For the 4 or 5 Americans who might qualify for the Olympic team,please,stay in Olympic judo and do your best.
    Americans should never be ashamed to be innovators and stand at the forefront for positive change.It is what makes us exceptional.

  30. Thanks, Pete. Steve and I appreciate your positive comments. Keep the true spirit of Judo alive.

  31. I remember years ago, I went to enter a USJA Tournament, and Jessie Jones (RIP) did not want to recognize my brown belt because it was a club promotion and not an “Official USJA Promotion” So I told Jessie, ok, no worries, I’ll just enter the tournament as a white belt then. Oh boy did he back peddle in a hurry.He knew a Lafon Brown Belt is Legit. As he knew the countless number of Champions that came out of Judo America with “dojo rank” around their waist was legit!

  32. We are encouraging our club to make the switch my son and I have we will be purchasing our AAU Judo insurance in the new year and looking to sport some of those FSJ shirts .. great article

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