Do As I Say, Not As I Do

One of my pet peeves when it comes to Judo is how much time is wasted on irrelevant training: practicing skills that in the best of cases will do nothing to improve our game, and in the worst of cases will be counterproductive to bettering our game. Unfortunately, because of our allegiance to traditional methods of training and our lack of skepticism, few of us in the Judo community even recognize the presence of irrelevant training on our mats. Continue reading

Notes from the 2009 U.S. Open, Part 1

I just got back from San Jose, California where the 2009 U.S. Open was held. I had the opportunity to talk to friends, coaches, and athletes, many of whom I had not seen in years. Here are some of the thoughts I came away with.

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I heard that “Judo is dying.” Continue reading

Professionalism and the Judo Coach

When USA Judo began its newest fund raising venture a few years ago- charging coaches $75 to be a “certified” coach- I called the chairman of the coach education committee to voice my concerns about this. Outrage was what I felt when I found out that at the time there were no requirements to go along with the fee and the title. The chairman, an acclaimed former elite competitor and coach, assured me that requirements would be forthcoming, but in the interim, “we need to become professional,” and the $75 fee would set us on the right course.  Recently, another well-respected former elite player and coach mentioned that he was pleased that the IJF’s new requirement that coaches wear suits and ties to the competition draws and to the medal rounds made Judo more professional. Continue reading

Coaches, Speak Up!

The other day, I came across some surprising comments from Coach X, a national team coach, who had been to the recent Rotterdam World Championships. The gist of his comments was that while he had no problem discussing the latest round of rule changes and bellyaching about them, he had no time to decide whether the rules were good or bad, and had no time to complain.

I always thought that a coach was an advocate for his players. As such, I find it inconceivable that a coach would abrogate a portion of his responsibilities to his players without trying to be part of the decision-making process. It’s true that presently coaches have few political means of being part of that process. Voicing our concerns through email would be a good start. Continue reading

Nobody Wants to See the Losers?

One of the latest ill-conceived changes to Judo competition was a tweaking of the repechage system.  In the past, everyone who lost to the winners of the four pools was pulled back into competition, and given a second chance at medaling. Now, only the eight quarter-finalists have a chance at medaling.

Jan Snijders, a Dutchman who is the EJU Refereeing Director, issued this statement at the conclusion of the Rotterdam World Championships that ended a few days ago:

We are very satisfied with the new system. Nobody wants to see the losers. Championships are all about the medal winners, and are not training competitions. Continue reading