Rumblings in Las Vegas, Part I

This past weekend I was in Las Vegas attending the All Women’s Judo Championships, a USJA board meeting, and the USJA National Coaches Conference. Here are my thoughts on what I saw and heard.

When I was informed about the All Women’s Judo Championships, my first thought was why do we need a special tournament for such a small segment of our already small Judo population? After attending my first All Women’s Judo Championships as a spectator, my opinion hasn’t changed. But that’s only because what Deb Fergus, the founder of this event, wants for women, I want for all Judoplayers, namely special development events held for the benefit of the players, not the officials and especially not the referees. Continue reading

Where’s Judo’s Futsal?

Three recently published books- Outliers: The Story of Success, Talent is Overrated, and The Talent Code– have dealt with a common theme: ten thousands hours of deep, deliberate practice over ten years are required to achieve mastery in any field.

In The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, there’s a section on the development of Brazilian soccer that got my immediate attention. Soccer is a sport I know, having played it since I was ten years old, but the development of Brazilian soccer was a story I was not familiar with. From a coaching viewpoint, it’s a fascinating story that has repercussions for Judo. Continue reading

An Attempt to Save Judo in San Diego

San Diego County used to have a vibrant Judo community in the 1970s when I first started my coaching career. We had over twenty-five active Judo clubs. Our members participated in monthly clinics, and tournaments, which would attract 250-300+ players. Little by little, our coaches, many of them active military personnel, were transferred out of the area or they retired or they died. Few had successors to keep the clubs going. Politics, pitting USJA and USJF supporters, and personal issues between the few remaining coaches further weakened our area. 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