Sports are finally waking up to the long-term effects of concussions. Judo is no exception. The United States Judo Association, for example, has prominently displayed on its website an online course entitled Heads Up!. This course is the work of the U.S. Center of Disease Control, which tells us how important this issue is. Continue reading
During a recent coach education course that I attended as an observer, one of the participants asked the clinician what type of mats would be best for Judo. The clinician replied that his own preference was for getting the hardest mats possible. The reason? To ensure good ukemi! That response nearly knocked me off my chair. Here was yet another piece of information that in my mind was clearly a great disservice to all the coaches present, and ultimately to Judo itself. Let’s examine why this statement was not in our best interest as we try to hang on to a diminishing segment of the martial arts market.
Several weeks ago, I had a visit from an entire Japanese family: two kids, two parents and two grandparents. Grandpa had done Judo at the university level in Japan, and mom had a very good knowledge of the turmoils the Japanese Judo team was going though.
Whether you call it Judo culture, or mentality, or mindset, one thing that’s clearly MIA- missing in action- in our sport is skepticism. In other words, most of us are meek sheep following some leader who is often misguided, ill-informed, or just simply lost. We keep marching to the tune of our Judo Pied Piper almost never questioning whether what we are doing makes any sense. Even when it does dawn on us that what we’re doing is crazy, there’s almost no attempt to discuss issues and remedy our lot. Chalk up this behavior to our traditional hierarchy that instills in the lower ranks unwavering (and unquestioning) respect for our senior ranks.
There’s an old saying in team sports that good defense wins games. I’ve never heard any similar statement applied to Judo but I think it should. If good defense does win games, why shouldn’t it also apply to winning matches in Judo? I can’t come up with a rational reason why it shouldn’t. To be more competitive at the international level, it’s time we change our training paradigm on a national scale to reflect this adage.
It doesn’t take long to realize that there are so many different skills to learn in Judo that you can’t imagine ever having enough time to address them all. Every time I mention to a coach that he or she should work on this or that, I get the same dejected look, and reply, “I know what you are saying, but I just don’t have enough time to fit everything in.”
If you can’t increase the number of practices or can’t lengthen the training session, then you must make your practices more efficient. Actually, you should make your practices more efficient anyhow, even if you can increase the number of practices (usually a good thing) or lengthen your session (often not a good thing.)