Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Judo Rules need to change So do Referees


Over the last 20 years my interest in Judo has been through the International Budo Federation but I have been very active on World Wide Basis with Sombo/Sambo the latter being very important to what about to say.

The last couple of years IBF members have been allowed to become members of the UK Governing body for Judo the British Judo Association, I have encouraged IBF members to join the BJA as long as they still join the IBF. Many of those who opposed allowing the IBF members to hold membership would ague that what is the point of holding two licenses the simple answer is in the name the IBF is a multi style Martial Arts and Combat Discipline association. For one license you can do all the Martial Arts plus many grappling styles including plus through the IBF you become members of the UK Governing Body for Sombo/Sambo the British Sombo Federation. Even our IBF members suggested that we could lose out by affiliating to the BJA my response was that if the IBF was any good it would survive if not it would collapse two years on we are still here and stronger.

Before we joined the BJA we would continually be accused of being out of touch with modern day competition Judo until IBF members started to use the BJA I saw no need to change what has been a reasonably good system. With members also holding BJA membership and with our own IBF INTERNATIONAL body moving to pure IJF rules time had come for me to move with the times, so I have read through the IJF rules (that was something of an achievement) watched BJA/IJF tournaments, listened to BJA officials and competitors, I am sorry to say I barely recognised the Sport I was involved with in as a potential Olympian in the mid 1970’s to the early 1980’s.

I watched several video from World, European, World Cup Championships and all I could see was 6 minutes of Judoka fighting for grips and never committing themselves 100% to a throw, heaven help us if one of the competitors scored a minor score to create a lead because then it would become an endurance test for both competitor and spectator. Yet you could not blame the competitors they fight according to the rules and it is the rules or shall I say the interpretation of the rules that are bad for Judo. The refereeing I have seen has been quite frank appalling back in the 70’s and 80’s there was a lot of rivalry between the different Judo Associations but the one thing most agreed the BJA had the best referees, this can not be said of today. Some will say here goes Clarkee insulting the BJA on the contrary, I would not have suggested that my members join the BJA if I was not impressed with their innovative approach to Judo but if I and others must be allowed to make some constructive criticism. BJA referees have the same problem we have in the IBF NO ONE wants to be a referee so inexperienced referees are getting to centre referee before they are ready.

Here are a few suggestions that may help:
In the IBF we always try and put our most experience referees on first this normally sets the standard for the whole competition, if during the day the refereeing standard start dropping the Senior Refereeing then reinstates the more experience referee to centre stage. Lets all of us stop insulting referees all that does is alienate them and entrenches them into bad habits, when they are finished congratulate them and thank them for giving up their day, when they feel appreciated they may listen to constructive criticism and why not give a Referee of the day award.

Years ago I wrote an article and suggested to be a referee you need not be a Judoka! For if the rules simple and straight forward any one should be able to understand them and referee. My point was if you want spectators to watch Judo to make it more popular, you have to make it is more visual and its scoring must be apparent in 10 minutes. Have a look at Sombo Wrestling another Jacket Wrestling sport, Total Victory Throw on back remain standing submission by arm lock or leg lock, you can also throw for 4pts, 2pts, 1pt, hold on the ground 2pts and 4pts. To win Total Victory, 12pt margin or end of time highest score. One player in Red one in Blue, referee wear Red and Blue sleeves, any score for the relevant colour indicated with relevant arm all scores given with fingers, start and stop on a whistle. Obviously there is more to it that what I have written but to someone who never seen Sombo it is a very easy start. Try and explain Judo in 5 lines? Because Judo rules are far more complicated all referees must have reasonable standard of Judo knowledge especially in what constitutes a throw. The one glaring example is sacrificial throws it seems that referees over the past few years have been told to be more generous with Ippon’s, I expect the idea was to encourage bigger throws. Yet what has happened as soon as someone back touches the ground they give Ippon even if you have made a failed attempt at a sacrifice throw i.e. Tome Nage.

Radical changes need to be made if Judo is to survive as Olympic Sport a complete overall of the scoring, eliminating boxing for grips, there is a need to watch and learn from other Jacket Wrestling forms i.e. Sombo, Kurash, Mongolian Style, Georgian even our own Cornish but then again if Judo was taken out of the Olympics for a while it may refresh it?

The only organisation who can do this is the International Judo Federation and the group who have influence with them is the BJA, so if we want Judo to survive we all need to get behind them and support them. They realised they need the smaller associations and we must realise we need them.

Martin Clarke IBF 8th Dan

Monday, June 16, 2008

John retires

My Son John Clarke 4th Dan Judo has decided to retire from Senior Judo, Sombo, and Kurash Tournaments at 34 years of age it is about the right time and something I recommended especially as he has trouble with a Knee injury which he got from Football. I unfortunately continued competing ignoring injuries now I have to have a new knee and new hip due to not listening to others and my body, this I do not want to happen to John. His last event was on Sunday where he was selected for the BJA Southern Area Team to compete in the National Team Championships in Kendal Cumbria, his team won a Bronze. John new the event would be hard one with all the competitors being a lot younger then him and in the peak of fitness especially as it was Olympic year but what he was not prepared for was the interpretation of the rules used by the referees, John uses a lot of techniques which rely on him sacrificing his own body weight to throw his opponent this is called Ma Sutemi Waza, this can be high risk as you have to rely on the referees understanding something about Judo. The referees at this event thought if you placed your back on the floor to throw your opponent your opponent should be given a score, this happened once before when John was 18 years old in the World Youths Sombo Champions where he was fighting an American he threw the American for a perfect sacrificial throw only to have the score put against him losing him a place in the finals. John telephoned and was quite philosophical about the event, he said “ I should have done my homework checking on these new rule changes plus I have been enough tournaments to realise you should check out the referees on the day and how they are performing” after all that he enjoyed the weekend felt proud to be a member of the Southern Area Team plus there was some good Judo in spite of the refereeing

I have been lucky in being a successful competitor and also being a successful coach and over the years have got a great deal of pleasure in watching my students succeeding in all aspects of Judo, Sombo, Free Style Wrestling, Kurash and Belt Wrestling yet the ultimate joy is to see you own Son/Pupil excel. John has given many people a lot of pleasure over his competition career and he has given me the most, well done Son you have been a great competitor and I am very proud of you.

Some of John’s successes
4th Dan Black Belt
Many Times IBF National Judo Champion Junior and Senior
IBF Great Britain Team member
Medal winner BJA International Event
World u16 years Silver
World u21 years 5th
World Senior 7th
Many Times British Champion

2 x International Tournament Champion

Free Style Wrestling
Silver u18 years British Championship

Belt Wrestling:
British Champion x 2

John may have finished competing in Senior events but he still will be coaching the Senior Club and will be taking a competitive Junior Section and entering a few Masters events, these are competitions for the older players and divided into age groups as well as weight groups. The Masters Events are much more laid back with not quite so much testosterone flying about, more a meeting of like minded individual.

Martin Clarke 8th Dan GrandMaster Sombo

More info 01795 437124