These days my only interest in Judo is with the IBF and my own club YJC Sittingbourne, I leave the coaching to my son John, Colin Carrott, Keith Costa and Paul Soulsby who are doing a fine job, I still serve on the IBF international Body. I enjoy IBF Judo because the IBF is like a family and when we have a Judo competition it is an enjoyable event where on the whole with people you want to be with. My last venture out was a year ago where I watched some IJF/BJA judo and I totally disliked it, the IJF have totally changed the rules and it is no longer the Martial Art I started some 55 years ago and has become just another Jacket Grappling Sport, the only thing I did like was the new mat design.
So why am I so critical?
1) They change the rules yet half the referees do not apply them and the other half do, so on one mat you have two different competitions. The main one is leg pick ups what is and what is not?
2) What has happen to Ippon? It used to be flat on your back with power and impetus not any more roll them over on there back and you have won
3) Never been a keen lover of Ne Waza yet now it seems nearly non existent
These in my eyes are faults but the newer generation may think they are positive moves yet Judo is on the decline some experts say in 5 years there will be more people will be doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then Judo and that is like Judo with no throwing.
The above is down to the IJF but the BJA must take some of the blame for the decline in member take Clubmark our Judo section tried for 3 years to go through this bureaucratic nightmare, we had 4 changes of BJA personnel during this time, was expected to go to Sheffield for 4 hour courses (we are in Kent) I am even told there is a Judo Club in Kent which is a Centre of Excellence that does not have a Clubmark. Yet our Grappling Academy has applied to Kent County council for club mark and we are on the verge of completion and this has taken about 10 months.
The BJA spend money like it is going out of fashion, take the Schools programme where coaches go in to schools for 6 weeks, the idea being that it will promote Judo in fact it does the opposite as the visiting coach can only recommend Club Mark Judo clubs, so you can be a BJA Club and get no benefit plus those who move from school to club is practically zero. Yet it gives a false impression on Judo participation as these youngsters get an award from the BJA at a very low price which boosts their membership, they maybe members but they are not regular participants.
Junior Grading scheme is expensive, every time a child has a grading the BJA receive £7 but a child can only move up one tab at a time and can grade once a month, so I believe if they start as a beginner and reach maximum grade they will have taken 15 grades (I am assuming there 3 grades between belts) £105 plus they may have to pay the examiner if he is out of pocket. For the sake of harmony we joined the BJA and any club member who wanted a BJA license the club would pay for it and their grading NO MORE we can not afford it. The IBF is far more friendly and helpful to its members all Club Examiners keep all the grading fees and the money for gradings, the IBF get a fee when they go for Dan Grade plus registered Club gets a good discount for every member that joins. This money helps club buy new mats, take kids to competitions, and pay for courses. The IBF get no government funding yet financial our member clubs are a lot better and in these days of financial constraints this could be the difference in club remaining open or closed.
A well known BJA Judo Coach was excused of “inappropriate behaviour with a minor” which allegedly happened several decades ago, the BJA followed the correct procedure and suspended the Coach while enquires were made (Not very British Guilty till proven Innocent) eventually the matter was handed to the Police and 18 months later he was completely exonerated. So you may think this was the end of the matter NO the BJA have continued the persecution of this Coach he is stilled banned from his Club even though he has committed no criminal act. I am told there is an ulterior motive for his suspension this may be the case but the real point is that I am told it has cost the coach thousands of pounds and may cost the BJA tens of thousands of pounds is this good use of members’ money? To put things in perspective an IBF Coach was accused of inappropriate behaviour but was cleared by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, this took months not years and the Coach is now free to continue coaching.
Let move on to some practical issues, I started Judo when I was 5 years old, 56 years ago in those days Judo still had the excitement of being something new and something children did not do it was only my parents who insisted on creating a Junior section that we had children’s Judo in this part of the world. Children could only get three grades 1st Mon, 2nd Mon and 3rd Mon white belt with red tabs. Competitions outside London were a rarity and children’s competition non existent I believe my first tournament was in 1961 at the age of 11 now why am I going down memory lane well it what Judo was. First of all it was considered something mystic which made it different from all other sports and there were no other martial about the time. Our first karate section started in 1962, two of our Judoka read a book about karate and decided to start teaching it, those were the days no knowledge, no qualifications, no proper safety arrangements could not happened today! You must be joking I would suggest 80% of so called MMA club have no insurance cover or proper mats let alone coaching qualification. I digress in those days Judo was more of a Martial Art then a sport but when there was competition they were quite simple:
1) Most mats were about 18ft x 18ft
2) To win you threw your opponent on his back and you got Ippon
3) You could also win by scoring two ½ points Waza-ari which gave you an Ippon
4) Hold Down Oseakomi Ippon 30 seconds A Waza-ari 25 seconds
5) Submission by Strangle, Choke or arm lock
Simple to understand, easy to watch, no penalties as fouling your opponent was considered not the act of a Gentleman.
Obviously as Judo became an Olympic Sport, competition became more important and by definition more competitive and the idea of a gentleman’s conduct was soon abandoned for the need to win. With competitors become more astute to the rules and a lot fitter, the contests were become closer which would lead to a lot of Judges Decision, which proved very unpopular. This led to lower scores being introduced the Koka and Yuko this in itself was not a bad thing what was bad was that Koka and Yuko were not accumulative i.e. no matter how many koka’s you get they never add up. This had the opposite effect by encouraging competitors to go for lower scores which did not need the commitment required for an Ippon plus with more competitors using the rules to their advantage more penalties had to be given. Result contest being won on very low scores and on penalties producing some rather stagnant Judo, of course when you reach Olympic Standard this may not be the case but how many reach Olympic standard and Judo is a participation sport not a spectator sport. The IJF could have reversed this situation when they lost the Koka they should have changed Yuko to 2 points, Waza-ari 5pts and Ippon 10 points with the first to reach 10 points being the winner, with regard to Oseakomi how many kids have spent all day at a competition only to be pushed to the ground held down for 25 seconds end of match.
To enjoy a sport you have to have understanding within 5 minutes, youngsters and there parents do not want be baffled by oriental name and signs. Before anyone says what he is trying is Sambo well it is not, although I do agree that Sambo rules make far more sense then Judo. What judo can do is stick to their upright posture avoid all the leg shoots but alter the rules as I suggested it would be still Judo
Martin Clarke Sittingbourne