The Judo has now finished and what a terrible spectacle that was. Competitors fighting like Kangaroo Boxers, matches going to the distance to be won on Hantei, rules that have become unintelligible to even the experienced Judoka. Yes there was the occasional glimmer of hope especially from our two English girls but the majority was abysmal. So has it done any damage for us in GB? NO with the Girls winning the medals British Judo got a lot coverage, which can only do the sport good. Will the general public be put off? I do not think so as it was quoted in the paper that the spectators at Judo Halls were full to capacity but only with the Judo fraternity i.e. no general public.
Yet the International Judo Federation have been bleating on about how Judo has been affected by to much wrestling, what they really meant was the influence of Russian Sambo and they wanted to return to Traditional Judo! Well as some one who has been in Judo since 1955 this new Judo has nothing to do with Traditional Judo. Judo was where a person got thrown, held down, arm locked or strangled. Interestingly enough they have changed the rules to help the re-emergence of Japanese Judo and stop the influence of Sambo yet who won the most Gold Medals? Russia and what is their Judo based on? Sambo. So maybe the time has come to bring in Sambo to the Olympics and see what people prefer?
The British Judo Association need a big shake up with our neighbour France and Germany coming above us in the medals tables something is seriously wrong with British Judo and it is no use just blaming the athletes although they are professionals. It is rumoured that the BJA have 90 employees if that is the case what are they doing? They claim they have more members the ever with its numbers being bolstered by the School Children membership of £5. The BJA have appointed coaches to go round schools and do a short period of teaching, they bring mats jackets etc. On the face of it this may seem a good idea but it is not working for once the kids have done there 6 weeks they very rarely if ever join a club. What they should do is either get the Schools to have Judo permanently on the curriculum or have a one day taster and then direct them to a Club. In the 1970’s when we were most successful in Olympic Judo all I can remember was a BJA staff of about 5 people yet we had Judoka who were true amateurs winning medals and a BJA with a massive membership and that was in the bad old days when you could only belong to the BJA and none of the other associations thankfully due to laws regarding restrictive practise that is no longer the case.
I think most of you know I much prefer Sombo/Sambo as a Jacket Wrestling Sport it is easier to understand, more dynamic and easy to watch, yet I still yearn for the return to Judo of my Hey day. The International Judo Federation has turned Judo into another form of Wrestling they have totally moved away from the original concepts of Jigaro Kano. During the 1960’s and 1970’s I trained with the British Judo Council (MAC) both my parents were on the Management Committee. The BJC like all Judo associations of the day believed that Judo was not just a sport but also a Martial Art and by Art I mean something that has imaginative skill coupled with aesthetic beauty. Of course I mean Kata and Kata made Judo different to all other forms of wrestling I would go as far as to say superior. Shiai and Kata were always part of the same, Judo. All competitors were made to do Kata myself included. To think it ruined our competitive skill was untrue you can see my own cv to see that was not true also one of GB’s finest Judo competitors was Brian Jacks and he could demonstrate the perfect Ju No Kata. Yet today Kata has no place in modern competitive Judo as the commentator continually said Winning an Olympic Judo Medal was all about tactics, seeing fight after fight going to Hantei or a win on a penalty was soul destroying the only saving grace was to see both our women gaining medals by scoring on their opponents and trying to win by a positive throw.
Of course no one will listen to me and most will ridicule me for my beliefs and I expect the IJF and BJA will bring out some new rules and blame others for there inadequacies but they need to look back when Judo was a true Martial Art and not just about winning World Class medals.
For those Judoka who like to throw, pin and gain a submission try Sombo/Sambo rarely if ever is a match won on a penalty or judges decision.
8th Dan Judo
FIAS Sambo Grand Master
PS, watch the video and see proper Judo from Y. Muneta throwing Tangriev in 2007 @ World Judo Championship (Rio).