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Judo – More Than Sport: Part 1

Judo – More Than Sport: Part 1

  • A report from the Budo-Nord/Lugi Judo Club Training Camp

What is it?

A judo competition and training camp for all ages.

Where is it?

Lund, Sweden.

I was surprised when I got a call from Mike asking if I was availible to coach at the Lugi camp this year.

Apparently, one of our mutual judo pals Conny Peterson had re


Me and Mike, Head coach at Kendal Judo Performance Centre

commended to the organisers tat I be on the coaching team this year. Mike has been going to the camp for years and a young group from Kendal Judo club (plus extras!) were already booked to go to the competition and camp so I was delighted to be able to join the group. I also knew that it would be a great opportunity for me to add to my coaching experience in a new setting and surrounded by expert coaches. So, after rearranging a few things, including my son’s first birthday (!) I was all set to go.


The structure of the comp and camp is this; competition for all age groups up to 21 years old on Thursday, followed by 4 training sessions per day on Friday and Saturday (2 for the youth and 2 for the Juniors), a ‘Kid’s Cup’ on Saturday for the younger children, and a training session altogether on the Sunday. My job as one of the instructors on the camp was to lead the technical part of the training for a different group each time. I was able to do any type of coaching I wanted and I tried to adapt the techniques and style I used to match each group based on their age/ability. I also watched what the other coached were doing so I didn’t repeat something they had already been shown.

The players on the camp were from a few different countries; Sweden, Britain, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Finland. It’s a brilliant opportunity for them to meet and mingle and obviously chance to get some quality training of the right level. It’s very difficult to get this level of training all the time so the players were encouraged to make the most of it.  The youngest from Kendal was 10, with most of the kids being 12-13. This was the age when I started travelling abroad for competitions and camps and started to gain that


Danny and Danny giving the team talk

holistic experience so important for my later professional judo career. The two coaches travelling with the Kendal team, Danny (big) and Danny (bald) were always there looking out for the players, having a firm word if they stepped out of line but making sure they were have a good time as well. They took them out for a BBQ in the park after the comp, gave them team talks before and after each session and generally helped them conduct themselves in the right manner. This is exactly what Mike, and my coach Brian Moore, have done for many years – mentoring the next generation. You can see the knowledge and experience being passed down through the generations and is one of the many reasons why judo is more than a sport.


Me and Danny mentoring the Bacup Judo youngsters

What was most striking about this camp was the genuinely friendly atmosphere in which everything was conducted. The host and the organisers worked extremely hard to make sure everyone was accommodated and the session ran smoothly. A few of the travelling teams stayed in the sports hall on blow up mattresses which helps to bring the costs down. I’ve definitely done my fair share of ‘jungle’ trips like this and was happy to take the hotel option this time around! It can get pretty hectic at times and you have to deal with being in this environment but it’s also great fun for a couple of days!


  • Some of the other coaches -Me and Hortense Diédhiou, current player from Senegal and heading to the Games in Rio; organiser and Gabbi; Me and Neil Eckersley, former Olympic Bronze medallist, Kendal boy and now coaching in Norway

I learnt a lot from this trip, from other coaches and also from reflecting on my own coaching practice. I got to try out a few new things in a different environment. I hope others were able to learn from me too! And that’s another way that judo is more than a sport; at this level it is often about community and sharing, with a healthy level of competition thrown in.


Team looking good!



Giving Back

I think this is one of the best messages I’ve ever received!

Hi Sophie,
My name is Carolina and I’m the mum of Mateo from FS2 at Broadbent Fold School. Mateo was so impressed since you went to the school on friday we’ve been playing judo all weekend!

He told us that “to live in Olympian you have to practice every day and every night even on your birthday!”. He made a tatami on the living room floor with all the sofa cushions (he actually dismanteled the sofa) and he has been tugging his clothes and falling on the cushions.

His brother Noah is 3 years old and likes to be a cat but this weekend he was judo cat and he was loving it.

Mateo is delayed in some areas of development and he is not so confident physically so and I would like him to try some judo lessons locally since he is so motivated by you. I found a place but the lessons are too late for him starting at 7pm till 8.30. Can you please let me know if you know of any clubs near the school or dukinfield where we can take him?

Thank you and congratulations on an inspiring performance, my little red head Mateo thinks you’re judotastic!


A Journey Through Judo: Part 3

A Journey Through Judo Part 3: The End Goal

In contest judo, you aim to win, ideally by ippon (a full point), by either throwing the other person on their back or by getting them to submit through the application of an armlock or a strangle. You can also hold or pin them on their back for a set length of time. Other than that you can win by getting smaller scores (the person doesn’t land squarely on their back with enough force) and by the other person receiving penalties. Judo as a sport has developed and evolved and as such has a set of rules and regulations which aim to make the sport safe, fair and spectator friendly. A judo contest now is certainly a very different prospect to what it was 100 years ago.

As a means of unarmed combat the end goals are the same: defeat the attacker by disabling them. Usually getting them on their back and finishing them with some strikes, kicks, a lock or a chokehold will do that.

The average spectator will watch a judo match today and may very well wonder what’s going on a lot of the time. It’s quite difficult to see or understand the intricacies involved in trying to throw someone on their back unless you have felt it or watched it a lot. With people of the same standard there are lots of opportunities for counters, combinations as well as direct ‘hits’. But it’s easily within everyone’s scope, especially during randori (free practice) to be able to throw cleanly and effectively.

For a beginner getting thrown for the first time can be quite daunting. Sometimes it is better for beginners to practice with higher grades who know how to throw cleanly and be thrown. Plenty of time should be given to learning ukemi (break falling techniques) to build confidence. It is quite common for beginners to be tense and stiff to start. To be able to throw and move effectively, a judoka learns how to be stiff and strong yet fluid and soft in equal measures.

When you throw cleanly for ippon, it’s like everything has just come into focus in an instant.