Thursday 7th May 2020 I ‘launched’ Judo Chat – which is a live YouTube show (essentially me just chatting about Judo topics). In the future I will also look to have guests and be taking your questions to the live show.
Now I will be honest, you can tell it was my first attempt and I was not clear and to the point as I had visioned, but there is still some useful stuff in there. I talked about
How Covid-19 was affecting clubs and coaches
What I advise practicing at home for Judoka
Online Judo gradings (very briefly)
If Tokyo Olympics will go ahead in 2021
Now as I mentioned it was my first attempt and I think these will definitely get better over time (just like these emails ;-)) so please check it out and let me know if you have any topics you would like me to cover in the show.
This week British Judo has released information to member clubs and coaches that they are willing to accept and process online gradings for Sho, Mon & Kyu grades while we are in lockdown across the UK. On top of this, the British Judo will not charge coaches to process these grades. Full British Judo press release can be found here: https://www.britishjudo.org.uk/coronavirus-update-gradings/
As expected some coaches have gone to social media to say what a ridiculous idea this is for Judo, it devalues the grade, coaches will just grade the children so they have higher grades in their club, and it goes on and on.
I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on how I see the situation.
Now cards on the table, before the BJA released this statement my wife and I were already planning on doing online gradings for all of our club members. So I think you will guess I am in favour of online gradings and there are quite a few reasons for this:
My wife and I run Fighting Fitness Judo and before everything went into lockdown we had 275 club members and 400 school members (these figures are not put in to boast, there are a lot bigger judo clubs than us, the numbers are to give context). Teaching Judo is how we earn our living and it is all we’ve ever known. Within a matter of a month, we moved our whole club online, providing Judo classes, training resources and much more to all of our club members. But as it stands we’ve still lost a lot of members through suspensions or cancellations, we also face the challenge of not knowing when schools will return and if so will they allow us to run Judo classes when they do.
During this difficult period, Judo needs to keep its members engaged and British Judo has to do something. By allowing gradings online we can offer something constructive for our members to focus on and give them a welcome distraction.
I think the coronavirus will hit Judo harder than most Martial Arts and Sports. One of the biggest draws for Judo is it is full contact, children love the fact you can grab hold of someone else and try to throw them. As I am sure most of you are aware by now this is hard to replicate online and you, like us might be losing members because of this single point. On the flip side, we are aware of many Martial Arts picking up new members and growing their clubs/academies online (are they picking up your members?).
For some time now I think Judo is losing out to ‘Martial Arts’ Clubs, but I also think that is a post for another time.
Will online gradings be easy? In short, no. It will be tough, for the student and coach. We cannot kid ourselves, getting the students to demonstrate some of the techniques is going to be tough, especially if they do not have anyone to demonstrate on, but it is not impossible. We should remember gradings are much more than a student demonstrating a couple of techniques for their coach and then they are awarded a new belt or stripe. Within a grading, we are asking our students to:
Try their best
Learn something new
Find a way to overcome difficulties
Turn up to lessons
Do this over a period of time
The question; is your student a better or worse Judo player if, during self-isolation, they’ve continued to learn their grading techniques, overcome the hurdles of practising at home, learned something new, tried their best, improved and when not able to demonstrate the technique talked through the coaching points?
We have to remember this is one grade!
Children and adults are going to remember this period of time forever. We have the opportunity to create a positive focus for them, which will help with their mental well being and potentially anchor in the importance of the sport for lifelong involvement.
Your students can demonstrate these things via zoom classes, facetime, skype – there are so many options, we are lucky this has happened in an age we have so many technological options.
As a club we have recorded and uploaded the complete 1st – 9th Sho grading syllabus for our under 8’s to start practising at home.
We are also in the process of recording the whole Mon grade syllabus for them and giving clear instructions around what is expected at this time.
I want to keep the children at our club engaged, fit, healthy and I want to help them through this tough period. Giving them the opportunity to work towards their next grade is an important part of this and I am more than happy to award a new grade to any student who has earned it online or otherwise.
Good luck if you decide to run gradings and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any help.
Are you a coach wanting your Judoka to train during Isolation? Or maybe you are a Judoka and want ideas for your training sessions?
There is a solution!
I work with a lot of Judoka all of who I want to help with training over this period of isolation – The keyword is help in this instance. This is unchartered territory for all of us and on our young developing athletes, it will be tough both physically and more importantly mentally.
I could sit down and write 100’s of programs for each individual, but there are a few problems with this such as timescale, compliance, each individuals home schedule, equipment available, mental wellbeing, being at different training levels and pure workload (for everyone).
So I decided to create an online training platform, due to time constraints this is content is very raw at the moment. That said it still has;
Aerobic Training Sessions
Over the coming days and weeks I will be looking at adding to the current session content and;
Judo resistant bands
By putting sessions online and allowing my players the autonomy of selecting their sessions this should create a better compliance or buy into the sessions. Why? Simple, they can pick sessions that;
match their ability.
work with their time constraints.
suitable for the space that they have.
they have similar equipment.
reflects how they are feeling.
This is one place my players can go pick what session they would like to do and get it done. They can then record it, adding it to their training diary. At the end of this isolation period, they can look back and see how much they have done, feel fitter, stronger and know they have used their valuable time to good effect.
This is not just a problem for me but a problem for everyone, coaches and players alike.
So I have made this an open platform for all clubs and players, completely free. People can comment on training sessions add and some suggestions.
I am also asking S&C coaches, nutritionist, judo coaches for content that will help you. I will add as much content as I can to this course for you to use at your convenience.
During this difficult time, it is going to be so hard for Judo clubs and it’s members and as time goes on it is going to get even harder.
Over recent weeks we have seen Judo clubs become more active on social media (which is great). But I thought I would take a moment to write down some of the ways my wife and I are trying to keep things running as ‘normal’ for our club and it’s members.
Judo players are mentally strong and resilient people, we need to adapt to the situation, and we need to keep reminding people of the amazing benefits of Judo. Most importantly, this is a temporary situation, remind your members that you will be back on the mat! Granted none of us have any real time frame for this, but this is not the end of Judo and we will win this fight.
Over the last few weeks at FFJudo we have moved our service online! We are very much still in operation and the response has been good so far. Of course, we have had members contacting us that are facing financial difficulties that can no longer afford their monthly membership fees. In these cases, we are suggesting suspending payments with an automatic reactivation date of 3 months away for example, rather than completely cutting ties with us.
So the message is that we are still offering a valuable service, we are just delivering it differently, for now. We all know there are huge benefits to continuing with Judo, physically, mentally and emotionally, especially whilst we are all more or less in lockdown.
What is the service we are now providing?
We have chosen to invite all of our members to join a private Facebook group. This has been a huge success and we have had a really good engagement and interaction within the group so far. So as well as enjoying some great Judo content the group is acting as a support network and social tool for our Club members.
The main reason we decided on a private group is so we can continue to offer value to our paying customers. If we just post all of the content on our public Facebook page, we didn’t feel we were offering value to our paying members. The private group has allowed us to market the content in a way that they feel valued (which they are) and looked after.
SO the nitty-gritty of what are we posting?
Firstly we think it’s really important to have a schedule for your posts, rather than just sticking odd random bits up now and then. We have published a weekly timetable for our members so they can factor Judo into their new daily lives.
We have categorised the content as follows:
Discovery or Educational tasks
Watch & Learn
Here are some ideas to start with for each of the categories:
Discovery or Educational tasks;
Gradings. We plan on recording footage for at least all of the Sho grades, maybe Mon grades too so we can start working through gradings after Easter. Assessments can be done via video sent in or Facetime/Zoom
Word search/Crosswords (easy to create your own, just google it)
Personal hygiene & Judo, what to wear on feet etc
Live Facebook/Zoom etc.;
We have chosen to do live classes 3 times a week
Judo based with or without a partner, with a training dummy or using a teddy for Newaza hold-downs you do need to be creative and mindful of limited space in people’s homes
Judo fitness such as circuits
We haven’t tried a watch party but I guess there is scope to have a group discussion about a pre-recorded clip
Watch & Learn;
Pre-recorded Judo tutorials
Judo Youtube channels such as Vince Skillcorn
P.E. with Joe
International Judoka- Facts, links to clips
Tie your belt
Wrap your kit like a Judo player
Press up challenge most in 30s
Sit up challenge most in 30s
Squat challenge most in 30s
Press up clap challenge
Teddy bear hold down, how many hold-downs in 1 minute
Blindfold belt challenge
How many Judo turns
Judo kit race, getting fully dressed from kit being wrapped up
How many Shrimping challenge most in 30s
Fastest time to do 10 squats, 10 press-ups, 10 sit-ups. Could have different levels (10 for bronze, 20 for silver, 30 for Gold)
You can add a nomination into your challenge where members can tag a club mate to do better!
Bake a Judo treat- Cupcakes/biscuits
Draw a Judo picture (found 1 youtube clip to follow)
Design a Judo poster
Draw your Judo coach
Press up football
Left stance, right stance
Land and sea
Evolution of right stance left stance inc different postures such as up on toes, sumo
Newaza positions (starfish, turtle etc)
Cut belt in back of trousers
Scheduled for every Saturday. We have created a weekly goal setting card with categories- Judo goal, Family goal, Fitness goal, Helpful goal, Fun goal
Additional fun/motivational posts;
Mindset, motivational & mental health posts/quotations
I love Judo because….
Introduce yourself to the group (Name, age, something we didn’t know about you?)
Throwback Thursday- old photos
In addition to the above post ideas, we have scheduled every members Birthday to be acknowledged with a GIF post.
I’m sure between us all we can come up with loads more great ideas…
A few takeaways:
Your members come to Judo for you the coach, for their friends and the community, by moving things online you can still provide these things for them.
They are not expecting Fighting Films quality production, but they will be expecting value for their money in these uncertain times.
They will give you some time to develop and build your content online, but they will want you to communicate with them.
Parents have been asked to work from home and be a full-time teacher, they need some respite and you will be a welcome distraction.
There will be people who don’t want to engage, don’t want to pay (or cannot afford to pay), but there will be so many who do want to be a part of your temporary online dojo!
There is no getting away from the fact that some members will not be able to afford to pay fees at the moment, but many will! We need to be confident in the service we are still providing and help our members through this horrendous situation. We are more than just Judo teachers, the children and families have ‘bought in’ to us as individuals and as a Club, they want to still see us and engage with us.
If we play this right it could be an opportunity to interact with the members in a new way, learn new things about them, and a chance for them to build camaraderie amongst the group and actually to come out the other side a stronger entity feeling like we have conquered something together.
Don’t give up, find a way to make it work, stay in touch with your members, keep progressing. We are lucky we have so much technology available, to help us stay in touch and deliver content to everyone. We don’t need to shut down, use the time wisely, set goals and achieve them still.
Good luck and feel free to share this with anyone who you think might benefit from the information!