Tag Archives: shiai

West of England Judo Open 2009, and July’s Budokwai grading

This is perhaps a delayed blog post as the event itself was held on 12th June 2009. In fact, the results are available for download.

This was my first referee outing as a newly qualified National ‘C’ grade. Quite exciting. Being newly promoted this probably meant I was duty bound to make some massive cock-up. Thankfully, this did not happen, which means it will most likely carry over to the next event…

Amusingly, I was still ‘bottom of the pile’ as there were no Area referees present at the event. Ho hum!

We were presented with a ‘Thank you’ certificate during the briefing which was a really nice touch.


The event itself? The lighting took some getting used to. The whole hall had no natural lighting and the artificial lighting had a yellow tinge. It all looked a bit murky. Despite my initial concerns this turned out to be fine.

I was blessed with a great team (Nat ‘A’, Nat ‘B’, Me!) and we worked very well together throughout the day. There was some good spirit and judo on display. This always makes me happy.

It wasn’t a good start as perhaps the most negative judo manifested itself in the first batch of fights (+100 men). There was a lot of just NOTHING HAPPENING, with both players taking overly defensive sleeve grips preventing any attacking moves.

I was a corner judge on the fight I am thinking of. The referee correctly penalised (twice!) but nothing changed. Now, there are two ways of looking at this:

1. Keep giving Shido as the offence keeps happening, until one or both players are disqualified. You may then have a winner, but is it judo? Exercise for the reader: What happens if both players SIMULTANEOUSLY receive indirect hansoku-make because of this?


2. Tell the players to sort it out! The ref was VERY harsh (“Sort it out or you might as well get off the mat now”) but in my opinion perfectly correct. They are adults. They (should) know the rules.

‘Should’. It’s a shame that senior players are still coming out and not knowing the shiai basics (walking in front of the judges’ chairs, not walking around edge of the mat, bowing procedure…). THIS IS SHIAI 101. The loss of competitive gradings for the kyu grades has not helped here as they were an excellent introduction, but really, coaches should be on top of this before sending any player to a competition.

More recently I was invited to referee at the Budokwai again. I was VERY impressed with the standard of the 1st Kyus vying for their Dan grades. It can sometimes be a bit scrappy but there was some stand-out technique and spirit. There were excellent players there who walked away with zero points simply due to the high standard of the opposition. It was a great day.

Seniors and sutemi-waza // Your opponent will always be stronger

While working with a novice this week, I noticed that he kept coming in for (seemingly) Tani Otoshi, but each time I ended up straight on top of him. Although initially I was countering, this kept happening even when I went into ‘limp uke’ mode.

Finally worked it out. He was just dropping straight onto his back with his leg out, as opposed to the backwards direction that Tani Otoshi relies on! So obvious in hindsight but it was puzzling at the time.

I’ve mentioned before that I try to encourage upright judo. Sutemi-waza can be exceptionally effective but they can slow development, as I found out to my own cost. However, with seniors I feel to a certain extent you have to coach with what works for them, and it is more of an advising role. So I was happy to point out what needed to be done to fix the problem, as opposed to stating “THOU SHALT NOT DO SACRIFICE THROWS”.

I later worked with a junior squad player. I took a dominant grip, to the response of, “There’s nothing I can do, you are too strong, I can’t break your grip”. Advice here is the classic MOVE AND ATTACK. You should be able to do this from any grip as if you just stand still helplessly then in shiai it is not going to end well for you. Once she started moving, using speed and change of direction, I lost the so-called ‘unbreakable’ grip that I had.

You must always assume that your opponent in shiai is stronger. And that you may not be able to get your perfect grip. Movement is so very much the key, and I am looking forward to my toe being fully healed so I can exploit this!

Junior shiai: Difference between the sexes

I was refereeing at another junior event at the weekend and a few things struck me regarding the difference between the sexes. This is in regard to Junior shiai.

First of all, this is a generalisation. There are notable exceptions to all generalisations and this was also the case at the competition.

The best attitude and technique regarding shiai tended to come from the girls. This is how I lay it out:

  1. It was taken as a learning experience more. Win or lose. Yes, there were some tears, but it was far more common to see happy smiles even after a loss.
  2. There was much more reliance on standing technique rather than ‘roughing up’ the opponent. With the boys you did see a lot of wrestling grappling going on. A bit more on that later. There was a lack of kuzushi evident, but expected at the level of the competition (Classic never-ending Osoto Gari attempts from both competitors, for example).
  3. Related to the previous point, I saw a LOT of Tani Otoshi attacks from the boys from the wrestling approach. I’m definitely not criticising here as I have always used this a lot! But ideally we are looking for more stand-up judo at this level. Sometimes Tori would be pretty much creeping right round Uke before throwing them to the ground with this technique.

I would go so far to say that Tani Otoshi is now the new drop Seoinage, as it gets round the U12 restrictions due to sutemi-waza being permitted.

There is a lot to learn from the attitude and typically more stand-up technique from the girls. But there were some stunning throws from the boys as well, I will add. This post is all about the generalisation!

Is it time that we also disallowed sutemi-waza in the U12 category, and not just U10s?

What are the best way of encouraging students (first phases of competitiveness and testosterone getting through!) to use more technique to win and not RARRRRGH grappling?