Friday, 26 February 2021

Judo a Happy Place

After a hard week at work there's nothing quite like Judo, to take your mind off things.  Today's adult class was a great chance to catch up with some old buddies like Tony, Simon and Matt.  It was also fun to work with the youngsters who are starting to extend their technical Judo.  

And before that Scott, Simon and I also got to run a really good kids class.  Seeing a nice group of graded kids working with lots of new kids is fantastically satisfying.  It is hard work but providing an opportunity for people to participate in the martial art you love is awesome.  Roll on next Tuesday night! 


Sunday, 14 February 2021

Supporting Judo a Tale of Two Coaches

 Last night I spent a couple of hours in an Auckland Judo Association meeting discussing development of Judo both in Auckland and more generally.  This morning I have been discussing women's Judo on Facebook. Together these discussions encouraged me to put 'pen to paper' with some thoughts about growing Judo.

When we set up Big Judo the idea was to grow Judo - 'more Judo in more places' 

Two coaching stories will give you an idea of how we have worked to support that idea.  

Tracey Stormont (in the pink gi above) was a really good competitive player. After taking a break and having kids she was keen to get back on the mat and turned up at Big Judo, Pukekohe. Tracey has really good Judo and it was awesome to have her on the mat helping coach. Later, Tracey moved further South and getting to training in Pukekohe got difficult but she still wanted to coach. Tracey found a venue and asked if we could help her get mats.  The Big Judo team put its head together and raised enough money to put down about 36sqm of mats.  It is not a huge area but it is enough to teach kids and enjoy Judo.

We also said that we would support her administratively.  The result is that Big Judo developed a new dojo,  NZ Judo kept a good coach and we all have more people on the mat doing Judo. 

Nelly Stallworthy (my sister) had a completely different story. Nelly was one of the toughest competitors in NZ Judo (or BJJ or MMA).  After the Manchester Commonwealth Games and lots of time overseas she quit Judo and pursued BJJ and MMA, 

One day she came down to the club and had a look around. She started turning up more regularly and eventually committed to regular training.  It pretty quickly became apparent that she knew more about competition Judo than I did so we decided that she would lead the elite programme.  Nelly has taken Noah Walliss (on Nelly's left in the picture) from being a beginner Judoka to national champion with enormous potential in Judo,  Besides Noah we have Jacob Fry (who is in Australia at the moment) and a group of tough, strong teenage Judo players coached by Nellie and ready to step into competition.  

In summary there are couple of ideas that I'd like to 'put on the table' for people working to grow Judo, Success seems to come from trying really hard to support coaches by:

  • Focusing on the boring bits (fund-raising, administration, H&S compliance etc) so coaches can focus on coaching.   
  • Being willing to step back when another coach is doing a good job.
  • Building the base, if we get good numbers training, talented players will develop naturally. 

My final comment is that as a martial art we need to look at new ways of doing business if we are going to survive and thrive in competition with BJJ.  At this time the Auckland Association is taking positive steps forward (using Zoomfocusing on getting Level 2 coaching courses organised to meet compliance requirements and supporting keeping Hajamie operating) so perhaps it is a good time to get some wider discussion going about how we work together - to get more Judo in more places. 

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Big Judo Welcomes 2021


At Big Judo we are back into the swing of things after two two slow weeks as school started and we celebrated Auckland Anniversary and Waitangi Day holidays. Big, fun classes at both Pukekohe and Sandringham as our kids start getting back on the. always nice to see the Cadets helping out. The crew has good strong players and we are looking forwards the competitive season. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Reflecting on Two Important Moments at Big Judo


Tonight Big Judo had two significant moments.  In Epsom, Noah Wallis graded to Brown Belt passing a significant milestone in his Judo career. Nellie was at University Dojo to support him and Noah graded  in the same place Nellie and I received all of our grades. 

Noah started at Big Judo as a kid. He has matured in our dojo and is now a powerful fighter. Noah's grading tonight has wonderful symmetry because,  100 kilometres away at Big Judo Pukekawa we were also supporting Tracey with her end of year grading.  

Both events speak to Big Judo's philosophy and strategy for building strong Judo. In Epsom we were supporting and celebrating the success of a powerful young competitor.  In Pukekawa we are building the next generation and helping a fine coach teach good Judo. 

The success of both events made us all very proud. Well done Noah and Tracey you are both awesome.  

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Big Judo Youngsters Growing Up


Last week I noticed how the little kids were suddenly starting to get big!  Or am I shrinking? 

The young guys in this photo started training with us as eight to ten year olds and are getting bigger and stronger everyday. It is awesome to watch them develop,

At Big we are all looking forward to next year and a competition programme that is not so impacted by COVID. 

The cool thing is that sitting behind Noah Wallis are some pretty capable youngsters and here at Big Judo we are keen to see them on the mat.  Roll on 2021!

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Women in Judo - The Next Step?


Nellie with Noah a Junior Men's -81kg champ and silver medalist in the Men's - 81 kg. This year Noah won the Men's - 90kgs at the Auckland Open.   

Recently, Judo celebrated the 40th anniversary of women being able to compete at the World Championships, 

This event is cause for celebration and reflection.

We now see women athletes competing regularly and we have women coaches on the mat. But before we 'pat ourselves on the back' it is important that we don't think the fight for equity is over.

The key questions now are about women and their involvement in elite coaching. 

Admittedly there are women that run 'womens' teams but do we have any elite female coaches running squads or with responsibility for mixed national teams or tours?

I honestly don't know but one of my proudest achievements at Big Judo is recognisng that Nellie (my sister) is actually a better competitive coach and letting her lead our competitive programme. Big Judo is produces some good male competitors under Nellie's watch. 

More importantly we are gaining a generation of young men maturing that are used to seeing a woman in a pre-eminent position. Not a 'womens' coach but a competition coach.

Nellie is pretty exceptional but possibly her work at Big Judo is pointing towards a future in which female coaches are fully accepted and recognised by being selected to lead mixed teams, squads and tours rather than women just coaching women. 

It is a big step and there will be lots of people out there who will roll out the 'tired old lines' about women's Judo not being as competitive and women not being able to coach 'mens' Judo.

But my experience is that Nellie seems to be doing OK so maybe it is time to encourage more female coaches to step into leadership positions. 

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Big Judo Getting Back to Work After Second Lockdown

 Since New Zealand's second COVID 19 'lock down' Big Judo has been concentrating on building up numbers and getting the team back on deck.  It looks like we are starting to get some traction. 

Today, Noah Wallis won the Junior Men's and Senior Men's Under 90kg divisions at the Auckland Champs.  Although our focus at the moment is getting numbers on the mat and providing good basic training we are very proud of Noah.  

Noah is an awesome young man. Not only has he maintained his fitness and competitive spirit he also gives back helping out with the kids and being a real stalwart of Big Judo. Well done Noah.   

The Saturday kids class was nice and big and we have good selection of new and returning players. Even without some of our regulars we still got a good turnout. Its also great to see the Dads and Cadets in the background helping with the class.  We work hard to provide an inclusive training environment and encourage our young people to be more than just competitors.

Even better we have been getting good adult turnouts on Saturdays and Tuesdays.  Here is Nelly in action teaching the Seniors.