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.