Sunday, March 9, 2014

Judo and Science

We found an article published in 1949, some 65 years ago, written by eminent judoka and Budokwai member Douglas Mann, entitled, Judo and Science. In this blog we consider its relevance today.

We present this to contrast our earlier blog on the art of judo.

In hearing the word “science” what’s the first image to be pictured in your mind? A man with crazy hair, a lab coat and a board full of equations? Do you welcome science as a method of learning, or shun it because of anxiety about its complexity. 

But the judoka among you are learning a science every time you step on the mat. We hypothesise, when we think about how we might throw, who might beat who, or how we could deal with a tactical situation. Randori practice is the trials and testing of the scientist; then our throws are displayed in competition, donated to the collection of others – in the same way that significant findings are exhibited and published in science.  With this comparison, Mann explains that we as judo players become the experts of our own science.

Mann goes on to state that “By painstaking, objective study of nature, man learns to control the powers of nature”, in this example Mann refers to science as an objective method of study. This can then be applied further; through study of the body we can learn to control our health and our physical conditioning for performance and through study of judo we can learn technique, tactics and develop control of our actions. 

As Mann identifies, science plays an important role in judo, he describes the scientific approach to learning judo as the study and application of biomechanical principles and the understanding and manipulation of an opponent’s cognitions. Over time developments have been made in the core sciences, leading to an influence by sport scientists in many sports. Such developments in judo have allowed us to gain a greater depth of knowledge about how our sport is evolving and about those partaking in it. 

Effective coaching requires keeping up with and driving forward the direction of sport science – in order to effectively educate others it is vital to first educate one’s self. Is this something you too feel is important in order to be a great judoka or coach? Are you utilising and making the most of resources available to you to be the best you can be? 

“In order to effectively educate others it is vital to first educate one’s self.”

Some readers may insist that judo is instead an art, as if by being an art, something cannot therefore be a science. This view is clearly flawed. One only has to consider the fibonacci numbers we see in nature to realise that, science and art are locked together. Mann recognises this when he concludes his article with a comment about the “Middle Way”. An important concept in judo and budo. 

At Judospace, our view is that coaching needs to be founded on evidence. We call it evidence based coaching. Science relies on evidence. If we are not using evidence based coaching, we must be using “guess based coaching”, at Judospace we believe that athletes deserve more than that.

We work with the European Judo Union, and many forward thinking federations to help coaches apply science into their work. Module titles on the EJU Level 4 Coach Award at Anglia Ruskin University include; Applied Pedagogy in Judo, Physiology for Judo, Biomechanics in Judo, Judo Technical Principles, Talent Development Pathways in Judo, Strength and Conditioning for Judo, Performance Analysis of Judo, and Psychological Profiling for Combat Sport. These courses are delivered by some of the top judo expertise in the world. Four members of the IJF Hall of Fame have taught on the EJU courses, (George Kerr, Kosei Inoue, Peter Seisenbacher and Neil Adams).

This Easter (April 2014) on the EJU course, Juergen Klinger, Nuno Delgado, Emanuela Pierantozzi, Yoshiaki Tsuruoka, Katrina McDonald, Bob Challis, Darren Warner and Mike Callan will share their expertise on subjects related to Judo and Science. You can find out how to enrol here.

To find out more about Judo and Science visit our research pages.

Wishing every success to you and your athletes.

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(Judo and Science by D. Mann. First published in Judo, Quarterly Bulletin, January 1949. Vol. IV. No. 4. Published by the Budokwai. London. p 33-34.)


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