Showing posts with label popularity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label popularity. Show all posts

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Judo and the Olympics

I posted a slightly different version of this on a discussion board where the subject of Judo being in the Olympics came up.  Part of the objection was that studying classical Judo would somehow transform the sport into a bloodsport done in an octagon.  The other implication was that being in the Olympics helps make Judo popular.  My response:

An essential part of Kodokan Judo is that we protect each other when we train, so I don't see where any of the desire to study the full system that Kano Shihan developed should require a blood sport octagon. Classical Kodokan Judo includes a lot of effective combative techniques, many of which we have never used in shiai. Jita Kyoei still applies when we are doing shiai. In the last 10 years though, I've seen endless changes made to competitive judo to make it more attractive to spectators and, more importantly, television advertisers. That is the only solid reason I have seen given for the vast majority of changes made to competitive judo. I have no problem with changes to improve safety. I want to be still be studying Kodokan Judo and doing randori when I'm in my 70s, like some of my teachers today. Changes just to get more television viewers though bothers me. 

I see the focus on Olympic judo as a weakness. I look around and the art that is growing by leaps and bounds, without any Olympics and without any blood sport octagon, is BJJ. In my area there are easily 20 BJJ studios for every 1 Judo dojo. Participating in the Olympics has nothing to do with Judo being a healthy, growing art and sport.   All the changes being made to competitive judo to stay in the Olympics make it weaker and weaker. It looks like we are too weak to compete with wrestlers and the BJJ crowd so we change the rules to keep them out instead of learning how to stop them with Judo.  No touching the legs in standing work.  Shorter and shorter time limits on ground work.  These just look like a way to keep out strong wrestlers and BJJ grapplers.

Judo is not a spectator sport, and I don't believe that we can change it enough to ever make it a spectator sport. Nothing we can do will satisfy the Olympic committee for very long. Their search is for the highest television ratings possible. We could ruin judo for everyone, classical stylist and modern competitor, and it still won't keep us in the Olympics for much longer. The Olympics is constantly seeking out newer, hipper, cooler, edgier sports because they get better television ratings.   Eventually they will drop us for something newer, cooler and hipper that gets vastly better ratings.  That's why this winter there will be a number of new sports stolen directly from the X Games. 

We can't compete with these sports for ratings, and we shouldn't bother trying. I think if we change the rules back to something that allows the wrestlers and BJJ grapplers to play on our terms, if we up our game so we can handle them, we will have a strong, robust art and sport that will see a lot of growth. If we continue to chase television ratings we will destroy our art and still not stay in the Olympics