So many good judo guys

Its incredibly how many good judo guys are out there.

I think thats true particularly in Europe, wherever you go, there are really good people. Last night, I was doing randori with my coach for first time in a long time. Few years ago he beat Robert Krawczyk (european champion this year) and he was about that level generally. My coach is still like 29 but retired when he was 25 or so. Its just ridiculous how good he is, both standing and ne-waza game. Technically, to the miniscule details, he is so good. I am sure if he goes to an average BJJ/Judo (not international level) club he'd decimate people.

I've met few other guys similar to that in England, one was european masters champion and my former japanese coach. There is another guy who is 2nd string to Georgiev (bad luck) and he rolled with a bjj black belt about 3 years ago and it was stalemate. My coach just completely taps that guy in ne-waza easy.

I think overall, judo doesn't have enough marketing, especially in Europe, where there are so many great judokas (that retire by 25 say). They have probably combined produced 5 DVD/VHS's over 20 years or smth.

Look at BJJ and sub-wrestling, 2000's DVD's out of which 20-30 are ok and 5-6 are great (for me Saulo's).

But then after I watch Yaskevitch's DVD in ne-waza, its as good or better than any current DVD on ne-waza. You can see mastery in every detail. Unfortunately, in places like USA where most of the marketing comes, few people will understand about what means real international-class judo.

Not only is the USA where most of the marketing comes, it is the most important judo market in the world. Here is an interview with IJF Chairman Park.

From that article.

"Without Marketing, sports would not survive and each passing day proves that it has become an even more important partner for the development of sports. In Judo, at present, the major sponsors of our sport all originate from Japan. This is perfectly logical as Judo is a sport that originated from Japan and the last few years have demonstrated to us that Japan is still a dominant country in this sport. We are however, trying to move our focus to the United States because statistics continue to prove that the U.S. is the biggest sporting market in the world today. We will continue to make strong efforts to improve the popularity and acceptance of Judo in the U.S. and in other parts of the world in order to increase the marketability of our sport and the judokas (athletes) who provide so much excitement and drama in our events."

Now that is what Park said, but as is so typical in the world of judo, its just words and no action. I doubt that the IJF has given 1 dollar towards marketing judo in the USA. At the very least the IJF should bear the costs of having 1 Super A event in the United States every year.

The marketing of judo is handled by the fans of the sport, and they do a better job than the organizations.

Heck, on this board, I bet that chiave di braccio and Sojourner and their compatriots on YouTube and Google Video have reached more potential judokas than the IJF, USA Judo and the other NGB's simply by the posting of their videos.

The primary discussion of judo takes place on this board and the judoforum at This board and judoforum reach more people than the discussion forum at and the USA Judo messageboard is a total joke. Nobody participates there at all.

What's really funny is that Jose Rodriguez, CEO of USA Judo, and Nicole Jomantas, communications director post at and not on their own message board. They know their effort for a message board is a waste.

judom, you are more important than Park, or Rodriguez or Vizner in growing the sport. You are read by more non-judo people in the United States than they are.

That said, in the end, judo is not a sport that will capture the imagination of the average American on anything but a miniscule scale. That's ok. There is room to do alot better.

I believe that the younger generation of judokas coming up will do far better than their predecessors in making the sport better known, infusing passion into the endeavor, and growing the sport overall. Whether it will be 2x, 10x or 100x bigger in 15 years, I don't know. But the direction I see is positive.

I agree that a big country like USA with 300+ million population should have much stronger judo. I'd expect it to have something like Russia.

I've heard americans complain that their best athletes go to NFL/NBA, etc. But I think thats also a problem with Russia, almost everyone goes to soccer, basketball, etc. Its not entirely as if judo or sambo are the most popular sports there.

My experience in USA is that many people don't know about judo, just the general population is not educated about this sport at all. Now with BJJ, it may be better, i.e. more people may go to judo from BJJ to improve throws, but overall, these are not elite athletes that will bring olympic medals. There just needs to be a lot more public awareness of judo as a whole, like mothers taking their kids to judo and then of course, training hard for international judo to win, not just to have fun.

A friend told me a funny story about a guy who was ok, went to USA, and won some medals there, like US Open. Then came back home and wanted to qualify for olympics. But in training he got absolutely obliterated, so he quit judo.

As I've said in my post originally, you just need a much greater depth of judo. We have guys that have long retired who could win nationals in about 80% of other countries with almost no training and with 1 year of preparation be competitive with the best in the world. Lots of guys like that.

They usually quit because of $$$ at 22-23 (or start family). For example, look at Zviadauri, olympic champion, who quit at 23y old. They usually find another job (i won't go into where, often questionable circles) and just coach from time to time for fun.

The USA has won their share of Olympic medals. They just haven't won the gold medal. Neither has Great Britain for that matter.

The Olympic medalists are:
Bronze--Jim Bregman, Alan Coage, Ed Liddie, Mike Swain, Jim Pedro--twice. Silver--Bob Berland, Kevin Asano, Jason Morris. In the Worlds, USA athletes have won 3 gold medals and a bunch of silvers and bronzes.

Where the Russian athlete might quit at 22-23, the USA athlete usually quits between 15-18. High school sports, other distractions and priorities, usually college preparation take precedence.

Also, the USA judokas usually start much earlier than Russian athletes. Its not unusual for many judokas to start between 5-8 years old in the USA. By the time they are in high school, they've had their fill of judo.

While depth is great, I'm not so sure that's the answer. If you look at the USA today, the national and international medals are primarily distributed between 6 programs. They are OTC, Jason Morris, Jimmy Pedro, SJSU, Ki-Itsu-Sai, and Harlingen. They represent more than 85% of the medals won, and their numbers are less than 1% of the judo population. Would the results be much different if the rest of the programs in the country doubled or tripled their membership? I don't know, but I would be skeptical.

Those who are willing to do the work to win a medal will find the program that works for them.

Today, there is probably a greater awareness of judo than ever before in the USA. Much of that is because of the internet, and secondarily from MMA. The MMA viewers are becoming more sophisticated and their numbers are growing faster than any other sport in the world.

If you look at wrestlings numbers, they are down over the last 10 years. Yet, wrestling has gotten great exposure from Olympics, large presence in the school system and success of wrestlers in MMA. My point is that exposure doesn't necessarily lead to greater numbers.

What I prefer to think about is what we can do to change results. If USA Judo could create and assist more programs that will transistion young athletes into the elite levels of competition, our results will be better. Better results will hopefully energize the judo community, and also help retain those young athletes who are quitting during the crucial development years. Its a smaller scale, but I think more realistic.

judo guy, I mostly agree with you.

I would not say USA judokas start much earlier than Russian athletes. I remember when I was 9 in Russia, I used to do judo/sambo and lots of my classmates had done it for years. Currently, in our club all kids are between 4 and 8.

Also, USA indeed has produced some excellent judokas. Mike Swain and Jimmy Pedro come to mind. However, internationally, USA is very far from Russia or even Georgia, in terms of judo. They are not really a factor like Japan, Russia, France, Georgia or Holland are. I believe that they can be huge power in the future though.

I think the clubs you mentioned are just too few for such a huge country. There must be many more good quality clubs that people can prepare for international judo.

In Eastern Europe/Russia, there are sports schools. So the training there is excellent and 2x a day since early age. There are many such sports schools. Almost one in every city with international class coaches often teaching there. I think in USA it is much less organized or systematic and depends more on the individual.

In fact, had it been the situation that after these sports schools, these judokas could be financed to train full-time as is the case in USA (say parents), you would be seeing many more of these judokas. I'd say 90% of international-class judokas stop by 21 and small number find other venues (such as Fedor Emelianenko) where they can make $$$.

We have a guy training with us, 18, who will be a judo superstar if he can find money. He just finished the sports school (beat the former european champion few weeks ago). However, he is about to stop judo due to financing reasons. And there are many many cases like that. Another friend was junior world champion in wrestling, but stopped at 19 (he was beating the current world champion in his weight class and due to politics they didn't give him money, so he quit). Pumps gas now and is 22 or smth. :)

hi judom,

Thanks for the clarification on the age most kids start in Russia/Eastern Europe. I was under the impression it was around 12/13.

For right now, I think USA Judo supporting the 6 programs is plenty. The amount of money they are giving them amounts to about 200K according to their press releases. They are getting results, and there is plenty of room for all of them to still grow their programs. Maybe that won't always be the case, but it is for now.

Yes, there are many fine schools and talented coaches. However, these are the ones getting the best results and money right now. I can't say that I disagree with USA Judo's thinking on it.

We don't really have sports schools in the USA, but we have colleges and universities that spend huge amounts of money on collegiate athletics. More than 75% of Olympic athletes are from the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Assn.) schools. The NCAA is so much bigger than the USOC in terms of assets, sponsorship money, etc. In addition, the amount of money that comes into the individual schools because of alumni who support those programs is ridiculous.

Its a different system than Russia, but just as effective. SJSU, on a small scale is doing ok within that system, as alumni contribute to the continued growth of the program.

For there to be money in judo, it would have to become a spectator sport. I don't think that will happen. What is the selling point?

As for the guy who is quitting because of financial reasons, well, that story is probably more common than you think. However, if they quit because of financial reasons, how committed were they to begin with?

The story of Mike Swain selling his car just to get an airline ticket to Japan, and then trying to find places to train is legendary. He was 17 years old. He wanted to be a champion.

Rhadi borrowed money, worked, and did whatever he had to do to make the Olympic team. Financial reasons were not enough to dissuade him from his goal.

There will always be competitors who come from privilege or lucky circumstances who have an easier road than others. Its just part of life.

Having said that, I firmly believe that there are many Americans who are willing to help those less financially fortunate if they see something in that person that is worth their hard earned dollars. You don't hear many of those stories, because most people don't want to make a big deal out of it, or want to stay under the radar. But they are there. Its up to the athletes, their families, coaches and support group to find them.

The Russian economy is booming because of commodities. I dunno. I think the 18 year old could find sponsorship if he has the talent and the determination to make his case known. Try to get him in front of the right people.

judo guy,

Unfortunately, you have a good point in saying..if they had enough determination and the Mike Swain example.

Many guys I know do not have enough determination. They don't train as hard as they should and few of them have passed up SCHOLARSHIPS from top japanese judo universities for 4 years, FREE training, everything paid + flight tickets too all major tournaments...with the excuse will just be too hard. The funny thing is, they train alot, like 4-6 hours a day, but the training is not concentrated.

Most of these guys are simply incredibly talented judoka, world-class material, but the laziness and lack of focus in their daily training is unbelivable so they don't progress as they should.

Laziness is the primary issue in the United States. Too much local club
focus on the junior national series and then nothing afdter that is the
secondary issue in the United States.

Regardless of the first issue, the second issue is the one that really damns
US Judo becuase it impacts those kids who truly love judo but do not peak
early in their lives (middle and high school years).

I have honestly never understood hype about so called European Newaza.

Judo newaza level in Europe is nothing special to speak about. Maybe it is little better than in USA (I ahve never rolled with a Judoka from USA). I live in Central Europe and get to roll with European level Judokas daily if I choose to and have traveled around central Europe enough (and trained at various clubs) to know what I speak of.

Deadly standing up. Super conditioning and physigue. Ok in the ground but technically not BJJ black belt level.

There is a reason why in France they decided to put Judo and BJJ under same federation or something like that. You can see lot of French Judokas training BJJ to improve their ground game.

why are you talking about bjj ?