Posted by on Jun 2, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

Ronda Rousey Judo

This article, “Judo’s Decline: Is it Your (Our) Fault? The Business and Art of Teaching and Spreading Judo” was recently posted to the International Freestyle Judo Alliance’sFacebook Group and started a very stimulating and insightful discussion.  One post in particular by my colleague, Chuck Drust, was very eloquent and informative and I got his permission to share it with you here.  He writes:

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For several years now I’ve been surveying my incoming students to find out why they were taking Judo. It is a section right on my registration form; if other martial arts schools do this, I am not aware. 97% of the responses fell equally in three areas:


  1. we want to have fun;
  2. we want to learn self-defense and
  3. we want to get in shape.

Less than 2% wanted to earn a Black Belt and less than 1% wanted to compete.

That last figure is VERY instructive in regards to Judo, but more on this later.

“We want to have fun”…this basically means that people wanted classes to be fun and entertaining. This can be done by doing games and making the drills more like games. “Get in shape”…hands down; nobody in any other martial art has the sports sciences behind them as does Judo. We can get people in shape faster and safer than any other martial art, PERIOD. “We want to learn self-defense” …here Judo falls behind, and we focus TOO much on the less than 1% – Shiai (competition Judo). Judo should lean heavier on our self-defense aspects. Did you show your White Belts how they can use Osotogari (if someone attacks them right outside class tonight)? A throw is all they need; it’s all I needed. I threw this guy and it knocked the wind out of him and he didn’t get up. It’s a true story that I tell often in class. Judo is TOO sport oriented.

Chuck Drust

Look at all those TaeKwonDo schools around us. You’d think they would be having tournaments like crazy, but they aren’t because they are focusing on something else and taking potential students from us. TaeKwonDo is in the Olympics too; however, it’s not one of their selling points, and there is a reason. And because of that reason, they are pumping out Black Belts that open new schools; that’s why there are so many. We base our promotions on Shiai (competition) performance – no wins, no Black Belt. We should not have yellow belts in our schools that quit because the green belt they started with is getting a promotion for going to tournaments. This is a problem in Judo but not other martial arts. Other martial art schools are often degraded by the name “Mc-Dojo”, but really they have their marketing and their martial art systemized. USJA has tried doing this with their youth rankings. It should be applied to the seniors as well. More steps, more color belts within each kyu. Remember Kano revolutionized the teaching of Judo and the other martial arts picked up on that and are now leading the way. We have a lot going for us, I want to know what it is that “Mc-Dojo” is doing and see if we can adapt it without selling out.

This was a well thought out piece with a great lesson: Say what you like about McDonalds and other franchises like it.  They are laughing all the way to the bank and have the financial power to control their own destinies.  Judo is getting left in the dust and its major governing bodies are well meaning, but unknowing committing metaphorical seppuku by being so closed minded.  AAU Judo and Freestyle Judo promises to give us Judo practitioners and instructors the freedom to make some of these changes so we can better compete with Brazilian Jiu-jitu and others.  The question is, do we have the courage to embrace it.

One Comment

  1. Excellent article and observations. This really sums up what has happened to Judo.

    I would like to add that when BJJ became popular with the advent of the MMA, many high ranking Judoka totally ignored this because Judo was an Olympic sport and professional fighting was “beneath them”. BJJ took what was originally known as “Kosen Judo” and marketed it to the masses. There are those now who want to see BJJ in the Olympics. It is really sad to see Judo change its contest rules to make room for BJJ, which was Judo in the first place.

    Never underestimate the power of good marketing.

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