Quantifying effectiveness of training for judo

I was reading an interesting thread on the above topic on the Judo forum and came across the post below from a forum member which I thought was an excellent read and very informative and gave quite an accurate reflection of how complex Judo actually is.

Please read –

Your mixing a lot of different things in your post, which makes it difficult to give a focused response. The title of your post if about judo, but the contents talks also about MMA and grappling, etc. Thus, in order to remain efficient, I am going to answer your question just on the judo part.

The physiological requirements of judo are complex. Judo requires both aerobic and anaerobic endurance. Maximal strength is useful, but strength endurance is more important, and explosive power is probably the single most important quality for judo.

But, what judo makes judo, is its technical know-how and strategic insight. The technical skills rely on motor learning and skills acquisition, the strategic skills on a variety of things, including genetics, intelligence, experience.

Also build is important, with anthropometrically the mesomorph build being preferred.

Your question basically asks how each of these translated to contest. They don’t. They are all simply supporting components. A good engine and good tires do not give you a Ferrari, but a winning Ferrari will need a good engine and good tires.

You can only train those different skills in exercises to maximize each of them. But even that does not make you a superb judoka. To optimize training effect, training also has to be specific, thus unless that jûdôka with all those skills also practices them in jûdô he still won’t make a good jûdôka. While fitness sites may suggest whatever, really jûdôka overall do not train optimally. There is very little influx of science in jûdô. When I see Olympic jûdô teams train there is almost zero science in there, much less than in many other Olympic sports. Mostly jûdôkan and coaches have the tendency to believe that if something does not work you just have to train harder, more and with heavier weight. That is 1960s logic. Even simply applications like high-altitude training are still way too little used in jûdô and when they are used it is often not very efficient. I have seen federation magazines or documentaries apparently meant to impress the jûdô audience or sporters showing that they went on high-altitude training, when it was obvious there was no one involve who really knew high-altitude training. The schedules were wrong, the training made no sense, and it was schedules in such a way that the jûdôka would have returned with impaired physiological functioning. Training science is complex. It requires thorough insight into physiology, cardiorespiratory but also muscle physiology, motor learning, biomechanics, and specifically training and coaching science. You do not get that simply by having been successful oneself or by having 20 years experience as a coach, or by obtaining a coaching certificate after siting an afternoon listening to someone.

You give the example of a sprinter and measuring sprint as valid test to assess the outcomes. You can’t in jûdô, and this for a variety of reasons. Sprinting is far simpler in terms of physiological requirements. But you are also in control of what it is you do, and the number of variables is limited by weather, humidity, gear, quality of the track, number of the lane, and some biomechanical components such as centripetal force and velocity, stride length, frequency, etc.

Jûdô is infinitely more complex. This is part because it is a contact sport and so you are not in control. The same applies to any contact sport. The number of possibilities in a jûdô match is infinite. Someone has analyzed those possibilities once in a match and I think they amounted to something like 48,000. No one can memorize those and prepare. Thus strategic insight becomes very important. For that strategic insight, one can practice with different partners, situations, but still. The most effective is going to be the person who is the best jûdôka.

There is something else particular about jûdô, and that is its long learning time to acquire those skills. This is very different from sprinting. Generally the technique of sprinting it optimized somewhere in someone’s career. Sprinting performance will then deteriorate later because of age, loss of muscle mass and anaerobic capacity. But in jûdô that is different. A jûdôka often may be technically much better by age 40 or 50 and have much better strategic insight than at performance age. Unfortunately at that age, his performance capacity in terms of physiology will have deteriorated because of age and injuries.

To put it simple, the problem you raise is not solvable in jûdô. You can at the most create jûdô tests and they have been made, but they are hardly more relevant. After all, excelling in uchi-komi fitness does not at all guarantee defeating individual X who may excel less in uchi-komi tests. You cannot exactly replicate or anticipate a match.

Moreover, in jûdô there are other things beyond mere physical qualities and techniques, such as grips. Thus, in competition grips and “set-ups” are used to compensate partly for lack of strategic insight and enforce a situation or break an opponent’s symmetry around the center of mass. This is not ideal jûdô. Ideal jûdô would obviously be to not enforce anything and purely use the opponent’s strength against him. This, however, requires an infinitely higher level of skill that is rarely achieved at that age.

The jûdô athlete does not really quantify his effectiveness of training in jûdô via jûdô but in terms of wins and medals. For example, Riner’s effectiveness of training is measured in him winning and defeating others, not in terms of level of perfection of jûdô, number of throws he masters with exceptional skill or whatever. The jûdôka’s effectiveness also determined by the rule system. A jûdôka like Kashiwasaki might be less effective today because the rules have changed the ‘game’ disadvantaging his skills.

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