11 Aug 2008

Coach Trip

Ju-Jitsu was entering an exciting time when I first joined my club over ten years ago. The Association was abuzz with news that a good showing in the forthcoming World Games would ensure a favourable candidacy towards Olympic Games acceptance. Fast forward ten years and those heady days are long gone and as I watch the Beijing Games, I can't help but feel a tang of envy at the judoka, taekwondo and even wushu competitors as they show the world their exciting martial arts.
What went wrong?
Nothing really. I think Olympic acceptance was never gonna happen for many reasons, mainly, that (1) it already has judo which is too similar, (2) the world governing body for ju-jitsu (JJIF) is not powerful enough to lobby the Olympic officials and (3) there are too many competing and, let's face it, more telegenic sports than ju-jitsu. Heck, even BJJ, a very glamorous and lucrative martial art if you compete at top level, will probably never reach Olympic acceptance for exactly the same reasons. And anyway, does anyone actually notice the World Games? go on, test yourself, where is the next World Games gonna be? Answer - Kaohsiung in Taiwan. Where? Yeah, exactly. But if in 2009 you do manage to find it televised on some obscure satellite channel, you will find the likes of Team GB competing in events such as skydiving, korfball, sumo, tug of war, fistball, and....life saving!

I write about this because I just spent two whole days qualifying for my Level 3 coaching certificate. Not much coaching was actually on display, simply a boring powerpoint demonstration about ethics, child protection, communication skills etc. But what made it worthwhile was the brilliant stories and anecdotes from Sensei Terry Parker, founder of the Jikishin system and, with 54 years of jujitsu experience, a wonderful mentor and host for the sessions. But, inevitably, during proceedings, my mind did wander and the whole JJIF and World Games debacle did enter my head as I was longing to be somewhere else instead of a coaching lecture...like watching the Beijing Games.

By the way, some will recall my post about my all night vigil to complete 11 essays as part of the written assignment part of my coaching qualification. Well, I passed them and not only that, was told that I passed with top marks and that my essays should be used as model examples for other students. Phew! My traditional tactics of crashing for exams at the last minute still works. Sadly I can't remember a single word, so I can't say I learned much by writing them.

So there you go. As you progress up the ladder of any organisation, be it sport or commerce, you inevitably come across bureaucracy, politics, officiousness and administration. The powers that be see it as a necessary goal in promoting the martial as a safe and respected sport. Nothing wrong with that. But as I wade through binders full of pages about health and safety policy and ethical obligations, I cast my mind back to the excited talk of World Games and Olympics and wonder if it has all ballooned just a bit too much beyond what is actually necessary and what is actually needed to maintain a decent organisation. During the two days, the best bits were when us candidates could actually express an opinion and share experiences about our own coaching tips. I learned a more through listening to what others experienced directly in their clubs than from the pages of any manual. Oh well, only another 3 years until I renew all the licences again.

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


slideyfoot said...

Pertinent, as in 2011 there are similarly excited (and completely misplaced, as per this) noises about BJJ's chances for the Olympics in 2016, mainly because they're being held in Rio. I remain hopeful we'll see something like FILA's 'grappling' event in the Olympics instead, so there isn't any chance of the BJJ ruleset getting horribly messed up like judo, TKD etc.


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