Don Werner

7th DAN

Don Werner EM2002-5It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our Sensei Don Werner in the early hours of this morning having lost his last fight against cancer.

Don has left a huge legacy, not so much in material things but in the values and life skills that he has imbedded into so many people’s lives.

Word of Don’s passing is spreading throughout the Judo world with many messages of condolence being posted on Facebook. The following is a small measure of the impact Don has had on so many lives:

Don in his final days has made clear his wishes for the club. There will undoubtedly be some changes but in the fullness of time the Committee will take stock of things and will keep everyone informed. In the meantime the club will continue with its training sessions and competitions as before.

Despite our loss the club will continue, but its success and Don’s future legacy is in your hands, the members. Train harder, hone your judo skills, fight with more determination, win more medals and become the champions of the future and Don will be looking down at you “moderately pleased”.

John Divall
Club Secretary


 

About Don

Don 1993

Don 1993

It would not surprise anyone to find that Don Werner was more interested in sport than the academic subjects during his school days. He outshone his contempories and ended up captaining the school football and cricket teams. Even at a young age he demonstrated a good tactical mind and an ability to compete.

He was also an excellent swimmer training at the famous Beckenham Club, where he was a member. Early morning training and long cycle rides in the frost and snow to get to the pool would have put most boys of his age off, but not Don. He appreciated that if he wanted to get to a high competitive level, he would have to put the work in, and train every day not just when he felt like it. He has always stressed this philosophy to his judoka.

He was able to combine his love of speed, bikes and competition on the track and became British Cycle Speedway Champion in 1948. Unfortunately, two years compulsory National Service destroyed his dreams of further titles. By the time he was demobbed the sport had moved on and his lack of training at such a crucial point in his career caused his retirement.

His job as a prototype wireman took him to Bracknell in the early 50’s and he joined Bracknell Judo Club. By 1958 he was running the junior and senior beginner classes. In order to learn more about the sport, he attended Geoff Gleeson’s classes at Reading Judo Club. Don found Geoff an extraordinary coach with original ideas. He inspired Don to develop his own methods of coaching and gave him a deep love of the sport and its ethics.

Judo soon became his life and eventually he gave up working at Sperry’s in order to take up teaching judo full time. For thirty six years he taught in all the local private schools including Papplewick, Lambrook, Haileybury, Sunningdale, Stubbington, Bagshot, Heatherdown and Heathfield Girl’s School to name but a few. During this period he was coaching sons and daughters of many famous people including Prince Edward and Prince Andrew. He could have taken things easy and run recreational fun type classes at this time, but this has never been his style. Even though he was aware that the schools could never reach the same level as the Pinewood Club because of their very limited training time, he still worked as hard to achieve results with the pupils. Papplewick won the Prep School Championship twenty one times while Don was coaching them!

During these years, Don, who had long since taken the coaching of Bracknell Club over completely, produced many champions. The Club had moved from the tiny scout hut to the new Bracknell Sports Centre. However, by the mid 70’s it was obvious the Club needed its own facilities. In 1979 Don was able to obtain an old army Naffi building that was being dismantled at Arborfield. With the help of his committee and Club members the building was re erected on the Pinewood site. One of Don’s dreams had become a reality, even if the Club name had to be changed to fall in line with the parish regulations.

Don has given his life to the development of Pinewood Judo Club. His achievements have been recognised by the National Coaching Foundation. In fact he is one of the few coaches to have received the award twice. In 1986 he was awarded the category for “Coaching Juniors”. In 1994 he was honoured again, this time for “Coaching an Individual”.  He had produced Great Britain’s first women’s silver Olympic medallist, Nicola Fairbrother and coached her to the World Title at U56kgs.

However, it is not his production of three World Champions, two Olympian or the numerous European Champions and medallists of which he is most proud. It is his record at the Junior Nationals that takes pride of place. Ever since the inauguration of the event in 1968, Pinewood has taken medals. The Junior National medallists take pride of place on the honours board in the Club and it is the aim of every child on the Advanced Class to get their name on that board.

When he is not doing Judo, Don can be found walking his Chow, San Gow, round the Pinewood site or watching his large fish tank in his flat. He is an avid reader and his video library is second to none.

 


 

Don’s Thoughts


 

  • My Thoughts 10

    Don Werner EM2002-5It is a little while since I put my thoughts to paper. I re-read article number nine and it seems to still be true; what a shame and it is getting worse all the time.

    The thing that sticks in my mind is who in the world thinks they can take out Waza that Professor Jigaro Kano developed for Judo. For me Judo is the greatest fighting sport in the world. It is a great teacher of skill, self control and mental exercise; as he intended. He developed his ideas and proved them sound, in a world rather reluctant to accept change. No one can doubt the success Judo has had over the years. An enthusiastic statistics man once told me “in the world, more people practice Judo than play football”.

    I think back to when the Russian Sambo wrestling came onto the scene, everyone got so excited and apprehensive. Judo absorbed it without a ripple and it did our sport the power of good.

    I can not and would never try to speak for the great man, but I feel sure he would have approved and possibly been flattered that the system he developed could take on board ideas and grow like it has over the past years.

    The new rules are making competitions rather boring because it favours the stiff armed defensive fighter, who is trying to get his opponent penalised. Referees seem unable to detect this and with so many Waza taken out that could be used to combat the problem, contests are becoming quite static. If another good form of fighting comes along, I doubt if Judo will be able to learn from it and grow, not with all of these new rules in place.

    What they have done is similar to taking heading out of football and only allowing them to touch the ball with their foot, anywhere else would be a penalty; or no kicking the ball in Rugby? Perhaps we should lend these people to other sports and let them improve them?

    I have been to five Olympics and found the Judo exciting and dynamic. The London one was rather boring, the Judoka for the most part were looking for penalties. You can not fool Judoka; they will find a way round any rule in a very short time too.

    British Championships in January! What poor judgement this was by our organisers. The first two months always have the poorest of weather and a great percentage of the population have a cold, influenza and other debilitating conditions.

    When I queried these times, I was told that all of the top coaches had been consulted. I have failed to find a single one who admits to being involved in the discussions. This idea was tried about forty years ago in 1972 and was such a disaster that the event was promptly moved back to the end of the year. Coaches who were about then will remember we had no junior championships in 1973.

    Since I started writing this article I see that common sense has prevailed; everything is going back to square one. I find it difficult to keep up with all these changes. I still haven’t found any of those top coaches, whose opinions were acted upon in the first place.

    The British Junior National Championships should be held at the end of the year; as the culmination of that year’s hard work and a measure of a child’s progress.

    Trials should be held separately late in the year giving the selector’s time to put the squads together for the New Year. This would not affect the senior Judoka much and the under 20s youth would have to decide which path they plan to follow.

    Mind you, I have noticed that winning the trials seems to have little bearing on who is selected these days.

    With regards to the I.J.F. It is difficult to find out who is responsible for the drastic rule changes but it is probably one or two rather aged Judoka dreaming about what they thought Judo was like in the old days.
    The problem with the older Judoka is their memory; they always remember that the old days were so much better. However bad they were, after a few years the memory takes on a different shape and you remember the attractive bits; I know because I am old and I have done it.

    We dream and things take on an entirely new aspect in our minds. There is nothing wrong with this but we shouldn’t force these mad dreams on others.

    I believe the problem with Judo has always been that the referees have allowed certain Waza to develop which they could have stopped with ease. The one that always sticks in my mind is the drop Kata Guruma when the Judoka drops to his knees and scuffles along the floor until Uke is dragged down: this they leave alone. Try a good drop Ippon Seoi Nage, Uke can often feel it coming and slip off with some ease, and they hand out penalties without taking a breath.

    There are few tournaments on the B.J.A. calendar these days. There are dozens of coaching, strengthening, flexible making, child protection, gymnastics in Judo, deep breathing, muscle building, deep thinking and many other types of courses but very few competitions.

    Those competitions that are held often have so many restrictions it is difficult to find juniors who qualify; short of taking them straight off the street and giving them a lesson or two. I like my juniors to have all the basic skills needed to avoid injury, before I venture to enter them against strangers in a contest situation.

    The one that always amuses me is “No Gong Hunters Need Enter” My children must be a bit odd because they all want to win a medal when they go to a contest. Mind you I can’t see the point in going at all, if you don’t care if you win or not. It takes all kinds; doesn’t it?

    I feel it is a pity that the first to feel the cuts are the more successful clubs, we have lost the money we received for having Judoka in the National Squads. Always the successful are cut, not those who don’t produce.

    There seems to be an overwhelming desire to work towards the lowest common denominator; seldom do we aim towards the highest C.D. There, you see, I have joined the initials mob.

    The magazines are in another shake up. I felt Nik Fairbrother did an excellent job on Mat Side and Koka Kids; everyone got one or the other. The Koka Kids is quite an interesting book for children; judging from the way some of our seniors always pester me for a copy.

    For a while we had the Koka Kids sent to the younger children and Mat Side to the older Judoka. This was a great idea giving the Association a line to every member. But, like most good ideas someone always wants to change things. Usually it is to save money so that it can be wasted on something else.

    Nik assures me she will go back to the old way with Koka Kids; I don’t know what they will do with Mat Side. I suspect there are very few top Judoka with Nik’s knowledge of Judo, Editing and Publishing at head office.

    That is about all I have to say this time, I will just sit here and try to anticipate the next horrific changes. I might also try to have some deep and meaningful thoughts about life and Judo; they are the same aren’t they?

  • My Thoughts 9

    Don Werner EM2002-5

    Who’s afraid of the big bad Te Guruma?

    How scandalous, those nasty people grasping legs and actually doing great big throws.

    The International Judo Federation have tried some more rule changes! To be exact they have forbidden the Leg grasping style of Waza almost entirely. On occasions they are allowed, at times when the referee will have great difficulty in recognising the criteria required for a throw to be scored.

    After bringing in the Golden Score to put the result back more into the hands of the Judoka; they have given total control of who wins right back into the hands of the referees.

    I always said the golden score was such a brilliant idea that they would find an excuse to alter, or get rid of it; they just can not leave a good thing alone. The Golden Score as it was first presented favoured the skilful, extremely fit and determined Judoka. So they cut the time down to suit the less fit!

    They took out the Shido which was a good idea. Unfortunately they also took out the Koka which means many more golden scores go to full time?

    The leg grab type Waza are as old as the hills, they have always been there for everyone to use. The old Masters knew them well and used the techniques with great success.

    The great strength of Judo and that which has made it the most effective fighting system in the world has been its ability to absorb other styles and techniques.

    Over the years it has been this ever changing aspect of the sport that has so totally claimed my interest. Actually, I believe that there are very few totally new techniques; most forms of fighting use a range of techniques that are quite similar. It is the way you put them together and make use of the result that wins the medals.

    I suspect that some Countries, with lots of influence, can not cope with them; so they have been taken out of contest Judo. Or is it that we, like many other sports, are being controlled by people who are not Judoka and have their sights aimed in the wrong direction for the Sport; Media, Money, do you think?

    Much more of this and, in Britain, the poor old under 12’s will have to just stand there and look at each other. They have already had their contests made to favour the strongest child.

    I have always trained my children so that the weaker one can, with skill, defeat the more powerful opponent. These teachings continued to be effective into adulthood; with some happy results for me and mine.

    This system has worked well for many years, until the new under 12 year rule changes came into being.

    I tell my young Judoka, from a very early age. “You lose because you are not good enough and you must train hard to do something about it.

    The new rules for under 12 years and no leg grabs etc. These changes have decimated my club’s numbers; I have lost a large number of promising children in the last two years. It was always obvious to me that dividing the small number we have in this Country into three sections would shrink and weaken the bottom of the pyramid. I did warn our governing body that it would decimate the membership; when they stopped under eight year old children fighting in tournaments. Unlike most other countries who have vast numbers of very young juniors practicing.

    Now we have competitions being cancelled one after another, due to lack of entries. Our pyramid is upside down; at one time we had hundreds of juniors in the light weight groups with a slight tapering towards the top weights.

    Far from making Judo more interesting these changes have taken the excitement out of the sport.

    It is time our powers that be admitted that splitting the juniors has been a disaster. We should go back to the old under 16 year system for juniors. Let them develop slowly through the ranks gaining experience at each level; as they grow older in our real world. These new ideas may be a colossal success in Russia; but they don’t work here. I am not sure they use them either.

    Another problem has also been that referees have not controlled the contest correctly. They have let Judoka attack with Kata Guruma, Tomoenage and Sume Gaeshi, often done just to negate their opponent’s efforts. The other competitor will then attempt a perfectly good drop Seoi Nage, which their opponent will negate by stepping off, if they are quick enough; the result is an immediate penalty.

    Coaches will know that a good drop Seoi Nage contains a series of complicated rotations, three to be exact; often these will give the opponent time to evade the throw. Why are they more than happy to penalise a drop Seoi Nage but not the Sutemi Waza that are obviously done negatively?

    The extra costs of practicing Judo which keep hitting us are going to ruin the sport in this Country, eventually. The new official back packs, expensive Judogi and all the rest of the changes being made. It makes you wonder what is behind it all.

    Already Judoka are the most difficult of all Martial Arts people from which to get money. At our senior sessions you have to turn the members upside down to shake the money out of their pockets. At my age this is no mean feat.

    Coaches of other martial arts I know, just stand at the door having notes thrust at them as the pupils come in.

    The excitement of the Olympics creates many of these dopey ideas, I am sure. I have been to five Olympics and I am not sure they do many sports the good that people think. A load of hysterical excitement with people losing their self control leaves me cold I am afraid. You want to control others? The coolest head, not the most excitable, is always the one that wins.

    Casual spectators will only watch what they like to see, I doubt if many of them know why they favour one sport above another.

    It would be better to make the major Judo events more accessible for those who practice Judo and have a lasting interest; at least they are a captive audience. You know, the spectators are there already. Have you ever tried to get in to an Olympic, World or European Championship without buying a ticket in advance?

    It is the clubs that create the interest in the first place. I have always tried to involve my children’s parents. They can watch their pride and joy train as beginners up to whatever level they may achieve.

    I have seen parents watch their little relative with rapturous interest as they fling their arms about each other. They then swing their tiny legs back and forward in randori hoping their opponent will trip over or faint.

    It is interesting to see those parents gradually learning about the sport; many gain a wide knowledge of Judo and another spectator is born.

    Travelling to competitions is expensive but the new interest can also make them many friends. Few children can drive, so without the proud Mum or Dad they have little chance of realising their dreams. Do children dream these days? I imagine their dream world is probably a cacophony of bleep bleeps.

    Bless them; I should not be so scornful of these little intellectuals. After all, think what they have done for me. I have travelled the world with my Judoka pushing (gently encouraging) them on to higher levels of achievement.

    You are not a coach if you can’t produce some one to exceed your own ability. However, it is a moment of mixed emotions when you succeed, it certainly is for me.

    For the first time ever I am finding it quite difficult to keep my numbers up. I have thought about it at great lengths and there is no doubt all these new rule are responsible.

    Unfortunately it is the talented ones who are first to go because at a young age they can play anything. If a child has the guts to walk onto a Tatami and fight he will be able to face almost anything that life throws at him, or her; certainly of a sporting nature. Team games are easy for a Judoka, if things look a bit dangerous, you pass the ball to your mate; then it is his problem. In Judo you are stuck with it and to survive, you must come up with a solution.

    Good Luck to you all in your endeavours.

  • My Thoughts 8

    The new rules for under 12 year old children have been rather poorly thought out. In general they seem to suggest that if we teach a child less technique they will improve and win us loads more medals.

    I have attended dozens of events since they were introduced and it is obvious that the physically stronger child has a distinct advantage.

    At that young age if you take out most of the techniques available, the stronger child can easily stop their opponent’s techniques with a bit of muscle and a pair of stiff straight arms.

    Sumi Gaeshi will certainly combat the stiff arms but I have never taught it to my younger children in the past. The reason is because it does not encourage the correct rotation required for the more skilful techniques.

    The only Waza the under 12 year group are now allowed to do, end up in a neck grabbing and kicking match with much swinging and hacking of the legs.

    This all tends to go against what I was taught and have believed for many years. I believe the weaker person should be able to overcome a stronger opponent; if you are clever and use skilful technique.

    I have always used the drop Seoi Nage type of Waza to defeat strong arm tactics; mostly with great success. It is not a great secret, anyone can teach them and it encourages the correct rotational skills; for the big Waza.

    The referees seem to be getting to grips with the rules so it is less confusing for the children. I reserve my judgement on this point until we see how well they cope with the enormous number of new rules, recently introduced. I noticed at the recent Youth Trials that the Judoka were already finding ways to take advantage of them; now the referees have got to keep up with them.

    I have to say that my under 12 year olds are winning more medals than before. Unfortunately it is frequently because there are no other children to fight. If you divide our small numbers of children into more groups, this will be the inevitable result.

    I do feel sorry for the little ones who are whipped high into the air, to be slammed hard onto their back, frequently bursting into tears. I fail to see how that is better for them than being rolled over from a drop Waza. One coach told me he did not teach his children how to cope with drop Waza because the new rules didn’t require it. When they are twelve years old, do we wave a magic wand over them?

    Now, we have no contest grading! What do you think is going to be thought of next, football without a ball? I am sure that eventually I will see the wisdom of this move. But for the present I will make sure my Judoka can handle a contest situation. Certainly, long before I venture to put what they have learned to the ultimate test.

    In time I think we may see two distinct groups emerge, a fighting grade and an egg head promotion. How do we tell them apart? Wait until they get on to the Tatami? Ouch!

    My Pinewood parents, for the most part, will travel anywhere in Britain and on the Continent. However, even some of them are beginning to question the sense in travelling 400 miles for one fight; or to be moved up a weight to fight only our own members.

    There are so many restrictions put on our junior championships now, it takes ages to work out entries. Conditions such as:

    A. Beginners must have had a licence less than six months.

    B. The children must have graded in the last six months.

    C. They must not have won a medal at all sorts of events.

    D. In fact if they work hard and are any good; don’t bring

    them.

    I find it hard to believe that there are people in our sport who think that all children progress at the same rate and are all worth a new grade every six months. I certainly can’t do it and envy those coaches that can achieve this happy state of affairs. I will still use my Judoka’s contest results to regulate their progress through the grades.

    I suppose it is easy enough now they do not have to fight for a grade but the real world of contest Judo is still out there. The “Ostriches” are going to have a nasty wake up call.

    I have just lost a good prospect because I dutifully graded him up to 1st Mon. He fought and won a bronze medal in his first event. Then he broke his arm in training and was out of Judo for most of that year. I decided to put him in an event to get his confidence back after his injury. There was quite a commotion at the tournament because he had had a licence for more than a year! The upshot was he had to fight in the higher section; not a great success. He has since left the club to try his hand at a less complicated sport. I don’t blame him; many will follow!

    Restricting Ne Waza has always been a pretty stupid idea. It is part of Judo, and you must remember there are three ways to win on the ground; only one standing.

    I was once told, by a highly ranked I.J.F. referee that if they cut down the time for Ne Waza the big throws would come back into the sport. Now the Koka score is to be dropped, for the same reason?

    If this does work perhaps cricket’s governing body should consider stopping batsmen from running for runs, then loads of sixes and fours would be scored; very spectator friendly.

    The Golden Score, which I have always considered a good idea because it favours the fittest fighter, has been reduced in time. I suspect this is to compact the overall contest time. If that is so, it is doomed to failure because seventy percent of golden scores are won by Koka. Now most of them end with a referee’s decision. I thought the idea in the first place was to reduce the number of fights decided by a decision.

    Don’t the people who come up with these ideas know that every Judoka’s greatest desire is to throw for Ippon? When that fails they go for the next best score possible. There is nothing wrong with that.

    I remember a well known Japanese fighter who won a world title almost entirely with groundwork and he is known as one of the great fighters of our time.

    People tell me how much better judo was in the old days. You can not compare one generation with another. The training changes with each generation to keep abreast of new ideas and techniques that Coaches and Judoka experiment with continually.

    I believe Judo must always evolve, changing the approach to a throw and absorbing techniques from other disciplines will improve its effectiveness. That is what makes Judo the finest and most flexible form of fighting in the world.

    There are more rule changes coming. I am told they will improve our spectator numbers because of the new dynamic and exciting judo they will encourage the Judoka to do?

    Judo is already one of the most wonderful spectator sports, have they not seen tournaments where the 60 Kgs fighter’s speed of movement is absolutely dynamic, so fast it is difficult to follow; most of the time.

    People watch a sport because they have learnt about it and can follow the intricacy of the moves which the participant is using to open up their opponent’s defence.

    If Judo was easy to understand, it would have a ball in there somewhere and we would all run after it.

    I am concerned with the way the public is being trained by the media to watch so called Television Reality shows. It seems that the aim in many of them is it reduces the contestants to an emotional wreck, in floods of tears. I must be old fashioned because it leaves me with a slightly sick feeling in my stomach, to see people stripped of their dignity in this way. Surely we must guard against Judo going down that road?

    Now let us get back to Judo, which still has a clean and healthy image. Have you ever tried to get tickets at some of the multi sport events, like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games? Then try the Worlds, European Championships and the Paris Tournament etc.? It is not easy and it will give you an idea how attractive it is to spectators.

    I need some advice on how to get a grant, many clubs have received very large amounts; how do you do it?

    With the Olympics coming to Britain soon, I was told “money will be pouring into sport”

    My committee were fired up with enthusiasm and got the Club Mark Gold Award. “With that mate, there is no limit to what you can expect to get” I was told.

    We only need £10,000 to repair our changing room roof. So once again we jumped through hoops etc. Not an easy thing to do with my waist line, I am sure your minds are already boggling at the thought. Surprise, surprise, we have been refused again. Mind you we have only been trying for five years.

    You know I think I am clairvoyant because I told them when we started; we would get a great big fat zero; nothing. I was right too; it must be my long experience in these matters.

    Mind you there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that everything we have; we have done it ourselves.

    If you have struggled through this far I would like to wish you all a belated Happy and Prosperous 2009.

     

    Don Werner.

  • My Thoughts 7

    Re. Matside Coach Forum Remarks.

    I have read the remarks written in the coaches forum pamphlet and would like to give my opinions with regards to the five points made by some unnamed; coaches.

    It would have been better if the coaches had put their names to their points of view. We would then have an idea where they are coming from and on what level of practical experience they have based their opinions.

    The point made about age banding is, I believe, an excellent idea. I have many children in my Club that I am reluctant to enter into competitions. They are far too immature to handle children a great deal older than themselves. I have five and six year olds who can take on the World and older ones who can hardly wipe their noses unaided. Every human being has different strengths and weaknesses; they will develop at different ages too.

    The only problem which may arise is the lack of members around the Country; it could make some groups short on numbers. However, hopefully, the numbers may improve; in time.

    The rules would have to take this point into account and allow contest organisers some leeway, if numbers per group were low.

    The drop out rate has not varied much over many years; at Pinewood. The only time I experienced a large drop in membership, was when the B.J.A. stopped under eight year old children from entering contests. This did cause a big drop in interest and, I think, it was general throughout the Country. I find it difficult to persuade children to train hard, when there is no chance for them to try out what they have learnt; most of them want some proof of their progress.

    I have members close to fifty years old still training. Most of them I started as beginners at the about the time they started school; giving them an active Judo career of around forty years plus and still going strong.

    This surely shows it is possible to keep people in Judo. Some of these older Judoka have been brilliant, fighting for Great Britain, and others have been just recreational. I have about a dozen fighting on the Veteran’s circuit and others that are still recreational; all are enjoying their Judo as ever.

    I do believe, and have always believed, we need a very large base to the pyramid to produce a high peak.

    I take anyone and everyone and push them through the system, this pushes the standard up at the peak; hopefully producing a champion or two.

    I do lose a few beginners, mostly because it is not what they imagined the sport to be and just do not like it. A lot of people do not like ice skating; but it still flourishes with out them.

    The Intermediate class loses a few along the way as the demands get greater, or they decide they prefer another sport. We should remember this is the time in their life when children are trying everything on for size.

    My Intermediate class is always a pleasure for me. Some have loads of ability and it is easy for them to keep going and succeed. It is the large number of less able children who keep going, though even their doting parents can see they lack great talent, for whom I have a lot of time. I enjoy teaching them every bit as much as my top Judoka; perhaps because every step up is such an achievement. Many in this category eventually make it to the top, if they keep going; they are just late developers.

    I find there is a drop out period around fifteen to eighteen years of age, when they find that to progress higher will take a great deal of extra training and effort. In this case I have a slightly better record keeping girls than the boys; girls seem better able to apply themselves to that extra effort than the boys. This is general throughout the Country in all walks of life; or so I am led to believe.

    British Judo does not help at this time either, often trials have been organised during the same period as school examinations. These examinations are important for their future, creating quite a lot of stress in their life.

    Something has to give and it is usually the Judo; it is so easy to get out of the habit of training.

    Competition organisers could help at this time too. A youth finds it very trying to weigh in at 8 30am, then not to fight until late in the afternoon; hanging about for hours is most off putting.

    Being overlooked by the selectors is a difficult pill to swallow. Especially when they see people selected, who they have defeated and are lower than them in the trials result; it is not conducive to greater enthusiasm.

    One of my top girls was told, by one of the many quality coaches, she would never make it because she can not run. I must say I did rule her out of ever being an Olympic sprinter when she was very young. It is a great feeling; being proved right!

    As regards to point five, I totally agree with the person who considers his responsibility to beginners; of any age.

    The point made about under grading is a common misconception in our association; usually levelled at successful coaches. I believe the problem is over grading, by coaches trying to show the child is progressing; completely forgetting the safety aspect.

    I only grade a Judoka to reward progress, never to encourage them hoping they will work hard later. You get your wages at the end of the week, not the beginning.

    A grade should, in my opinion, reflect their skill level; not the length of time they have served.

    I often see children with orange and even green belts around their waist, with no idea of how to fall correctly. When thrown, they go over the top with their heads back and arms straight out in front; in the mistaken impression they can save themselves.

    In my Club I will not consider a member of any age for competition until I am sure he or she can understand these dangers and handle falling correctly; from a large variety of throws.

    I do not care how long it takes and I resist pressure from Judoka and Parents until I feel sure they are capable; even then I am nervous during their first outing.

    I feel too many children are being entered into tournaments with little or no preparation for the job in hand.

    At Pinewood my experience has been that very few do not want to compete, generally my problem is putting the less capable off competitions until they are ready.

    It is difficult to explain to a proud parent that their pride and joy is not as good as they think. It is often difficult for them to grasp that they have a way to go before experiencing the joys of winning and that the Olympics are even further away; in the distant future.

    Checking the number of tournaments a child enters may have merit but would have to be aimed at the successful; maybe the gold medallist.

    This could also have a detrimental affect though, if a child is forced up to a level they can not handle in a short time. If they suddenly cease to experience some success; then it is likely they would give up anyway.

    I would also like to make the point that the formula for experience is gained by contact plus time. A great number of contests are good for their education but over a short period the impression is not lasting. It needs a greater length of time for it to be absorbed by their subconscious.

    Another bone of contention seems to be the drop techniques, in particular Seoi Nage. I always taught it to be done on their feet in a deep squat, and then it is an easy rocking motion to complete the throw. It was soon found, by other Judoka, that to drop onto the knees was quicker and you can get in deeper with less effort.

    It is suggested that the knees will become damaged but this is not necessarily so. I make sure they land on the shin with the foot flat, spreading the load evenly. In addition to this you are pulling down on Uke which takes some effort, lightening the force of the drop.

    I do agree that recreational Judo is very important; I have some in my Club who do not wish to fight. They join in the training sessions, I have a class on Wednesday evening to cater for adults; the children are accommodated on other classes.

    However, we must not lose sight of the fact that Judo is a competitive sport and that most grant money coming into Judo is dependant upon medals won at high level tournaments.

    To any Coaches who have accidentally hit upon this page and actually taken time to read It:-

    I look forward to hearing from you in the near future and you are always welcome to visit Pinewood; if you are passing this way. I would enjoy a talk with you about your philosophy of Judo.

     

    Don Werner 7thDan

    Pinewood Judo Club Coach.

  • My Thoughts 6

    Re. Matside Coach Article.

    I have read the remarks written in the coaches forum and would like to give my opinions with regards to the five points made by some unnamed; coaches.

    It would have been better if the coaches had put their names to their points of view. We would then have an idea where they are coming from and on what level of practical achievement they have based their opinions.

    The point made about age banding is, I believe, an excellent idea. I have many children in my Club that I am reluctant to enter into competitions. They are far too immature to handle children a great deal older than themselves. I have five and six year olds who can take on the World and older ones who can hardly wipe their noses unaided.

    The only problem which may arise is the lack of members around the Country; it could make some groups short on numbers. However, hopefully, the numbers may improve; in time.

    The rules would have to take this point into account and allow contest organisers some leeway, if numbers per group were low.

    The drop out rate has not varied much over many years; at my Club. The only time I experienced a large drop in membership, was when the B.J.A. stopped under eight year old children from entering contests. This did cause a big drop in interest and, I think, it was general throughout the Country. I find it difficult to persuade children to train hard, when there is no chance for them to try out what they have learnt.

    I have members close to fifty years old still training. Most of them I started as beginners at the about the time they started school; giving them an active Judo career of around forty years plus and still going strong.

    This surely shows it is possible to keep people in Judo. Some of these older Judoka have been brilliant, fighting for Great Britain, and others have been just recreational Judoka. I have about a dozen fighting on the Veteran’s circuit and others that are still recreational; and enjoying their Judo.

    I do believe, and have always believed, we need a very large base to the pyramid to produce a high peak.

    I take anyone and everyone and push them through the system, this pushes the standard up at the peak; hopefully producing a champion or two.

    I do lose a few beginners, mostly because it is not what they imagined the sport to be and just do not like it. A lot of people do not like ice skating; but it still flourishes without them.

    The Intermediate class loses a few along the way as the demands get greater, or they decide they prefer another sport. We should remember this is the time in their life when children are trying everything on for size.

    In fact the Intermediate class is always a puzzle and a pleasure for me. Some have loads of ability and it is easy for them to keep going and succeed. It is the large number of less able children who keep going, though even their doting parents can see they lack great talent, for whom I have a lot of time. I enjoy teaching them every bit as much as my top Judoka; perhaps because every step up is such an achievement.

    I find there is a drop out period around fifteen to eighteen years of age, when they find that to progress higher will take a great deal of effort. In this case I have a slightly better record keeping girls than the boys; girls seem better able to apply themselves to that extra effort than the boys. This is general throughout the Country in all walks of life; or so I am led to believe.

    British Judo does not help at this time either, often trials have been organised during the same period as school examinations. These examinations are important for their future, creating quite a lot of stress in their life.

    Something has to give and it is usually the Judo; it is easy to get out of the habit of training.

    Competition organisers could help at this time too. A youth finds it very trying to weigh in at 8 30am only to fight in the late afternoon; hanging about for hours is most off putting.

    As regards to point five, I totally agree with the person who considers his responsibility to beginners; of any age.

    The point made about under grading is a common misconception in our association; usually levelled at successful coaches. I believe the problem is over grading, by coaches who want to show the child is progressing; completely forgetting the safety aspect.

    I only grade a Judoka to reward progress, never to encourage them hoping they will work hard later. You get your wages at the end of the week, not the beginning.

    I often see children with orange and even green belts around their waist, with no idea of how to fall correctly. When thrown, they go over the top with their heads back and arms straight out in front; in the mistaken impression they can save themselves.

    In my Club I will not consider a member of any age for competition until I am sure he or she can understand these dangers and handle falling correctly; from a large variety of throws.

    I do not care how long it takes and I resist pressure from Judoka and Parents until I feel sure they are capable; even then I am nervous during their first outing.

    I feel too many children are being entered into tournaments with little or no preparation for the job in hand.

    At Pinewood my experience has been that very few do not want to compete; generally my problem is putting the less capable off competitions.

    It is difficult to explain to a proud parent that their pride and joy is not as good as they think. It is difficult for them to grasp that they have a way to go before experiencing the joys of winning and that; the Olympics are even further away in the misty distance.

    Checking the number of tournaments a child enters may have merit but would have to be aimed at the successful; maybe the gold medallist.

    This could also have a detrimental affect though, if a child is forced up to a level they can not handle in a short time. If they suddenly cease to experience some success; then it is likely they would give up anyway.

    I would also like to make the point that the formula for experience is gained by contact plus time. A great number of contests are good for their education but over a short period the impression is not lasting. It needs a greater length of time for it to be absorbed by their subconscious mind.

    I do agree that recreational Judo is very important; I have some in my Club who do not wish to fight. They join in the training sessions, I have one on Wednesday evening to cater for adults; the children are accommodated on other classes.

    However, we must not lose sight of the fact that Judo is a competitive sport and that most grant money coming into Judo is dependant upon medals won at high level tournaments.

     

    To any Coaches:-

    I look forward to hearing from you in the near future and you are always welcome to visit Pinewood; if you are passing this way. I would enjoy a talk with you about your philosophy of Judo.

    As to the Coaches Forum, I am too old now but any younger coach would make a fortune collecting the unripe grapes. It could produce a very dry wine indeed, but beware; it may not be very palatable.

     

    Don Werner 7thDan.

    Coach of Pinewood Judo Club.

  • My Thoughts 5

    The Olympics have come and gone with all the bally hoo, upsets, ducking, diving and the other goings on which make the spirit of Olympic Sportsmanship, a bit difficult to grasp fully.

    This is the fourth one I have attended and I believe the Greeks did a good job of setting it up. It gave me quite strange feeling to think that the first event was held right where I may be walking.

    Unfortunately it was not so well attended spectator wise; it had a different atmosphere to the other three. The Judo was quite well attended but the cost of many venues was prohibitive.

    I was, of course, there because Georgina Singleton had qualified at under 52 Kgs and I thought she had a good chance. She is very fast with some excellent technique so I felt, with a bit of luck, she would bring something home.

    Unfortunately Georgina still carries the baggage from Sydney; it has never been far from her mind. However she was in excellent form, well prepared both physically and mentally. So I hoped for great rewards!

    I did forget one aspect of Judo, the dear old penalty which is always directed at the Judoka doing the attacking. The referees watch them like a hawk looking for a chance to penalise; they seem oblivious to the fact that the other fighter is doing nothing. Outside of the odd kick, that is.

    Georgie had a good start defeating some top flight Judoka. Then to get into the semi final she met the Japanese fighter. This was going very well indeed and things looked good, but, the inevitable penalty changed the complexion of the fight and she lost.

    In the repercharge Georgina met the Belgium where she kept up a continuous barrage of attacks while her opponent played safe by doing nothing. Sure enough along came the inevitable penalty. She had picked up her opponent’s leg and drove her across the mat with the leg high in the air, as usual before she could complete the throw, the referee called Matte. So Georgina was struggling again; she stepped up her work rate but her opponent was not fazed, she still did nothing only risking one attack in five minutes.

    Referees may not like her efforts but quite few of the coaches and spectators were quite impressed, several said they were amazed that she could keep up the continuous attacks for the whole five minutes and that it was great to watch. I believe most people want to see lots of action and are not happy with the way Judo is going; particularly in the women’s game.

    I have spoken to quite a few non Judo people and they all think the lack of action makes it boring for them.

    I do feel sorry for Craig Fallon, after throwing his opponent three times for good Ippons; he was rewarded with only a Wazari and Yuko. You will no doubt have seen the fight, unless you have been holidaying on the Moon, mind you he was fighting a Greek, probably of Georgian extraction.

    The B.J.A. seems to be growing, mostly in the administration area. There is now a group of people to get things working in the schools. Don’t they know the schools are being run quite well already by various Judoka around the Country? My members who teach at schools always steer the keen ones towards the Club, to eventually become B.J.A. licence holders. Would it not be better to give the money to those who are already doing the job and have first hand experience of the situation?

    Another expensive set up is the world start programme; so far it has only interfered with my training programme. Again why not put money into the clubs producing the goods, who know what is needed.

    Clubs must keep winning things, so they can attract new members. To have their better Judoka taken away when they have an important event is quite damaging. Mind you, I was told my people would be getting much needed quality training, so I should be grateful!

     

    The only constant input of members for the B.J.A. is through the clubs, so it is time the powers that be started to consider this fact.

    The people running our sport always want to copy other Sports or Countries. We can learn from other organisations, I do it all the time, but we are British and have our own way of reaching our goal. In spite of everything we still have a unique attitude to life, peculiar to us.

    Quite a few of the guidance’s I have received are obviously copied from another sport, with no alterations to fit the needs of Judo, much less our National character.

    When I first started running the Club I was always being told “the Japanese do it this way” I was duly impressed and did try hard to imitate them but it soon dawned on me there was something amiss. My limbs didn’t seem able to perform some of the strange contortions I was told the Japanese managed. I suspect it is something to do with diet, after all, it is one thing to do these things on a bowl of rice and quite another after I had consumed a couple of pints, a two pound steak and loads of vegetables, to help it all down. Or maybe we are built differently?

    I decided then that I would develop a system of training to suit the people I taught, with a view to getting the best out of them by complimenting their individual levels of talent. There is no doubt the Japanese are the best Judoka in the World who, in spite of the changes in recent times, fight in quite orthodox styles. So I take from them many ideas and adjust them to suit my little creatures.

    I had the misfortune to attend the British Judo Association A.G.M. It was an impossible situation we were in, when voting on the proposals. We would discuss a point at great length, get the vote we wanted and then the chairman would open the postal vote and say; sorry you lose.

    What a way to carry on, it meant that decisions were made by the very people who would not attend. Probably in most cases because their commitment to Judo is so low on their list of priorities. You will seldom see these people at championships either so, to be fair, they can only follow the board’s directive.

    One victim of this method was the junior’s National “A” group. A couple Areas pompously claimed they did not send children to the event because they would not put them under stress. Everyone knows they did not send them because of the expense of attending two separate Nationals. Also, if the truth were known, they did not send them because they had no one who could win a medal.

    I take these young children to competitions at home and abroad to fight, they have a great time and learn a lot about foreign places and people. The only stress I get is from the ones I leave behind.

    One good thing which came from the A.G.M. is that Nik Fairbrother won a place on the board of directors; I hope she can get some of the active member’s points across.

    One thing that did strike me was that, we vote these directors in to run our association for us. Then they go against almost everything we want done. They should not pre-empt the results of each of the motions by putting their opinions forward. This is why the postal vote, in most cases, changed the result we clearly showed we wanted. Surely this is a clear case of the tail wagging the dog?

    The Nationals, as we call them in the trade, are upon us again. All groups will be together, for perhaps the last time. I suspect it will be declared too crowded, giving them a good reason to drop the younger group. Someone suggested putting the younger boys on with the girls because they finish at lunch time, we were told that was not possible; too sensible?

    Mind you the boy’s day will be crowded because the Venue is not really suitable for the event.

    Don Werner

  • My Thoughts 4

    It is sometime since I scorched the computer keyboard. The year has been a good one so far, for us. Amongst other things, Georgina Singleton has qualified for the Athens Olympic Games. To date Britain has four weight groups qualified and I am sure we have more to come.

    Graig Fallon produced an amazing performance to win Silver at the World Championship; he certainly looks a good prospect for the future. I can remember when he was a little lad and my juniors were fighting him. Congratulations to his Coach Fitzeroy Davis of the Midlands, who has kept him going through the years. It is a great feat of endurance, and often of greater optimism to achieve this happy state.

    I have now had someone in four Olympics, it is all very nice but I cannot get interested in all the bally hoo and excitement. I just want to watch my competitors fight, and then come home.

    This presents a problem because all of the hotels have been block booked by various companies who want to let them out for a week or more at exorbitant prices. Together with the airfare, taxi and other things it can be a rather expensive outing.

    The Gnome and Leprechaun, Junior, Youth, Senior and Veteran sections together, have reached my Trophy requirement of over 1,000 medals for 2003 so I am quite pleased with the year.

    Fifteen medals in the Junior National Championships, seven of them Golds, was a bit less than last year but keeps our record of winning medals in every Nationals since its inception in 1968.

    I see there were quite a lot of the resolutions passed at the A.G.M. The board of Directors strongly opposed most of them, so has someone got their wires crossed?

    The grading systems seem to be getting a bashing from all and sundry. Why will they not leave well enough alone? The grading scheme has worked for many years, changing it for the sake of change means we are stuck with yet another method of depleting the membership.

    I have to tell whoever is responsible, that most Contest Judoka do not want Kata pushed down their throats. I am not against Kata but let those who want to do it, get on with it. I used to practice various Kata and give demonstrations; in fact most of my training sessions are based on a sort of Kata, but not the formal ones.

    One very good resolution was passed at the A.G.M. because the Junior Nationals group “A” will be back with the other sections next year, where they belong. There will be plenty of time because group “E” has been dropped!

    In 2002 Leigh Davis made sure group” A” was a memorable day for the competitors and the N.H.C. Committee did the same for 2003 at High Wycombe. It was a great little event with some very happy Herberts and Squeakers going home after its conclusion clutching their medals.

    The dropping of group “E” has created a strange situation; we could have a youngster win the European and World youth titles but be unable to take part in his or her own National Championships during their last year.

    Why does every good idea seem to get spoiled? Three of my Judoka wanted to join team Bisham but they were told they would not be allowed to train at Pinewood, strange because the Club is only 20 minutes away. Stranger still is the fact, that most of the Bisham group is driven past Pinewood to another club each week.

    I remember when I was in the Army a very loud voiced gentleman would tell you, each time you went to a new camp. “You can forget what you have been doing, we are now going to teach you to do it proper”? Sounds familiar doesn’t it; I wonder what master scheme I am missing out on now.

    When the Bisham Judo section was first opened, with the fine facilities they have there, I felt it would be of great benefit to all. Building on the structure a Judoka already has at their own club and filling in the gaps. After all, not many of us can afford the equipment and have sufficient knowledge of every aspect of the sport. I think most of us coaches have a working knowledge of strength and fitness, diet and photography etc. However, each of these is a specialised subject, done properly, and it is better to consult someone who has studied them in great detail.

    I would like to thank all the people who run tournaments, we tend to take them for granted but I know it is an immense task. We used to run the Pinewood Championships each year but it is now too expensive to hire Sport Centres in this area. Few have Judo mats and transporting them to the venue is not a reasonable option these days, either.

    Our Club would be unlikely to get a certificate, but I would be reluctant to run them there because we have a canvas cover. The thought of coaches tramping across it in their boots and judoka paddling with bare feet in the toilets then transferring it to the mat would cause me some considerable concern.

    The etiquette of wearing sore is one I drum into my Judoka from the start. I have to say that the one group, who always do observe this nicety, is the referees.

    The World Start programme puzzles me because we were given a sheet with some unworkable schemes listed. I queried some of the points and was told they were only included in order to get funding?

    I believe I know my fighters well but I would not bet a penny on any of my twelve year olds still being in the sport when they are 18 much less suggest they might be an Olympic prospect. We coaches must be the World’s greatest optimists but we have to be realistic. It would be a brave coach indeed who stuck his neck out that far.

    2004 is another year with all its challenges, I wish you all a very prosperous one with the greatest success in whatever you attempt.

    Don Werner

  • My Thoughts 3

    Don Werner EM2002-5Pinewood Judo Club recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Each year we hold an Annual Awards Dinner and normally the seating is for about 150 people. The 2002 Awards Dinner attracted 200 Judoka and Supporters covering the last 50 years. This number could have been far greater if the room had permitted. It was a great success and at times, quite emotional. Amongst those in attendance was one of our first ever Junior National Medallists Michael Courtney, who won Silver at the first ever Nationals in 1968 at the Crystal Palace.

    I remember the year well because we won Gold by Stephen Hill and Silver from Michael. There were very few weight groups and it was for boys only, under 17 years old.

    We have won medals each year since that date, except in 1973 when the event was missed out. You can imagine the tension around Pinewood is quite high as we approach November. In fact very few members, except me, can do anything right for some weeks before!

    Past Judoka and Supporters from way back were in attendance at the dinner, from various parts of the World. Michael Mercieca, many will know him by his proper name Moose, travelled over from Austin Texas to be with us. He reckons it was the most expensive dinner he had ever attended. However I am glad he came because it fell to him to present me with my 7th Dan certificate.

    I would like to thank everyone involved in making my 7th Dan happen, it is greatly appreciated and I have put the certificate up in the Club. I can now strut around as though I know what I am doing, or I would do if my bad knee didn’t restrict my naturally athletic movements.

    In honour of this momentous occasion I have bought a new coat so you could have some difficulty in recognising me. It is now black and a new style, suitable for the next 50 years.

    I was pleased to welcome Miriam Blasco who flew over from Spain just for the evening. Nik Fairbrother made it two Olympic medallists and Karen Roberts who fought in Sydney gave us quite a distinguished bunch of Olympians to brighten the evening. In addition we had all of our top fighters in attendance, truly a great moment for me and I was touched when I realised how far some had travelled to be there.

    Another couple that I was very pleased to see and I thank them for making the long trek to Pinewood were Bob and Kim Willingham. Bob was good enough to take dozens of photographs, so the event may be mentioned in the World of Judo Magazine.

    I would like to again, thank all the past Judoka, Parents and Supporters for their attendance. It gave the event an incredible atmosphere and proved I was right to include parents into the framework of the Club.

    I believe I was one of the first Coaches to allow parents to sit and watch training sessions. In time I even involved them in the general running of the Club. Keeping them well away from the Judo side, of course.

    It is this policy that has given us our own club and, due to my obstinacy, it has remained a Judo only facility ever since. No other sporting persuasion has ever been allowed to put their trotters on our mat. This means 24 hours a day the Tatami, weight training room, showers and sauna etc are available to our Judoka.

    I have weakened and given them all a week off, although some have still been training over Christmas. Two even did a session on Christmas Day morning. I am writing this during the Christmas break, which means that good will towards Man and Officials, prevails. I have even decided not to put the World to rights, just yet!

    Judo is a Great Sport; it has given me an enjoyable life. It is strange when you think that, one minute you are trying to get the better of someone and when that is finished, you can be the best of friends. I have met some very interesting people and made some good friends over the years, at home and abroad.

    I do enjoy tournaments; after all success is the coach’s reward for getting something right. I think the coach should fight for his corner and get the best decision he can for his Judoka and club. Once the contest is finished, whatever the result, get on with supporting the next fighter. I hope I behave in this manner, but I suspect sometimes I do get a little excited.

    Already I have ten contests lists up on the tournament notice board, if you are running an event and I usually enter your contests please post me an entry form early. This E, Mail business is all right, but I often forget to read the mail section for weeks on end.

    I hope you all had a pleasant Christmas; I will finish this tirade by wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

     

    Don Werner.

  • My Thoughts 2

    Many profound thoughts have crossed my mind since my last outburst. However few are suitable for exhibition on this site. While I think of it, my thanks to Adam Divall for keeping this excellent site up to date. I know many of you must get the impression from me that it is all my own work but, I assure you, it is Adam’s. I have great difficulty working out which buttons to press.

    In my last effort, I wrote about the disastrous effect the no contests for under 8-year olds rule had on the membership of the B.J.A. We are still the only Association who do not let this age group fight with the continued disastrous consequences.

    Those involved in these decisions should visit a Club and see what is going on and how we coaches keep the B.J.A. going and have done so, with little help, for many years. They are happy to skim off the results of our efforts for the National Squads. It is time someone took the time to find out how they are produced. Come and see the raw material we start with and realise that everything cannot be written down, cut and dried. In fact, they must try to understand the infinite variations we face each day.

    My Intermediate Class would open their eyes, from the Leprechauns and Gnomes one end to the Dinosaurian types at the other. That is where the important membership they are supposed to represent is to be found.

    The Tatami in my Dojo is 90 feet by 25 feet and for Judo only; over the years I have resisted any attempts to increase our membership with other Martial Arts. In fact, no other sport or persuasion has ever put their trotters on our Tatami.

    The lower age band in the Junior National Championships, what a good idea it was to include this age band. It gave them something they could look forward to in their foreseeable future. Remember children’s forward view is rather limited, so something must happen fairly regularly to keep them interested.

    I see there is a move to do away with this group, not because there is anything wrong with it but because it gives us too greater numbers and the organisers can’t cope. The obvious solution seems to have evaded them, run one or more of the groups on Sunday with the girls. Their day usually finishes just after lunch. Lets hope, in the interest of junior Judo, someone has the sense to negate the intention to drop this group.

    I bet you are saying to yourselves’ why does he not write to the B.J.A’. I have on many occasions but never get a reply; in fact if I had a pound for every letter I have written, I would be a lot heavier!

    Quite apart from all this I am naturally quite pleased with the way our year has been progressing. The European Championships gave me my sixth European Champion in the shape of Georgina Singleton and Silver by Karen Roberts. They both peaked at the right time, always a difficult feat, and I believe these medals put Britain in 4thplace in the Women’s section and 7th overall.

    It was, as always, a very tough tournament with the best in Europe in attendance. I mention this because if you read the report on the internet you could get the impression it was some sort of Mini Mon, they happened to be running in Slovenia.

    You could easily have missed the half column inch in the national papers, buried somewhere amongst the millions of words written about us losing at football. This is strange because my girls had enormous coverage in several foreign papers.

    The World of Judo covered the Event well with interviews and pictures. The pictures are a great idea because even my Gnomes can understand them.

    The Veterans World Championship brought us some more medals. I like this event because it keeps involved, a wealth of talent who otherwise may not bother. I just hope it does not become too professional, I believe it would spoil the Spirit of the event.

    Lynn Tilley won a couple of Gold medals, her weight group and the Open in her age band. This reminds me of her first major tournament and top class medal. Lynn won the Europeans at Genoa in 1974, so you see my lady’s section has a great and long pedigree. Lynn also, at around that time, won her weight group and the Open weight at the British open. I think it is the only time a middleweight has won both? I have no doubt many of you will put me right, if someone else has done it too.

    The Commonwealth Games, held this year at Manchester, is in my opinion a most important tournament. After all, the event brings fighters in from over two fifths of the World. I have always considered it of high importance but in the past officialdom has not shared my view.

    The run up to the games was a nightmare because no one seemed to know if we would get accreditation for coaches. Even the Judoka were having difficulty finding out, so much differing information was flying about.

    I did get accreditation but as it did not allow me to go anywhere, it was useless not even allowing me into the warm up area. So it was back to creeping about dodging the dozens of officials bent on making it difficult for me to keep contact with my Judoka.

    I always wonder about the set up we have in this Country. It is like getting Schumacher to drive in the warm up and win pole position and sticking me in the car for the race.

    I had two Judoka fighting, Georgina Singleton under 52 Kgs and Karen Roberts under 63 Kgs, you will know by now, they both won Gold. All the work and discipline paid off, always a great feeling for a Coach when it comes together.

    The occasion was rather spoiled because all Club badges were ripped off and this concerned me because our sponsor will not be very happy.

    It quite amused me that the during the entire Games Nationalism was encouraged with everyone running around with their National Flag when they won. However, as always, Judo had to be different. When the Australian, who won a gold medal, put his National flag around his shoulders to stand on the winner’s Diaz, it was pulled of in a most pre-emptory manner.

    Then there was the occasion when an excited Female Judoka who had just won a medal rushed to see her Father. She climbed up to hug her Dad and was dragged down by an official. Still, you know what they say, a little power!

    I think the B.J.A. or whoever nominates the advisors for these occasions should pick someone who has a full knowledge of what is required by our Sport.

    On a lighter note I must tell you of the latest invention to stop Pinewood winning overall trophies. We attended an event recently and won the most medals by far, but only came third even though we were 26 points ahead of the next club. The organizer divided the points by the number entered. I usually put many of my lesser lights in these events for experience even though they have little chance of a medal.

    I suppose I should only put my best half dozen who will give a maximum return in future. Mind you some of you who run tournaments will realise how much money your events would lose. Don’t worry, I will not do that because the experience gained by my Dwarf section far outweighs my desire to win a gong.

    Now for a bit of a rest, we only have four contests during August, with many of the Judoka away the classes are easy. I wish you all an enjoyable and relaxing holiday, to prepare you for the new bash in September.

    All the Best to Everyone,

    Don Werner

  • My Thoughts 1

    Don Werner EM2002-5Judo has come a long way since I became involved around 1956, I think very much for the better. Judo is much more for real nowadays. Strength is not frowned upon now so Judoka have become very powerful, fit and skilful athletes. The constantly changing styles keep competitors and coaches on their toes.

    As a coach I find the difference in style and approach to fighting, between Clubs, Countries and Continents fascinating. The judo scene is a very complex, exciting and interesting arena, so it is difficult for me to understand why Television Companies do not make the most of it.

    I have been lucky enough to be able to travel with my Judoka around the World. However, for those not in the position to travel, the video has opened up great opportunities. Fighting Films have a pretty comprehensive coverage, which will satisfy most requirements. A great improvement to the books I used to plod through.

    The lack of children practicing in British clubs concerns me because so many tournaments are being cancelled due to poor entries. This year I have had six junior entries sent back, cancelled due to lack of numbers, and another one because they did not want us. Senior events have also been cancelled and this will get worse, if we do not push in numbers at the bottom end, and try to keep a lot of them.

    The main problem, all the top coaches know this, is that we are the only association who do not allow children to fight before they are eight years old. The other Judo Associations in Britain and Europe all have contests for children from about five years onwards.

    Years ago, at Pinewood, I used to run three hundred judoka of all ages, give or take a few. Now I run about one hundred and the decline dates directly from when this age limit was introduced.

    The problem is that talented children are usually good at a number of sports, so they will leave to play one where they can try out their training. A quarter of the Pinewood membership is under eight years old; most of the talented ones will follow this pattern.

    I have tried long and hard to get through to the powers that be with out success, writing many letters without response. I am told the reason we start so late compared with other Associations, is because of stress etc. I do not see why buying a B.J.A. licence should cause such stress when all the other Associations seem to operate quite happily. Well, perhaps it is understandable.

    I believe the grade is set too high for the youngest age group, in the Junior National Championships. Children are being pushed up just so they can go to the Palace, not because they are worth the grade. It was interesting when I put forward the proposition that this age band should be for yellow belts and above, at the 1999 A.G.M. This would mean the unsuccessful ones could, at least, go back to their Mini Mon events where they could enjoy some success. The Coaches who run the most successful junior clubs all voted for my suggestion. The board of Directors spoke against the motion, which proves they are out of touch with this area of the Sport. Many others coaches followed them and that surprised me because it seems to me they should be encouraging the less able children. Thereby giving them a better sense of well-being and success.

    Children need to progress slowly through the ranks gaining experience in areas, in which, they can occasionally succeed. I believe success breeds success and failure breeds failure. It is also a good idea to make sure they remember that the only time success comes before work, is in the dictionary.

    Repetition is the mother of Skill and for this reason I believe that time spent at each level, gains valuable experience and produces a greater depth of skill.

    These are surely enough thoughts for one day, so I would like to wish everyone success with their Squads at the Crystal Palace this year.

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