Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Helpful handful: How to make judo rules

It seems like there is a constant stream of new rules, adjustments, and re-interpretations to old rules in judo. I agree with Strange's and especially with Chad's comments in the previous post regarding Judo rules. Sure, you have to have some rules to constrain the contestants to decent play of the game we're playing, but there comes a point where there are so many rules that nobody understands them or can even cite them all.
Here's a quick and easy way to solve a lot of the problems with the judo ruleset – affix a clause to every rule that gives the reason for that rule's existence. For instance, the rule in question yesterday would read something like, “A player may not “first” grab the trouser leg(s) then attack, because _____,” and then fill in the blank with whatever reason they had to institute that rule. This would have several benefits:
  • It is human nature to comply with a rule to a greater extent when a reason (even a poor reason) is given.
  • Given a good, reasonable justification for a new rule, people would be less likely to gripe about the new rule
  • It would be easier to tell when a new rule is spurious because the lack of reasoning would be more obvious. You'd get statements like, “A player may not “first” grab the trouser leg(s) then attack, because that would give BJJ guys an advantage over judoka if we allowed pants-grabbing.”
  • Knowing the intent behind the rules, it would be easier for judges to make calls more in line with the spirit of judo, rather than simply enforcing the letter of the law.
  • Adding this “because-clause” to every rule would increase the workload for the rules lawyers, thus providing a disincentive toward further constant rules twiddling. Having to give a reason for every rule would likely lead to a smaller number of more consistent rules.
Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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  1. The problem is that judo purists are forcing the art to become ever more narrow and get very shrill about going outside those boundaries. All these negative tendencies are on full display over at judoforum.com.

    They are up in arms over sports judo people like Rhadi but the purists can't beat them, so they have to change the rules.

    That shrillness is extremely unattractive and they will push most anyone away, especially beginners who simply can choose another art while the "purity" of judo condemns it to an early grave.

    My guess is that some smart judo person will wake up and eventually provide an alternative path in judo. If played right, that could be a very lucrative path.

  2. Rhadi could be a good or a bad example. On the one hand, he is a monster, and throws some unorthodox throws as his tokuiwaza - but on the flip side, Dr. Ferguson is a mighty smart guy, with a lot of diverse knowledge.

    I also think it's funny that you place the blame on the purists. What I would call the purist would be the classical (1950's) guys who didnt place an over-emphasis on the sport to the exclusion of the rest of the art, and they were thouroughly diverse and inclusive. None of them were afraid to compete in open jujitsu tourneys and they did well. That's the crowd that I think of as purists, and you certainly couldn't place the blame on them for the degradation of the sport into farce.

    And dude, there's already an alternative path... it's called Mokuren Judo.

  3. I like the rule recommendations. Won't happen, but I would vote for it.

    "Purist" may not be the best word, but I was thinking about the folks who don't do anything but judo and don't like anything that, while within the judo rule set, doesn't look like the judo that they have always done. Those darned wrestlers and their leg picks; those darned Russians and their scary grips; those darned butt-flopping BJJers and their "unorthodox" groundwork... And those darned people who are freakishly strong and their tossing us up in the air.

    So as new techniques/tactics, or new freakishly strong people, arrive on the scene and start kicking our collective butt, rather than forcing the judo world to figure out how to deal with that and improving the art (or just bringing it back to a level at which it once was), we forbid these effective things so that we can win with without having to change what we already do.

  4. "And dude, there's already an alternative path... it's called Mokuren Judo."

    Haha. Good point. People that can avoid the excesses of both camps could do well.


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