|(We're going to have to do more than the above, guys)|
Part 1 of a Treatise:
Any time I've discussed this topic on forums, that is the unintended effect of Judo's mainly non-profit outlook, it has often been met with strong reactions.Understandably so, but this is important if we are to respect and follow through with Kano's goal of spreading Judo far and wide.
I'm going to put forth a simple thesis or position supported with my observations.
In a nutshell, the non-profit, "teaching and doing of Judo because you love it type" of mentality has hurt the long term enrollement, membership, and growth of Judo.
I find that often due Jiu-Jitsu and by extension MMA's newfound popularity in the American Martial Arts consciousness,the conservative, more traditonal Judo players would rather voice displeasure over sporting and martial differences instead of addressing the real problem: the long term stifling and perhaps even decrease in Judo's popularity in America.
The Non-Profit mentality of Judo (in the USA in particular), has hurt (more specifically) stifled the long term, overall growth of Judo. Further, the import of Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA when combined with Judo's non-profit mentality has led to a decline in the membership, competition, and growth of Judo.
I will define decline in:
Membership as losing players to Jiu-Jitsu
Competition as the loss of players between their beginning in regional tournaments and later competing in national level events
Growth of Judo as the difficulty in finding clubs in many areas of the USA and lack of high level training centers in most states
1) define the non-profit mentality
Judo taught by instructors who collect enough dues to cover the cost of a lease, or more typically utilize a YMCA, college campus gym, or are part of an umbrella program at a larger martial arts program.
Instructors typically teach for free or train/crosstrain in fitness/other martial art in exchange for teaching time on the mat. This includes but is not limited to monthly dues/fees Judoka set by the YMCA, the college campus, and/ore by the larger martial arts facility where they train.
Let's examine some of the signs or pathos that lead me to the belief that Judo at the regional and USA level is hurting:
1) the dwindling of enrollment as players progress in Judo. The number of black belts who compete at the regional level is low. at best, there is another black belt in my weight class or in the grouping of "light" competitors at the regional level. There are nights when our club (while still new) has 3 players who are not brown belt or above. Retention has been and will always be difficult in Judo due to the nature of the sport.
2) this dwindling of enrollment trickles down to tournaments – divisions are typically light, medium, heavy. If done by weight, perhaps 1-2, maybe 4 guys in a division/bracket as has been my experience ever since I began competing in Judo. I've been to state championships where a true weight class as defined by the Olympic committee has only 1 competitor, or at best 2 or 3. Even when combining multiple weight classes, tournament organizers will still then bracket double elimination, rather than round which would lead to the most matches possible for a bracket of competitors.
Longterm, for those that begin in Judo and wish to compete, the future competition does not look promising. Lack of advertising, t-shirts, merchandise. Never seen a vendor at a judo tournament at the regional level.
4) This is also true of sponsorship. NoGi, submission grapplers and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors can often find sponsorship beginning at perhaps even the blue belt level.
Judo’s wish to eschew association with fighting and emphasis as an Olympic sport rather than self-defense, a martial art, and a combat sport has done little to foster sponsorship for the athletes paying to train, diet, obtain strength and conditioning, and most importantly travel to compete at larger national level tournaments.
- Even BJJ, a relatively new sport in America when compared with Judo, there are tyically at least 1-2 sponsors paying for the operating cost of the event, and vendors likewise catering to the body of competitors, coaches, friends, and family in attendance. Judo is and HAS BEEN an Olympic sport for decades. Yet, BJJ is often more recognizable to many people walking down the streeet, misconceptions aside.
5) This year was the first time I saw USA Judo with their email “validating” or acknowledging through mass communication in an active manner clubs and tournaments forthcoming. In the past, USA Judo simply posted tournaments on their website.
Historically, there has felt to be little if any connection between regional tournaments and their governing body to whom we pay our membership dues, pay for making our ranks official and the like.
The transition of judoka like Parisiyan, Rousey, and Rick Hawn is also affirmation of this.