3-DAY FORMAT (2012)

Day 1 of the National Coach Certification program, hosted by Goltz Judo and presented by Mark Lonsdale, was a resounding success. This was also the roll-out for the proposed program and newly formatted courseware. On hand to audit the program and offer sage advice were “heavy hitters” Hayward Nishioka, Hal Sharp, and USJA President, Gary Goltz. Instructors traveled from as far as New Mexico to attend this clinic which, while focused on advanced coaching methodologies, is of equal value to all USJA club leaders.

The class kicked off at 8:00 with an introduction to competition coaching, followed by audio-visual presentations on coaching style & communication skills; competitive athlete assessment (age-appropriate); and just before moving to the tatami, competition training & technique analysis. During the mat session the participants were required to demonstrate basic competition techniques (tachi-waza & newaza) and were assessed on their ability to articulate the finer points of judo bio-mechanics in clear, concise terms.

 Hey Mark, Thanks for all of your hard work.  This is the best training I’ve had in judo.  I’m really looking forward to our next class. – Matt Vander Horck

 Mark, You have the group thinking and challenging themselves to new heights.  This is what education is about! – Gary Goltz

     If Day 1 of the National Coach Certification was considered a notable success, then Day 2 surpassed expectations. In addition to the national coach candidates from Day 1, the program picked up three additional participants including a sandan, a yodan and a rokudan – a good indicator of the level of training and participation. But be assured, there are no academic free rides and all three were given make-up work and reading assignments to bring them up to speed for this program. 

On hand to audit the program again, and offer sage advice, were Hayward Nishioka, Hal Sharp, and USJA President, Gary Goltz. Of note, one coach candidate drove 900 miles from Roswell, New Mexico, and blogged that, “I’ve been waiting for this level of coaching clinic for, literally, years!” Other participants included Brad Karmann (rokudan), Zbigniew Piec (godan), Bo Svenson (yodan), Glen Waipa (sandan), Allen Wrench and Joe Sapp (nidan) , Mike O’Neill (shodan), Mark Herrshaft (shodan), Daniel Lee (shodan), Charles Bonelli (shodan), and Matt Vander Horck (shodan).

Day 2 of the National Coach Certification program began with a review of the key learning points covered on Day 1. This was followed by a discussion and assessment of the homework assignment, which was to generate a 12-week training program for a judoka going to the US Nationals. The primary academic modules for Day 2 were scouting, competitive profiling, the Hajime-Matte Model for match analysis, and an introduction to sports psychology & mental preparation. The final module, before moving to the mat, was an interactive audio-visual discussion covering competition tactics, essential IJF rules, grip fighting, and an analysis of championship fighters in action.

The 2-hour mat session proved to be particularly productive with Hayward Nishioka and Hal Sharp contributing their insights to the discussions and drills. During the mat session the participants were videoed demonstrating competition techniques (combinations), for review on Day 3, and were assessed on their ability to identify the key elements of each technique. This was followed by an in-depth review of grip fighting, focused on attacking off various grips, countering the opponent’s grip, and attacking off of a single grip. Again, participation was mandatory. 

The final exercise was a series of mock matches where a coach was assigned to each player. The players were given a specific scenario (such as attacking without effect, failing to counter, or failing to transition effectively into newaza), and after a light randori the coaches were required to identify the problem, debrief the fight, and correct the technical or tactical aspects with their fighters. This drill is the essence of competition coaching and was a valuable lesson for all.  

     The third and final day of the USJA National Coach Certification program drew three additional participants, but having missed the first two days they were not eligible for certification. However, anyone attending, auditing or participating in any of these programs is always welcomed and receives credit, in the form of training hours, towards their next certification.

On hand to audit the program were the esteemed Hayward Nishioka, 8th dan, and Hal Sharp, 9th dan. Participants included Brad Karmann, 6th dan, Zbigniew Piec, 5th dan and graduate of the Polish national program, Glen Waipa, 3rd dan, Allen Wrench, Joe Sapp, and Justin Brezhnev, 2nd dan, Loren Bentley, Mike O’Neill, Daniel Lee, and Matt Vander Horck, all shodan, plus Aram Ghukasyan, 4th dan, and one of his students from Kenam Judo.

     Day 3 of the National Coach Certification program began with a review of the key learning points covered on Day 2, then moved directly into use of video as a training tool. To this end, the coach candidates were required to analyze and critique videos of each other demonstrating combinations, shot during the previous clinic. This was followed by a detailed review of the pre-competition and competition roles & responsibilities of a National Judo Coach participating in a USA Judo Nationals. Supported with interactive PowerPoints, the class was walked through the administrative and logistical process of registering for and attending U.S. National Championships, to include draw meetings, coach briefs, weigh-ins, draw sheets, and mat-side coaching protocols.    

The final mat session reinforced the difference between dojo judo instruction and competition judo training. Special attention was given to the multiple variations of each competition technique, along with the skills required to teach and execute these techniques dynamically.  

To round out the day, national referee George Membrila gave an informative brief on coaching from the referees’ perspective. Then, to leave the newly minted National Coaches with something to think about, Gary Goltz gave a 15-minute presentation on what it means to be a coach and leader in the US judo community, and how to best support the ideals of Grassroots Judo. He also made it clear that the graduates of this class had a lot to be proud of, having weathered the 3-day program plus all the required homework.

Mark – First, thank you very much for the classes…, I am truly very impressed with what you have done in preparation of the course and the way you delivered the material to the class.  Many do not realize how much time is needed to prepare course like yours. After the time that I spent with you I can only congratulate your Coaches for teaching you proper and good Judo. – ZB, Godan

     To conclude, once again feedback from the participants on the new format and academically comprehensive course was very positive and encouraging. So moving forward, it is hoped that anyone with a vested interest in U.S. judo coaching will be able to attend the first USJA/USJF Annual Coaching Conference, scheduled for 29th November at Goltz Judo. This is the Thursday prior to the 2012 Winter Nationals; and Friday the 30th will include a one-day USJA Club Coach/Coach Certification course.    

Note: We have begun taking sign-ups for the next Coach and National Coach Certification courses. The dates have not yet been determined, but a course will be scheduled as soon as we have eight individuals signed up, or any dojo offers to host one of these programs. Email Mark Lonsdale to get your name on the coaching email list: 



About Mark V

Dedicated shooter, seeker, traveler, teacher, trainer, educator
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