March 7

The Shocking Data That Shows The Decline of Judo in Britain



You love the sport and art of Judo.

You could talk about it all day, you watch it on TV, YouTube and Facebook.

In fact, you love it so much that you give up your spare time to teach this fantastic activity to the public.

However, despite your passion for this sport, your Judo club is still struggling.

You see the Facebook posts of BJJ and Krav Maga clubs that are packed out each night and you are left wondering why?

You keep hearing about Judo clubs closing their doors and your Judo friends are now training BJJ instead and you are wondering if this is all in your head, after all, you keep hearing the governing bodies talk about Judo as if it is thriving.

Well, this is not all in your head and in this article you will learn who is to blame for Judo not growing as a sport and you will learn exactly why Judo has lost the battle for participation and why it could well spell the end of Judo in Britain as we know it.

The Data


Judo should consider itself very lucky because every four years it gets a place in the ‘biggest show on earth’ also known as the Olympics.

The world literally gets’ to see Judo in all it’s beauty. However, after that huge event there is a daily battle for participation numbers and Judo has now really started to lose a foothold.

The above data (from Google trends) shows the 2015 interest levels for the search terms of Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and we can see not only once but twice; BJJ surpassed Judo regarding interest as a search term.

Looking at the overall picture since 2004 and focus on comparing the level of interest solely in the sports category we see the real level of damage to Judo:

bjj 1

As can be expected Judo as a sport gains a massive increase in attention in 2012 as does the sports category as a whole however we can see the interest in Judo soon drop down afterwards.

BJJ on the other hand, has enjoyed constant growth.

Google is smart enough now to know searcher intent and as such is looking here at interest as a sport and not levels of participation. The blue line shows the sports category as a whole.

The final stats of 2015 show a 109% increase in interest in BJJ as a sport with a whopping -64% interest in Judo as a sport.

If we also look at UK sports data, we start to see no change participation levels since Active people survey number 1. Which by the way was in 2007. Check the data here: 


Now, what does it mean?

Well, I will tell you the importance of this shortly and why Judo has a battle ahead of it soon. However let us be clear.

Judo has not grown in participation levels since 2007. However, the actual interest in Judo as a sport has declined and against BJJ we see that people in the UK are choosing the Newaza game over its Olympic relative.

Zero Moment of Judo Truth

In the past, I was criticised for my use of Google trends when I wrote Why BJJ will overtake Judo and have more participants by 2020. That article received over 600 social media shares and had since appeared on sites across the globe including Japan.

However Google trends data is perhaps the most important metric to track and I will explain why:

In 1981, the CEO of a Scandinavian Airline made a discovery about customer behaviour that would forever change marketing. This became known as ‘moments of truth’.

There are 3 moments of truth.

The first moment of truth is when the consumer experiences a product for the first time

The second moment of truth is when they use this product

The third moment is the when the customer loves the product and becomes a life long fan.


In 2011 Google coined the term Zero Moments of Truth or ZMOT. This was due to the change in consumer behaviour because of the internet.

These days people get an impulse and then they search for a product and as such before an organisation is even aware of their existence the consumer has checked out all the available research, videos and blogs and has made their decision.

These are Micro-moments and Google states that the new battle for brands is within micro moments.

The Grapplers Consumer Journey

If you think about this for a second, a Judo or BJJ player will have received an impulse that started them on their journey.

That impulse could be in the form of a UFC bout where they saw the BJJ fighter tap out his opponent.

It could be that the consumer saw the Olympics and watched Judo and thought that they too would want to do this.

However it might be even more direct, they want to get fitter, saw an action film, was assaulted or is worried about their safety or wants to learn a martial art because they used to love the Karate Kid.

With the impulse, a person will now go on a personal internet based research mission and this is what Google refer to as a Zero Moment of Truth.

This consumer will use their mobile phone to search the web and from their they will start to make decisions and find the right choice for them as a person.

As Google puts it:

ZMOT, or the Zero Moment of Truth, describes a revolution in the way consumers search for information online and make decisions about brands.”

While you may not have heard of ZMOT before you will certainly understand it straight away.

You see a film trailer on TV, you then search for reviews on-line, read blogs, at that time your opinion might have changed or your search went onto a different query because another impulse took over and you were lost. Or perhaps you found a great review on your own local cinemas website, because you know they run a great blog and you went and got tickets from then at that moment.

It is the lack of this initial impulse that has caused Judo to slump so badly, however when combined with poor on-line marketing you see the ‘perfect storm brewing’ and sadly that storm has now hit!

The Mobile Revolution and How It Affects Judo

The smartphone is now the new TV.

Portable, fast and connected to the web.

In fact Google also state:

“more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries.”

But again, you didn’t really need me to tell you this.

Google take mobile searching very seriously and in April 2015 they rolled out their mobile friendly algorithm change or as people liked to call it “Mobilegeddon”.

In basic terms, Gooogle told website owners that they should have mobile-friendly versions of their sites to help users. They even gave a free mobile tool to help a site owner to see if a site is mobile friendly or not.

If you have no mobile friendly site, Google was quite clear in saying that this could cause your site not to be ranked for search terms on mobile devices.

If we look at the governing body for Judo in Britain and check their site we see if they have changed their site some 11 months later. bja judo

While this is clearly an issue that has no doubt caused a decline in the marketing efforts of Judo, even worse than this is the lack of understanding around Just how important an internet marketing campaign really is.

Generating An Impulse For Judo

I last met with the heads of British Judo in 2012 after I had compiled a marketing report for a self-defence project for them. I also told them at that time in a 30-minute presentation that ‘Judo was in for the fight of its life’ over the next 10 years.This meeting was actually held just after Judo had finished during the Olympic’s and everyone was happy at the Silver and Bronze medals we obtained.

I could see it then and an unofficial source told me that ‘the pressure was now off’ until 2016. Back in 2012, I knew that Judo would decline and the Olympics was certainly not a solution to Judo’s issues.

However, that being said the Olympics in Rio will indeed generate huge amounts of search traffic for Judo and be a massive ‘impulse driver’ for Judo in Britain.

Yet things are different than in 2012. The Olympics are not in London; they are in Rio. The average teenager and adult have access to a superfast 4G mobile device and they will be looking to use those devices when the impulse to take up an Olympic sport like Judo will appear in their mind.

But what will they search for?

Luckily Google tells you:

is Judo


As we can see one of the most popular searches for Judo refers to a core reason people do not take up the sport.

Is Judo dangerous?

So what happens if we search for that term….. do we get the answer?

Judo danger

The top answer for this is a Reddit post that looks like this:

judo danger 2


We know that most people will not get past the top result for a search on the internet and this Reddit post on a Judo forum is incredibly damaging.

However, that is not the fault of Reddit or the forum itself. Instead, it is those who are in charge of marketing the sport that should be all over posts like this.

However, Google have given the Judo world an insight into the core questions that are being asked by those thinking of taking up Judo.

Is It Dangerous

Is it a martial art

Is it good for self-defence

Is it easy to learn

Is it good for fitness.

After the Olympics it is these questions that any aspiring Judoka will ask even before they start to do a local search for a Judo club in their area.

The Growing Pressure on Judo Professionals

There are a handful of people in the UK and indeed the world who are promoting Judo to the larger world. Efforts from Koka Kids Magazine, Fighting Films and Neil Adams MBE are leading the way and arguably doing the work that a marketing team should be doing.

In fact, Neil Adams has written and created both physical and digital products specifically to help people learn to break fall and reduce the injuries and fear of injury in Judo.



However even with the best efforts of the likes of Fighting Films and Neil Adams they cannot compete with the hundreds of BJJ, Crossfit and Krav Maga videos, blogs and Facebook posts that are uploaded every day.

There needs to be a vast effort driven from the top to support Judo professionals and also the Judo clubs and coaches who do this for the love of the sport.

You cannot ask Judo clubs to be solely responsible for promoting Judo anymore than Tescos would expect its stores drive their marketing.

The Failure of Judo on Facebook and YouTube

Another core issue that has hampered Judo’s growth is the efforts on Facebook and YouTube.

If we address YouTube, which is the world’s second largest search engine we see the issues.


A sports organisation that has Just 1,358 subscribers shows that there is little material that is being used on the Channel that is of use.

YouTube itself is a key marketing channel.

Data from Google states:




Also, we can see the real importance of Video with this second marketing stat from Google:



But hold on…. I can hear you talking about the huge 107,000 people that like the British Judo Facebook page.

If we us a third part tool to analyse that page (, we get the following information.

bja facebook

According to this service, just 12,750 of those fans are from the United Kingdom making the pages size pretty much irrelevant.

This Can Be Changed and Judo Can Grow

If you have read this post to this point, then you will now start to be learning the real reason that Judo is not growing comes down to a change in how humans make decisions on purchases.

Judo can and must fit into this digital world and if British Judo had started this path in 2012, then things would already be very different.

However, there is no time like the present to change things.

Basics such as blogging, support for Judo professionals, increased efforts on YouTube, on-line ads are no longer ‘nice to haves’ they are ‘MUST HAVES’!

There needs to be a focus on understanding consumer fears and needs and answering the questions that arise.

This Needs To Start Now


The Olympics for 2016 hits our screens in August and we know that thousands will have an Impulse to ‘try’ Judo.

However, that impulse will not result in them going to their local Judo club it will involve a series of internet searches that allow them to make their decisions about the sport long before they walk into a Judo club.

The information that they find will help them to make their decision and the battle for Judo is won or lost in those ‘zero moments of truth’.


I have not written this post because I want to have ‘a dig’ at the powers that control Judo in the UK.

I am fully aware that these concepts are possibly not even known to them. I can tell by their current marketing efforts that they are ill equipped to grow Judo.

However, as the custodians of the sport that I love, I think it is unfair not to lay some of the blame at their feet, and they should accept that.

And.. I am certain that some of the powers that be will read this article.

So for them, I ask you to get your backsides into gear today.

First on the agenda should be getting a mobile-friendly version of their website site and this also applies to every Judo club in the UK.

The next step is to embrace the concepts held in this report. They are not my own but created by leading companies such as Google and used by others like Proctor and Gamble.

Judo is a spectacular sport, getting people to see that is not difficult, however convincing them to try Judo and then supporting them once they do is tough.

To finish off, I wonder where Judo will be by 2020 and if my original predictions will come true

Thanks for reading.

********important update***********

Since publication, of this post I have learned that people have reproduced this article and have added it to forums, editing and removing key images and data. They do not have permission for this.

The catalyst for this article was a recent issue within a forum that goes by the same name as the governing body of Judo in Britain.

Over the past few years several people have tried to promote both their own Judo businesses and seminars, and also to promote their own self-funding efforts to this community. However, the forum moderator in this group prevents this from happening.

My personal view is that Judo professionals are using the Judo principles of maximum efficiency to promote themselves for the advancement of Judo knowledge and performance by trying to spread their cause/ message to a large group of people interested in Judo.

I find that by refusing this to be done goes against the very fabric of Judo etiquette and is yet another ‘kick in the teeth’ for those working hard for the sport.

This report is solely designed to support Judo growth and not to criticise it. For that reason I have presented data in a format that can be analysed and also discussed so that the sport is better placed for growth from the 2016 Olympics.

I hope that those involved in the promotion of Judo will investigate the  areas highlighted in the report, however, I do not support the stripping down of this article for personal or political advantage.

Moaning on forums will not grow Judo, only smart, targeted action using the principles of maximum efficiency will.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to contact me at andrew[at]  if you have any questions about the data in this report.




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