June 20

The Judo Newaza League


It was summer 2012 and the Olympics had just taken place and I had been invited down the the HQ of the British Judo Association. For various reasons this was a meeting where I would have chance to discuss a few issues with the CEO’s of British Judo who at the time were Scott McCarthy however also present was his deputy and the current CEO Andrew Scoular.

Now In was at this meeting for a few reasons however I considered that an opportunity like this to meet with the heads of the British Judo Association was too good an opportunity to pass up so I made sure I gave a few decent ideas of where I thought British Judo could change and actually grow.

Im never considered someone to hide his opinions but the hour long presentation consisted of some great points for Judo growth (this was pure freebie information as I was there for another issue) but I will share one idea that I passed on to them.


Now before I go any further this concept isnt new but I feel it requires bringing up again using some kind of blog and as I get about 400 people a day to mine this is a good a place as any to canvas views an opinions.

The concept I came up with was as a direct result of a few things. Firstly it was my experience in BJJ or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. BJJ is a great art that has seen huge growth and continues to do so across the world but most importantly it attacks the demographic that Judo struggles with.Namely 18 to 40 year old group. This group tends to be income rich and hobby mad and as such BJJ has not only grown as a sport but it has clothing companies, numerous GI companies, DVD sales, magazines and much more. In fact go into your local newsagents to the martial arts section and you will find BJJ magazines or at least an MMA magazine that features BJJ input. You will not however see a Judo magazine.

The point is this, Judo struggles to retain people. That fact has been stated by its CEO’s before and even Andrew Scoular said this in the latest edition of matside magazine

“Our biggest issue is not getting new members but retaining them”

Now this is a major issue for any sport because if you dont have enough members that stay you wont have growth and if you want to know where the growth is going then check out martial arts like BJJ and krav maga. Recently I was told that Stealth BJJ in Manchester had 36 people on the mat one night recently. Almost all of them lower end grades and all of them above the age of 16!

Judo is not retaining members but BJJ is. Now from my experience of both sports I know why this is, the simple truth is down to injury. BJJ is a low impact sport where as Judo isn’t. In Judo you get thrown and it your body suffers over time and if you are older then you really wont like the thought of landing on your back no matter how good your break falls are.

The answer I stumbled across one day when I was training Judo. During the session a former British Judo legend showed the class a technique that I had never seen before. It was a turnover and I have never seen it on any book but it was brilliant. We then went about a groundwork marathon which consisted of lots of 2 minute long randoris on our knees. The end result was of course a great workout, no injuries and of course a new technique. Now this was similar to a BJJ session but to be honest was faster paced and I thought more fun. Dont get me wrong I really like BJJ but this was different, we were looking for pins and submissions and as such the game was very different.

Explosive Groundwork

Over the years I have learned one thing that Judo has  a great groundwork system but it is very explosive where by BJJ is a slower game. A very technical game of chess indeed. Another point I thought was how Judo really does neglect its groundwork and there is almost a secret syllabus out there. Techniques which older players and former internationals know but teach rarely. I have to say I do love Judo groundwork and I want to learn all the aspects possible about it. After all Judo has two very  good products, its standing game and its ground game.

The Big Idea

The idea was very simple, that British Judo should look to capitalise on the growth of BJJ by providing its own unique and detailed groundwork system.Yes and entire syllabus written by experts and to support his there would be gradings up to Dan Grades. This was something that I felt could increase club numbers, help retain people who would leave Judo due to injury and even attract new people to the sport. I could not see anything bad about this idea.

I was hoping the British Judo Association would have a Eureka moment and get to work on such a simple suggestion. In fact I even added that there should be a Newaza League so that people could compete and have its own ranking system. Imagine going to events and having a newaza league so you could have a few fight and add points to your position in a league. It would mean that you didnt always have to run groundwork competitions, instead you could have them added on to normal events and even have inter club events.

Now Im not bragging but I thought this was a superb idea but lets run up the pros

  • Retain older members
  • Attract new ones
  • Provide income generation for the association with a new syllabus and special groundwork courses
  • increased income for areas with more competitions focused on ground work
  • Attract the new BJJ crowd
  • Further club income as people can run an additional night dedicated to groundwork
  • videos and online material could be published by athletes and coaches

Now that’s just a few of the pros I could think of.Needless to say after the meeting nothing has happened. There is no new groundwork syllabus and I dare say people are still leaving Judo for the mass media endorsed BJJ which enjoys huge support in the UFC.

Now if you like this idea let me know and post a comment below and if you are the BJA people reading this and thinking how long could this guy sort this out in? Simple I could push out a Judo groundwork programme in 3 months with courses, on line videos and even books for sale on it. I wouldn’t create the moves, you have all the talent in the world for that but someone has to pull this together.

If you like the idea just spread the word. Can Judo groundwork compete with BJJ? I think it can, but it wont unless they actually try to compete. You wont win a battle unless you take part!


Andrew Holland




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  1. If you we’re to speak to the current chairman of the BJA Mr Kerrith Brown I think he would agree entirely with what you have posted. He has discussed this concept with me on several occasions. In my opinion I think you are on to something that would be well supported especially in the veteran age group of current judoka. We have to as a sport compete in the market place with BJJ etc and I firmly believe judo has much more to offer than most other martial arts. If you look at KOSEN judo in Japan, this is a separate form of judo that is ne-waza only and still popular.

    1. Hi Dave

      Thanks for reading my article and Im glad you like the idea. To avoid damaging British Judo any further please feel free to email me at [email protected] to discuss the issues around this further.

      Needless to say I personally feel very let down by British Judo on a few levels but as I am a huge fan of Judo and love it. What I will say is that I have tried to contact the CEO and Mr Brown on several occasions to discuss numerous issues around their self defence project, their poor use of you tube, the lack of Judo in Stoke on Trent and I have even asked for investment/ sponsorship/support for my online Judo site http://www.judokafighter.com which I wanted to turn into a video magazine and clothing range.

      Sadly I have had one email response out of those emails from Mr Brown saying he would get back in touch with me which never happened. I have tried my best for Judo however I feel that unless they take drastic and immediate action it will be nothing more than after school day care within the next 15 years.

      Please feel free to get in touch. The Newaza league could be a game changer for clubs and Juodka so the reduction in Judoka leaving for BJJ can be halted. Its quick to set up with some hard work but not impossible.

      This is of course just one method to change the game for British Judo but I feel that people at the BJA dont really want to listen to fresh views and are stuck back in the 70’s whilst Judo is destroyed by Krav Maga, BJJ, MMA and of course cross fit style training. The future is not bright for Judo in the UK. Not at this time anyway.

      Please feel free to get in touch.


      [email protected]

  2. Great article Andrew and one i’m very interested in myself. I’m a BJA Judo blue belt who is currently training BJJ as my Judo club closes for the summer. There have been 45 guys present on the mat at each lesson I have attended so far and all are aged between 18-40. My Judo club, on the other hand, struggles to get 10 seniors for 1 class per week. I’ve entered and medal-ed a couple of times at the High Wycombe Newaza contest which was great fun and would love to see more of these type of tournaments but I must say I like your idea even more.
    I’ll be keeping on eye on your blog to see if you have made any headway with the powers that be.
    PS, come check out my blog if you fancy a relative beginners view of starting Judo in later life

    1. Hi Stuart, thanks

      Its true that many Judoka are now training BJJ and I too have done that in the past, although I prefer the stand up tachiwaza work more than the groundwork personally. That being said I do really enjoy Judo newaza more than BJJ. I find it far faster, far more aggressive but just as technical.

      The BJJ market has found a niche that is popular with the 18 – 40 age group, it is a group with disposable income which in turns generates its own industry or BJJ Gis, clothing, DVD’S, Seminars and more. Its easy to see the appeal, low injury, great workout, good community feel and people can feel a part of something special. It also has huge respect among martial artists as BJJ features heavily in the UFC.

      Now combine this with the huge appeal of markets such as Krav Maga it is easy to see that Judo will possibly struggle in the future unless it changes its game plan.

      Ill certainly visit your blog.

      Thanks For reading my article and do please keep in touch

  3. Excellent idea. I live with two modes: Judo and BJJ cercade to 39 years and in fact the differences are more rules than techniques.
    Paulo Rabelo

    1. Hi and thanks for taking the time to comment, I do think the same more rules than techniques. Both are great games with Judo being possibly more fast paced on the ground and an emphasis on the pin as well.

  4. merci pour cet article moi aussi je partage les meme idee que vous judo et bjj doit s’associer en plus je vois que le judo est entrain de perdre son efficacite apret tous c’est un sport de combat et ca doit etre efficace d’apres moi il ya plusieurs type de judo et il faut faire la différence 1 judo de competion 2 judo educatif 3 judo militaire 4 judo pour ce defende 5 judo traditionnel 6 judo pour ce defendre des agression et pour nous la seul chose qui nous interresse c’est le judo de competion c’est pour ca qu’on a perdu des judoka on les vois maintenat faire du kravmaga bjj meme du karaté aussi faut montree l’efficacite du judo dans MMA pour qu’il peut vivre
    enfain je dit que le judo c’est pas un sport seulement c’est un style de combat qui peut avec lui etre un champion de UFC
    aussi je sens que la federation international ne veut pas aller dans ce sens et moi je voi que c’est une grande faute on est maintenant dans un monde open sky faut pas s’isoler du monde si non il viendra le jour ou il ne reste plus personne pour faire du judo
    merci pour votre attention
    wassim bayar

    1. Heres the above comment in English for all to read:

      thank you for this article I also share the same idea that you judo and bjj must involve more I see that judo is in the process of losing its effectiveness apret all this is a combat sport, and it must be effective after me there are several types of judo and one must distinguish judo judo educational competion 2 3 4 military judo judo for this defende 5 6 traditional judo judo for this aggression and defend the only thing for us is that we interresse judo competion that’s why we lost judoka they see maintenat do kravmaga same bjj karate also be Montree the effectiveness of Judo in MMA he can live
      enfain I said that judo is a sport not only is a fighting style that can be with him a champion of UFC
      I also sense that the international federation does not go in this direction and I voi this is a big mistake we now in a world open sky should not isolate themselves from the world, if not it will come the day it is nobody to do judo
      thank you for your attention
      wassim bayar

      Thanks for that comment, great to hear your views

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