Some lockdown reading

The current lockdown period has certainly given many of us a chance to chance to catch up with reading, whether on an eReader or a physical book. I’ve got through lots on both.

Here are some judo related ones, to add to ones mentioned on a previous blog post.

Lets kick off with Neil Adams’ second memoir, A Game of Throws.

This picks up where A Life in Judo ended, and covers Neil’s time coaching in France, his third Olympics (Seoul 1988) and running the British squad for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics amongst other events. He also looks at the rise and eventual fall of his own judo club, is very open on some personal issues such as divorce, bankruptcy, alcohol and the tragic death of his brother, the wrestler ‘Black Belt’ Chris Adams.

Neil’s own voice comes through clearer in this book than it did in his first, the book shows the struggles that many athletes face when they have to adjust to ordinary life.

From one great champion to another – although most people came to know Brian Jacks through TV’s Superstars first.

Superstars takes up a sizeable proportion of this book, but Brian’s early life as a poorly child is also covered in detail. He looks at his first experience of judo, going to Japan to study (be warned, it wasn’t just judo he learnt about there…) and then competing for Great Britain, winning bronze medals at the 1967 World Championships and 1972 Olympics.

His many business ventures are covered, culminating in his hotel in Thailand.

Whilst this perhaps would have benefitted from some professional editing, and a bit less cutting and pasting from Wikipedia, it is still a good read.

Andrew Moshanov was employed by the BJA on the back of a disappointing Athens 2004 Olympics, to raise technical standards across the BJA.

His book, Judo: From a Russian Perspective, covers the history of Judo in Russia. The ruling Communist Party of the time rebadged it Sambo to hide it’s Japanese origins, and absorbed many local wrestling styles to develop their own style of judo. Based on a principle of continuous attack, this was unleashed on the world during the 1960s.

Moshanov makes sense of some of the more esoteric judo kata, such as Itsutsu no kata, and shows how some of these principles are applied in combat.

A fascinating book.

For those of us old enough to remember, Great Britain was once not an Olympic superpower (although judo managed to account for a sizeable proportion of our medals at the 1992 Games in Barcelona).

Owen Slot’s The Talent Lab looks at Britain’s rise from near the bottom of the table in 1996 to global dominance in London and Rio,

What is clear is that there has been a relentless drive for return on investment – whilst considerable money has been spent by UK Sport, it hasn’t been thrown at sport willy-nilly. Organisations, programmes and individuals have had funding cut if they haven’t delivered or are deemed to be “past it”.

The talent spotting programmes of sports like rowing and taekwando are examined, as are the transferable skills from gymnastics to extreme winter sports. Lessons are learnt from a whole range of other businesses – how does learning to land an aeroplane in a simulator help the British swimming team? Read it to find out!

Whilst Britain’s judo women have delivered consistently over the last two Olympiads, the poor performance of their male counterparts is noted. (Interestingly, since switching allegiance from Great Britain to Ireland, Ben Fletcher has medalled consistently on the Grand Prix circuit).

Since this book came out, allegations of bullying have surfaced amongst elite performance swimmers and cyclists, so it will be interesting to see how much approach has been varied, if and when the Tokyo Olympics happen.

All these books are available to buy from Amazon (other retailers are available), if you use your easyfundraising account you will also be raising funds for the club!

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