In Defense of The IJF

It’s easy to bash the IJF. It’s easy to be upset about the rule changes. Still, there are a couple of things which are important to note. First, the IJF does a lot of good and we should give credit where it’s due. Second, the IJF isn’t some cabal of guys hanging out in an underground bunker in Europe – it’s a federation with member organizations which themselves are comprised of clubs and individual members (which probably includes you).

Overall, I think we’d all agree the national governing bodies and the IJF do more good than harm. The IJF is a non-profit organization. They’re not fleecing us out of money for a couple guys to get rich (that I know of). It streams the major judo events for free. In the US, USJI provides insurance to judo and jujitsu clubs, helps pay for athletes as able, and helps connect judoka together. Keeping records of ranks, running tournaments, training referees, and setting guidelines keep us honest about what we’re teaching and learning. Popularizing the sport keeps new people coming in to the club to keep the lights on.

Remember that you as a judoka are (probably) a member of the IJF in some fashion. As you grow in judo you have the option to take on as major or minor a role in the direction of the sport as you’re willing to. You can learn to referee. You can help run tournaments. If you have a regional or local body you can participate in the equivalent of local government and vote on topics and representatives. If you want to help determine the direction of the rules you can work hard at refereeing and eventually get to a place where you’ll probably know the right people to talk with regards to influencing that kind of change. And even if you don’t do that, you can still help determine how your club trains by working hard and becoming an instructor.

I’ll still complain here and there, mind you. The rules tend to drive how clubs practice so losing leg grabs and the lowered emphasis on ground work are things that I think we can point to the IJF for being responsible for. However, sport rules shouldn’t really determine how a club trains, and if you want to train something that’s not competition legal it’s not like the IJF is coming to your club to stop you.


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