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Judo/Sambo UnderGround >> Enough of this Men's vs Women's Division Stuff


8/2/12 9:40 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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 As soon as Kayla Harrison won her division today, I sent a text to dozens of judo friends throughout the country. I also received several texts, e-mails and phone calls from  friends who know of my love for the sport but don't practice.

I was disappointed  to receive a text that tried to diminish her accomplishment because she competed in the Women's division.  I will quote it.  "Ehh but it's a woman so it doesn't really count. USA needs a man to win gold in judo."

I don't waste too much time on text battles, but it is an idea that pops up a lot. So, I want to address it here.

The key elements of the arguments that I've heard go like this:

1) There are far fewer women that compete than men, so it is less competitive.

2) Women aren't as physically strong, fast, athletic etc. as men, so it is not the same.

Ok, let's deal with both of them.

There is no denying that there are far less women competing than men.  There is no denying that in 99% of all sports that there are far less women competing than men.  Does that mean we shouldn't take female athletes seriously? 

Let me mention some names to you. Isao Okano,  Peter Seisenbacher, Yasuhiro Yamashita, Neil Adams.  What do they all share?

They share the fact that the Olympic qualification system at the time they were training was if their country wanted them to go to the Olympics, they went.  How does that compare to what Kayla had to do over the last 4 years?  Are their accomplishments any less because there were less nations and athletes competing then, than today?

Well, let's think about today.  The equivalent World Ranking List for Men would be the -100kg division. Both men and women have an equal amount of tournaments to compete and achieve points.

I'm going to be a little bit arbitrary, but I'm going to use the level of 100 points to determine if a person is an "elite" athlete. It's the equivalent of winning one World Cup.

The men's -100kg division has 55 men with 100 or more points.
Women's -78kg division has 46 women with 100 or more points.

But Men get 22 slots at the Olympics and Women get 14.  In terms of RELATIVE competitiveness it is pretty damn close.

And let's talk about competitiveness in general.

If I said to you,  "Yeah, he won a heavyweight judo medal at the Olympics, but there are far more athletes trying to compete in professional football, and if you compared their times in the 40 yard dash, or bench press they aren't close in athletic ability" , what would you say? Does it diminish their accomplishments?

It is laughable to me, that in a niche sport, we are making an argument about "competitiveness" of divisions based on participation.  Judo is well below the participation rate of a whole lot of sports, and using that criteria, judo is not a "competitive" sport.

The physical and other attribute arguments fail as well. Especially when we consider the combat arts.

There isn't one person that I know who would think that a welterweight boxer would have the punching power of a heavyweight.  There is a reason for weight classes.

Tommy Hearns had great knockout power for a welterweight. Who thinks he would have knocked out any ranked heavyweight at the time?  Roberto Duran was absolutely the most vicious lightweight fighter I ever saw with devastating power.  Yet, at welterweight and middleweight he was nowhere near as effective.

Of course it's obvious.  So, why should women be expected to have similar physical attributes to men to be considered equal, when we don't even expect men of different size and weight to be equal?

Lastly, in terms of accomplishment, it's what goes into becoming a champion that makes up so much of what being a champion is.

You can't tell me that Kayla Harrison trained with any less desire, heart, or intensity than her male counterparts. She overcame some issues that would have broken many others on her way to the top of the podium; and made sacrifices along the way that were to high a price to pay by many.

As an American and a judoka, I am extremely proud to have Kayla Harrison as OUR first Olympic Gold medalist.  Her name goes to the top of the list.







8/3/12 2:19 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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Yeah, but what about Rocky Marciano?
8/3/12 4:18 AM
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judom
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OC,

I generally agree with you. My point was a little different:

- If you are building a Judo program, currently, the real indicator is winning medals in the competitive divisions.

This means women's 63kg / 57kg (may be 70kg) and men's medals.

Kayla is not a random judo person: she has done well in many events in the past, so she fully deserves her medal.

I was actually more impressed with Travis Stevens's performance than Kayla's gold medal.

81kg is a damn hard weight class and Stevens is awesome. He is really the yardstick of a program. And if there are more like him, then USA Judo is on the right track.
8/3/12 8:29 AM
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judoblackbelt
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All I can say is the mens judo is more physical and brutal. Just watching the matches and looking at the cuts/scrapes/bruises on the fighters in general. But the preperation,training,sacrifice,travel and commitment is the same to be the best. The fact Steven's didn't get a metal is so disheartening, almost unacceptable to us for his warrior spirit. But his teammates did well. And he battled his heart out. Bishof knows how to win the close ones.
8/3/12 10:32 AM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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Edited: 08/03/12 2:42 PM
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 judom,

The text came from a former training partner.
 
8/3/12 2:59 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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 judom,

I was going to edit my other post, but decided to make a new one. I put the other one up quick because I was involved in the semi-final matches.

I apologize if you thought my original post was directed at you.  I would never take the passive/aggressive approach with a forum member.  Especially since my screen name reflects the business of a good friend and judo instructor.  I will always try to address points or questions from members in a sincere and I hope respectful manner.  I try to make a habit of ensuring that I mention the poster's screen name if I am addressing them directly.

I know that you respect the efforts and abilities of many of the great female competitors in judo, and yes I agree that all divisions are not created equally. In the USA, the most competitive divisions are 73kg and 81kg. For Women it is 57kg and a tossup between 52kg and 63kg.  But when you combine all the divisions world wide, I think every division is quite competitive, and that achievements in them are substantial.

I was very frustrated and disheartened to get the text.   The reason being, that no matter what division Kayla had won it would not have been good enough for him, simply because she is a woman.  I vented my frustration on the forum, and tried to do it in a positive manner, instead of going off on a heated exchange with someone who is too stubborn to change.  Maybe I should have done that instead.

Again, I apologize if there was a misunderstanding.




8/3/12 4:01 PM
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judom
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no problem...I didn't think it was addressed to me, but I wanted to respond anyway.

Anyway, on more interesting news, I was talking today to a bunch of former international Judo guys and they all said that Stevens won and he got screwed. People were super impressed with his toughness.

Travis Stevens did more for how U.S. Judo is seen than many who won Gold medals for their respective countries.

Dude is an absolute warrior and its terrible he didn't get a medal (esp. that he had beaten the Canadian before).

That is the problem with the Olympics at the end: not always the best win. The draw is HUGELY important.

Its time the IJF has some seeding when doing the draw. Its a little ridiculous to have 3-4 top players in the same pool.

Also, they need more of a break between the semi-finals and the finals and 3rd place matches. Like 4-5 hours. Stevens had to fight against the Canadian 2 hours after he lost.

This is a little ridiculous !
8/3/12 8:13 PM
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OCJudoTrngCtr
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Edited: 08/03/12 8:15 PM
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judom,

Funny that you say a bunch of international judo guys believed Travis won.  I just got home a few minutes ago, and when I checked my e-mail, a few people had sent me links the last two days to articles where Jimmy Pedro said that Travis should have won that match.   If I'm still on this forum in 2016, someone should remind me that I don't want to send out text and e-mail updates on what is going on in the judo competition.  It only leads to me wasting more hours than I've already allocated to watching.

I believe the disconnect is that almost nobody really understands the concept of kinsa, and how it is applied in contest judo.  I'm thinking of putting another post on the Travis Stevens got robbed thread and breaking the match down in it's entirety.

There was only one way that a referee or judge could have seen it differently than I did.  I had the absolute best angle because my view is based on NBC's camera viewpoint.  If their view inhibited their perception of Bischof's throw at 2:21, then it is a big advantage for Stevens. I think he wins....if you don't have the correct view.  That is  the reason I believed it could be close.

But on subsequent views, I have no doubts that the referee and judges made the correct call. I made sure to re-check before I posted on that thread.  I would love to be in the Stevens was robbed camp.

One of the reasons that I believe people believe that Stevens won is because he appeared more aggressive in golden score. Some thought he was more aggressive in the entire match. Maybe.  The problem is that in the hierarchy of scoring a match that means very little.

The seedings for Olympics was 1-8 then random.  I think that is pretty fair in the big scheme of things. If we go to 16, then the randomness is only a few competitors.  Seeding 16 would make the already ridiculous competition schedule worse, because all athletes would continue the chase past making the qualification based on seeding advantage.  It would also harm poorer countries who can't afford it as much.

I think the competition schedule and qualification system hurt more than the seeding. But that's a discussion for another day.

I agree about the time allowed for recovery.  It should have been longer.  The last Olympics I attended in 1996, there was a large break between the morning and evening session.  In the last session it was only bronze and gold medal matches.

 
8/4/12 4:28 AM
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JoshuaResnick
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i am far more okay with the Steven's result than with the way Marti Malloy lost to the Romanian... There is absolutely no way that match should have been tied going into the closing minute! The Romanian should have had several shido calls and at least one of the two throws Marti did complete could have been a weak yuko...

the same crap happened to her at the Worlds and she lost via armlock to the Romanian in golden score after she did all of the work and the Romanian basically just "hangs in there..."
8/4/12 5:18 AM
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judom
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I was bummed for Stevens, that dude looks like a warrior and went for it.

Malloy lost by ippon, pretty clear loss if you ask me. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, the Japanese was on another level that day.

Weird things happen at the end Olympics anyway, many judoka who were far more accomplished and favored to win Gold, lost.
8/5/12 1:23 PM
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JoshuaResnick
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there is no doubt that the throw was an ippon... my contention is that if the refs penalized equally across the board that the mast attack marti tried would never have happened, thus no counter for ippon... but, so be it... there is nothing in the world wrong with an OLYMPIC BRONZE!

btw... SJSU now has Olympic medals from Asano, Berland, Malloy and Swain.

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