Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Birthday to the original Judo Insider

Judo is a popular sport. According to the IJF (in 2014), some 28 million people practice judo around the world. And it's been an Olympic sport since 1964, which means it can be considered a pretty mainstream sport. Yet, judo in many respects is still a relatively niche sport. You don't see a lot of it on TV and it doesn't get much media coverage in newspapers or magazines.

The IJF has partially filled that gap by creating websites like JudoBase which offers official rankings, results and crucially: videos! But it's privately-run websites like JudoInside that really helps to satiate judo fans' appetite for judo information that the mass media does not offer.

If you consider yourself a judo crazy person, you must be familiar with JudoInside. It's the default place to go for statistics on judo players -- famous as well as obscure -- and it helpfully provides links to videos of those players in competition. If you want to check out pictures of players, it has galleries for that. But one of the most useful and unique features of JudoInside is its "head-to-head" function which allows you to see who has fought who in the international competition circuit. It's by no means complete because some smaller or regional competitions are sometimes missing but it's about as complete as you're going to find anywhere.

The original judo insider, Mr Hans van Essen!
I got to know JudoInside's founder, Hans van Essen, several years ago when he was still in charge of media at the EJU. Our very first interaction was online when I sent in a query about a result that I believed was incorrect. Turns out I was right. He asked if I had more results from Southeast Asia to share. Unfortunately, I didn't but we kept in touch.

Hans and I have a common friend in famed judo photographer David Finch and all three of us met up at the sidelines of one of the World Championships a few years back.

We didn't have much time together. David and I were there to cover the event for the IJF and Hans was there on behalf of the EJU where he attended some meetings. He was leaving the place just as we had arrived. But we hit it off straight away and thanks to the miracle that is the Internet, we started exchanging a lot of information with each other.

These days, hardly a day goes by without a Facebook message exchange with each other. Sometimes it's to ask each other questions for judo material we are working on. Other times it to share judo gossip. And quite often, it's just to say "hi" and share judo news.

I have a lot of judo friends around the world but it's Hans whom I can really "talk judo" with endlessly. That's because despite our very different backgrounds, we have a lot in common in judo. In a way, we're both judo insiders and without any doubt, we are both absolutely, undeniably judo crazy!

Judo is a relative niche sport and it's people like Hans, who through their labor of love, help to provide judo fans around the world with content that they so eagerly desire. His tireless devotion to updating his website both inspires and motivates me to update my Facebook Page and this blog regularly.

We did our first collaboration "JudoCrazy E-Mag" last December and we're working hard, together with a few other JudoCrazy friends, to publish the follow-up, hopefully by June.

Today is Hans's birthday. Many happy returns, Mr Judo Insider!

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