Skills-specific tactical fight control algorithms in judo

Dr.Hab., Professor A.G. Levitsky1
Dr.Hab., Professor G.V. Rudenko2
D.A. Simakov2
1Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health, St. Petersburg
2St. Petersburg Mining University, St. Petersburg

Keywords: judo, competitive performance, tactical decision making algorithms, vestibular function tests, fight situation, physical fitness, complex tactical and tactical actions, martial arts.

Background. Human behavioral models may be interpreted as the action sequences driven by certain logics. Behavioral theory offered by L.S. Vygotsky, S.L. Rubinstein, A.N. Leontiev and P.Y. Galperin has been acknowledged and further developed by the national martial arts research community including V.A. Demin, R.A. Piloyan, V.S. Sedlov, Y.B. Nikiforov, Y.A. Shahmuradov et al. It was in 1970s that German martial arts sport researchers G. Czech, D. Jurgens and E. Peukert [6] came up with a tactical decision making algorithmic model for the bout description and analyzing purposes – that, however, has found undeservedly little application in the sport research community since then [1-5, 7].

Objective of the study was to analyze skills-specific tactical decision making algorithmic models of competitive performance in modern judo.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled for the study the judo competitors in the beginner, sport excellence and elite training groups to run interviews, competitive performance video-record analysis and vestibular function tests to rate the equilibrium control qualities.

Results and discussion. The beginner group was tested with the simplest attack algorithms due to the still limited technical toolkit and poor competitive experience. The attack is normally unprepared with little if any fight situation control, and little consideration for the opponent’s body mass center positions, action force directions and muscular efforts. After a successful throw, the group would make a pause prior to the ground fight. They would take a ground grappling attack when the favorable fight situation is over and success is no more guaranteed. Normally the beginner athletes hold on to the points won and strive to neutralize the post-attack fight situation of potential risk. When the opponent counters the attack successfully, virtually every subject reported trying to neutralize the resultant fight situation and wait for a next chance. Defense algorithms in the beginner group were found as simple as the attack ones, with every active attack from the opponent responded by a defense dominated by shear force rather than skills. When it is successful, the athlete would never take the risk as long as the fight situation is deemed safe.

The senior (and higher experienced) group algorithms produced by the interviews and competitive performance analyses were found more complex and versatile. Thus the senior juniors were tested with the versatile technical toolkits and much higher physical fitness – and this is why their competitive performance with attacks and defenses was found more advanced and versatile. The group tactics prioritize strong and comfortable grips with a wide range of throws; although the group still seldom would take benefits of the post-defense dynamic fight situation (with only 20% of the group tested with such skills and styles). The time gaps between a successful throw and ground grappling were tested too long.

The group defense algorithms may be classified into the following two dominant types. Type 1: the athlete would respond to attack by an immediate counterattack and, if it fails, would go back to defense trying to neutralize the unfavorable fight situation. Type 2 defends and immediately takes a counterattack. Generally, as demonstrated by the competitive performance analysis, the group develops a feel of minor opponent’s errors with the growing experience and skills, regardless whether or not these errors are occasional or forced by the own active attacks.

The high-skill group algorithms were found dominated by the well-controlled fight-situation-sensitive actions geared to capitalize on the opponent’s errors or force such errors or predictable vulnerable responses. In addition, this group was tested fast in the ground grappling straight after the successful standing throws. However, the group tactical skills were tested lower than in the Masters of Sport (MS) group. The group competitive performance algorithm is much more complex to include multiple goal-setting and attainment elements and technical failure prevention and mitigation skills. Such algorithm may be described as the multi-chain search and choice with flexible goal-setting options customizable to multivariate fight situations.

Analysis of the group competitive performance algorithm showed that the high-skilled fighters would concentrate above all on the preferred grapples with a great attention to the throw pre-setting techniques; and at the same time would closely watch and timely respond the opponent’s actions in a versatile combinational fight styles with extensive technical toolkits customizable to every fight situation. Generally the group competitive performance algorithm may be described as a mix of complex tactical and tactical actions with 2+ fight holds as required by the fight-situation-specific tactical goals. One more key factor of the group competitive performance algorithm is the ability to keep attacking on the ground non-stop regardless of how the referee scores the prior technical action.

The interviews and competitive performance analyses made it possible to classify the competitors into two dominant complex tactical and tactical actions types. Type 1 fighters prioritize fake attacks in the complex tactical and tactical actions to provoke a predictable response from the opponent for the throw setting purposes. And Type 2 fighters would always complete the well-set hold and then take advantage of the fight situation for a decisive action. It should be mentioned that visual monitoring of the complex tactical and tactical actions types can hardly if ever differentiate them in the goal-setting and achievement aspects. It is not unusual that only surveys of the fighters and their comments to the competitive performance records provide a sound basis for analysis and typing of the combinational fight styles. It should be also emphasized that every of the above groups may include individuals with highly versatile competitive performance algorithms – that means that the above findings refer only to the individual generalized preferences in the fight control styles and toolkits.

Conclusion. The study data and analyses found that the higher is the skill level and toolkit, the more versatile is the competitive performance algorithm in judo, with the top-skilled fighters virtually never making resort to primitive fight control algorithms. The low-skilled and inexperienced fighters, on the contrary, stick to a few favorite simple competitive performance algorithms and only at times take the risks of more complex fight control models. Generally we found the fight control style being largely dependent on the skill level and experience. The higher is the mastery, the more versatile and unpredictable are the individual competitive techniques and tactics. The top-level competitive performance styles, therefore, are highly customizable to the fight situations whilst the unskilled groups prefer straightforward fight control models with heavy reliance on shear power.


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Objective of the study was to analyze skills-specific tactical decision making algorithmic models of competitive performance in modern judo.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled for the study the judo competitors in the beginner, sport excellence and elite training groups to run interviews, competitive performance video-record analysis and vestibular function tests to rate the equilibrium control qualities.

Results of the study and conclusions. During the study, we analyzed different technical and tactical task solving algorithms, which reflected the peculiarities of competitive performance of the athletes at the stages of sport specialization, sport excellence and top mastery. The athlete’s behavior during competitions is largely determined by the competition rules, the goals set by the athlete, and the arsenal of his technical actions. A fighter’s behavior is greatly affected by the system of actions of his opponent.

During the competitive bouts, the judokas with the high level of vestibular stability, in the vast majority of cases, acted according to the most complex algorithm of combinational style of competitive activity, with little if any use of the simple one. The judokas with the low level of vestibular stability, on the contrary, operated according to the simple algorithm, resorting to a more complex one in rare cases.

Consequently, it can be said that there is a relationship between the athlete’s level of vestibular stability and the nature of his behavior during a bout.