We knew the fighter. We have been learning to know the teacher, the coach. In fact, we already know ! He is the same ! Generous with people and time, humane and professional, Ilias Iliadis was faithful to his reputation during the seminar co-organized by the regional league of « Ile de France » and Double D / adidas, near Paris.
The Georgian school’s strings, the guards, the movement, the Seoi… The spectacular twice Olympic medallist and 5 times world one gave all he could and passed on the essence of his Judo.
By Ludovic Mauchien
Once more, absentees were wrong ! What a pity for them. In a Judoka life, there are times that should not be missed, some special and (too) rare moments from which spring emotional and subjugational peaks, some particular instants where you feel like living the unique.
It happened, on April 2nd, at Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris, during the seminar co-organized by the regional league of « Ile de France » and Double D / adidas.
In that special day, the master was called Ilias Iliadis. The 2004 Olympic champion, 3rd in 2012, and 3 times World champion (to make it short), teaches and passes on heartfully.
Besides his aura, his commitment and his will to pass on seduced all the assistance. « I am just like you, a Judoka. I just want to show you how I feel Judo… », he first declared, to make everyone comfortable.
« I want to see everybody sweating »
In order to do so, he devoted countless hours (a pretty rare phenomena). The morning training lasted 2h30, instead of the 2 scheduled. And he had to be stopped, otherwise, there would have been no time for lunch.
He warned everyone :« Be on time ! At 2 PM, everybody should be ready on the mat ». Being late for training isn’t part of his culture… Neither the « anything in between », the lack of commitment, the pretence for clear conscience… ! He warned everyone : « I want to see everybody sweating ». He kept repeating it, or he imposed a push-ups series to the teenagers who made pretence.
Because he quickly spotted them. They didn’t say a word, only in their mind. They did the push-ups but their face betrayed their thoughts : « He is crazy ! Who the hell is that guy who dare to give us push-ups to do because we didn’t engage enough in randori ? We are not used to ! Unbelievable !!! ». But when it’s Ilias Iliadis who he is talking, the message is heard…
And, fortunately for the almost 150 people attending this seminar, our champion was ready to give many expert advices : « Don’t be jealous of the superiority of your partner or opponent, just take him as an example to improve yourself and to be motivated to surpass him », « always do more that you are asked. If you have to do 15 push-ups, do 16 of them », « Always make things 100%, never reluctantly », « Go and get your opponent, don’t step backwards », « when training starts, shut the shutters and be 100% concentrate »…
The Greek champion, who told us that he was only making a break and, by then, he is not retired from competition (he will determine himself about it in 2018, see also his interview), put his words into action.
The afternoon session’s warm-up ? A series of 10 randori in Ne Waza that each lasted one minute ! Or… push-ups ! Afterwards, Ilias Iliadis raised and dissected a wide range of techniques, enriched by matters of detail. The guards, against Japanese or Russian, the movement, the Seoi… completed by some tricks from the Georgian school (he settled in Greece with his family when he was 6), some recipes from his family style, those matters of detail which, you know, make the difference… Ilias Iliadis, on the Bretigny mat, was at home, was himself.
« You, I want to see you among the next champions »
Once more, he had to be stopped, after a 2h30 session, which means that training lasted 5 hours in the entire day, instead of the 4 ones scheduled. His late speech ? Imbued with humility, as always… « If I became a champion, it’s first due to my motivation. Contrary to the other children of my school, I knew that I wanted to be a champion. That’s what made the difference. I advice all of you to set a target, to seek this goal. Never give up and always train hard ».
Before leaving the mat but, of course, after the Mate, each trainee had his autograph, his selfie, one after the other, according to their place on the mat.
Between the hearty applause and a very friendly kool-aid, Ilias Iliadis personally went to meet some teenagers to tell them how he liked their Judo. One of them, still brown belt, was eligible to a : « you, I want to see you among the next champions. I won’t forget you ». If Ilias Iliadis has the same instinct as a professor that he had as a fighter, the French succession will not lack talents.
To come :
The trainees’ reactions.
The interview of Ilias Iliadis.