Perhaps not surprising for someone who has reached the level of CEO, part of the appeal of judo is the one-to-one competitive nature of the sport: 'As a teenager heavily involved in team sports such as rugby union, I saw judo as something that you could practise, drawing strictly on your own merit, as opposed to rugby which is very much a team game and one where you're heavily influenced by those around you and the team as to your success In judo, there is something raw and very true about your success or failure. It's a sport where you win and lose, it's a 'real-time' competition Judo also comes with all the Japanese customs of respect, obedience and discipline. Respect amongst opponents is taught right from the very beginning on the mat. So win, lose or draw, there is a great deal of humility grounded in the dojo [training hall] so you never get really big for your boots there's always someone there to humble you.'
Discipline and self-control are also critical: 'the most important skill in judo is the ability to control your mind - which then enables you not to react prematurely, not to attack, but to be able to calculate and assess a situation very quickly,' says Endicott-Davies. 'It gives you an innate ability to judge a situation. One of the philosophies of judo is maximum efficiency with minimum effort - be efficient, don't expend energy where it's not necessary, put it where it's going to do you the most good.'
At the age of 18, New Zealand-born Endicott-Davies was selected for the New Zealand national judo team and travelled to Japan on a three-year scholarship to study judo, martial arts and Japanese culture. During that time, he also had the unique opportunity of training with the Japanese Riot Police (specialised in crowd control and handling street riots) which proved a gruelling but rewarding experience. From then until age 30, Ivor enjoyed the peak years of his competitive career, training at least four hours per day, six days per week. Following the scholarship to Japan, he began his professional working career with Ecolab back in New Zealand at the age of 25 and now heads up the company's Australian operation.
Endicott-Davies' son, Morgan, has followed in his competitive footsteps, also pursuing judo to high levels, currently holding the title of Australian national judo champion (in the under 81kg weight category). Now aged 28, Morgan took up the sport at 19 and has been competing internationally for the past six years, having just returned from the 2002 Commonwealth Games where he was narrowly defeated in the play-off for the bronze medal.
Having attained the elite fifth dan, or black belt, level of judo, Ivor is now eligible to challenge for the next degree (red and white belt level). To do this, however, would require him to return to Japan to take up the challenge at the official Kodokan college of judo. While he acknowledges that he would like to 'finish that part of my life' by attaining the sixth dan, and has not ruled out the possibility, he concedes that the effort would require at least six months of dedicated and rigorous preparation and fitness improvement.
Now 52, and having sustained some knee damage over the years, Endicott-Davies still practises judo for general fitness maintenance but admits to having found a new passion in the contact-free sport of golf. He also manages to devote some time to training and instructing through the Budokan School of Judo in Sydney, which he founded in 1993. In recent years, he has also become involved in promoting another Japanese activity - sumo wrestling - here in Australia and the Pacific, and has held the position of Director of the International Sumo Federation and President of the Oceania region since 1993.
For others who might be keen to try their skill and wits on the judo mat, Endicott-Davies cautions that such sports are centred on unique body development, so it's best to start early. 'You have to start sports like judo from a very young age so your body develops with it. My body at my age is well and truly versed in all the moves and the physical requirements of the sport. To take up judo later in life, if you've never tried it before, is a physical risk and you are likely to cause damage to your muscles. I think it's more important to ask how important is any physical activity that includes both the mind and the body, and the answer to that of course is absolutely!'