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Judo America San Diego

Connecting the Dots

Posted: May 29, 2019

Recently, as part of a continuing education program I run for my assistant coaches as well as for outside coaches I mentor, I sent out an article entitled Preparing for the Attack: Hardening the Target, You. I asked the coaches to read the article and be prepared to talk about it the following week. I thought the article was relevant since it addressed among other things the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act), combat, psychological control, and reality based training.


There was one small problem with the article, however. It was written by a weapons expert for self-defense purposes. Within a few days, one of the coaches called me to complain. He told me that he had started to read the article, but gave up because it didn’t mention Judo specifically. Furthermore, he had better things to do than read something that was not geared toward Kodokan Judo. I must admit that I was shocked by his unwillingness to read something that might make him a better coach, especially since the article was only a little over two pages long.

Defiant or Incompetent?

Posted: February 27, 2018

Every now and then, I stumble across a concept that is so obvious that I wonder why I hadn’t thought of it myself.  Last week, I read that a good portion of a student’s non-compliance to directions is caused not by his defiance, but by his incompetence: the student misinterprets or doesn’t know how to follow directions.  Honestly, it had never crossed my mind that incompetence could be the root cause of not being able to focus or follow directions.  ADD, ADHD, yes.  Incompetence, no.

We take it for granted that a student knows how to “cut it out”, or “focus”, or “pay attention.”  Sometimes he does, but sometimes he doesn’t.  The truth is that he’s probably not been taught how to pay attention or focus.  In this case, the teacher is partly responsible for the student’s being incompetent.  While we have exhorted our students to not do this and not do that, often we have failed to provide them with specific, concrete, sequential, and observable directions that will enable them to overcome their incompetence.

If your junior class is anything like mine, you have kids who stare out at space, play with their toes making sure all ten are still there, pick their nose, or talk and play grab-ass with their next door neighbor.  Although we are told kids are capable of multi-tasking- kids can apparently read, watch TV or listen to music, and do homework all at the same time- my experience indicates that they suck at learning Judo when they are multi-tasking: in other words, when they are not paying attention because they are counting toes, picking their nose, or messing around with another child.

Physical Education Gets No Respect

Posted: February 27, 2018

According to Greek philosopher Aristotle, “Education is the process of creating a sound mind in a sound body.”  Mens sana in corpore sano (a sound mind in a healthy body), a famous Latin quotation, supports that concept.   Yet centuries after these pronouncements, what’s the first thing that gets axed or limited, or is used as a form of punishment when a child falls behind in his schoolwork or grades?  Extra-curricular physical education.  In other words, sports like Judo.  And the reason for sports taking such a big hit is that in spite of all the positive information available regarding the value of participation in sports, physical education still gets no respect.


Team sports tend to fare better than individual sports.  Parents are less likely to withdraw a child from a team sport practice or season because there is an acknowledged responsibility to the rest of the team members.  Individual sports are altogether a different animal.  The reasoning goes something like this: if my child doesn’t participate, it’s not impacting anyone but my child.  Of course, this is an utterly silly notion when it comes to Judo because, although it’s an individual sport, Judo still takes two to tango.  So, not only does your child suffer when being taken away from Judo, but so do your child’s partners.

Don’t sabotage my talk!

Posted: February 27, 2018

This past Sunday, I ran another quarterly in-house developmental tournament using what I call Judo America rules- no penalties, no terminal ippon, and no banned techniques.  As players started filtering into the dojo, one of my dads approached me with his young son.  He told me his son had fallen off his bike the previous day and skinned his knee.  He brought his son to the tournament hoping that his son could compete, but was worried that he might bleed all over.  I took a look at the “wound” and told his son to get on the mat and be ready to compete.  It was pretty superficial.


A few minutes later, dad approached me again and filled in a few more details.  His son didn’t want to compete since he was “mortally” wounded.  Of course, dad was not having any of that.  He wanted his son to be a man although junior is only 8 years old.  So, that morning he talked to his son about how important it was to do his best in spite of the wound.  Unfortunately, mom overheard dad encouraging their son to compete when he didn’t want to, so she told her son that it was OK if he didn’t want to compete. Exasperated, dad cried out, “Don’t sabotage my talk!”  Priceless, isn’t it?  Much to her credit, mom said that dad was right and her son should compete.  This mom understood the message, but most moms wouldn’t have.

Tiger Mothers, Pussy Cat Moms

Posted: February 27, 2018

A Chinese mother is talking to her child: “What grade did you make on your reading test today in school? 93? If you had studied harder you would have been able to make 94.” The child returns after the next week’s test. “You made 94. You can do better than 94,” suggests the mother. “Just spend a little more time at your studies.” Finally, after weeks of study, the child proudly reports that her grade on this week’s test was 100. “But will you be able to keep it up?” inquires the mother.  From The Learning Gap by Harold Stevenson and James W. Stigler


When I first heard of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  I put a hold at my library branch and found I was 256th in line!  That was a waiting list record as far as books that I’ve wanted to read.  After about a month, during which I put a slew of other books on hold, I thought about canceling my hold and focusing on the more important titles on my list.  A little voice inside my head told me to read the darn thing since it was relatively short.  I’m glad I listened to that little voice.  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother turned out to be the bomb!

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