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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!

Where’s the Skepticism within our Judo Culture?

Posted: February 27, 2018

Whether you call it Judo culture, or mentality, or mindset, one thing that’s clearly MIA- missing in action- in our sport is skepticism.  In other words, most of us are meek sheep following some leader who is often misguided, ill-informed, or just simply lost.  We keep marching to the tune of our Judo Pied Piper almost never questioning whether what we are doing makes any sense. Even when it does dawn on us that what we’re doing is crazy, there’s almost no attempt to discuss issues and remedy our lot.  Chalk up this behavior to our traditional hierarchy that instills in the lower ranks unwavering (and unquestioning) respect for our senior ranks.


A few days ago, I was discussing with my good friend Bill Montgomery, Chairman of the USJA Coach Education Committee, why we were having so much trouble getting American coaches to accept new training ideas and pedagogy.  I wondered whether there was a special genetic trait that you needed to have to accept change, or whether skepticism and willingness to change were teachable behaviors.  Why was it so easy for Bill and me to reject traditional dogma, while others struggle or refuse to change?  After all, we all come from the same traditional background.  Needless to say, we don’t yet have the answer to that question, but we’re working on it.

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