Monday, April 14, 2014

Free Rice Prizes Update

There was a contest to raise money for the World Food Programme before Ronda's last fight, just like every time.

Ronda said that she thought the people who donated over 1,000,000 grains of rice should get something special. So… some of them requested an autographed poster and they received it.

In the past, sometimes people received prizes that their reaction was like when your grandmother gave you pajamas as a present when you were a little kid. That is, they were polite but there was the sense that it wasn't what they hoped for.

This is where we dropped the ball …. others didn't request anything in particular and I went off to Sioux City, Iowa, then to Grand Forks, Fort Totten, Belcourt and back to Fort Totten in North Dakota. Ronda left the country on vacation and Marina had a fight and ….

I said to Marisol,

"What did we send the rest of those free rice winners?"

and she said,

"You guys never gave me anything."

and I did a lot of creative swearing.  So …. we have things for you that will have to get mailed after I get back (I am leaving AGAIN in the morning for San Francisco for a few days for work).

If you were one of the free rice people who did not get a prize, I will be putting things up on this page and holler when you see something you want. Here are the first two and Ronda will be bringing more stuff by when I get home. … This is a size small Strikeforce World Champion shirt.  Yes, she will sign it, if you'd like.

This next shirt was a mock-up of an idea my friend, Al Bane, had but it never got made because, among other things, the company did not have the right to use the UFC belt, logo etc and I suggested the UFC wouldn't appreciate that. You can't actually wear this because I think it was painted - it was just made for a meeting to show the idea. There isn't another one. Yes, she will sign it, if you'd like.

(UPDATE --- SHIRT ABOVE IS NOW TAKEN - claimed by free rice donor Ego Amigo)

This is like those game shows where you can pick what is behind door number 2 or wait and see if what comes up next will be better.

If you were one of the people who donated over 1,000,000 and did not get a prize (including Laura!), let me know if you would like one of those two things.

Or you can wait and see what she brings over in the next week or so. I have no idea, so your guess is as good as mine.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Raising Ronda Rousey

I don't usually have time to listen to interviews Ronda does, but the past two weeks, I have been in North Dakota with a lot of time spent in hotel rooms, and I was amused to hear Ronda's side of her childhood on The Fighter and the Kid podcast.

It was a little bit like those stories my mom used to tell me about how she had to walk 10 miles to school barefoot in the snow and it was uphill both ways.

First off, the water thing, I am actually NOT one of those people who believe that not drinking water during practice makes you tough. On the contrary, where some judo coaches refuse to let kids go off the mat to get a drink, when it is hotter or they are working hard and sweating a lot, we take water breaks every 30 minutes. Otherwise, we take a few minutes for a water break every 45 minutes or so.

However, it is true that I take a dim view of those people who run off the mat every five minutes for a water break or to go to the bathroom. I totally don't get how you can have a class of 35 kids and 20 of them have to use the bathroom in a 90 minute class.  You know how often I can go 90 minutes without peeing - every fucking day.  You're not fooling anyone when I turn around when it's time to do matches and every other match you're off the mat because you were getting a drink or in the bathroom.

Let's face facts - there are three reasons those kids are always running off the mat. Either they are lazy, they're bored or they're scared. They are out of shape and want to rest, they really don't want to be at judo anyway, they're parents made them be there, and there is one or more kids they don't want to get matched up against.

Here is my view on it - if you don't want to be here, stay home. If you are out of shape, stay on the mat and work out and you'll get in better shape and if you keep at it long enough, you will eventually beat that other kid.

Those stories about me arm barring her in the living room ARE true. I still do that, but these days it's always because she starts it. I will be sitting there minding my own business and she will jump on me and attack me yelling,

"Always be ready."

I'm fairly certain that constitutes elder abuse. I'm contemplating pressing charges.

It's also completely true that I would grab her when she was playing around with other kids before a match and tell her to go sit in a corner and think about winning.  It is true that between matches she was supposed to either sit by herself or sleep.

I have noticed over the years that most of the people doing that are trying to avoid thinking about fighting because they are scared. It's a good idea in general to face your fears and not avoid them.

I've also seen many people exhaust themselves before a fight jump roping, running sprints. Again, they are just nervous. It doesn't make any sense to be getting tired before you fight. Watch sprinters at the Olympics - do they run 10 sprints all out before their event? Of course not.

Rest, focus, warm up, win.

And another thing …. since I'm in my ranting mode, whoever started that story about Ronda not wanting to go to judo when she was a little kid and me making her go (for the record, Ronda did NOT say this happened on the podcast) - it never happened.

It was quite the opposite. I would drive her to judo 7 or 8 times a week - on Tuesdays we went to two practices, at Venice from 7-8 then hopped in the car and she worked out at Hayastan from 8:30 - 10. Every day she was somewhere, Gardena, West LA, Baldwin Park, Hollywood. Traffic in Los Angeles blows, and after working all day and driving back home in traffic, some days, the last thing I wanted to do was get back in the car and drive another two hours across town. I would say to her,

Ronda, do you really want to go to practice tonight?

And she'd answer,

Of course, Mom. Why wouldn't I want to go to practice?

On top of all of that, if there wasn't anyone her size to practice with, I'd take falls for her. See that picture up there? She is a 14-year-old brown belt and I'm a 42-year-old statistician taking dozens of falls for her because I'm the right size and I know enough to give just the right amount of resistance.

Did anyone seriously think what I wanted to do after a 14-hour day was drive in rush hour to somewhere I'd get thrown 150 times? I don't expect any medals for that - it's what millions of parents in America do every day, cart their child to gymnastics, piano lessons, wrestling practice, academic decathlon or a million other things. When we're children we think the world revolves around us and that is exactly what mom or dad wants to do most because we are so charming and adorable.

Then we grow up and realize that what they really wanted to do was sit home and drink a beer while reading the paper or watching TV, but they loved us, so they got their old tired ass up and took us wherever we needed to be.

Rant off.

Since you're now done reading  this blog and not doing anything, 
buy my book on Amazon or at Black Belt and write a nice review about it. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How Judo Helped Me in Business: Part N of a Billion

I've rambled on here randomly about how sports helped in business. This week was yet another example. A couple of years ago, I started a new company, 7 Generation Games, that makes computer games to teach kids math. I think I was 53 when the company was founded.

This past week, I read yet another discouraging article with a chart showing the low percentage of companies that made a billion dollars that were founded by entrepreneurs over age 50. I was discouraged for about 30 seconds, until I realized a salient fact, that made me feel immediately better:

Yes, the percentage of companies with founders over 50 was small. However, at the time that I decided I wanted to win the world championships in judo, the percentage of Americans who had done it was zero.

Even if the prior probability of something is zero, it doesn't mean you can't do it. I should know.

And with that, I went back to work.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Seriously, just who do you think you are?

Warning, this blog contains language and opinions that might disturb you if you are easily offended. And I don't give a shit.

 My children think their late father was perfect, but that was not always the case. Back when we were just co-workers, I was an industrial engineer assigned to the area where he was manager to look into some scheduling problems. It turned out that the production line had been shut down because we ran out of a particular solvent. The solvent had a short shelf life so they didn't order too much at once or it would go bad and be tossed out. I asked him what it costs. He said it must be expensive because this wasn't the first time it had happened. He sent someone to find out - apparently no one had asked this question before - and it turned out they were shutting the factory down to keep from ordering too much of something that cost $9 a gallon. I started laughing and Ron went off on the guy, yelled at him, told him he was going to be fired - this was a little milquetoast type of guy and he left the office in tears. After he left, I turned to Ron and said,
Mr. Rousey, that was wrong. It wasn't that man's fault that not enough was ordered or the line was shut down. You had no right to treat him like that.
He said to me,
Who are you to tell me what to do? I run this plant and you're just a little piss ant engineer.
I said,
That doesn't make any difference. I'm right.
If that was all of the story, then I would have had one fewer husband and at least two fewer children. We continued the tour of the plant I had come for and as we walked through one area, we ran across the same man again, he looked like he wanted to bolt and run. Ron went up to him and apologized and that impressed me, because it takes some integrity to admit when you are wrong, but it would have been better if he hadn't done it in the first place.

I tell this story because it has three points.
  1. It is not okay to treat people badly just because you can.
  2. Even a generally good person screws up on occasion
  3. When you screw up you make it better by apologizing, even if you can't undo the harm completely.
Lately, I have seen too many people acting as if they have the right to be rude and disrespectful. They're never disrespectful and rude to ME. One reason is because I would either laugh in their faces or tell them to go fuck themselves. No, they are rude to people's assistants, housekeepers, waiters, desk clerks - people, like that man in the factory, who aren't making much money, aren't in a position to really stand up for themselves either because they need the job or they just aren't the type to speak up.

Let me talk to you people for a minute - just who the fuck do you think you are and where do you get off acting like that? Do you think because you make more money it's okay to speak condescendingly to someone, to be rude and insulting? What gives you that right? Because you work so hard and everyone ought to kowtow to you? Do you know who works hard? That single mom who works two minimum wage jobs and takes the bus an hour each way works hard and then she comes home and feeds her kids and cleans her house. She doesn't need to put up with your shit.

And most of you people DON'T work all that fucking hard. You're in the position you're in because you won the sperm and ovum lottery - you were born into a family with money, education, who just happened to be in the United States, and so you got all kinds of rights and privileges to start out with.

Then, there are the people who are with someone with money or a position of power. I'm not talking about two people who started out with nothing and built it up together. I'm talking about Bob's trophy wife half his age that he dumped that first woman for. If Bob makes $10,000,000 a year, you have maids, a nanny. Basically your job description is "I fuck Bob", so maybe you realize that and treat the gardener like dirt to feel better about yourself. Stop it!

Athletes - yes, you do train hard to be at the top of your game and many of you take a lot of hits, literally, for it. It's hard and the odds of making it are tiny. You know what else is hard - being in the military or in law enforcement getting your ass shot at for very little money, working in the mines getting black lung disease. In short, you are blessed if you are a successful athlete and you ought to remember that every day.

Then there is the entourage. It is only because I am trying to follow my own advice about treating people respectfully that I don't show up with a brick one day and start hitting you people. If you're at an event, in a location, because you are somebody's friend and start acting like an ass to the people working there, seriously who the fuck do you think you are? At least Ms. Trophy Wife fulfills some kind of purpose - "I fuck Bob and support the economy through my Gucci and Tiffany purchases". What does the entourage do? You kiss Bob's ass. Where were all of you "friends" when Bob was working his way up with the first Mrs. Bob, anyway, before he became the owner of Bob's Real Estate Dynasty or Heavyweight Champion of the Bobs ?

I don't care if you are the owner of a software giant or the woman who came into work this morning and cleaned my hotel room in the middle of a blizzard - all work has dignity and all people deserve to be treated with respect - unless maybe they really, really piss me off, and a few of you are getting there ...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Be the match: Seeking marrow donor

This was forwarded to me, originally from Naomi Osugi, from Nanka Judo

 I have some bad news but hopefully this will turn out to be a wonderful miraculous event that all of us can enjoy being a part of. You may have already heard since news travels fast but I just found out yesterday from Yone himself that he was given a devastating medical diagnosis of MDS. Still learning about that but it's the same diagnosis Robin Roberts of Good Morning America has and she was able to find a donor match bone marrow of her older sister and is doing much better. If there is no match then it's 8 months or so to live so it's pretty fatal.

 Yone had pneumonia and while being treated for that his Dr found that he has MDS. It's a blood cancer disease and the only thing that will save him is to find a bone marrow match. Being that he is Japanese, the chances of a match are really scarce. His kids are half Japanese so less chance for a match. I contacted an organization called Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches (A3M) based here in Downtown LA. Debbie and I are going through training to volunteer since we are too old to be possible donors.

 They are looking for Asians preferably Japanese (found better chances of being a match) between the ages of 18 to 44. Those between 18-44 to see if they are possible donors is free of charge. It is a really simple procedure of just filling out confidential forms and taking a q-tip swab of inner cheek. For anyone older than 44 up to the age of 60 can submit also but it will cost them about $100. The funding pays for the targeted age group of 18-44 but not for the one's older because it's less likely they would be a match to anyone.

 I spoke to my brother Kenji already and he is helping spread the word. Debbie and I would like to come to the next Nanka tournament and have a table for taking applications to be a donor at the next Nanka tournament, and we are being trained to take the sample swabs and complete the process too. Debbie said contact you because you know everybody and have the resources to get the information out there. If you can help us get the news out and attached is the link for those who want to apply to be a donor if they want to do this online:

If they are not a match to Yoshisada Yonezuka, at the very least they may be helping someone else by being a donor match.

Perfect parenting is overrated

Over twenty years ago, when my children were about ages 8, 5 and 4, I wrote a chapter called, "Handling the triple threat: How to hold a job, raise a family and still be sane by graduation"

I could not find the book. My sister probably has it. She has taken it upon herself to be the family librarian and obtain a copy of everything any of us has published. She drew the line at Maria, though, because she has hundreds, maybe thousands, of articles in press.

One of my main points in the chapter was from Sandra Scarr, author of Mother Care, Other Care and much more famous for her research on black children adopted by white families. She wrote about her personal experience being an extraordinarily productive author, professor, researcher and a mother. One of her points was

Don't try to compensate by making organic, home-made baby food. Buy the kind in the store for 39 cents. Both are equally likely to end up spit up on the cat, and you can use the time you save reading your child a book and relaxing.

There is no doubt that my granddaughters are brilliant. Emilia turned two years old last month. When the surprise birthday party for her sister was breaking up, she was very sad because she did not want the party to end. Aunt Ronda explained that she had to go and work so she could make money to buy things, like a monkey. Emilia asked,

You have a monkey? Can I touch it?

This is NOT the typical conversation at 24 months. And no, Ronda does not have a monkey. She was trying to leave with the minimal amount of tears (but not the minimal amount of lies, apparently).

So, yes, the children are brilliant and maybe that has to do with Maria devoting most of her waking hours to them. Perhaps that is supposed to make me feel guilty because I did not do that, in which case it is a failure.

One of our earliest home videos was of my using the remote control to turn the TV off to try to get two-year-old Jennifer to quit watching Inspector Gadget. I swear, that child tried her hardest to watch TV eight hours a day. I probably let her watch it two or three hours a day while I got work done.

She grew up to get a minor in film studies and major in history at San Francisco State, followed by a masters at USC and now she is the kind of history teacher you hope your child will have.

When my children were young, their father was ill and I suddenly had to make both incomes for our two-income family. After teaching at the university all day, I would come home and work as a consultant. I told all of them,

Unless there is blood on the floor, don't any of you talk to me after 10 p.m.
My desk was downstairs and their bedrooms upstairs. I chased them back upstairs many a time and I felt zero guilt.
They turned out fine.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I love Manny Gamburyan and Hayastan

This photo is terribly blurry because I took it in the one minute break between rounds. All of these guys are professional fighters - Karo Parisyan, Manny Gamburyan, Roman Mitichyan (whose last name I always get wrong and Ronda always teases me about), Ara, Sevak, Armen (whose name I probably spelled wrong, too.)

We took the students from Gompers Middle School to practice at Hayastan today.  Even though he has a fight coming up in May, Manny agreed to teach a class for the kids for half an hour before his own practice.

Karo has a fight coming up, too, but he and all of the other guys took a minute to pose with our kids for a photo before getting back to work.

I've known most of these guys since THEY were in middle school and trust me, no matter what you might hear in some media or what mistakes they might make in their lives (as Karo and I discussed today, no one is perfect), these are some of the people with the best hearts you would ever meet.

THANK YOU for opening your school to our children from Gompers today. I'm not usually the most sweetness and light type of person, but these guys are so good, I would cry - if I ever did that, which I don't actually, but still, you get my point.