"I felt like a wolf being bitten to death by ducks."
The comment was made by a friend of mine, a former great competitor, about his experiences with administration of judo programs. This sentiment has been echoed around the country, and I have sometimes felt the same way myself.
The situation repeats over and over. Someone organizes what he (or she) hopes to be a great judo experience. They find instructors with outstanding credentials; hard-working, motivated players attend; generous, kind-hearted people donate mats, money and facilities to make the event possible. Then the ducks start.
"There was no web page for the event."
"The start time/ date/ location wasn't listed on the flyers."
"It started half an hour late (or more)."
"The email was not sent out until three days in advance."
"People came in the back door/ late/ early and did not get charged."
There are three responses to the ducks.
- Feel very depressed because all of these are valid points. Events should start on time, everyone should pay the same amount, flyers should have start times, dates and locations.
- Get angry at the lack of appreciation for the great judo opportunities, funding provided and best efforts put out by the judo players on the mat.
- Get angry and then get depressed.
I tend to fall into the "none of the above" category because a few of the ducks are among my friends. In life in general, it is best to sincerely try to understand the other person's point of view. When I listened to a couple of "ducks",they did not think they were being unreasonably harsh.
"After all, how hard is it to get a flyer together, get a sanction and put something up on a website?"
This made me laugh, and I replied,
"Well, it is not very hard, for you. However, do you ever stop to think that those same judo coaches who you are criticizing don't understand why you cannot watch a video and immediately see that the reason blue lost is that he let white get an inside grip while he took an outside grip and that made blue vulnerable to a leg pick? Wasn't that obvious? We all think the things that are easy for us are easy for everyone."
If you are a duck , are you a good duck? Are you the kind of person who criticizes administrative failures (of which there are indeed many) because it seems so easy to you? If so, please email me at email@example.com. The USJA could desperately use the services of people like you. If you would rather work for the USJF , your local yudanshakai or the state governing body, believe me, they ALL need people who can organize a clinic, create flyers, get a sanction, handle pre-registration and the thousand other tasks of putting on an event. To most people, it is NOT easy.
If you are the kind of person who criticizes others because you get some pleasure out of putting down the efforts of others, because it makes you feel better about your own lack of accomplishments, then I feel sorry for you. At least all those wolves are out there trying their best to hunt down opportunities to make judo better, while you are just pecking at them. You are a very bad duck!
What if you are a wolf? (Sorry I don't have any pictures of wolves. This was the closest I could come and if your immediate comment is a sarcastic, "Well, that isn't very close," then you obviously fall in the bad duck category and should not be reading this paragraph anyway because it does not apply to you.)
Here is what has worked for me and kept me from quitting 1,000 times. Hang out with other wolves. Get support from people who are positive, encouraging and have the same goals you do. When people criticize the West Coast Judo Training Center, my fellow coaches, Tony Comfort, Gary Butts and Ronda Rousey, are always the first to come to the support of our players and our program.
"We believe in these young people and their potential. It doesn't matter what other people think. I see how hard they train."
"If someone doesn't want to be trained by me, I don't want to train them. I'll pour everything I have into the players we have right here."
Today, Carlos Mendez, who represented both the U.S. and Puerto Rico in international competition, just happened to drop by the training center. He was a great inspiration to all of the players and a great help to everyone from teaching sankaku to players having trouble to helping with harai goshi to jumping in during randori. I had not seen him compete in years and it finally dawned on me it was the same person, who had just moved to L.A. He didn't come in and say, "I won this and this and this."I had to ask him, "Have I gone crazy or are you the same Carlos Mendez who..?"
Stick with the wolves. If you can find some nice ducks to help you out, be nice to them and count your blessings.
As for the rest - ignore them. They're just big ducks and you're still a wolf.