Friday, September 26, 2008

Failing to Appease the Judo Gods

I am a hypocrite. I admit it.

For years, I would sigh and explain the less than stellar performance of one of my students to fellow coaches this way,

"Yes, Little Joey (Joanna) has a lot of talent and could be junior national champion. The parents are that type - have the kid in a million different activities, always missing practice. You know that saying - they are going to end up with a person who is mediocre in a lot of areas instead of excellent in one."

Sigh again. Now I have gone from being self-righteous to being a hypocrite, because, you see, I am now that type of parent. I told Jim Pedro today that I felt bad about Julia missing judo practice at Sawtelle the last two weeks. I have had to give a couple of lectures at work that went until past 7 p.m. and had other commitments that just interfered with getting her to practice. He asked me how often she went to judo and I explained that, in a normal week, she has six hours of judo a week - one and a half at Sawtelle and four and a half on Saturday. Then I rattled off the other things she was doing - Monday she has gymnastics, Tuesday is volleyball, Wednesday is volleyball and judo, Thursday and Friday are volleyball. Saturday she has two judo practices and on some Sundays there is a judo practice or a tournament. She is also on the student council at school and in the debate club. Then, there is homework, cleaning her room and she is an altar server.

As I listened to myself talk, I thought, "Gee, that sure is a lot of stuff for a kid."

I said that I felt guilty that she had missed practice during the week but we still were going to skip the second practice on Saturday to go to the L.A. County Fair, since it only comes once a year.

Jim was quiet for a long time. We have known each other for a while now, enough for me to recognize his reaction when he thinks I have said something really stupid.

"Six hours a week is plenty for a ten-year-old. The few months before the junior nationals, have her work out more."

Ronda pointed out to me,
"You know, mom, I started judo around that age and I was only going to judo two or three times a week. You didn't even take me to the junior nationals until I was twelve. It didn't seem to hold me back."

(You can look at the video below of her during a grip-fighting drill and judge whether she turned out okay.)


So, why do I worry if I only get her to judo for four or five hours a week? We go to judo at least twice every week, religiously. Hell, if I got Julia to MASS twice a week the priest would be so pleased he would thank God even more often than he does.

Insanely, the more involved I have gotten with judo, the more I feel bad about not doing enough. If I miss a practice to take Julia to the county fair I feel bad (and speaking of thanking God, thank God I have Tony Comfort, Ronda, Gary Butts and occasionally Crystal Butts or Jake Flores to cover when I need to be two places at the same time, like the junior nationals and practice).

I think it comes from the number of people who are constantly asking for things. I don't blame them, usually they don't have anyone else to ask. Still, after I called Deb about the coaches clinic and athlete clinic at the All-Women's Tournament, called Bill Caldwell about the West Coast Judo Weekend Camp in San Diego, called Serge to talk about having Ronda help with the Great American Workout in Rhode Island and paid for Ronda and Julia's tickets to fly to Kalamazoo, Michigan for one clinic and then turn around and fly to Seattle for another - I decided I had done enough for one day.

Jim Pedro, Sr., probably the best coach in this country, was not at the U.S. Open this weekend. Since he was at home, I asked if I could call him over the weekend for the article for his coaching column. Much belatedly, I am going to be getting out another issue of Growing Judo.

He said,
"Call me Sunday. Saturday I am going to watch my grandchildren play Pop Warner football."

In the Bible there is a quote,
"My God is a jealous god."

Well, if the judo gods are like that, they'll just have to get over it.


In her blog one day, Ronda asked why coaches need to yell and can't just say something once, is it because they think all athletes are deaf. This video shows the answer.

Fly on the Wall at the West Coast Judo Training Center

In this video you will see...

Crystal doing a credible job of grip-fighting, attacking with a nice ko uchi, and then forgetting the entire concept of transition to newaza despite the fact that we mention it every day. You will also notice Sarah not attacking at all until she gets thrown, at which point she remembers that in judo you are allowed to do matwork when given the subtle hint of Tony yelling at her three times,
"Matwork! Matwork! Matwork!"


Carlos Graña said...

From what I've read. Children under the age of 12. Must do different sports to develop different basic motor skills. Once, They have reached the age of 12 you can then begin to specialized them in a sport. Doing this before, limits the development of their skills.

Anonymous said...

SIX hours of judo a week? Consider yourself lucky. Here's my problem, and if you can give me any advice, I'd appreciate it!

I'm an instructor and can't even get the kids to come twice a week! Forget tournaments. Nobody wants to go. They tell me they can't go because they have a "sleep over" or are going "skiing."

I teach in a very wealthy area. The kids have way too many activities and too many material things. They get everything handed to them, so they don't understand what it is to work for something.

They're also used to getting handed a trophy for just showing up. They think they're entitled. Winning means nothing to them. They don't care.

How can I motivate these kids? Or are they so spoiled by their wealthy families that I have to accept that we'll be nothing more than a recreational club with no competitors?

George said...

anonymous said...
"How can I motivate these kids? Or are they so spoiled by their wealthy families that I have to accept that we'll be nothing more than a recreational club with no competitors?"

I started judo at the age of 52. I can assure you my family wasn't (and I am not) wealthy and I doubt that since I was raised in a home where the father thought his every duty to his son was fullfilled if there were three hot meals on the table every day and a roof over his head and I don't like the way you say "recreational."

Anonymous said...

George, I don't understand your point. If you're not wealthy, nor have you been, nor do you coach a club with wealthy kids, I'm sorry, but I just don't know what you're trying to say.

I also don't understand why you're taking offense to my question. I have nothing against recreational clubs. It just doesn't happen to be my goal for MY club. That's all. I'm a former competitor, and over the years, always enjoyed having a team to coach. But in the past decade, my community has changed, and as the wealth grew, I noticed the kids changed, and not for the better.

I don't mean to imply that I have anything against people who have money. I do pretty well financially in my (non judo) full time job. I just mean that I have a problem with parents who have a lot of money but don't teach their children the value of it, or what hard work is.

Dr. DeMars, do you have any advice for me and my club? Thanks.

George said...


After reading you response to my response to your original post I feel I must apologize to you as I did misinterpret your feelings toward the recreational judo player.

In brief, I walked into one too many dojo where it was made immediately clear to me that the recreational player (defined in those dojo as: one who wants to learn how to throw people and grapple with people and improve their health but isn't all that interested in adding to my glory as their instructor by competing every Saturday).

You see, I know there is a competition component to judo and I'll sell tickets and work the concession stand and the scoreboard to support it, but I expect recipricol (sp) respect and attention to the way I want to express judo.

Again, if this is not how you view the recreational judoka, my heartfelt apologies.

Carlos Graña said...

Motivation well kids also like to travel. If that helps keep at a lot of our kids involved

Carlos Graña said...

From, my personal experience I always appreciate winning or getting a medal even if it is a local tournament because I lost several of my matches during the first 3 years. Everyone had at least 4 years of judo ahead of me.I do understand your feelings regarding that there is a generation of spoiled brats. That Don't value hard work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. Many parents, not just rich but also upper middle class, have their kids involved in way too much. I'm a firm believer kids need non-structured down time built into their week. I just talked to an acquaintance of mine that has his two daughters in piano, dance, soccer, and special language classes...all at the same time. When can kids involved in so much have any downtime just to mess around? Kids always involved in supervised structured activities, in my opinion, have a hard time organizing "fun" on their own. For example, when I was a boy me and my frieds would always organize a game of stickball or go down to the park and start up a game of baseball or soccer. Maybe its just were I live, but (with the exeption of basketball) I never see any groups of 12 year olds playing a team sport without some kind of adults sitting there telling them what to do.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Okay, back from the fair (-:

We live in a pretty affluent community as well. Short version - my ten-year-old and all of her friends have a life that would have seemed straight out of a fairy tale to me. I was going to write a blog on the fair but I think you have inspired me to write one about why I make my daughter do judo.