Thursday, November 27, 2008

People Need Judo Like a Goldfish Needs an Underwater Castle

In my never-ending, unsuccessful quest to do less work, I am having other people write part of my blog for me as often as possible. Today, I thought I would do that by answering questions,

Bruno Medri of Italy asked
Courteous Dr. DeMars, when you tell that one of your dumb lucky was of having a family that cannot you allow to travel in Europe and Asia, or that obliged you to work, do varsity and found study abroad alone, it means that this give to you more feeling like to improve, to train harder and to win than your opponents because they cannot have your feeling like to win?

In part I think it gave me the incentive to train harder. Also, I think because I could not do what everyone else did, I had to come up with different ideas, which was lucky for me because what everyone else was doing was not working. If I'd had the opportunity, I probably would have done what everyone else was doing - moved somewhere with a team of people who just did judo and did not have full-time careers, traveled to Europe and Asia, fighting in tournaments long before I was ready to win them, "for the experience". Since I could not afford it, I did none of that. I went and got a full-time job as an engineer to pay the bills, ran miles before work or at lunch, got a weight trainer to teach me about lifting weights and drilled matwork and throws several nights a week. There was no way I could tell myself that I had the best training environment - I knew that was not true - so I HAD to train as hard as possible, never miss practice, never miss a workout anywhere. I was around a lot of just "regular judo players", so I never got the idea that I didn't need to come to practice at the local community center because that is where everyone went to practice.

David Schaeffer, from Santa Ynez Judo, asked,
"How can we market judo better?"

When I was in business school, I usually stayed awake in class, so I remember in Marketing 101 when they talked about the four P's - product, price, promotion and place.

By promotion they mean advertising, not ceremonies with palm fronds where you get promoted to woo-hoo shidan.

One of our biggest lacks with judo is PLACE. It was Irina Dunn, an Australian feminist (and not Gloria Steinem, as popularly believed) who coined the term,
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

Being happily married, I don't think that is quite accurate, as it implies that men make exactly no difference to women. I don't think that is true. I think a woman needs a man like a goldfish needs an underwater castle. That is, they are nice to have around and make life more pleasant and less boring but it is not as if you would die without one. (Incidentally, I don't hold this if you have a child. Having been a single parent and raising a child now as part of a couple, I guarantee you that the latter is easier, unless you happen to be married to a complete a$$, but that is the subject for a different blog.)

Here is the thing about judo - for most people, it is exactly like an underwater castle for a goldfish. It is NOT a necessity of life and they are not going to drive an hour each way to take their child to practice. Most judo instructors and people, who as my friend Bruce Toups says, "Have contracted judo like it is a disease," do not understand this simple fact - judo is not a priority for most people.

You need to put yourself in the place of the average parent who has never heard of judo or vaguely has an idea from an episode of the Flintstones where Wilma throws Fred around. To empathize with the typical potential judo student, or parent of one, let's substitute something else, say organic knitting. There is a great deal to be said for organic knitting, I am told. It uses less materials than regular knitting and leaves fewer negative waste products in the environment. You can apply your creativity. In judo, you have to be really, really good to make the U.S. team and then they even make you pay $50 or so for your sweats. Even a barely adequate organic knitter gets warm sweaters and cozy mittens, for a cost of about three dollars in yarn.

So, go knitting! - environmentally friendly, creative, cheap and you get sweaters. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that you or your offspring wants to become an organic knitter. You look it up on-line and find that organic knitting costs less than the price of your daily Starbucks coffee for a month. So far, so good. Doing more research on the Internet, you find that the nearest organic knitting class to you is a 45-minute drive away. Thinking about leaving for the office at 8 a.m., getting home at 6 p.m., driving to a class to arrive by 7, then knitting for two hours and driving home - that is a 14-hour day with no time allowed for dinner, shopping, seeing your family - so you forget about organic knitting and you take a kickboxing class that is offered at the local gym five miles from your house.

Why is kickboxing offered at the local gym? Because organic knitting requires to be a teacher that you hold a Certified Organic Knitter of the First Order (something I just made up) while to be a kickboxing instructor you need to complete a ten-week course and possess feet.

So, PLACE is a big reason we don't market judo well. We don't have it in enough places where it is convenient for people.

A second reason is product. Most people who teach judo have no formal training as teachers and many of them simply are not very good at it. I am not saying you have to have a teaching credential to teach small children, or adults for that matter. I can think of several people who are gifted teachers who do not have any training beyond having done judo themselves for years. They are the EXCEPTION.

We don't let people teach physical education, history or anything else to eight-year-olds without some training in how to teach. For high school students, we require they have DIFFERENT training in how to teach adolescents. For adult education, every state in America requires yet another type of certification. Yet, for some reason we believe people can magically be good at teaching judo at every age from preschool through senior citizens with no background in education whatsoever. Hey, even kickboxing requires a ten-week course!

It's as if we let people become business professors at a university based on no more qualifications than that they had shopped at the Apple Store for the past 15 years. The people who had spent the most money at the Apple Store would get to be Dean of the Business School.

You know what, some of those people would do a bang-up job as business professors because they have really given a lot of thought to the advertisements they see in the paper, the position of product in the store, the way staff treat the customers. Most of them, however, would not be very good at it at all. That doesn't make the Apple Stores a bad business. In fact, I think they are pretty amazingly awesome. It does make this a stupid way to pick teachers.


Stephen said...

It does make this a stupid way to pick teachers.

Very true.

Loren said...

Oddly enough something I'm working on for my club...

Yonah said...


Getting more 'Places' is probably the hardest of the four P's. Of 3 dojos that I've studied at during the course of my Judo life, only one of them had a Sensei who's full-time job was the dojo, and even then, he also supplemented his income by selling Martial Arts supplies and Acting. It would be great if every dojo had classes 5,6, or 7 days a week. This way I could always manage 2-3 practices into my schedule, and not have to worry if I had a conflict on a specific night - but unfortunately that's not the case in most areas.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

But another option is to have 50 people in your area teaching once a week. At the West Coast Training Center, we have 8-10 practices each month, all on Saturdays and Sundays. Gary Butts, Tony Comfort, Ronda and I make sure that between the four of us someone is always there.

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