Friday, May 30, 2008

But You'll Get a Trophy! (Which I will throw in the dumpster six months from now)

I mentioned to a co-worker today that it would probably cost me $120 just in entry fees for Julia to compete in the state championships. He said, "Yes, but you'll have a trophy. That's priceless."

I just smiled and nodded, thinking about how every few weeks I take another load of trophies and throw them in the dumpster. I feel kind of bad about it, but if I didn't, our house would be drowning in trophies. Every time I go upstairs I step over some gold medal Ronda won from an international tournament and left on the stairs the last time that she was home. Ronda isn't so much for cleaning up. I mean to pick it up and hang it somewhere, but the truth is, I'm not so much for housework, either.

It is funny how your perception changes over the years.

Gary Goltz (the USJA Chief Operating Officer) and I were talking about this today. Someone we know has begun coaching recently and he is quite good at it, technically sound, cares about his students, an organized, engaging teacher. He is also new, and when one of his eight-year-old yellow belts loses a match, gets quite upset. He may even blame the tournament director for putting a child into a division that is too heavy, too hard or too advanced.

In fact, I think this new coach doesn't have the experience yet not to take winning and losing too seriously. I often get asked how I would compare my little Julia to Ronda at the same age. Well, aside from the fact that Ronda had not started judo yet at this age, I see a big difference in myself as a coach. When Ronda went to the state championships, it was a HUGE deal. I think she was 12. The first time, the whole family flew up there to watch her compete. We got in a day early so she could get a good night's sleep and weigh in first thing so she could eat.

There was a club tournament tonight at Sawtelle Dojo. Honestly, Julia probably would have gotten more matches at that than at the state championships. She probably would have had at least three matches, maybe one or more with a boy. At the tournament this weekend, if there are any girls her age and weight, I doubt it will be more than a couple. I was tempted to take her to Sawtelle tonight instead of driving three and a half hours to Fresno. My main reason for going is that Sarah, Crystal, Amber, Haykus and others who are regular, dedicated athletes at the training center are competing. If they can show up and train every weekend, I can drive three hours to Fresno to watch the results and come up with ideas for addressing any weaknesses I might see.

What have I learned in the nine or ten years since Ronda was in her first state championships?

  1. It is not that crucial whether your young child wins or loses. I remember that Ronda won her first year and placed third her second. I can't even remember how long ago or how old she was. The girl she lost to quit judo long ago. The other girl who was in the top three that year is in the Olympic Trials, I think two divisions below Ronda and seeded number five or so.

  2. It's not all about your kid. My main reason for going this year is not for my little daughter in the fourth grade but for the older players who are training more seriously.

  3. It's not all about judo. Julia's main interest in going to this tournament is so she can hang out with her friend, Erin Butts, at the hotel. We used to see Erin a lot more often but since her family bought a house 60 miles away, Julia only gets to see her at practice on the weekends.

  4. It doesn't matter what other people think. One reason, I believe, that relatively new coaches get upset if their players lose is that they see it as a reflection on themselves, worrying that people will think they are not competent coaches. I don't worry about what other people think any more. I know that I am a knowledgeable coach. I also know that I am not perfect and have a lot to learn. I'm comfortable in my skin, as the saying goes. If some people think a woman, or I, personally, cannot be a good coach, I really don't care. My self-esteem does not hinge on whether a grade school kid loses a match. If you think less of me because of it, then there is a word for you and it starts with "m". (No, not that word. I was thinking of "moron". What word were you thinking of? Shame on you!)

=============REQUIRED JUDO TIP ===============================
Become efficient in matwork. Here is an example... when I am on the bottom and another person is coming in to me (what ju jitsu people call "the guard"), my first move is to "collect the arm". In other words, my arm goes over their arm, above the elbow and grabs their far lapel, effectively trapping their arm. I then do a scissors and turn the person, coming up on top in kesa or yoko shiho gatame.

Similarly, when I pin someone with yoko shiho gatame, I put my left hand (assumeing I am pinning her on her right side) under her head and feed the lapel of her gi into my hand. Pulling it tightly, I can gold her down pretty well with one hand.

These are two examples of efficiency, when I can use one hand to pin the opponent and leave my other hand free to adapt to whatever she tries to do, to post, to grab her ankle or , as Julia always says, "To wave to your mommy."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

There's Always Something to Feel Guilty About

My sister swears that it is an inevitable side effect of being Catholic. I am not so sure about her explanation, but I definitely have an overabundance of guilt.

I don't feel guilty about the things I did that some people think I should feel guilty about, like telling them that they know less judo than the hairball Ronda's cat coughed up this morning or suggesting that maybe my children aren't mean, theirs just need to train harder.

No, I feel guilty about the things I DIDN'T do. Take Friday, for example. I got in to work earlier than usual, finished up the documentation on SPSS, uploaded the rest of an 11 GB dataset for testing and stayed more than eight hours, even though it was the day before a three-day weekend and half the people in the building were gone by 2 p.m. Then, I came home, did the dishes and, since the weather was so nice, I took Julia to the park to play baseball for an hour.

After that, I vacuumed the living room, cleaned the guinea pig cages, put medicine on them for mange mites, since their hair has been falling out, and made them little houses out of shoe boxes because they might be bored. Besides, I felt kind of bad since it had taken the mange medicine we ordered over the Internet a week to show up and I didn't order it right away because the first guinea pig that started losing its hair is kind of neurotic and I read somewhere it could be stress or overgrooming. Then, when Edward G. Robinson started losing his hair, I concluded it was mange mites because if Edward was part of judo, he would be ju no kata done by an old lady, while Ali, the other guinea pig, would be that crazy person that comes out flailing around in randori and pokes you in the eye. So, yes, I even feel guilty about the guinea pigs, even though they are the size of a shoebox, have about the same IQ and enjoy a better diet, medical care and housing than many people in third world countries.

After the work, baseball, housecleaning and guinea pig care, what I felt the most guilty about was judo. Julia had missed judo on Wednesday because she was sick and I didn't take her on Friday because - well, because the weather was nice and baseball at the park seemed like a fun idea. Then, after having been gone for ten hours already today, just going out to a nice Italian dinner with the family seemed like a good idea.

Over the years, I have coached many children who were eight to twelve years old who could have won the junior national championships or state championships. However, they just didn't show up at practice that often. I remember a couple of girls in particular who showed up once a week. If they had just come to judo two or three times a week regularly they would have beaten everyone. Their parents used to shrug when I brought it up and say,

"They like to do other things."

Their children were in basketball, dance and music programs. Other kids over the years have been in science fair, robotics, baseball, wrestling, school plays and probably chess club. With three girls close in age and, for much of their childhood, a husband who was ill, or as a single parent, my older children did not have the option of being in many activities simultaneously. They had to pick one. Still, they did a lot of activities - track, ballet, tap, cheer-leading, swimming, soccer, piano lessons, bassoon and probably some others I don't remember. My little Julia has been in ballet, hip-hop, karate, gymnastics, debate club, Spanish class and, of course, judo.

Yet, it is only judo that I feel guilty not taking her to practice. While judo DOES provide good exercise for her, so does baseball, and we had a lot of fun at the park playing baseball.

Maybe I feel guilty because I don't make her practice as often as some of the kids she competes against, just like those girls years ago, who "liked to do other things", and she doesn't always win because she doesn't practice as often as some kids. Still, I don't feel too guilty, because I see so many of those kids quit after a year or two and Julia is still going to judo. It hasn't all coalesced yet. She still attacks off balance sometimes and gets countered. She doesn't always transition from standing to matwork the way she should. But, hey, she turned ten in March.

Maybe I am not always at practice, either, but I have been around for 37 years doing judo in one way or another. It's like something my grandmother told me over forty years ago, when she was explaining how marriage can last. She said when people think they fall in love is like when you first throw wood on a fire, it flares up, you have a bright flame and it is really hot. After the flame burns down, though, you have coals and they keep you warm for hours. The only way to keep those high flames is to throw more and more wood on the fire. She said being married is like that and some women are always looking for another person and another one to keep that flame going. She said,
"Those women are just stupid."

So, I think I will just keep going to practice when I can, and take Julia when I can, and enjoy it, and try not to feel so guilty when I don't take her. They don't have an Olympics for ten-year-olds, or for grandmothers like me, either. You know, I think that is a good thing.

=========== REQUIRED JUDO TIP =============================
I have been neglecting these for a while.... here is a good drill we did at the training center today.

As I say over and over, most people's matwork is too slow and not reactive enough. Try this drill:
Get in a group of three. Two people are on their hands and knees. The third person has to do a turnover on the right side of each one, then the left side of each one, going back and forth. Time how many they can do in a minute or how quickly they can do ten turnovers. The timing is an important aspect of this drill, because one of the weaknesses, I have pointed out, is that most people are doing these too slowly. Having three people works well because most judo players being somewhat assertive, the person you are NOT doing the turnover on who is just waiting is usually not quietly impatient, thus giving the person performing the turnovers additional incentive to hurry up, in addition to the fact that he or she is being timed. We did this today with a half-nelson, but you could do it with any matwork technique.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Back-up and Balance

Every time I get sick it reminds me how lucky I am

That may sound strange but this last weekend was a good example. On Saturday I woke up feeling singularly uninspired. That is unlike me. As much as I hate mornings, whenever I get to judo I am just happy to be there. Tony Comfort, a contender for the 2004 Olympic team, Raytheon engineer and new dad runs our morning conditioning practices but between the whole job-and-dad thing he had missed the last couple and Gary Butts had to work on Saturday. Well, thank God Tony was there on Saturday because I just was not feeling it. He did a great conditioning work out with our team at the local park. Stopping by to watch, I was extremely proud of them. It was over 100 degrees and they were doing sprints, step-ups and other conditioning and strength training exercises in the heat. Even our two littlest ones, Julia and Erin, joined in.

The Nanka Shorai games (contests for younger kids that include number of throws in two minutes, number of push-ups in two minutes, etc.) were during the lunch break and by the time those ended I was done. I was so sick, I laid on the couch and slept through the whole afternoon practice.

Tony did a great job and I know everyone at practice got a lot out of it. On Sunday, when I was still sick in bed, Julia went with Dad to buy new running shoes "for Tony's conditioning practices".

Laying in bed for 30 hours, I had plenty of time to think and this is what I thought about how lucky I am:

  • I am really lucky to be part of a training center where we have enough good quality coaches that we can cover for each other at the drop of a hat, or virus, or shift change.

  • I am really lucky to have a healthy, smart little kid and a husband to take care of her when I am sick. I remembered how it was after Ron died and the other kids were little. If I was sick, I still had to do laundry, make dinner and help them with their homework anyway. If I was really sick, they just had to take care of themselves. Either way it sucked.

  • I am really lucky that in spite of the less-than-perfect life they had growing up, all of my children grew up to be good people with significant accomplishments academically, athletically and poised for a healthy, happy, successful life, however they might define it. And believe me, they each define that quite differently.

  • I am really lucky that I am just sick and not chronically or terminally ill. I have had friends who were seriously ill or disabled who feel this bad every day. Although I felt terrible, I knew it would pass in a day or two and I would be back to writing programs, teach judo, teaching statistics and all of the other things that I do.

  • Even though I felt like I was falling behind spending a day and a half in bed, I felt really lucky that I have a full life with so much to do between work, judo and my family.

Now I realize that all of this makes me sound like a Pollyanna-ish look on the sunny side of life optimist. Well, first of all, I hated that movie and thought Pollyanna was annoying. Secondly, I think that I am not being optimistic so much as realistic.

My niece, Samantha, was reading some articles about "depressive realism" that said people who were depressed were more realistic about their lot in life while the so-called "normal" people over-estimated their own attractiveness, intellect, etc. in comparison to the judgments others made about them.

I would debate that reality is necessarily determined by majority rule. Now, I am not saying that if the majority of the people say that there is NOT a giant green bat flying around my head trying to eat my ears and I say there is that I would not be several steps over the line from crazy.

However, objectively, I would say that living in Santa Monica, having two kids through college, one headed to her second Olympics, good friends, a healthy little kid, past my tenth wedding anniversary, the bills are paid, is a good life. Other people might debate that I don't live in a big house in Malibu, or in a big house at all, we live in a townhouse, and I drive a mini-van, not a Porsche. For all the money I made over the years, I wasted it on trips to the Bahamas, Athens, Austria, Hawaii, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Las Vegas, on designer clothes the kids didn't need, helping out friends who needed it at the time and a thousand other things. "Realistically," I should have invested more and spent less.

Objectively, I should have a job with a fancy title, a big office and a fat salary given all my years of experience. Realistically, I am an under-achiever being 'only' a senior statistical consultant after all these years, I should be in management, well, managing.

To all of this realism, I say, "HA!"

I like my life. My work interests me. In 24 hours of a day, I am probably happy 23 1/2 of them. I like the giant jade fish on my desk because it reminds me of the camp at Mayo Quanchi where the Chinese team gave it to me, and it is the king of my 'desk pets'. I like my little coffee house on my desk with the candle inside that lights up because it reminds me of Christmas when someone gave it to me, and that person (my sister-in-law) was thoughtful enough to realize I liked coffee and candles and put them together. I like it too, because it reminds me of Thomas Kinkaide paintings which I also like, even if my husband dismisses them as trendy.

Maybe this is why the whole judo politics, judo trash talking and all the negative things don't bother me as much as they seem to bother some people. I have a great life full of good things. No one is shooting at me. The last time I was really hungry was making weight for the world championships 24 years ago. Most days, my biggest worry is finding a parking space, which reminds me that I own a car, am able to drive and live in a place good enough that so many people want to live there you can't even find a parking space.

I think I AM realistic and people who are depressed are just, well, depressing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I never thought I'd have to say this but...

Raising four daughters, who now range from age ten to twenty-five, with an extra niece thrown in for good measure, our household is not typical, it occurred to me, based on the things you would think you would never have an occasion to say.

No, you cannot get a monkey and a penguin.

No, you cannot get a penguin even if you paint your room black and white and make it stand real still.

No you cannot get a monkey no matter how many tournaments you or your sister win by ippon.

If you advertise your sister's underwear on ebay I WILL sell you for scientific experiments.

Don't you dare go to work before you pick up all of the pieces of that computer and put it back together.

Do not do naked cartwheels in the living room when we have company.

You skipped Algebra and told your Buddhist teacher that it was a religious holiday, St. Frances Day? Who the hell is St. Frances, the patron saint of liars?

No, you cannot skip mass if you promise to feel really guilty about it.

Yes, you can have a Thanksgiving crab instead of a Thanksgiving turkey.

Yes, that's blood on that uniform but it's somebody else's blood, so it's okay.

Don't worry about the blood, it will wash out.

For future reference, if an animal is bleeding on the sheets A) take the animal to the vet and B) change the sheets, preferably in that order.

I don't care if your toe is broken, you have nine more toes. Besides, no judo technique really requires all ten toes anyway.

What do you mean you need to be picked up because you have "female problems"? Unless your female problem is that you just gave birth in the school library, you can walk the six blocks home.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Life Goes to the Slowest Winner

My friend, Lanny Clark, has a saying whenever things don't go exactly as one would want them at the moment,
"Life goes to the slowest winner."

His point is that it matters far less who is the high school football hero at 17 or who won the junior nationals at 11 or who got the highest score on the AP Chemistry test than who is president of Microsoft at 40, who wins the Olympics at 21 or who receives the Nobel Prize for Medicine at 62.

  • When, like my daughter, Jenn, you are 22 and have a college degree and a job but not quite a career yet...

  • Or, when, like my daughter, Ronda, you have a bad day and don't place in a competition...

  • Or, when, like my daughter, Maria, you have a job as a sportswriter but you are living in Fort Wayne, Indiana ...

it is understandable to be discouraged.

Wisdom, of sorts, is one of the benefits of getting older, that partially makes up for bad knees, not being able to run a mile and going from good-looking to "good-looking for your age". Only partially, though.

One of those pieces of wisdom I picked up over the years is that setbacks are only permanent if you allow them to be. Another is that you can see the whole picture a lot clearer from a distance.

In my current position, I make less than I did a year ago. I was retired briefly, and I found that I liked not working all of the time. So, I traded off 80-hour weeks and regularly being thousands of miles away from my family for being home on the evenings and weekends, and not having to travel any further than downtown Los Angeles. Part of the deal, though, is that I am getting paid less. You probably aren't going to find someone who is going to pay you just as much for less work and better working conditions. If you do, give them my phone number.

My ego is a little bruised because, in America, one is supposed to be always getting more, bigger, better and having less is one of those horrible things like getting devoured by flesh-eating meal worms that should be avoided at all costs. I thought this way for about five minutes until it occurred to me:
A.) I make FIFTEEN TIMES what I made when I started working.
B.) The financial worries that I had are past. Would I be able to put all of the kids through college? Two have already graduated? Would I be able to pay for Ronda to go to the tournaments and camps she needed to reach her potential and goals she didn't even know she should have? Ronda did get to the events she needed and now she has a job and can pay for her own travel. Would I be able to pay the mortgage, sell the house and pay it off? The mortgage payments always got paid and the houses have been sold and paid off. I have figured out (painfully) how to have enough money taken out that when the taxes come due it is no longer the size of the Gross National Product of a small island country and we can pay them.
C.) My family is wonderful.
D.)I live in Santa Monica, which has beautiful weather, nice parks, good schools, an ocean and where the biggest civic issue is finding a good parking spot.

I think the best strategy, and - like all of life - I am making this up as I go along, is to be worriedly optimistic. It is probably good that I worried about finding a way to pay for the children to go to college and paying the mortgage, because it insured that I worked hard and found a way to do it. On the other hand, it is best not to make yourself too crazy worrying, because the odds are, if you work really hard and do the right thing, it will work out.

You'll make yourself less crazy if you take a long-term view. Life changes from day to day. My little Julia asked me how Ronda was doing at the tournaments this week and why did she have such a bad day on Thursday and not place. I searched for words to explain to a ten-year-old how even elite athletes have those days when every move is a step behind and a second late. They have fewer of them, but everyone has one or two. The best I could come up with is,

"You know, mija, some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue."

You can't judge your life one day at a time. Ronda's experience this past week is a case in point. She had a bad day on Thursday. There could be a hundred reasons. The other players were fighting to make it into the Olympics and she was just there to get some extra practice time on the mat. She wasn't training hard enough or taking it seriously enough and got a wake up call. Thursdays are always a bad day to compete if you were born in February. Who knows? The fact is, Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day had nothing on Ronda's.

So ... two days later, she comes back, beats the Brazilian who won the Panamerican Championship on Thursday, increasing her record against her to 4-0. She fights the Columbian who won last year's Panamerican Championships, gets thrown for a waza ari, gets pinned, escapes, gets thrown for a yuko - and comes back and throws the woman for ippon to win the match. She goes 3-0 for the day and wins the outstanding competitor award. On Sunday, she fights in the Zone Cup, beats the Canadian she lost to on Thursday, the Haitian and Cuban players forfeit rather than come out and fight her and Ronda wins the tournament.

On Thursday, there was talk about how the U.S. doesn't have a chance to win an Olympic medal in judo after all. Today, all of those people are silent. The point is, you don't judge a competitor on one match,one day any more than you should judge your career on what was in your paycheck this week or your life on whether you are getting along with your current significant other. There is a word for thinking like that, what is it, I'm searching for it - oh, yeah. Stupid.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sometimes Low Self-Esteem is the Result of a Realistic Appraisal

Being able to look reality square in the eye is an important - and rare - trait

Today's blog advice is on success in marriage and judo, in that order and not necessarily together.

My husband is not perfect. If he was, he could have married someone with the looks of a super-model, the wisdom of Margaret Mead and the kindness of Mother Teresa. Instead, he is married to me, a person with the looks of Margaret Mead, the kindness of a super-model with the only common traits between me and Mother Teresa that we are both Catholic and have an "a" in our names.

Today, I had an epiphany regarding beta-weights and partial derivatives.
Of all of the people I know, Dennis is the only one who would not say,
"What the hell are you talking about?"

(If you are really interested, which you probably are not, you can read about it in my other blog, which includes a lot of posts on statistics.)
I suppose I could have married someone who would tell me every day how brilliant I am. I know people who wanted an adoring fan for a spouse instead of a partner. They needed someone to tell them how wonderful and perfect they were. Too late, they realized that a person who worships the ground you walk on, who never pushes you to be more than you are or calls you out for mistakes you made probably has some really serious issues of their own. Did these people never pay attention to the cardinal rule,

"Never sleep with anyone crazier than yourself" ?

(No, not even if they are very good-looking and tell you that you are the smartest, toughest, most talented person in the universe. I don't know who that person is, but it is not you. Trust me on this one.)

Accept that you are sometimes only average and even sometimes less than average. Welcome to the human race. Don't hook up with someone who strokes your ego every day just so you can feel better about yourself in the short run. Remember, as a friend of mine said,

"It is better to have loved and lost than to have married a psycho."

There was a discussion on the Judo Forum this week about who has a chance to medal in the Olympics.

I am not going to comment on any individual because as I said on the forum, for all I know, they are all wrestling cougars every night and dragging 300 pound sleds up mountains every day preparing for the Olympics.

I do know that when people are NOT training to be best in the world it is no favor to them to pretend that they are. A few years ago, I told Ronda that I knew what training to beat the world looked like and what she was doing wasn't it. I told her I wasn't going to give her any money and even suggested if she wanted to train half-ass and see the world that she book her tickets on Travelocity. Ronda did not take this well. In fact, for a while I was an evil old woman while everyone else was her new best friend. When you love people a lot, you tell them the truth, if you think it will help them, even if they hate you for it temporarily.

All of those people who have been told by their coaches, teammates and "friends" that they are training smarter, not harder, that they don't need to train anywhere outside their own club or city, who believe their own press, who believe that you can win internationally without being sore, hungry and uncomfortable ON A REGULAR BASIS - have been sold a bill of goods. Being successful at anything means going outside your comfort zone, sometimes failing and being able to face up to that fact.

Crystal Butts is my favorite judo player this week. When I asked her how she did at the tournament on Sunday, she answered,
"I got my butt slammed. I'm not going to make any excuses."

When she overheard me say to Julia that she needed to ratchet her training up a notch, starting now, Crystal interjected,
"Me, too. I'll be picking it up with you this weekend."

Serge, shown above teaching seoi nage,commented recently that I tell the same stories over and over. Ronda laughed and reminded him that she had been hearing those stories all of her life. I do that on purpose and not due to early onset of Alzheimer's. In Latino culture there are "dichos", sayings that grandparents tell their grandchildren over and over in an effort to shape their character. Even though my grandmother passed away nine years ago, every time something difficult happens in my life, I hear her voice saying with complete assurance,
"God knows what he is doing, mija."

My grandmother did not put much stock in the latest self-esteem curriculum. She never even heard of such a thing. She told me,
"Sometimes you are supposed to feel bad. That voice inside of yourself is telling you that you did the wrong thing. Next time you should maybe not do that thing. Next time, you should try harder to be better."

I don't remember what it was that Nanny was chastising us about, but I do remember my Uncle Fred scolding her,

"Ma, you're making the kids feel bad,"

and I remember Nanny's unrepentant response,

Sometimes, you need to feel bad to get better.

People I forgot to credit:
The New York Times article I mentioned yesterday was part of a post in the Judo Podcast on dirty tricks and sportsmanship.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Locus of Control: The Secret of Success

The Cliff Notes' version:

"Constructs" are very important in psychology. A construct is a theoretical "thing" which cannot be directly measured such as motivation or introversion. One of the constructs that I found most fascinating when I was a student, and to this day, was Locus of Control. A person with a completely external locus of control believes that everything is due to circumstances outside his control. If I lose a match, fail a course or get fired from a job, it is because of factors over which I had no control. The refereeing is bad, the professor was disorganized, the boss hated me, I was just born dumb and uncoordinated. A person with complete internal locus of control believes that everything is within her control. In the same circumstances, this person would attribute the cause of failure to her not having trained hard enough, having forgotten to ask the professor when the assignment was due or not having learned the boss's expectations and thus had misunderstandings.

It is better in the long-run to have a more internal locus of control rather than an external locus of control. In the short-run, maybe not so much.

For example, today my little daughter, Julia, won one match and lost two. Valerie, a friend of mine, who remembered me when I competed, commented to her son,
"That little girl is not going to get any sympathy from her mother."

She didn't. I took her aside and told her that she had lost because she did her o uchi gari reaching rather than stepping in to the other person. I also told her that she loses because many of the girls she fights go to practice more often than her and that she was going to have to go to practice more often if she wanted to win.

Today, I heard some parents excusing that their child lost because the other players were heavier or older, or that the refereeing was poor. It's hard to admit that your child lost because she doesn't go to practice enough, because who is it that takes your child to practice (or not)? In my case, it is even worse to admit that she lost because her technique was incorrect, because I am the one who is teaching her. We have been working on her pulling herself in instead of pushing with o uchi gari, but obviously not enough. It is always easier to let yourself off the hook. You feel worse if you believe that any failure was your fault.

Today, Julia said to me,
"I don't hate tournaments. It's just that I hate losing."

I told her,

"You're supposed to hate losing. That's what makes people train harder."

It's easier at the moment to blame your inept co-workers, biased referees or professors who are 'bad teachers'. Easier on your ego, maybe, but ineffective, since there is nothing you can do about any of that. I'd like to be a better judo coach, I really would, but at the same time, I am sitting here looking at a picture of all of my daughters taken at Maria's wedding. I realize that I was able to pay for their college educations and training for the last Olympics because I chose a profession that paid more than coaching judo.

I know more about statistics and educational technology than the vast majority of people, but not nearly as much as I would like. I could complain about how math is hard, I have four kids, it wouldn't make any difference in my career anyway - or I could pick up the book on the floor next to my desk and read more about statistical modeling. On Tuesday I am going to a conference on Educational Technology and on Wednesday I am leaving work earlier so that I can take Julia to judo practice at Sawtelle.

More than any other, Gandhi's saying,
"Be the change you want to see in the world,"

epitomizes an internal locus of control.

My husband worries that I will push Julia too much, interfering with her current evening routine of eating Red Hot Cheetohs while watching Hannah Montana re-runs. I disagree. A person learns to have an internal locus of control through experiences that tell them that their efforts matter.

Random thoughts:
This post on sportsmanship, from a New York Times article, made me think what I would have done. If someone had beat me fair and square, and then, say, collapsed on the mat from some unrelated injury, would I have helped her up so she could have won? I thought about this after reading the article, and I think I would, not because I don't think winning is important but because she would have won. I would have known it, she would have known it and whatever the referee said wouldn't have changed that fact. It goes back to an internal locus of control.

Self-esteem comes from achieving a difficult task. This is true in sports, it is true in academics and professionally. The more you achieve difficult tasks, the more you will have the belief that you can do so in the future.

Photo of Serge teaching ko uchi makikomi at the Great American Workout.