Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What's next? You do what you do

I was going out to compete at the Panamerican Games. Coach Willy Cahill tells Brett Barron to go out and do his uchi mata, he tells Robin Chapman (now Robin Chow) to do HER uchi mata. Incidentally, both of them won gold medals that day. Then, he turns to me and says,

"Yeah, and AnnMaria, you go out and you do whatever that is that you do. Take 'em to the mat and kill them."

I won a gold medal, too. Afterward, I had a talk with Willy, who was a coach I really respected for all of his judo knowledge. He mentioned that people who trained with him did stand up judo, not at all like that dragging them to the mat stuff I did. I asked him if he thought I should change. He looked at me as if I was crazy and said,

"Hell, no! You're winning! By ippon. Keep on doing what you do. It's working."

Everyone always talks about "What's wrong with American judo." I rather suspect that in other countries people have the same conversations, just substituting their country's name. I want to focus on what is working and what we want to do more of.

Electronic communication - podcasts, our electronic magazines, Growing Judo and American Judo, the USJA section of the judo forum, Facebook (younger people than me), the USJA Headlines and more. We have a good number of smart people in the USJA (and other judo organizations) around the country. Technology gives us the chance to bridge the vast differences in this country and share that knowledge. We need to do more of that, bringing in such technology heavyweights as Neil Ohlenkamp.

Two-way communication - I know I said communication twice now, but it is important. I like the fact that the coaching committee, with Jim Pedro, Sr., Bill Montgomery and the rest of our experts is soliciting comments from coaches around the country in setting the criteria for the A & B level certification. I like the way they did the same in establishing the original E, D & C level certifications. I like the work the regional coordinators, headed by Joan Love, are doing reaching out to meet the needs in their communities and conveying those needs back to the board and the rest of the USJA. The regional coordinators have been really important in pointing out local needs and getting clinics, tournaments and camps organized. Areas that always had a little judo now have a little more, and, in some cases, a lot more. That is a good thing.

Encourage diversity - one thing I like about what I see happening in America is that we have people from Gary Goltz, who runs a huge club out in Claremont with everyone from five-year-olds to grandparents on the mat, like Roy Hash, with another large club, more focused on competition, in Texas, like Dr. Jim Lally who is the CEO of a major hospital and major donor to the USJA, to Jim Pedro, Sr. who is a world-class coach in the northeast to Lowell Slaven, Deb Fergus and Randy Pierce in the Midwest.

Reach out, get out of your bubble - Jim Bregman and George Harris gave me this advice -
"You need to get out and visit those clubs all over the country. See what they need. See what their concerns are. See what you can learn from them."

They were right. I have learned a lot. I don't think I have ever done a clinic anywhere that I did not find an idea or two that I could use for my next class or my next clinic. The next step is to encourage more of the same. If you run a club, do something different this year. Like Willie Williams in Connecticut, create a league with other clubs. Or, like Paul Nogaki and Neil Ohlenkamp, create a camp around a theme, such as the Judo Forum. Like Butch Ishisaka and Jeff Domingo, send a big group of your kids to Camp Bushido West. Or, be really dramatic and start a new club!

Whatever you do well, do more of it. Then, think of something new that might be fun and do that, too.


Adrian said...

What you are doing is growing and Ray Kroc, the man who developed, not founded, McDonald's into a household name said "When you're green, you're growing. When you're ripe, you rot." Somehow I think you'll leave USJA better than when you found it and have all the necessary tools in place to continue having it grow. You can be assured that many of us look forward to that happening.
Do you smell that? I think it is the 5-day old fruit that USA Judo is producing.

Anonymous said...

Electronic communication is good.. to a point. I hate that the USJA Magazine is online only. I used to read it cover to cover, and still have a huge collection from the 1970's and1980's. I find myself going back and reading articles from those paper magazines. I rarely read the electronic magazine. I know I'm not alone.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

We also have an agreement with Black Belt Magazine to buy their magazine at a HUGE discount if you are a USJA member. When you renew your membership check it out. And, they are covering a lot more judo now. It would be nice to have a USJA paper magazine but it is extremely expensive. All of the expenses of Growing Judo are paid by my company, The Julia Group www.thejuliagroup.com so it costs the USJA nothing.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Yo, Adrian -

Sorry, just couldn't resist. I love the Rocky movies.

Vote for us!


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