Saturday, September 24, 2011
Judo role model? Try Dave Winer instead of Homer Simpson
Two very, very common statements I hear are that judo needs to be in the schools and judo needs to be run more like a business. I never hear anyone say that judo coaches need to be more like Homer Simpson.
The first argument goes that everyone (or, at least, a lot more people) would love judo if they knew about it. Japan has very good judo because it is taught in their schools and millions of kids take it. The hundred thousand or so that get to black belt are the pool from which their Olympic teams can be drawn.
Dave Winer is a pretty successful businessman. He's founded two software companies, made some interesting contributions to technology we all use - like the original outlining program - and has the opposite attitude of Homer. On his blog yesterday, he suggested that rather than complaining about all of the problems in America, some of us voluntarily roll up our sleeves and start fixing things.
Which gets me to my point - this is the third year that we have had a program at Gompers Middle School. For the first two years, the mats were loaned by a very kind karate coach. Now we have some different loaner mats surrounded by a safety area of very old gymnastics mats. We have a dozen used judo gis that kind friends and former students of mine donated (thank you!). That is not enough since we had 14 kids signed up for judo and not all of the gis fit all of the students. One young man much bigger than me was wearing a size 2 because that is all that was left. Still, we are in the third year of the program.
Here is how it started - the teacher asked Jennifer, my second daughter, who was a student teacher back then, if she knew anyone who might teach judo. Jenn got Ronda, her younger sister, who had just come back from the Olympics, to volunteer. We borrowed mats from Sean Davila, a karate instructor who also writes Christian books. Sean is one of those people who give Christianity a good name, a follower after Father Loyola Ignatius who believed that God's charge is that we do good in the world - NOT that we go around judging other people, like some right-wing nut jobs seem to think. But, I digress. Anyway, I knew Sean was the type of person who would let us use his mats for free if he wasn't using them - and at the moment, he wasn't.
Ronda taught there for a year, and I would substitute when she couldn't make it. After she started MMA, it got to be more me teaching there and her substituting when I couldn't make it. After another six months, Blinky Elizalde began teaching as a substitute as well. Ronda now drops in once or twice after a fight during the period she is taking a break from training, or if we really get in a bind and neither Blinky nor I can make it.
I really think the success of the Gompers program is in part because we have multiple instructors. We never cancel practice. Sometimes the school cancels practice because they have an event, like a school dance, but WE never flake on them. Yes, it is a volunteer activity, but there are three of us and between the three of us, we can make it there one day a week for thirty-six weeks out of the school year.
Speaking of showing up, I better get in the car and head out to the new West Coast Judo Training Center location.
859 W Foothill Blvd
Claremont CA 91711
(Sekai Black Belt Academy)
See you there.