Saturday, July 23, 2011

Develop your spidey sense for matwork

I cannot believe I had never written about a "spidey sense" for matwork, because it's something I've thought of so often.

My favorite part about the Spiderman comics is when he would say his "spidey" sense is tingling. Supposedly spiders have an extra sense that allows them to detect danger. I guess this is to make them aware when you are about to step on them and squish them.

It seems to me that judo players who do A LOT of matwork develop a "spidey sense" of what is about to happen.

The best example I can think of this is many years ago when I had first met Jimmy Pedro, Jr.  I had seen a lot of our U.S. players get beaten with sankaku jime (what some people call a triangle choke), had spent a very long time thinking about it and had come up with a counter. It worked on every person I tried it on. I taught it to Ronda and she used it effectively on a great many people, including in the Olympics. When drilling this, you let the person almost sink in the triangle but you slip your hands in between so that they can't figure-four their legs. You don't push, you don't do anything, you just gently cup one hand on their heel and have your other hand open with the backs of both hands touching. The attacker doesn't feel threatened at all, he/she almost has it and just goes with the technique thinking to lock the legs on the way over.

When that happens, I spread my arms as wide apart as I can and roll. The opponent ends up on her back with her legs apart like I'm making a wish with a wishbone on a Thanksgiving turkey. I wish that I am pinning her. This wish comes true.

At the time, I had come up with it not that long ago, and I wanted to see if it would work on someone who was very, very good at sankaku and Jimmy happened to be doing a clinic, so I asked him to do sankaku on me. He came into the technique like in the photo above. Unlike everyone else, he didn't go ahead. He came out and tried again. He did it a third time. Then he said, "I don't know why, but I can't do it on you" and he walked away.

He may have thought I was one of those jerks at clinics that try to show off by stopping the clinician from doing a technique. Seriously, if someone tells you the move they are going to do, it's not that hard to stop them. So, if he thought that, I'm sorry but since it was over a decade ago, I'm pretty sure he's gotten over it.

The fascinating part about this story to me is that he didn't fall for it. I have a theory about that and it's the same theory about why Ronda and I both have been very, very seldom armbarred, not even in practice. If you do something enough, if you are in that position often enough, even if you can't put your finger on it, can't put words to it, your spidey sense starts tingling. You sense something is wrong and you walk away rather than go through with the move you started and ending up pinned or armbarred.

There is no other way to develop this sense than gobs and gobs of matwork. Hours and endless repetitions in those very positions. This is why Jim Pedro, Sr. always says that the best thing for your sport is to do that sport. Weight-training is important. Building your endurance is important.  Analysis of videos, yours and your opponents' is important. But if you ever have a choice between any of that and spending another 15 minutes on the mat, get your ass out on that mat.

Or you may end up squished.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Circuits: Conditioning for Juniors (Another Jim Pedro, Sr. Guest Post)

(This worked out well today that I had a guest post from Jim on circuits for conditioning for juniors because that was the chapter in the book I am writing today. If you haven't been reading this blog lately, the posts from Jim are to free up my time so I can finish up a couple more chapters of the book this week. )

I like dealing with young athletes, because this is a good time to build a base for their conditioning and good habits. This base will help after they reach puberty and are able to use weights. They'll already have both the physical and emotional foundation.


 Except for out of season training where older kids are lifiting heavier weights for power and strength, I believe more in doing circuits especially for younger kids. Circuits are a good example of a routine for young children.  I used to do these myself when I was younger, even before I was doing martial arts.


What is a circuit? It is simply doing one exercise after another without stopping for 25- 30 minutes

When your young players first starting out doing these circuits, you should have them do one circuit and then rest 1 ½ times as long as it takes for them to do the first circuit then gradually cut the rest time down until they’re doing 25-30 minutes continuously.

 If you really want them to get in a lot better shape, after they’re able to do a continuous 25-30 minutes, you can have them try to beat their time. For example, if they’ve done 4 or 5 circuits in 25 minutes, the next time they try to beat the 25 minutes and so on. When they’re unable to beat their time, which will eventually happen, you can either add another circuit or add reps to each exercise and start over.

Example  of  a circuit
Jumprope
Push ups
Chin-ups
Deep knee bends
Situps
Squat thrusts
Step ups

If you’re in judo, mixed martial arts or other throwing events, you can do uchikomis with a tube (fitting in on throws) and add that to a circuit.

On opposite days, we recommend doing plyometrics. Doing plyometrics, you can either do isolated one exercise and rest or do in a circuit form. Before doing plyometrics, I recommend that you test their vertical jump, which is standing still and jumping as high as you can and mark that spot. After 2-3 months, re-test your athletes and you will be surprised at their improvement.


Example of plyometrics – box jumps, hurdles, ladder drills, twists (while standing), one-legged hops, in and outs (down the ladder), ball toss. You can see some animations of plyometric exercises on this site.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guest post from Jim Pedro, Sr. : Out-condition them

Note: This week, to free up my time to get another chapter done on the book, I have several guest posts from co-author, Jim Pedro, Sr.

Remember the best conditioning for a sport is doing that sport. Unless you’re a professional or doing college sports, you don’t get enough mat time. For instance in Japan, they do five or six hours a day of judo, very little wight lifting they build their strength and endurance by doing their sport. They do some lifting and some conditioning but not very much. When you’re working out at home, you’re probably only working out mat time five or six hours a week compared to their five or six hours a day. Not only are they training on the mat far more hours than you, they have more quality athletes to train with.

(Photo courtesy of Jerry Hays, USJF Archivist)

Looking at it logically, you would say that you don’t have a chance to catch these athletes. But if you supplement your training with lifting, running, circuit training and try to out condition everyone that you fight, you have a chance. Those things you control. I recommend you get a tape by Dan Gable that I listened to years ago where he said everyone has a breaking point and he would stay on him until he broke them and beat them.




It’s difficult to do, but not impossible, look at the results that we’ve had with some of our players.

As a coach, most of the happiest moments of coaching have been after one of my athletes beat an athlete and they’re fresh and the other athlete is totally exhausted. This all comes down to how bad do you want to win.

(I could not actually find a picture of Jim looking happy so I included a photo of Ronda doing her happy dance at practice at the West Coast Judo Training Center instead. This is the dance she does when people do whatever she's teaching just right. By the way, Ronda and Sensei Blinky are running practice on Sunday, if you want to show up. Maybe you'll get to see her do her happy dance.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guest post from Jim Pedro, Sr.: You can always find an excuse

I'm trying to get another chapter on the book done before I leave town on Sunday, so these next few posts are going to be guest posts from Jim Pedro, Sr. that he gave me last month (hey, I've been busy!)

 (Thanks to Sevak from Hayastan Martial Arts for 
being kind enough to pose for the picture below. 
Despite appearances, he is indeed wearing pants)


Most of our athletes are part-time athletes. That’s one of the biggest problems with coaching these athletes. They have school, work, marriage, kids and other commitments. It’s hard for them to achieve their goals but it's not impossible. First of all, they have to want to structure their workouts. For instance, before one of their commitments, they have to get up early and do their running in the morning, if possible. If they can’t run in the morning, they can always run in the afternoon on their lunch break. Or they can do their weightlifting and conditioning on their lunch hour.

There is always a way to train if you want it. Where they are usually part-time athletes most of their sports are done at night. It’s a lot easier to construct your workouts to do your running and lifting in the morning so you can do your specific sport at night and put your energy into that.

If you miss your run in the morning, you can always run before you go to bed, or you can ride a bike or run to and from work. There’s always an excuse why you can’t work out or why you can’t do things. If you’re committed and disciplined and want to win, you will find a way.

If not, you’ll always have an excuse.


 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Secret of matwork #14

If you ever watched even one tournament you've seen this happen ... One person is thrown, knocked or falls to the mat. The other player stands there for a few seconds and either doesn't follow through at all or moves to a different position before going into matwork. Nothing of interest happens and the referee makes them both stand up and start again.

What the hell happened?

Yes, this really is labeled "Secret of matwork #14" in our book.

One reason people will let an opponent have a chance to escape is that they only have a limited number of techniques on the ground. They have to move from the side of the opponent to in front because they don’t have any moves they can do from the opponent’s right side.

There should be no position, no place on the mat, where your opponent is safe from you. For each of these positions, write down what technique you do well enough to do in competition. That is, not just something you can do in a demonstration, but that you can make work against an opponent who is resisting you.
1. You’re knocked down with your back to the ground and the opponent standing in front of you.
2. You’ve knocked down your opponent, his/her back is to the mat and you are standing in front.
3. You miss a technique or are pulled down so that you are on your hands and knees and your opponent is standing in front of you.
4. Your opponent misses a technique or is pulled down so that he/ she is on hands and knees in front of you.

In the photo below both of the players should have practiced attacking from the position she finds herself in.






5. You miss a technique or are pulled down so that you are in front of your opponent with one knee on the ground and still holding on (this is a terrible position, by the way, against a knowledgeable fighter and you should try never to do this).
6. Your opponent misses a technique or is pulled down so that he/ she is in front of you with one knee on the ground and still holding on.

  7. You are on all fours with the opponent your side.
8. The opponent is on all fours with you at the side.
Do we need to say it again? In the photo below, whether you are the person on the top or the person on the bottom, you should have practiced an attack from there.




  9. You are on your back. The opponent is between your legs.
10. Your opponent is on her back. You’re between her legs.


11. You have been thrown to your stomach and your opponent is behind you.
12. Your opponent has been thrown to the stomach and you are behind him/her.

In this case, for the person on the bottom there is not a very good attack, but what he should have practiced is getting out of there and into a better position.

How do you get an attack from every position? Go back and read some of those posts about drills and repetitions. 

We want you to notice something here. All of those pictures above are from one tournament, the 2008 Olympic Trials. If we can go to just one event and find examples of all of these situations, they must occur fairly often. If you know you’re likely to find yourself in a situation, practice for it. It only makes sense.

And that goes not only for positions you're going to find yourself in, like on all fours with the opponent in front of you, it also goes for situations you'll find yourself in, like behind by a yuko and at the edge of the mat. If it's likely to happen, you should practice for it, don't you agree?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Drills versus Repetitions

In one of the chapters on matwork in THE BOOK, we talk about the importance of doing drills and repetitions. Which brought me to the point of what is a drill versus what's a repetition?

A repetition is easy - it is doing the technique against less than full resistance. As Andy Lee so eloquently put it on twitter, "repetition is about muscle memory". I am a very, very big proponent of repetitions, doing the technique over thousands of times.

When you are first learning a technique, do repetitions with no resistance. For example, in the photo below, Jerry is allowing his partner to reach under his arm, reach behind his neck and apply a choke.


Take a close look a the position above. What she should be doing at this point is rolling to her RIGHT and getting on TOP of Jerry.  When she does that, she'll drop her right elbow and have a cross choke. More importantly, she'll be in a pin while she's choking him. Also importantly, she'll be in a great position to do other techniques as a combination off of that pin/choke.

The instructor's role in repetitions when a technique is NEW
You do a lot of repetitions, slowly, with no resistance, when you are first learning a technique. As an instructor, this is the time when you are correcting players, telling them to move their hips further to the right, adjust their grip, drop the elbow lower. You, too, are doing a lot of repetition, reminding the student of each part of the technique that makes the whole thing work.

As you become more experienced with a technique, you gradually do your repetitions against more and more resistance. This builds up your strength and it is more realistic in training for a tournament situation.


Musicians do scales, basketball players practice free throws, martial artists do repetitions
 There is no point at which you have become so awesomely great at a technique that you don't do repetitions. Here I am doing a matwork repetition for a rolling choke. I've probably done this move for 40 years now and I still practice it. Tina resists about 50% ....



As a more experienced player, you should do your repetitions faster and faster. Try to be done before anyone else in the room, and still do the technique correctly. As I tell players all of the time, there is no point in being able to do a technique badly faster than anyone else.


Notice, Tina is trapped. I have my leg keeping her from escaping, my left hand is sunk deep on her lapel and my right arm is shoved through under her armpit and far past her neck. That completes one repetition.

Another term for repetitions is newaza uchikomi. However, I switched to using the term repetitions because over the last few years we've had more people from outside of judo coming to practice. People in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, grappling or mixed martial arts seldom know any Japanese terms, and neither do many of the younger judo players.

Speed drills aren't really drills. Those are just fast repetitions.

What are drills, then?


Drills are training for a specific situation.
Here are four examples of drills. Why four? Why not? In all of these drills, both players are going 90%. (I say 90% because it's not a tournament, you want to look out for your teammate a little. If you go 100% in practice what do you do in a tournament?)

  1. One player has just been knocked to one knee. The other is still standing with a grip. Start matwork from there. They have ten seconds before the referee calls "break". At the end of ten seconds, the two players switch positions.
  2. One player is in the guard. The other player is between the legs. This is a disadvantage for the person on top so he/she has 30 seconds to get out of there.
  3. One player is on elbows and knees in the "turtle" position. The other player is in front. They have 30 seconds for someone to score.
  4. One player is on elbows and knees. The other player is on the side. They have 30 seconds left in the match and the player on the bottom is behind by a score.

Wait a minute - there are dozens of possible situations - you're in their guard, they're in you're guard, they're on all fours with you in front, you're on elbows and knees with them at your side, you're ahead, they're ahead. Do I expect you to practice for all of those situations?

Do they all occur in  a match? Yes.
And yes.

Ever notice how some people just know what to do when they hit the mat? It's because they practiced for that exact same situation before.

P.S. Thanks millions to Jerry Hays, USJF Archivist for all of the way cool photos.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Judo Statistics Would You Collect

Chuck Wall of Fredericksburg Judo Club (also known as Wall 2 Wall Martial Arts, and a great place, check it out) asked this question, 

"As a competitor or club owner, what do you think that most important stats should be for me?"

Never one to let any work go to waste, I thought I would post my answer here as well


As club owner these are some of the statistics I think are important:
  • Number of students
  • Number of PAYING students
  • Number of families
  • Age of students - average and age distribution
  • Length of time students have been members of your club
  • Average number of practices a student attends per month
  • Average attendance by day of the week
  • Average attendance by month
  • How students heard about your club - ad, word of mouth, demonstration

(Thanks to Jerry Hays, USJF Archivist, for the photo above from the U.S. Olympic Trials )

As competitor, or someone analyzing a competitor's performance, I think these are important

  • Number of repetitions of specific techniques each practice
  • The trend in the number of repetitions of each technique you do each week and in a given time, e.g. in one minute
  • Your average number of practices attended each week
  • Average number of minutes you spent in standing randori and in matwork
  • Number of tournaments you fought in each month
  • Number of matches in tournaments you fought each month
  • Number of matches in tournaments you won against people your level or higher - I'd define your level as around your age and rank - so if you're 50 and a 3rd degree black belt, I wouldn't consider a 25-year-old 2nd degree black belt your level.
  • Percentage of matches you won against people your level or higher
  • Number of different techniques you used to win
  • Percentage of times you lost by a throw, matwork or penalty
The above aren't all of the statistics that might be important, but I think these would be a very good start.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Deja Vu All Over Again: Ronda Armbars

There has been some discussion lately whether Ronda uses judo in her mixed martial arts matches. Yes, stupid, I know. Coincidentally, I had lunch today with USJF archivist, Jerry Hays, who gave me a flash drive with photos that also included a few videos. One of those videos happened to be the finals of the 2008 Olympic Trials. Look familiar?

video

Friday, July 8, 2011

Armbar Escape Drill

When someone is trying to break your arm, there is a natural tendency to panic. One way to overcome that tendency is to practice escaping from armbars. Look at Bradley here (I have no idea why he is so happy about this drill), he is on top with both hands on his partner. This is where we would start the drill where you are almost in the armbar.

When I say "hajime!" you have 10 seconds to either get the armbar or (if you are on the bottom) to escape. This drill is good practice for the person on the bottom in escaping from the armbar and the person on top in finishing it. LISTEN! If you are the person on the bottom, your main goal in life at this point is getting your elbow on the mat. If your elbow is on the mat, the most they can do is pull your arm out so it is flat against the mat. That doesn't really hurt.


Here's a picture of the exact same position in a tournament:
This is the situation for which you are practicing in that drill. (Thanks  to Jerry Hays for the tournament photo above.)

Another advantage to this drill is that it allows you, as a coach, to watch how your players are doing armbars and make sure their technique is perfect. For example, Crystal! (yeah, I'm talking to you)

Why is your left hand on the mat? You know both of your arms should be locked on his arm, and I know that you're tired and I can see your gi is all sweaty but that's no excuse.

And Bradley, yeah, you, all smiley in that photo above. You see how Crystal has her body up against that arm. That's how you should be.

The armbar escape drill is supposed to benefit the person on the bottom who practices getting out of an armbar so quickly it is a reflex, but, as you can see, it can benefit the person who is applying the armbar as well, especially if you have an alert coach available to correct any mistakes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Drill week! Guest cinch podcast from Hayward Nishioka

Since this week has been declared DRILL WEEK by the unanimous vote of all people polled in the entire population of me, we have a guest cinch podcast on situations where drills can be useful, with my special guest, Hayward Nishioka. You'll have to turn up the volume near the end when Hayward answers the last question. He is more shy and soft-spoken than me. Yeah, hard to imagine.



In the podcast, Hayward talks about two situations, fighting at the edge and taking an unorthodox grip. If you have a chance to watch his video, Get a Grip, it is well worth it. One of the drills he does in the video is have players fight for 30 second or 1 minute rounds with a specific grip. Personally, I like to get very tight to the person, almost a bear hug. As Hayward says, most people are uncomfortable in positions like that, and since I have practiced attacking from that position (in my drills) and you probably haven't practiced being in that position at all, the advantage goes to me.

In case you have been living under a rock most of your life and don't know who Hayward Hiroshi Nishioka is, let me enlighten you. Hayward is the only one I know who, in the course of his judo career, has participated in the world judo championships as a player, a coach and a referee.  Not all the same year, of course, he's not THAT awesome.

He has a new book out, called Judo: Coaching, Strategy and the Science for Success. It's available at many local bookstores and on-line at Amazon, Borders, and just about everywhere books are sold. It's nice to see a judo book getting such wide distribution, but not too surprising, because, after all, he IS Hayward.

Oh, I want to say something about the Get a Grip DVD. Someone made the comment,
"Is this the same old videos copied to DVD?"
So, I just want to make the comment
"Who the f*** are you, buddy? It has great drills on it and great ideas. People who think they invented judo last week ought to be taken out and submitted to uchi mata by Hayward about 10,000 times until they learn some manners. Yes, it was done a long time ago and has some great concepts and drills for improving your gripping significantly. It does not have the latest computer graphics with ninjas riding in on my little ponies. Shut the f*** up, watch it and learn something."

NOTE: Previous statements not endorsed by Hayward nor his publishers, who are no doubt at this very moment asking him very politely if he could please never speak to me again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Drill week! Standing corner drill

Hey, it's drill week! I just decided it would be a good week to put up a new drill each day on my blog. Yesterday I showed a drill for the situation where one player is ahead and wants to stay down on the mat while the other player is behind and wants to get up. Today's drill is another one that uses the edge of the mat.

This one used to happen to me a lot - I was much better on groundwork than standing, so my opponents, who knew this and were no dummies, would try to go to the edge of the mat. Their strategy was to attack at the edge and if the attack failed, either go out of bounds before we hit the mat or, if we did go to the mat, get out of bounds immediately. My strategy was not to let them do that.

How many times have you seen these things happen when players are at the edge of the mat:

 One steps out and gets a penalty. A little while later, he steps out again, gets another penalty, can't score to catch up and loses the match.

Or this

 In trying to avoid going out of bounds, one player moves into a bad position and gets thrown.

Or this

One player lets up, thinking they are out of bounds. The other player attacks and slams him/ her.

Incidentally, there was a pattern a while back, particularly among players from one particular place, who would deliberately attack when they knew they were out of bounds. Their reasoning seemed to be that if the referee called it correctly out of bounds, at worst nothing happened, and at best they would get a score. Somewhere in between there was a third possibility that the referee would call the throw out of bounds but the other player would be shaken up enough, either physically or mentally, from being thrown that when they went back in bounds and started up again the "cheating" player would have an advantage and win. It really is against the rules to deliberately throw your opponent after the referee has called matte but usually referees give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn't hear them.

Of course, there is a fourth option. I started coaching the players I worked with that whenever the referee called break when they went out of bounds to stop attacking and be ready. If the opponent attacked, they were to counter and slam the person into the mat as hard as they could. I never cheated and I never teach anybody to cheat. But that doesn't mean you have to put up with cheap shots. Consider it giving the person a lesson and doing the community a favor.

As for practice, this week we did corner drills where players are at the edge of the mat and have to throw or get away from the edge without getting a penalty or getting scored on.

video

Monday, July 4, 2011

Matwork Drills: Don't Make It Up on the Spot

Anyone who has been to practice with me can tell you one of my favorite sayings is,

"If you don't know what to do in a situation, the middle of the match is a hell of a time to be trying to figure it out."

Hence, matwork drills! Below is one of my favorite ones. Actually, they're all my favorite one. How many times have you seen this one in a tournament ...

A player is ahead by a score, say a yuko, and there are 30 seconds left in the match. All she needs to do to win at this point is not get scored on. The players are on the mat, with your player on the top. What does the player do? She gets up and ends up thrown for waza-ari, losing the match. 

What should you do in this situation? If you are winning, you should stay down on the mat and eat up the clock. If you are losing, it depends. If you think you have a better chance of scoring on that player standing, you should stand up. One way to stand up is to get the player off of you and stand up. A second way is to get out of bounds so the referee stops the action, makes you stand up and come back to the center. The video below shows a drill we did at the West Coast Judo Training Center yesterday.

The first couple of rounds we did the drill in the center of the mat. The next few rounds we did the same drill but at the edge of the mat, so adding in the option of escaping by going out of bounds.

video

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Conversation with Yoda

Okay, I confess, I wasn't really talking to Yoda, from Star Wars but my old friend, Steve Scott, who is married to my even older friend  (in how long I've known her, not in years) Becky Scott. Steve has written a dozen books on judo, sambo, conditioning, combat sports and everything related. You can buy most of them from Turtle Press. They're all good.

Becky was a teammate of mine on the U.S. judo team. She and I both went to the Panamerican Games and won gold medals, and both went to the world championships and won gold medals. I won mine in judo and she won hers in sambo wrestling.

Steve and I got to reminiscing about old times for over an hour and I made him late for dinner. I'm sure Becky will forgive me. In that time we ran over a whole host of subjects but here are a few I thought were particularly interesting:

  • Hypocrite much? The lack of respect for judo matwork. I've talked about this in other posts and it is true that MOST judo players do not have matwork as their strong point. That doesn't mean that judo players who are excellent mat technicians don't have very, very good matwork. Steve mentioned some judo coach who was complaining when commentators said that Ronda's armbars were "jiu-jitsu skills". I told him that was the most hypocritical statement I'd heard this year because that exact same coach criticized me when I taught matwork at a jiu-jitsu school saying that judo people should leave matwork to "the experts". So, let me get this straight, I'm a world judo champion who won 99% of her matches with groundwork and good enough to teach my daughter who is an Olympic & world medalist in JUDO but not good enough to teach white through brown belts in jiu-jitsu? And then you criticize that judo matwork doesn't get much respect?
  • The short memory for when judo in the U.S. didn't suck. Sad, but true, when I was competing we were at our peak, which is sad because I thought we would be going up from there. Women I competed with who also won world and Olympic medals for the U.S.  - Darlene Anaya (world bronze), Margie Castro Gomez (world silver and bronze, Olympic bronze), Lynn Roethke (world and Olympic silver), Mary Lewis (world bronze), Eve Aronoff (world and Olympic bronze) and Christine Pennick Lincoln (two world bronze). These are women who were my TEAMMATES. How awesome is that?
  • How people helped one another. Diane Pierce Tudela, who was my HERO when I was a kid, armbarred me in the finals of the U.S. Open when I was 17. Several years later, I moved to Los Angeles and when I saw her at Tenri Dojo the first thing I did was ask her to teach me that armbar - and she spent countless hours doing just that. I won more matches with that armbar than I can remember. You can see some variations of it in my last post.
  • Ronda's decision to move from judo to mixed martial arts. I have mixed feelings about this (no pun intended). I love judo and it would be nice to see Ronda win another Olympic medal for the U.S. On the other hand, she is an adult and has to make her own choices in life. In MMA, she has her expenses paid, she gets paid when she wins, sponsors pay her to wear their gear while judo players are begging people to donate a dollar so they can go to tournaments to qualify for the Olympics. Obviously, I made different choices than her, but I can understand why she made the choice she did and I support her.
  • Freestyle judo is starting to take off. There are competitions in several states and there will be freestyle judo in a world martial arts competition this year. I'm hoping I can take some players to the freestyle nationals next year. It really is a fun tournament. Some people don't approve of the lack of formality at freestyle tournaments, but that's one of the things I like about it. The referees stay out of the way and let the players decide who wins. If you want to wear a red gi with a pink shirt underneath, you don't get thrown out of the tournament. (Although Steve, Becky and I all reserve the right to laugh at you for looking like a complete dork.) In freestyle judo, if you pick the other person up and slam him/ her on the back, you win, you don't lose because you touched their legs without saying "Mother, may I?" 
  • Some people want to be the coach they never had. When Steve said that one of his players commented that "All your life you've wanted to be the coach you never had," Steve said that he felt that described him perfectly and it described Jim Pedro, Sr., too. Some people have a real dedication to coaching and I think it probably does stem in part from feeling that they didn't reach their own athletic potential due to lack of a coach.  I love judo and I like coaching but I don't have the same passion for it that I did for competing. Personally, I was really lucky to have some very good coaches. On the other hand, I do try to give my children the family I never had.  We try to be that which we never had - I thought it was an interesting idea that explained a lot.