Monday, September 9, 2013

Is Being a Life-Long Sport a Good Thing?

Had a nice time at the grand opening of the new judo dojo for Valley Judo Institute last night. The difference between the old and new dojo is night and day. I ran into a lot of people I genuinely like and respect, and whom I had not seen in a long time.

Often, people I have known for 20 years or more are surprised and a bit disappointed in me, I think, that I "only" teach judo once or twice a week. I've even heard people say that "my generation" have let the sport down by not giving back because we didn't go out and open up judo clubs.

In the 43 years I have been playing judo, I have

  • taught at the Alton YMCA as an assistant instructor,
  •  started and ran an after school program at the Pillsbury-Waite Community Center near the Little Earth housing project in Minneapolis for a couple of years, 
  • taught a college class at Jamestown College in North Dakota,
  •  taught at the Jamestown YMCA, 
  • taught a college intramural class at UCLA, 
  • been an instructor at Mojica Judo Club in Baldwin Park, 
  • been an instructor at Venice Judo Club, in Los Angeles,
  • run the judo program at Gompers Middle School, now for the third year
  • taught two or three times a month at the West Coast Judo Training Center

With the exception of the two college classes, I have done all of this for free.  I'm not complaining, I volunteered to do it and if I didn't like it, I would stop.

I used to do clinics for free all over the country. I still do them occasionally but not for free because I'm super busy and if I charge money, fewer people ask me.

I am doing a matwork clinic in Kansas City, September 27th - anyone is welcome to come and the $25 goes toward the hotel costs for the West Coast Judo players coming with me. The Gompers Middle School kids expenses are being paid by an ebay auction of Ronda's own personal stuff and some t-shirts and other things she auctioned off.

So, from my perspective, given that I have two businesses to run and one of them released its first commercial game this week, I've done and am doing a fairly exhausting amount of stuff. That's not to mention having competed for 14 years and held state, regional and national offices in judo organizations.

Other people don't see it that way - I'm not running a judo club teaching three, four or five times a week. I don't have a team I take around to all of the tournaments. The AAU Judo Nationals will be the second tournament I made it to this year and it's September. I'm a world champion. Shouldn't I be doing  more than this to "give back"?


My lovely youngest daughter, Julia, plays soccer. She played with Santa Monica AYSO for three years. She made the "extra" team, which allows kids who are doing particularly well to have an extra season of several months more soccer each year. She loved it. The coaches were great. The parents and other kids were nice.

After she finished her last season with them and went off to boarding school, she played varsity soccer at her high school. And guess what, no one expected me to come back and volunteer for the soccer association - ever. 

Do you have any idea how nice that is? 

My judo coach, Jimmy Martin, was a terrific competitor, won the national championships seven times, a silver medal in the Panamerican Games, on several world teams. When someone asked him if he ever missed judo he said, 

"Nope. Judo is like high school to me. No matter how much you liked it, you don't go back and do it again."

I see people who played soccer or basketball as kids still playing in the park, people who were on swim teams as kids swimming laps at the Y and no one asks them what they are doing to give back to the sport.   I wonder if the notion that you have to be equally involved your whole life because "judo is a life-long sport" turns a lot of people off who otherwise might still be around. 


Anonymous said...

I don't see why this is an issue. How can you like Judo, but hate it at the same time? When I like something, I want to keep doing it. Why is it that so many people seem to dislike Judo to the extent that they don't want to go back to it? Judo is obviously not "life long sport" as I started at age 24 and was crushing 6th and 7th degree blackbelts in randori as a green belt because I understood the essence of it, while the rest were just robots, constantly drilling their moves and wasting time training that way because they didn't understand the underlying aspects of it. I love Judo and I don't see how anyone can not want to go back to it if they have the opportunity to, especially considering the options that I've seen too many people choose instead, I'm surprised they're not longing for their former glory days as one would expect them to. Do they really *not* like Judo and just pretend to, or did they lose their fire long ago and don't want to acknowledge it so they just pass it off as an aspect of their past to prevent from facing how they really feel?

rddrg18 said...

Dr Anne I see your point. From another perspective, Judo never leaves you, everything you do, have done, has been influenced by Judo, you fell down 7 times did you not get up 8? I don't agree with those who are disappointed that you spend your money (and yes I have as a coach ran players to the Junior Nationals and only raised $85 in fund raisers where did the rest of that money come from?)You still teach and teach young people who probably need it most. I think it will always be a part of your life (thank goodness) It isn't you that needs to gain a perspective it is your critics. You still give back it is your life to determine how much, not theirs!

With much respect Terry

Dr. AnnMaria said...

My guess as to why some people don't want to go back to judo is that they were forced to do it, For others, including me, they put off many other things to be successful in judo and now they want to do those other things, whether It is school , a career or raise a family

Anonymous said...

Dr. AnnMaria -- Can one not do Judo and those things? They don't have to want to be world champ again, but just compete from time-to-time for fun.

History of Martial Arts is full of warriors who abstained from having a house and kids or a business. Miyamoto Musashi, for example, was a legendary swordsman who never combed his hair, took a bath, cultivated a house or had children because he didn't want to leave an opening for an opponent. He lived and died as a Samurai.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

If he never took a bath, that probably assisted with the never having children part. Ew.

Stonewall Jackson said...

Dr.D, you have GOT to do comedy!!!

John Lichtenstein said...

Wow, it is pretty rude to complain about how much someone else gives back. If someone is doing that without being aware of what you're doing, they're sidewalk superintendants.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Some of those people ARE doing more than me, I can't argue that. However, that's their choice and good for them, but my choice is different.

Sylver said...

Congrats for the release!

About Miyamoto Musashi not washing himself, it's most likely a legend. Given the Japanese's obsession with baths and cleanliness, it's hard to imagine a warrior/artist/teacher/philosopher frequenting good society who did not maintain a minimum standard of hygiene.

And while Musashi had undoubtedly devoted his life to the way of the sword, would anyone dare criticize Musashi for not "giving back" enough? Gosh, the idiot would have lost his head within the hour.

That said, I am glad that judo is something I can potentially enjoy for the next few decades and while many people give up Judo at some time or another, I am told we have far more participants in the upper age brackets than can be found in wrestling or other martial arts. It's not uncommon to find judoka in their sixties, seventies or even eighties still training, doing randori or even competition.

About the comparison with soccer, things might be different if you were ex-world champion in soccer instead of a "regular" soccer mom. In Judo, I am a nobody and nobody ever asked me to make the slightest sacrifice for Judo.

Megan said...

That's interesting. I don't practice judo (I do BJJ), but having the option to drift in an out (or leave altogether) as life requires is so important. Even adults burn out, or sometimes, it's just not for you animore.

Anonymous said...

Slyver -- He was a Ronin and a Hermit.

Dr. AnnMaria -- It was said that he didn't want to leave an opening for an opponent or have anything to protect aside from himself, so an opponent couldn't threaten it and leave him vulnerable.