Saturday, January 17, 2015

When You Think of South Los Angeles, Think of Gompers Judo

When most people think of south Los Angeles, I don't think this is the picture that comes to mind, but here it is, a great photo of our new judo room. There are some great kids in south LA and I am so privileged to have them on our mats.

We got a room!

Ever since the judo program at Gompers Middle School was started we have been limited by the mat size. My sister donated money in my mom's name for her 80th birthday (my mom was turning 80, not my sister). She reasoned that after 80 years, you've probably bought whatever you wanted. 

We added more kids then, but shortly we had outgrown the mat area again. Well, a generous donation enabled us to buy some additional mats. Then, an even more generous donation from Dollamur Mats we were able to DOUBLE the mat area.

It gets better - with all these mats, we needed somewhere to store them. Well, the school moved us to a different building from the old gym where we had been practicing and now we have a PERMANENT JUDO ROOM AT THE SCHOOL!

How awesome is this?

Just let me brag a minute, too. Let's focus in on these pictures some. 

Because we had more mat area, we were able to allow another six students to join the program. I put each of them in with a group of two experienced players who had been doing judo six months or more.

Look at the picture above. One of the young men has been in judo at Gompers for 2 1/2 years. When he first started, I asked Jose Gonzalez, the teacher who sponsors the program,

Are you sure he can talk?

He said,

Yes,  I'm pretty sure he can but I've never heard him talk.

Now, here he is explaining to a new student how to do ippon seoi nage.

The picture below shows a couple of the young women teaching a new student. They could not be more different from the "mean girl" stereotype of middle school.

 You can also see another new girl being taught some of the finer points by Jimmy Sanchez, another school staff member who assists with instruction.

One reason we need an adequate mat size is we have a 4:1 student-teacher ratio, with usually four adult instructors on the mat for 16 students.

There wasn't any point to this blog post today except that I am super-happy about our new facility and equipment. I just wanted to share these pictures with you all and thank everyone who made it happen, from the bottom of my heart.

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