Thursday, October 20, 2016

Seeing Further Down the Road: Why Your Parents Think Different From You

At the National Indian Education Association conference this month, I was presenting our research on 7 Generation Games with Bruce Gillette, who I met in 1990 when he was a student at Minot State University and I was a brand new assistant professor right out of graduate school. After 8 years in southern California, I had moved to North Dakota, bought a house in the country and started a new career. It was a whole lot of changes.

The conference was held in Reno, NV and the last time I was in Reno was also for a conference, on SAS statistical software in 1985. After 6 years of marriage, 5 years working in aerospace, 3 of those years in San Diego, I was getting divorced, moving to Riverside and going back to graduate school. After 14 years competing in judo, I'd just retired from competition, having won the world championships a few months earlier. It was a whole lot of changes.

Bruce is an addiction counselor, and he spends a lot of his time giving advice to young people. He made a really good point,

"Sometimes, you tell young people that their choices are going to cause them problems, but they won't listen to you. They don't have your experience. They don't always realize that, from where you are standing, you can see further down the road."

My other friend named Bruce, when I get down on myself about something I did stupid when I was young (it's a long list), will always cheer me up by reminding me,

And look how far you have come.

The point is that some things that loom large when you are young can be seen from the perspective of years as not nearly as big as you thought.

Yes, getting divorced was awful and fighting over custody was worse, but no one died, I went on to get married again (twice!), my daughter turned out to be a wonderful human being.

It was a huge shift from international competitor and industrial engineer to graduate student and researcher. There was a big cut in pay, a complete change in hours from a 9-5 job to classes and labs in the evenings and studying or working around those, plus having three children age five and under.

Moving to North Dakota living out in the country was a lot like Green Acres (everyone under 50 will have to click this link to find out what Green Acres was).

My point is, there were a whole lot of changes from point A to where we are now. There were many times when I thought,

"I can't leave this job/ man/ city / school/ club because .... "

and, yet, I did. Sometimes, I wasted time when I could have moved on to a better school, relationship, job, etc. because it seemed like it was SUCH A BIG DEAL to change. When I look back, though, many of those times, whether they were amazing or quite the opposite, were just a small part of my life. Whether it was getting a grant funded, a raise or winning a tournament, at the time I might have been furious, ecstatic or heartbroken - but a few years later, I could barely remember it and all the details that made such a difference at the time had completely slipped my mind.

So, the next time you and your children (or parents) cannot see eye to eye, think about whether maybe it is because one of you can see further down the road.

Speaking of which, you can actually walk down the pages of this map (virtually) if you play Forgotten Trail. Runs on Mac, Windows and Chromebook.

What's that you say? I only have an iPad? Well, then, get our free Making Camp app here.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ernie Smith: another judo legend

I have known Mr. Smith  over 40 years. At local tournaments, I would sometimes compete against his daughter, Sheryl.   When I was older, and coaching, I would often bring students to his tournaments. In between there, when I was competitor, one of his students, Belinda Binkley, was on the US team with me as a teammate. Years later, when my daughter, Ronda was competing, another of his students, Chuck Jefferson, was leading a camp she attended.

So, in short, I had known Mr. Smith as an outstanding coach. The fact that he's a fairly high level referee was to me not particularly relevant or interesting. I never really known him as a competitor.

 I knew he had trained in Japan and competed as a member of various military teams when he was in the Marines. There was never any question in my mind – or anyone else's – that he was an all-around outstanding judo player. He had been successful as a competitor, beyond successful as a coach and respected as a referee. I should also mention Delores Brody who was probably his first international gold medalist  – She was a little before my time and by the time I met her she was quite a successful professional working on her career.

Perhaps the most interesting insight into Mr. Smith's judo career, though, came in response to the question and answer segment of the event. Frank Sanchez Junior asked,

For those of you who trained in the US and were part of the military after the war, where did you find the racism to be worse, in the US or in Japan?

Now, if you aren't familiar with history of judo in this country, just let me summarize it by saying that there was a lot of discrimination against non-Asian players in America after the war. However, Mr. Smith answered,

I grew up in East Texas. For all of my life growing up, I was not allowed to eat your restaurant unless a black person owned. There were separate bathrooms, separate schools. If you rode on a bus and you were black, you had to ride in the back. Of my 21 years in the Marine Corps I spent 12 in Japan or Okinawa by choice. When I got to Japan, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I could eat anywhere, sit anywhere  – so, by comparison to what I had experienced growing up Japan was heaven.

I sat there and thought about that because a lot of the civil rights battles had happened before I was born or when I was a small child. During some of that time, my family was living overseas because my father was part of the military, so I never really experienced it firsthand. It was a revelation to me that someone I had always put on a pedestal had spent his early years being put down simply because of his race and managed to achieve so far more than anyone expected him.
 and other exciting news – – – my company just released our first app for  the iPad. Please download it and give us an amazing review. It's fun and you will learn history and math.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

History in person at judo legends event

I'll be honest – not only agreed to come to the judo legends event  because Hayward Nishioka  asked me to speak and I have known Hayward two thirds of my life.  Unlike a lot of people in judo who I have known much of my life and can't stand, Hayward is someone I truly respect and value the great contributions he has made to judo.

Tosh Seino was the first speaker.  I have always known that he was a great judo player. As you can see from the photo above, he's not a very big person and yet he was very successful in competition back in the days when weight divisions were optional.

What I didn't know is that he and his family had been in the Tule Lake  concentration camp. Even though, they were third generation Americans, like other Americans of Japanese descent they were forced to leave their homes and relocated to camps.

Tosh's  father was one of the "no no boys". If you don't know what that is, let me tell you – during World War II, Americans of Japanese descent were required to complete a loyalty questionnaire. The two questions to which Tosh's  father and others answered "no" were these:

Question number 27 asked if Nisei men were willing to serve on combat duty wherever ordered and asked everyone else if they would be willing to serve in other ways, such as serving in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. Question number 28 asked if individuals would swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and forswear any form of allegiance to the Emperor of Japan.

 As if, being interned in a concentration camp as a child was not enough, after the war, the family moved back to Japan. Tosh  moved back to America  by himself when he was only 17 years old. He lived with the family that paid him $50 a month, plus his room and board, for chores. Fees for the judo club for $10 a month. When he change to a new family, he only received $40 a month and so he cleaned the dojo to pay his fees.

Think about this moment. We have one of the best judo players in the country who is mopping the floors to reimburse the dojo for training him. That is a level of humility we don't see anymore.

Being a judo champion is an admirable achievement. Even more admirable, is doing it after losing everything you own for no fault other than being the wrong race. Even more admirable is coming to a country where you barely know the language, because even though it's your country, you left when you were a small child and came back in your teens all on your own. Even more admirable than being a judo champion, is doing what many immigrants do, learning the language, working a series of menial jobs and nonetheless managing to get education and  become a respected member of the community.

The judo legends event was a great idea. It was an opportunity to hear people speak who are living history. It was a reminder that there are legends living among us  and that we are very fortunate to know them.

 PS. I'll do more blogs on others featured at this event but I wanted each person to be recognized separately because they all are really amazing.

 and other exciting news – – – my company just released our first app for  the iPad. Please download it and give us an amazing review. It's fun and you will learn history and math.