I was listening to the first cut of the More Than Ordinary podcast where my daughter, Julia, was giving advice to her niece on middle school. She said something like,
“You should do sports. I did judo when I was little and then I quit but it really helped me in soccer because I had some athletic skills.”
Some of what she said ended up on the cutting room floor, but that's not the point.
Julia is in Texas right now for a soccer game with her university team.
Julia practiced judo for 7 years, from age 4 to 11. During that time, her sister Ronda was on two Olympic teams and won several national and international championships. Everyone but my husband and I thought we should force Julia to stay in judo. I made her continue practicing and competing for a year after she said she wanted to quit and play soccer because a) I think you don’t simply quit something because you are having a bad week or so and b) I was hoping she’d change her mind.
She didn’t change her mind and for the past 7 years, through middle school, high school and college, she has played soccer.
At the same age, many of her friends were forced to continue judo because,
“In the ( insert family name here) family, we don’t quit things. My kids are staying in judo until they get their black belts.”
Some of those kids will go on and put their own kids in judo classes but others NEVER will. Instead of looking back on their judo experience as a net positive, like Julia does, they tell me about all of the things they didn’t get to do because of judo, from hanging out with their friends to trying other sports.
Now, some of those things, it might be just as well they didn’t get to do - I’ve seen some of those friends. On the other hand, they were forced to do a sport that is physically hard and even harder if you are not that good at it. Yes, there are lessons to be learned from judo but not too many that can’t also be learned from running track or being in the band.
As for me, I’m not doing much judo these days, I’m going hiking a lot and opening a new office of 7 Generation Games in Santiago, Chile. So, you’ll just have to wait for my next post to hear why I think it is okay if adults quit judo.
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