Monday, October 15, 2007

You're Not so Tough! (And I love you for it)

"Your children and, in fact, all of the young people you coach, need to believe you love them." - Dr. Jacob Flores, San Shi Dojo

"For a dad to spend time together with his daughter is very special. To spend it together doing Judo is a very special bonding time for the both of us."
Paul Nogaki, Temecula Valley Judo

"To get to go on the mat and coach your kids is precious time. You go in the car together and have time to talk to one another, you are on the mat together, you travel together to tournaments. There is no real down side."
Maurice Allan, Sport Judo

"It doesn’t matter if my child never goes anywhere in judo. My youngest is eight and if she gets to being a stronger, more productive more confident young lady out of judo and never becomes the national champion, that is fine with me."
Gerald Lafon, Judo America

"What made me feel good is that I did something that mattered to the kids and not just something for myself. They feel that way about me, too."
Jack Wade, Gardena Dojo

"I want what is best for my kids, not what makes me look good."
Jim Pedro, Sr., Pedro's Judo Center

Fine bunch of tough guys you are! The coaches quoted above between them have represented the U.S., Japan and Great Britain in international competition. They have coached their own children to medals in Greece, England, Finland, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Korea and all over the U.S.

When I decided to interview coaches for a special issue of Growing Judo magazine on coaching your own kids, I expected to run into those demonized Little League parents we are all always reading about. Funny thing, though, after teaching judo for decades myself, I have run into very few of those parents. Surely, though, parents who have coached their children who are now no longer doing judo, who have chosen some other activity or who are being coached by someone else now have their regrets. Right?

Couldn't be more wrong. As Jack Wada said,
"You know, as coaches, we never talk about these things, what judo had done for us, how we feel about it. We just talk about techniques and strategies for competition."

It turns out that these coaches all look back on their experiences fondly - and so do their kids. Those kids that quit judo were not their parents' failures but their successes. They are succeeding in other areas of life - working full-time, attending medical school full-time, succeeding in top music programs. None of their parents considered the years spent coaching their child in judo as wasted but rather as something that paid off then in time they enjoyed spending with their child and is paying off now in their child's success in life.

Did former super-star athletes, like Maurice Allan, shown above, named the Scottish wrestler of the century, ever feel as if their children needed to achieve to a certain standard?

"Not a t'all. I considered it a privilege to coach me daughter."

It often seems that the national past-time is putting people down, and that attitude hasn't left judo untouched. I hear comments all the time that people in judo are 'cheap', 'untrustworthy' and a host of other negatives. There are people like that in judo, just like there are in every other area of life. Most of the people in judo, though, are caring, giving, thought-provoking, insightful - and tough.

That's why I love them.

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