Thursday, November 22, 2007

What We Teach Our Children

Three seemingly unrelated things happened in the last twenty-four hours.
I received a link to a Youtube video of an acceptance speech by Maria, my oldest daughter, receiving the emerging journalist award.

I had a long talk with Hayward Nishioka, one of my judo heroes ever since I was a kid.

My two middle daughters, Ronda and Jenn, came home for Thanksgiving.

All of these events together brought into focus what we really should be teaching our children. As we went around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and gave thanks, each person began with, "I'm thankful for my family and..." I truly believe they meant it, too, and didn't just say so because they were afraid I would whack them in the head with a turkey leg.

Hayward and I were discussing judo (what else) and he said,
"If we produce someone who is a champion and they have a bad attitude and bad behavior, what have we really done for that person? I would say we have failed him."

Maria, who is a sportswriter, has a daily window on the fleeting career of athletes, even Olympic and professional ones. As she asked me the other day,
"Really, Mom, if you meet someone who won the Olympics, say, in the shotput, what do you think? You probably think to yourself, that's nice. That probably took a lot of work. And that is ALL THE AVERAGE PERSON THINKS ABOUT IT. Do you think, 'Hey, I'd like to hire that person' or be their friend? No, I bet you don't."

They both had the same point. Now, I am as competitive as the next person. Okay, let's be honest, I am as competitive as the next person, their mother, father, sister, brother and Uncle Marv all combined. Still, I have finally realized the truth of what people like Jim Pedro, Sr. , Hayward Nishioka and Martin Bregman have been telling me for years. It is the journey and not the destination. When I was younger, I believed that people said that because they had not won the world championships or the Olympics and so they said that it didn't matter to make themselves feel better. Now that I am older and occasionally smarter, I realize they said those things because it was true and they were right. How did my daughter figure this out at twenty-five and it took me until I was twenty years older than that? I chalk it up to her having better parenting than me!

Don't get me wrong. Winning is great. Winning is awesome. It is better than money, better than drugs, better than sex - okay, well maybe it is not better than sex. That might depend on who you are with and what it is you are winning. HOWEVER... with both winning and sex, no matter how great it is at the time, when it is over, it's over.

Well, in the case of sex, I had four great kids. Two out of three husbands weren't bad either.

For judo, for competition, at the end of it, I gained a lot and I have tried to pass those gains on to my children. The great concern to me as a coach, and as a parent, is exactly the one that Hayward shared. Winning is by no means a guarantee that athletes will succeed in learning those lessons we want to teach. On the positive note, being less than a superstar as an athlete doesn't necessarily mean we failed to teach them the important values in life.

Ronda is on her way to the Kano Cup and should be in her second Olympics next year. When she was 14 or 15, she went to a camp at the Olympic training center. In the coach's notes on her, at the bottom of the page, he had written and underlined twice the words,
"This kid fears no one!"

If you watched the video of Maria's speech, the presenter begins by saying,
"Maria does not possess the deadliest sin in journalism - fear."
Reginald Stuart, of Knight-Ridder News, said,
"Maria is very passionate about what she does ... she is focused... she never backs down."
Maria herself said,
"I decided wasn't going to back down... You do have a voice and you need to take a stand and you can't be afraid of what other people think and I want to thank my mom... who is, for better or worse, the reason I am outspoken as I am."

My daughter, Jenn, who was always pretty much of a homebody, moved to San Francisco as a nineteen-year-old college junior. Now, at 21, she graduates from college in a few weeks, and has saved enough from her part-time job to be moving into her own, non-parent-paid-for apartment and starting her career.

The lessons I hope athletes learn from sports:
Work hard. That includes doing the things you DON'T want to do, like running sprints uphill, taking classes in Earth Science when you are a history major or moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana to get your chance as a sportswriter. Too many people confuse hard work with sweat or hours put in. Last week, my niece asked my husband when he came home how was his day at work. He answered,
"Work pretty much sucked. I was in meetings all day. That's why they have to pay you to do it. So you come into work even on the days when you know it is going to suck."

Unfortunately, too many of our athletes fail to learn that hard work and discipline don't mean just working out hard on the days you feel like going to practice. It means working out even on the days you'd rather go to a prom, sleep late or watch a football game. It means working out even when some of the other people you have to practice with are kind of jerks or if you think the coach is a dick and doesn't like you. You'll meet people who are jerks your whole life, and no matter how awesome you are, some people just won't like you (look at me, for example, soul of sweetness and light that I am, some people still don't like me, yes, hard to believe, I know). Trust me, no one is looking for employees who brag, 'I come to work 80% of the time', yet we have athletes who expect a kiss on the cheek and a box of doughnuts for showing up at eight out of ten practices.

Courage. Aristotle said that courage is the virtue upon which all other virtues depend. As C.S. Lewis explained it, years later, if we don't have courage, then we are virtuous so long as there is no cost. If we are honest, but afraid, we do nothing. If we are hard-working and intelligent but afraid, we do nothing. Maria had the courage to speak out to those who tried to silence her. Ronda has the courage to face opponents around the world, opponents who many, in the U.S. and abroad, think she can never defeat. They are wrong, by the way. Jenn had the courage to move hundreds of miles away, on her own, to a city where she didn't know a soul, and make a success of it.

Never give up. My little Julia is only nine years old. Yesterday we got the brilliant idea to ride our bikes to judo. Since she is only a little kid, it took us an hour. Then she worked out for the hour remaining of the kids' practice and worked with me for another half-hour of the adult practice until her father came and picked her up. She felt like giving up lots of times, I could see it in her face, but she didn't.

Finally, be thankful. All the teaching you get is not because you are some great prima donna talent. It is because people in your family and community love you and cherish you. They are not lucky to be teaching you. You are lucky to have them teaching you. If you are really thankful, you will show it when you are older by teaching others, not because you are doing them a favor, but to repay the favor done to you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Day in the Lives ...

My niece was talking on the phone to her friend and answered,
"What does my aunt do? Well, she is vice-president of this company she started that does on-line training and statistical analysis and stuff, then she teaches graduate courses at two universities. On the weekends, she does this Judo Training Center for young athletes and she is always trying to raise more money for that. Of course, she's a mom. She's also vice-president for the United States Judo Association. I don't know. That's a good question..."

She holds the phone away for a moment, looks at me and asks,

"Just how many lives DO you have?"

Two judo coaches from Connecticut, Bill Montgomery and Joan Love, have accused me of having escaped from a Star Trek episode they saw, with a race of mutants who did everything at twice the speed of normal people.

The truth is, I am one of those people who is always doing two or three things at once. In an article I read, multi-tasking is related to Type A personality, stress and heart disease. According to their statistics, I am pretty sure I should have died at age twenty-three. Here is a Saturday in my life ...

Put coffee on. Take a shower while coffee is brewing. Poke Julia to wake her up. Put my judo gi in a bag. Poke Julia again and tell her I really mean it. Run Julia's bathwater while I find her judo gi. Threaten Julia with a beating if she doesn't get ready to go. While Julia is in the bathtub, run put gas in the car and to the grocery store for cases of bottled water for the training center. Call optometrist from the grocery store and ask for a new pair of contacts. While standing in line at Starbucks, call Julia to make sure she is dressed and ready to go and find out what she wants for breakfast. Buy breakfast at Starbucks. Pick up contacts at optometrist. Drive back to house and pick up Julia. This is the first forty-five minutes of my day --- before I drive thirty-five miles to the training center for the first practice of the day. While Julia sleeps in the car I listen to my voicemail and return phone calls.

After two judo practices are over, I drive thirty-five miles back home, grade papers, add several web pages to the on-line course in Ethics we are writing, read Dr. Davis' comments on our webcast slides which are due on Monday, make the corrections, read several chapters on developmental education for our next grant, answer 15 email messages about USJA activities (most of them are nice emails today), read a request for proposal for a grant competition we are considering, write an entry for my company blog and go to bed.

... And it is only as I write this I realize that -- this is my day off!

This blog is in answer to Carlo who asked me why I do not start a judo program for Native Americans, as well as everyone else who has asked me why I do not start my own judo club, run for any more offices, make a DVD, write a book or have my own line of judo gis.

Despite appearances, I am not complaining. I will be 50 next year,so I am now on a mailing lists to receive catalogs for courses designed for people in "my age group". I paged through one of these and the classes had such titles as,

"Dealing with Bereavement and Grief"
"Preparing your will"

and my personal favorite (I am not making this up) ....
"The Life Review: Tell your life stories to people who care."

As opposed to what I guess many old people do, which is tell their life stories to people who don't care. For now, I think I will try to have a life rather than talk about the life I had.
------------REQUIRED JUDO TIP ------------------------

If you are looking for a coach and (even secretly to yourself) you look down on people if they can't beat you up, you, my dear, are a moron.

I forgive you for being a moron, though, because I was just as stupid and far stupider. I used to think to myself, "Why should I listen to this old guy. He is a lot bigger than me and I can still kick his ass."

Not only that, but in my late thirties, I was thinking that I should give up teaching judo. Because, as I told Steve Bell, I was getting too old and slow to be able to pin and armbar these young people on the mat. I didn't have the strength to power through the turnovers on just about anyone any size.

He said, "We think that to be the coach we need to beat up everyone in the room. Do you realize how stupid that is? Do you really think that Bela Karolyi gets up on the parallel bars with those little girls?"

Then you look around to other sports and you realize that in boxing, wrestling, basketball and every other event you can imagine, the coach is not out there competing with the athletes.

If you are looking for a coach, don't look for the person who can beat you up. Look for the person who is coaching the people who can beat you up. And if you are that coach, then feel good about yourself and the job you are doing, quit worrying that your uchimata looks more like Inoue's grandfather's than Inoue's. I'm sure Ojii-san Inoue is a really cool guy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cranky Old Person Complains: Quit Being Ignorant on Purpose!

When did it become okay not to know stuff? Was there a memo sent around and I was left off the distribution list?

Now, I am not saying that I know everything, but when I was younger it was not acceptable to just write off entire areas or skills as “I’ll never need to know that.”

It isn’t that I was any brighter or more focused than young people today. For example, I remember many of my classmates arguing,
“Why do we need to take these stupid programming classes? It’s not as if we are ever going to use a computer after we graduate.”
The only reason I didn’t complain much is that I actually found the classes in Fortran, Basic and Systems Analysis to be interesting. I did agree with my friends that these courses were totally useless for “real life” because:
1. Only programmers used computers and
2. I was never going to be a programmer.

I turned out to be wrong on both counts, but that is not the point (except to my children and a few close friends who have probably quit reading now and are gleefully emailing the link to this blog to all of their friends with the exclamation that I have admitted to being wrong).

The point is, I was not allowed to decide that I wasn’t going to learn something that I didn’t think was useful. The university, in its wisdom, had decided based on the collective experience and knowledge of the faculty that there were certain things that undergraduate or graduate students should know and they really did not give a damn what I thought or felt about it.


I did not want to take a course in qualitative research. In my doctoral program I specialized in research methods, applied statistics and psychometrics (tests and measurement). The people I knew looked down on qualitative research as a fancy name for creative writing. After arguing with the dean’s assistant for twenty minutes about why this was something I would never use and should not have to take, she said,

“Yes, AnnMaria, you are right. You don’t have to take a course in qualitative research…”

as I got up to leave, satisfied that she agreed with me, she continued,

“… only if you want to get a Ph.D. from this university.”

In my lengthy career (this means I am old) I have used qualitative research, system analysis, a few programming languages and much more of the “useless information the university crammed down my throat.”

Over the last few decades I have spotted a trend toward letting the monkeys run the circus, so to speak.

Now I truly believe, that as a general rule, teenagers and young adults are far more intelligent and capable of making decisions than we give them credit for. Part of the reason that high school is so soul-deadening is that we treat people who are developing intellectually as if they are incompetent morons and criminals to boot, restricting way too much of their individual decision-making.

BUT … anything can be carried too far. Much more than in past decades (I really AM old) I see students who don’t know how to read statistical results, cannot write succinctly and don’t know what a scientific report even looks like.

In judo, I see the same trend, students who don’t know the names of throws, cannot explain why a technique succeeds or fails, are not aware of rule changes.

LISTEN UP YOUNG PEOPLE! (and the old people who care about them)
Learn everything you possibly can. Quit excusing mediocrity and laziness with "Who needs to understand the three parts of a throw?" or "What difference does it make that my writing is redundant?"

You know what the difference is between the person who draws blood in the doctor's office and the doctor? The doctor learned all that other "useless" stuff that enabled him or her to understand chemistry, the course of diseases and diagnosis.

------ REQUIRED JUDO TIP ----------------------------------
Rules to know
1. We all know this but we forget... if you are being thrown backward and you fall on your back and do a throw like sumi gaeshi or tomoe nage and throw the other person four feet up in the air and slam her to the mat, guess what - you LOST! As Dr. Martin Bregman explained it, "When you are being thrown to your back,you cannot escape by throwing yourself on your back."
When your back hit, you lost the match and whatever happened next was irrelevant.

I said a while back I was going to mention the second most dispute rule and I forgot so now I did.

Also, I was corrected on the rules for gi length (thanks to Glenn Koyama and Dan Takata for the correction).

FROM THE IJF RULES The jacket shall be long enough to cover the thighs and shall at a minimum reach to the fists when the arms are fully extended downwards at the sides of the body. The body of the jacket shall be worn with the left side crossed over the right and shall be wide enough to have a minimum overlap of 20cm at the level of the bottom of the rib-cage. The sleeves of the jacket must reach to the wrist joint at the maximum and 5cm above the wrist joint at the minimum. A space of 10 to 15cm shall exist between the sleeve and the arm (bandages included), along the entire length of the sleeve.
The lapel and collar must be a maximum of 1cm in thickness and 5cm in width.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Testing, testing ....

For nearly all of my working life, new jobs have come to me. Once I was actually walking out of the gynecologist's office as someone I knew was walking in. She stopped me and said,

"I need a statistician, what are you doing these days?"

In pursuit of my new career life goal to never again be in a North Dakota airport at 5 a.m. on a January morning, I have decided to make an actual effort. After this morning, though, I just may go back to my original plan of sitting home with the door open and waiting for people to throw in bags of money.

On the hours-long qualification exam there were thirty reading comprehension questions, all along the lines of:

"When learners are self-motivated to engaging in writing activities pursuant to aspirations for development of professional communication via networking options heretofore not available prior to the current technology which has lagged in implementation due to fiscal budgetary constraints, the appropriate response is :"

and then it would give four choices, A through D, not one of which was,
"Who in God's name writes this kind of bull-shit?"

so, I helpfully penciled it in next to "E". I am expecting extra credit points.

Then there were several questions about where one places commas. COMMAS? I'm a statistician. Commas go after every three digits:


See how I correctly placed the commas?

If that wasn't enough, there were ostensibly logic questions such as

If A is greater than B, and
C is 20 degrees colder than D, but
D has more feet than A, then it logically follows that

B is a trapezoid
D is a polar bear
The polar ice cap has melted
A is greater than B

If you read the example above carefully, you can see that the logic problems weren't too hard.

Actually, I think I did quite well on the test. I finished before everyone except for one girl who tore the test and cried, so I am pretty sure she didn't get done before me because she knew all of the answers off the top of her head.

If this doesn't work out, maybe I'll get this job like I did the last couple, with a message on my voice mail,
Hello. We need someone with a Ph.D. to teach statistics and we heard you are good. Could you start on Thursday?

Hopefully, they won't ask about aspiring professional communicators or trapezoidal polar bears.
--------------------REQUIRED JUDO TIP ----------------------------------------
I am a big believer in situation drills. One of my more evil ones is the instant Golden Score. That is, we have groups out for five minute rounds but then I will pick two or three groups and they go a second five minute round.

How this differs from a regular ten-minute round of randori is that you don't KNOW you are going to go ten minutes from the very beginning, so you can't pace yourself, which is what people do when you announce they are going to go for 10 or 15 minutes of randori. In a real tournament situation, you are going all out for five minutes and there is no score and now you have another five minute match in front of you. Even the toughest person in the bunch at that moment thinks, if even for just a second, "Oh, crap!"

An even better simulation of the actual tournament would be if we picked a couple of groups and had them go another five minutes or until the first score. I haven't been doing that, but I am going to start.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

All the Ages I've Been

Madeliene L'Engle said,
"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been."

Obviously, Ms. L'Engle had a much better memory than me. On a regular basis, I catch myself trying to remember when I did not know how to write a scientific article for publication or what it was like learning judo or statistics for the first time.

Tonight, Kenji Osugi and I taught a self-defense class at UCLA. I am not sure why, other than that Kenji thought it was a good idea, a good way to get more young people to learn about judo. So, there I was throwing Kenji on the carpet in the commons room at UCLA student housing. Vaguely, I remembered living in the dorms as a college freshman. Did I really have all that much energy? Was I actually as nice, outgoing and interested in trying new things as these young people?

I am pretty sure I wasn't. I think the people who are like me as a freshman probably didn't come down to the self-defense demonstration and were instead in their rooms reading statistics books.

Horace Rumpole said,
"There's no pleasure on earth that's worth sacrificing for the sake of an extra five years in the geriatric ward of the Sunset Old People's Home."

He was right. Jim Pedro, Sr. got back from Europe today, and I called him to get information on a number of things. He had a shoulder replacement and it hasn't really worked. I need to get both of my knees replaced. We spent half the phone call comparing things that hurt. That's what old people talk about.

Still, for all of the years I trained, the miles I ran, the matches I fought, the countries where I traveled, the research I did, the lessons I learned, it was all worth it. What I remember of it, anyway.

------ REQUIRED JUDO TIP ---------------------------------------------

Terry Kunihiro said this recently, but I think it is a quote from somewhere,
"No one should put their child in sports if they are not prepared to see their kid lose."

This is true. In the October issue of Growing Judo, we had a special feature on coaching your own kid. A few of the coaches mentioned how it had been easier for them to coach their own children because they were successful and usually won.

The more you win, the more prone you are to put pressure on yourself that you need to win all of the time or ...or....or what?

It's hard enough for the athlete without having the coach or parent put extra pressure on them. Some parents and coaches see how an athlete does in every tournament as a reflection of their own worth.

Guess what, if your child wins, it doesn't make you a better parent or a better person because you "taught them a work ethic." If your child loses, it doesn't make you a better parent or a better person because you "didn't make them focused only on competition".

People win. People lose. The sun rises in the morning and 99.999% of the people in the world don't even know that the event happened, much less who won.

Get over it. After all, when you were young, were you undefeated?

(Actually, that last line came from Jim Pedro, Sr. but he is old and won't remember he said it, so I am stealing it.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Like Judo and the People Who Do It

It seems to be fashionable to criticize people in judo. I am not going to bother to repeat some of the negatives I have heard. I am just going to disagree. It is MY blog, after all.

In my experience, judo is full of people who are nice, fun, hard-working and intelligent. Yes, there are some jerks, but they are the minority so it is not too hard to avoid them, most of the time.

Today at the tournament in San Diego I had the opportunity to watch some really good judo players. Some of them won. Even more fought their hearts out. There was a lot of great technique.

I was also able to watch some of the players from the USJA/ USJF West Coast Training Center and get some ideas on what they should work on more. Everything I saw reinforced my belief in the great potential of these young people who come for an EXTRA five to eight hours of practice every weekend.

A few points were hammered home by this tournament. First of all, there is a lot of unwarranted snobbery in judo where it is assumed that people who live outside Los Angeles (or whatever metro area where one lives) really don't know much judo. Actually, in San Diego, there were an impressive number of counters to uchimata, foot sweeps, juji gatame and other sweet techniques. This assumption that everyone but "us" is a bunch of local yokels is fallacious. A lot of good judo players have come from such places as Kalamazoo, Michigan (Olympian Martin Boonzayer, U.S. National Champion Chris Snyder), Fond du Lac, Wisconsin (world and Olympic silver medalist Lynn Roethke) and I could go on and on.

Second, the judo community is full of people like Ernie Smith (who I have known since I competed against his barely teenage daughter, long before he thought about being a grandfather), like Dr. Rob Oishi who seems to be everywhere coaching and helping out, along with the rest of the folks from Gardena Dojo who embody what judo really is about. Gardena Dojo is one of the largest clubs in the country because they realize that most people who ever take judo are doing it to learn to be healthier and more disciplined, to be part of something with a history and philosophy. If you are a national champion you are welcome at Gardena. If you suck at kata (for example, me) you are still welcome. If you want to learn judo but never compete and can just come to practice twice a week, you are welcome then also. Sawtelle Dojo is like that, too, but they did not go to dinner with us nor share in the Chianti at the Italian restaurant we all went to after the tournament so deduct ten brownie points for them!

Third, judo is full of really SMART people. In addition to Dr. Oishi coaching, Dr. Mark Yamanaka refereed at the tournament, Dr. Jake Flores was the medic, Judge Walter Dean was helping run the event, along with Jesse Jones, who is an extremely successful businessman, and others too numerous to mention. It is quite a contrast with some other sporting events I have attended where the majority of participants seem to have the same IQ as your average house pet and all of the spectators seem to think (and I use the term loosely) they are entered into some "Who is the dumbest in the building" contest. Really, by comparison to most sports activities, judo participants are College Bowl finalists.

Speaking of Dr. Jake, because my doctorate is in psychology he always thinks I know the answer to such questions as why people put down the groups with which they are associated. Unfortunately, he is wrong. When they issued crystal balls at graduation, I was in the wrong line. Maybe it is just human nature to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and if I was in tae kwon do or football or boxing or wrestling it would be a better deal.

It aint so. Besides, in what other sport can you pick a person up three feet off the ground and slam her down? Wrestling, you say? Yes, but if afterward, you jump on the person and start choking him, in wrestling they consider you a psychotic danger to the sport whereas in a judo tournament they are just as likely to give you the fighting spirit award.

Judo is so cool!

----------------- REQUIRED JUDO TIP ---------------------------
1. Get a smaller gi. Okay, I argue with my daughter Ronda about this all of the time that it is overkill to get your judo gi tailored. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean you should be wearing a gi that is two sizes too big. The rules say 10 cm from your wrist. Get a gi top that ends 10 centimeters from your wrist, not one that goes over your wrist. If you are 18, you are NOT going to grow into it!

2. Learn the rules. Let's start with this one. An ippon means largely on the back, not the largest part of the back. If I throw you and you land on your shoulder blades with none of the rest of your body touching then 100% of where you landed was on your back. It was not on 100% of your back, but the rules don't say that.

There are a lot more rules than that, by the way. I mentioned that because that is the most often cause of disputes where the disputing player or coach is in the wrong. Next time I will try to remember mention the second most disputed rule.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Even Workaholics Need a Break

It is 10:30 a.m. I have managed to shower and get dressed before falling back into bed,laying here with my second cup of coffee balanced on my chest. Even with extra strong Starbucks wake-the-dead roast, my eyes refuse to open.

In the past month, I have averaged fourteen-hour work days and been in four cities in three states. Interestingly, the states have been on the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast. Add that to daylight savings time and my time zone has changed so often that I feel as if I am in a Star Trek episode. It's 7 a.m. and it's winter. No, wait, it's 10 a.m. and it's summer, no wait, it's 9 a.m. and it's fall. Speaking of daylight savings time, what genius came up with THAT idea? Try to imagine a group of people in a state legislature saying,

"You know what this country really needs? Fewer hours of daylight during the winter! Yes, that will really get people going. Let's have it be dark when people come out of work, and watch productivity soar!"

I suspect that even the most die-hard health food nuts go into a candy store and go wild sometimes. My life usually runs like this - about 400 days in a row of working twelve hours or more between my job and judo, then a few days in the Bahamas when I only average six hours a day and then starting all over again.

Today, my brain is on strike. There is nothing to be done but take the day off and play. I am sad to report that I failed miserably.

I did start out okay, going to lunch with my husband at a nice restaurant overlooking the ocean. After everyone left for school and work, I decided playing the Wii was the perfect opportunity to play hookey. Unfortunately, it took me exactly eleven minutes to get bored.

Surfing the Internet is a good time-waster. I see my husband and kids spend hours looking at website with things like videos of clay figures of celebrities mud-wrestling. I thought I would find really fun sites that I could post here and share with my friends. Well, as Crystal Butts is fond of saying,

"No, you didn't!"

No, I didn't. I did find some interesting sites, though.

ProBlogger job board is a place for bloggers looking for jobs. That made me think about my grandmother who, when I tried to explain to her that I was on a graduate fellowship said,

"Mija, you read books and you write what you are thinking about. That is not a job. That is what people do after their job while drinking a rum and coke."

I told her they did not let you have rum and coke in the UC libraries, which is why they have to pay you.

The rates for professional blogging can be summarized as, "Don't quit your day job." Still I did forward the link to some people who wrote about, e.g., Mac applications on forums all the time. I figured if you are doing it for free and someone pays you $50 a week for the same thing, now you are ahead.

Six work-related phone calls,twenty emails answered, two new web pages written and after checking our newest site on two different operating systems and three browsers, I decided to make another try at goofing off by surfing the net.

I am sad to report that the Internet has become mass media, with the result that there are now almost as many stupid people on-line as there are watching TV. I found, in no particular order:
A page on how to tie a tie.
A site on "girlfriends and female-bonding" which, after the All-Women's tournament, I was feeling all favorable of femaleness, until I read this site which was all about helping each other choose and apply make-up.
Blue Pine Studio- a blog made up of photos of old buildings, flowers and fruit - and not much else. I actually liked this one. The pictures were pretty. They reminded me of all of those L.L. Bean catalogs and Currier & Ives pictures that make you all nostalgic for the country living during the holidays. Next thing you know, you are getting sentimental about the old days around the fire, putting on your wool sweater and watching the snow fall.

Well, forget it! The reason that you have fires and wool sweaters is that it is freezing-ass cold outside. When it snows it is the worst kind of cold - wet cold that gets into your bones and makes everything ache and uncomfortable.

Okay, now I am over it. I have had my two hours of goofing off (wrapped in eight hours of working), along with half a pint of chocolate peanut butter from Haagen Dazs (which, incidentally, makes much better ice cream than websites - although I did learn from their company site that they have a new brand of Cinnamon Dulce de Leche ice cream coming out).

I have given up. I don't want to sit by the fire, play a Wii or read blogs on make-up. I am going back to write a section of our new Ethics course on the not-so-ethical bystander.

My friend says she would hate to be me and she doesn't want to die at her desk. I'd rather die at my desk than the make-up counter at Macy's, and what the heck, you're going to die somewhere.

----- REQUIRED JUDO TIP -------
I get tired of hearing people say they cannot get their opponent to the mat. If you really want to do matwork, you should be thinking about it in the air. When I get a grip I am thinking about matwork. Many of the throws I do, from tani otoshi, to drop seoi nage to ko uchi makikomi to tomoe nage end in matwork with the exact same grip.

Too many people think of the transition from standing to matwork as occurring at the point when you hit the mat. My transition starts the second the referee says "Hajime!"

When I roll a person for a koka with drop seoi, I HANG ON TO THAT ARM and turn on the person for the pin. When I do tomoe nage, I hang on to the arm and throw a leg over for juji gatame. When I do tani otoshi, I hang on to the arm and turn on my stomach for yoko shiho gatame.

PRACTICE. During randori, practice the transition to matwork.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Best Things in Life

The best thing to give ... to a friend, your heart, to your child, a good example... to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you, to yourself, respect, to all men, charity.

It was Francis Maitland Balfour who said that, and I think I would have liked him. Not only was he a gifted scientist but he was also a person who did not live his life in fear and conformity. He wrote books that intertwined Darwin's theory and his own observations as a biologist, but died about the time his career was beginning to take off, trying to climb a mountain that had never been scaled.

I wonder why I never noticed before how much good life has in it.

This weekend, I was at the All-Women's Tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had a chance to spend time with friends from around the country and got to know some people a little better who I think I would like as friends. It was a great idea having an All-Women's Tournament, an idea turned into reality by a whole cast of women and some really wonderfully supportive men. As Stacy Knapp said, this is the one tournament where, if someone hugs you after a match, you know she really means it.

All of us were good examples this weekend of what we want our children to be. The coach certification clinic ran until 9:30 p.m. Thirty coaches stayed to learn more about keeping women and girls in sports, physical conditioning, drill training and matwork techniques. They modeled the dedication and concern they want their students to emulate. Children learn what they live. I am sure that is why my daughter at age two was pretending to read Wired magazine. Not sure what to make of her writing all over her stomach in that photo; I have decided to blame it on her sisters getting tattooed.

The other day, another friend commented that,

"Raising good children might just be something you enjoy in retrospect."

I am proud of my children, for a whole host of reasons. They are not yet so old, though, that I don't remember the screaming fights when they told me that I was ruining their lives and that I did not understand anything and accused me of having children only so I could make them do the dishes. I think that bumper sticker is right,

"By the time your children are fit to live with, they are living with someone else."

There is justice, though. Maria is pregnant. Ronda is coming home for a few weeks and will be helping her little sister improve her harai goshi. Ten bucks says that when Julia argues,

"Well that's not how I do it."

Ronda will come back with the old mom line of,

"Well, you know what that means then? It means you are doing it wrong!"

Charity? This weekend, an amazingly generous person handed me $2,000 to help women's development in judo. It paid for the hotel rooms and meals for our team from California and will pay for rooms next month for some of the women competing in the USJA Winter Nationals.

I know that some people in the world have really horrible lives, are sleeping in cold mud, with no food to eat and only lice for company. The vast majority of people, though, especially in this country, are more like me. They have lives of a level of comfort that would have seemed incredibly magical to most of the people who have ever lived in the entire history of the world and they are sullen because they have to get up off the couch and look for the remote control.

How do we ever fail to notice that we are surrounded by the best things in life?

--------REQUIRED JUDO TIP -------------------------
When teaching young children or beginners forget all of that stuff about strategy, grip-fighting and tactics. Concentrate on basic technique.

It takes a long time to learn to throw well, turnovers, combinations and counters. Many people who coach young children focus on making their kids 'tough' so they can knock down the other kids. Some of those 'not so tough' kids get discouraged and quit. Others eventually get tougher and when they start throwing the ones who used to beat them, the tough kids have nothing to fall back on and quit, too. Kids can get in good shape in a few months if you push them a bit. It takes a couple of years for a child to learn good technique.

My friends, the Sanchezes, have a different view. Not wrong, just different. They teach in an area with high mobility and, understanding that, realize they seldom will have kids with them for five or six years. Eric said, "We teach junior judo. This kid may only be here for two years, so I want him to be successful and have a good time while he is in judo. Then, maybe he will come back to it when he is older, or maybe when he has kids, he'll put his kids in judo. If not, he got to win some and have a good time for a couple of years as a kid. What could be wrong with that?"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Just Because You're Not Perfect Doesn't Mean You're Not Great


My children, with some justification, accuse me of recycling the same lines over and over. Ronda even wrote a blog about how she has now begun repeating those quotes to herself. There is method in my madness. I figure if I say something 26,000 times that perhaps it will stick with them.

I am not very 'mom-like', I have been told. Jimmy Pedro, Jr., the youngest world judo champion in America, always uses the line,

"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect."

I, on the other hand, the oldest world champion, have been known to tell my children,

"You know what happens when you practice like *** ? You **** ing lose! "

In my more socially-appropriate moments, I put it this way,

"The world really doesn't have a shortage of mediocre jerks that I have noticed, so maybe you should come up with a different career path."

or, when they complained that it was unfair that one of their sisters got to drive a car, stay out later, sleep in the morning or dump her broccoli down the garbage disposal, I would answer.

"Who said the world is fair? It's because I like her better than you."

As anyone who has been around us for more than fifteen minutes can readily attest, excellence is a minimal standard in our house, hard work is expected and whiners get no sympathy. Ronda cries for a week after placing second in the world judo championships. Maria is in tears every third day, convinced that she is 'never going to make it as a writer', despite the fact that she was NHJA's emerging journalist of the year last month, and typing her name in Google brings up hundreds of published articles. Not bad for someone who just turned 25.

In all of this, though, I realize that I need to listen to myself a little more and maybe sometimes start emulating one of my daughters.

One line I have used over and over is,
"Just because you're not perfect doesn't mean you're not great."

Failure isn't permanent and usually, by anyone else's standards, it isn't even failure. I tell this to my children all the time but lately it seems as if I have forgotten this lesson. On the way back from a conference in San Diego, I caught myself thinking, "I could get more work done if I just didn't have to eat."

Where did I get the idea that I had to get everything done perfectly all the time? I have papers to grade, lectures to write, two quarterly grant progress reports and a final report due, an article on information technology use to get published, an on-line course that is only half-written, a coach workshop to give tomorrow in Kalamazoo, and I am not even packed, three grant proposals to write, a judo resource CD to fix, an abstract due for a webcast next month and a plane to catch at 7 a.m. Oh, and I want to change jobs but I haven't really had time to look for work because I am swamped with work. I have been stressing about all of this when it dawned on me....

I don't have to be perfect. No one is calling up yelling at me to get any of this in. So what if I have 11 things due? If something gets finished a day or two later than I would have liked, the world as we know it won't end. Judo in this country won't stop because I don't get a brochure out on the USJA West Coast Training Center until next week instead of this week. As usual, the only person putting pressure on me is me. Too much of a sometimes good thing.

So, now it is time to listen to my daughter, Jennifer. She said,
"Mom, I'm 21. I'm smart. I'm pretty. If I have a college degree, a job, my own apartment in San Francisco, come home after work and watch classic movies, that's a good life. Not everyone has to be finding a cure for AIDS, winning the Olympics and bringing about world peace all in the same day. Just everyone in this family. All you people need to chill."

As she has announced many times, most notably when we got lost in the mountains and were passing the baby to one another across a gap many, many feet above ground,

"Next time all of you should listen to Jennifer."

--------- REQUIRED JUDO TIPS ----------------------------
1. When getting a grip, never, never, never reach forward with the same hand as the foot you have forward. That is, if your right foot is forward, grip with your left hand.
2. If someone is dumb enough to come in with their same foot and hand, foot sweep the person!
3. Most people have very bad foot techniques because they take a long time to learn correctly, so you can very often get away with violating rule #1, but it is a bad habit and you will get caught eventually.
4. Assignment for this month: Learn an effective move from when you are on top and the person has your leg trapped, either an armbar, or a move to get your leg free so the pin is good. That is such a common situation, you should work on being able to get a score from that position.