Thursday, November 27, 2008

People Need Judo Like a Goldfish Needs an Underwater Castle

In my never-ending, unsuccessful quest to do less work, I am having other people write part of my blog for me as often as possible. Today, I thought I would do that by answering questions,

Bruno Medri of Italy asked
Courteous Dr. DeMars, when you tell that one of your dumb lucky was of having a family that cannot you allow to travel in Europe and Asia, or that obliged you to work, do varsity and found study abroad alone, it means that this give to you more feeling like to improve, to train harder and to win than your opponents because they cannot have your feeling like to win?

In part I think it gave me the incentive to train harder. Also, I think because I could not do what everyone else did, I had to come up with different ideas, which was lucky for me because what everyone else was doing was not working. If I'd had the opportunity, I probably would have done what everyone else was doing - moved somewhere with a team of people who just did judo and did not have full-time careers, traveled to Europe and Asia, fighting in tournaments long before I was ready to win them, "for the experience". Since I could not afford it, I did none of that. I went and got a full-time job as an engineer to pay the bills, ran miles before work or at lunch, got a weight trainer to teach me about lifting weights and drilled matwork and throws several nights a week. There was no way I could tell myself that I had the best training environment - I knew that was not true - so I HAD to train as hard as possible, never miss practice, never miss a workout anywhere. I was around a lot of just "regular judo players", so I never got the idea that I didn't need to come to practice at the local community center because that is where everyone went to practice.

David Schaeffer, from Santa Ynez Judo, asked,
"How can we market judo better?"

When I was in business school, I usually stayed awake in class, so I remember in Marketing 101 when they talked about the four P's - product, price, promotion and place.

By promotion they mean advertising, not ceremonies with palm fronds where you get promoted to woo-hoo shidan.

One of our biggest lacks with judo is PLACE. It was Irina Dunn, an Australian feminist (and not Gloria Steinem, as popularly believed) who coined the term,
"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."

Being happily married, I don't think that is quite accurate, as it implies that men make exactly no difference to women. I don't think that is true. I think a woman needs a man like a goldfish needs an underwater castle. That is, they are nice to have around and make life more pleasant and less boring but it is not as if you would die without one. (Incidentally, I don't hold this if you have a child. Having been a single parent and raising a child now as part of a couple, I guarantee you that the latter is easier, unless you happen to be married to a complete a$$, but that is the subject for a different blog.)

Here is the thing about judo - for most people, it is exactly like an underwater castle for a goldfish. It is NOT a necessity of life and they are not going to drive an hour each way to take their child to practice. Most judo instructors and people, who as my friend Bruce Toups says, "Have contracted judo like it is a disease," do not understand this simple fact - judo is not a priority for most people.

You need to put yourself in the place of the average parent who has never heard of judo or vaguely has an idea from an episode of the Flintstones where Wilma throws Fred around. To empathize with the typical potential judo student, or parent of one, let's substitute something else, say organic knitting. There is a great deal to be said for organic knitting, I am told. It uses less materials than regular knitting and leaves fewer negative waste products in the environment. You can apply your creativity. In judo, you have to be really, really good to make the U.S. team and then they even make you pay $50 or so for your sweats. Even a barely adequate organic knitter gets warm sweaters and cozy mittens, for a cost of about three dollars in yarn.

So, go knitting! - environmentally friendly, creative, cheap and you get sweaters. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that you or your offspring wants to become an organic knitter. You look it up on-line and find that organic knitting costs less than the price of your daily Starbucks coffee for a month. So far, so good. Doing more research on the Internet, you find that the nearest organic knitting class to you is a 45-minute drive away. Thinking about leaving for the office at 8 a.m., getting home at 6 p.m., driving to a class to arrive by 7, then knitting for two hours and driving home - that is a 14-hour day with no time allowed for dinner, shopping, seeing your family - so you forget about organic knitting and you take a kickboxing class that is offered at the local gym five miles from your house.

Why is kickboxing offered at the local gym? Because organic knitting requires to be a teacher that you hold a Certified Organic Knitter of the First Order (something I just made up) while to be a kickboxing instructor you need to complete a ten-week course and possess feet.

So, PLACE is a big reason we don't market judo well. We don't have it in enough places where it is convenient for people.

A second reason is product. Most people who teach judo have no formal training as teachers and many of them simply are not very good at it. I am not saying you have to have a teaching credential to teach small children, or adults for that matter. I can think of several people who are gifted teachers who do not have any training beyond having done judo themselves for years. They are the EXCEPTION.

We don't let people teach physical education, history or anything else to eight-year-olds without some training in how to teach. For high school students, we require they have DIFFERENT training in how to teach adolescents. For adult education, every state in America requires yet another type of certification. Yet, for some reason we believe people can magically be good at teaching judo at every age from preschool through senior citizens with no background in education whatsoever. Hey, even kickboxing requires a ten-week course!

It's as if we let people become business professors at a university based on no more qualifications than that they had shopped at the Apple Store for the past 15 years. The people who had spent the most money at the Apple Store would get to be Dean of the Business School.

You know what, some of those people would do a bang-up job as business professors because they have really given a lot of thought to the advertisements they see in the paper, the position of product in the store, the way staff treat the customers. Most of them, however, would not be very good at it at all. That doesn't make the Apple Stores a bad business. In fact, I think they are pretty amazingly awesome. It does make this a stupid way to pick teachers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

You Can't Follow the Crowd to the Top

I attribute my competitive success to equal parts dumb luck, hard work and a willingness to look reality square in the face, and, if necessary, spit in its eye.

If you want to win, I think you need to realize that you have to be different. One reason so many of our coaches in every sport are unsuccessful at producing players who win at a high level is that they have no idea what it takes. It's damn hard to be a good coach for international players. I don't even try to do it, mostly because I am not willing to give up the time from my work and my ten-year-old daughter.

(You can see her, Erin and Nick working out here

Even when people do give the time and effort, they still often botch the job badly. Often, it boils down to arrogance. Coaches who did not win the Olympics (which is everyone in this country) often deep down believe that they are great players and no one is better than them. This is a great attitude that you MUST have during a match. Unfortunately, some people haven't lost it twenty years after they retired. If you cannot conceive of the fact that this player you are coaching might be better than you, then you can't really give a reason why he or she could possibly win the Olympics, world championships, etc. when you didn't. The only acceptable explanation is luck - luck of the draw, having a good day. Pretty hard to train someone to be lucky.

I'll give the dumb luck reasons that I think helped me a lot.

1. I started judo in the Midwest, I came from a family with a lot of kids close in age, so we fought a lot, and my parents didn't have any extra money to send me out of the area to compete. That might sound like the opposite of lucky and it is certainly outside of the common belief that we must go to Europe, Asia, etc. multiple times to train. Since I was a pretty tough kid, I won almost all the time and I never got the beaten down attitude that many American athletes have by the time they are 18 and are getting dumped in the first thirty seconds of some tournament they only got to attend because the number one and two ranked players couldn't afford to go. I was that number one ranked player who couldn't afford it.

2. Because we didn't have much money and there was no way in HELL my parents were going to pay for me to go travel around to judo tournaments and not work, I had to get a job, go to college and, to go to judo, get accepted in a study-abroad program at Waseda University. I spent a year working out at Waseda University with the men's team and at the Kodokan in the women's division. Because I did not come from a "good, famous club" in the U.S, I had no idea men and women in Japan didn't train together. I got beat in the mat by the guys at Waseda, which was kind of like getting beat in the mat by some of the bigger stronger guys at home. Then, I went to the women's division and tore into all of the women on matwork because no one ever told me that the Japanese women were supposed to be better than me.

3. I had no idea what was proper, polite or even much clue of what rank meant. (This guy is a 4th degree black belt - okay.) I was AMAZINGLY lucky that Margot Sathay was there at the same time I was and offered to give matwork sessions for any women that showed up. Five of us showed up regularly. Two were Margot's friends. The other three all ended up winning world medals - me, Michiko Sasahara and Hiromi Fukuda. Re-read this again - FIVE people showed up at those sessions and two of them were Margot's friends. And Margot's matwork was incredible. I was 17 or 18 and she kicked my @$$. No one of any age or size had ever beat me like that. And she was OLD (like, 35, which seemed half-way to dead).

This is where the hard work and reality part slipped in. Every day, I went to practice twice, once in the afternoon at Waseda and once at the Kodokan. Sometimes I went three times if Margot had a practice before the regular practice, other days, the dojo was available nd it was just us. Some people argue we need judo available in college, that it needs to be around students' schedules, etc. I needed to go to college, I wanted to go to Japan and study judo, so the only way to do both was to get accepted in an exchange program. Then, I took the train to Waseda, went to class and judo practice, took the train to the Kodokan and then back home. Yes, it was long and hard, but no one told me I was supposed to be practicing "smarter" and have everything at my fingertips. I thought it was supposed to be hard and it was so there was no point whining about it. If there was money left over at the end of the month and I could buy a box of cookies, I was pretty satisfied with life.

4. I ended up not in a judo mecca but in San Diego. I was living at the Olympic Training Center, found out I was pregnant (I had been married for years so don't get all self-righteous about it). The OTC is no place to bring up a baby, so I moved to San Diego and took a job as an engineer. Because I could not go to five clubs for randori every night, I spent hours working on drills, just like Nick, Erin and Julia were doing above. On the weekends, I had the chance to fight the best southern California had to offer at Tenri and at Orange County Kodokan which hosted a regional training program. During the week, I worked on the boring stuff no one would do if they had a choice. I came up with new techniques and drilled them over and over - matwork counters, combinations, transition drills, armbars from the top and bottom.

Here is where the hard work and reality part came in. I realized I needed to train every day and at JUDO in addition to running and lifting. It wasn't possible for me to quit my job, so I had to work out wherever I could. Since there were a bunch of big guys at the Naval Training Center, armbars and chokes were a lot easier to pull off than throws, and besides, my knees were trashed, so I focused on matwork.

Then there was the part about if you have had several knee operations, have a baby, live 100 miles from the nearest major club, can't afford to travel around the world and have to work full-time, you cannot be competitive. I just decided to ignore that nonsense. I wasn't the most popular kid around - my family didn't have lots of money, I didn't come from the 'right' club, so not too many people bothered to take me aside and give me advice. When they did, they were people like Hayward and their advice was along the lines of "When you get in that choke and it doesn't work, switch to a pin by sliding back and laying on your stomach."

When I look back, here is the funny thing - everything you were supposed to do - travel abroad young, get too as many tournaments as you can as a young competitor, train with well-known, high-ranking senseis, live near a "name" club where you train regularly - I did none of those things that the majority of people trying to be successful international players did because I was not lucky enough to have the opportunity. That "bad luck" was a major advantage for me.

Too many American players try to replicate successful European and Asian players. That can be taken too far. You need to think about what you are doing, why and how you expect to benefit.

In the movie, Cool Runnings, the captain of the Jamaican bobsled team whacks all his teammates on their helmets. When one demands to know what he is doing, he answers:

"That's what the Swiss team does and they win."

To which his teammate replies,

"Yeah, and they make those little knives, too, but I don't see you doing that."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The World of "Let Someone Else Do It"

We had dinner with Anna and Steve Seck last night. For those of you who don't remember, Steve was a member of the 1980 Olympic team which did not get to compete in the Olympics because they were in Russia that year and the U.S. boycotted. He was also one of my old teammates at Tenri, several time national champion, etc.

After a few glasses of good red wine, we got to discussing the fact that in "our day", Tenri had five or six national champions training there from all over, and now if someone from southern California places in the senior nationals we make a big deal of it. Steve said,

"We used to laugh at those east coast guys and now they have passed us up. All you need to do is look at the results and there's no denying it."

I asked him why he thought that happened and he said,
"Everybody is all about me and my club. You've done a good thing starting up that West Coast Training Center but how many people won't support it. That's our problem in judo on a large scale in this country. Everyone wants to be the big shot walking around his dojo lording it over other people and walking around 'HIS' mat. No one wants to develop something bigger than themselves. I am not saying I am any better. I teach at the community college in my own classes and that is about it. One way I do think I am different from some of those other former Olympians and so-called 'top coaches' is I do have the utmost respect for the guys like Gary Butts and Tony Comfort, like Ron, the other instructor down at LACC. They're all teaching judo to kids, opening up their clubs to let other people train, helping you with that training center. I have a lot of respect to for the coaches who develop kids and then encourage them to go train with someone else to help that kid get better, like you did with Ronda. I remember us talking about that when she was sixteen and I encouraged you to let her go somewhere she would have more people to train with and learn from. We could have that here again if people were willing to look outside their own little clubs. It's at every level, from the guy with the little club, to the coaches at the national level who don't have the sense to go down and recruit from those feeder clubs. They should be establishing relationships with them like wrestling programs do. Do you think the college wrestling coaches denigrate those high school programs? No way! They say, oh you went to such and such high school. That coach is really good. Then they go to that coach and talk about you and ask the coach to talk to you about going to their college program. "

[Are you impressed with how, yet again, I essentially got someone else to write most of my blog for me?]

I mentioned this to someone else, that I thought most of those people who thought they were the "big names" in judo waited for other people to develop players, run camps, raise money and only showed up if everything is done for them and they were paid to appear. On the other hand, I had been criss-crossing the country for years visiting one small club after another, trying to help out whenever and wherever I could, from southwest Missouri to Indiana to Kalamazoo, Michigan to West Warwick, Rhode Island. When people are doing judo, I try to help in whatever small way I can to provide one more person on the mat to help an individual player or send a check to pay for someone's hotel room. He said,

"Well, it doesn't seem to be working. I don't notice judo getting any bigger."

For about an hour, I was upset at that response, and then I realized that he was just another person who was willing to let someone else do it and he looked at me as a sucker for teaching for free, and, when I do get paid, donating the money to the USJA Development Fund.

Ronda had a very sensible comment on all of this, she said,

"Mom, if you are doing this for recognition, appreciation or money, you better quit. If you are doing it because you are starting and supporting programs that help people in judo, then you should keep doing it, because you have done a lot of things that helped a lot of people whether they remember it or not."

I am a great fan of Mahatma Gandhi, kind of unusual for someone who spent years in a combat sport, but Gandhi managed to change the world by changing how people think. That is amazing. According to his granddaughter, Indira Gandhi,

"My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there."

I try to be in that group. Some days, though, I get tired of working to grow judo and feel like I am trying to push water uphill. So, today I am going to be in the third group, the group that takes their ten-year-old daughters to the aquarium and watches sea lions instead of a judo tournament.

BTW There was a good practice at the training center yesterday. I will post some of the video clips later this week.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Eight players, nine medals and counting - not a bad weekend

First of all, congratulations to the fine clubs that developed these players. Los Angeles City College, Goltz Judo, Hayastan, San Shi, Sawtelle, Tenri, Guerreros, At-large Judo and Encino.

We had at least ten players at tournaments. I have not heard yet how Allen did (masters division, San Diego), or Nick (9-10, in Las Vegas) or if Haykus, Kendall, Megan, Harout or Erik competed this weekend or where. Here are the results I know so far...

Continental Crown

Crystal Butts - two gold medals, junior and senior 57 kg
Gary Butts - silver, masters
Harmik Aghakhani - silver medal 66 kg
Yazmin Boca-Bott - bronze medal 52 kg
Brent Yasukochi = bronze medal, 60 kg juniors
Gavin Purdy - bronze medal, 81 kg

All-Women's Tournament

Julia De Mars - two gold medals, girls 9-10, girls 11-14
Rachel Garcia moved up from the novice division to the open and did not place, but she did compete in three matches and scored in every one of them.

The best part was that Gary Butts and Ronda Rousey went to the two tournaments as coaches so I could get caught up on work and I will actually have time to go to practice next week. Hurray!

We are super-proud of the progress these players have been making.

There is practice, back in our old digs and at the same time on Saturday

10 - 11:30 conditioning
1 -4 technical and randori (we MAY have a special guest and it is not who you think. I am awaiting confirmation)

Saturday, 123 South 1st Street, La Puente, CA

SHOW UP. Those of you who worry that you are not advanced enough, too old, or whatever, ask your instructor what he or she thinks. If your instructor recommends it, come. We met many people at San Fernando, Pasadena, Hayastan, Goltz and LACC the past few weeks. Now that you know what our practice is like, feel free to drop in.

I am heading out now to Las Vegas (I am going to a software conference. I just finished another one).

If you went to a tournament today, or if you just know who else went and how they did, please post the info here. You all know how nosy I am.

---- REQUIRED JUDO TIP -------------
Not every day is the same if you are a competitive player. If you are doing judo for fun and recreation, just keep it up and ignore the next part.

Training for a major competition, you need to peak. You also need to develop technique, tactics, analysis. So, if your goal is to win the senior nationals in April right now you should be getting in good shape. Every day, you should be running or lifting. At judo practice, which you should be attending as many times as humanly possible, you need to be working on the techniques that are going to help you win. If there is a player who beat you last year, in randori, you need to be having people in your club simulate that player, e.g., get a high left grip on the lapel and attack with tai otoshi. This is your chance to work on blocking and countering. Analyze your judo. What is your weakest point?

As a coach, this is what you should be having your players do now. We weren't even out of the airport when randori was saying,
"There were a couple of problems I saw with Julia and Rachel at the tournament that I really want them to work on at the next practice .... "

Train harder AND smarter. It's a lethal combination.

Question for you -
Who are the five people in your division you need to beat? Are they right- or left-handed? Are they stronger standing or on the mat? What is their weakest position on the mat? What is their strongest position on the mat? What is your plan to beat each of those people?

Hint: Hoping for the best is not a plan and neither is "just do my judo".

Friday, November 7, 2008

A successful life is a very wasteful enterprise

"Research, like war, is a very wasteful enterprise. You waste a lot of money having soldiers in places that you don't need them, but if you don't have them in the one place where the enemy decides to attack, you lose the war. Research is like that. We never really know who is going to come up with a scientific breakthrough, so the best we can do is give money to those who have a lot of ability and hope that they come up with something."

Years ago, I asked someone from a federal agency about how they ended up funding some projects that, in hindsight, turned out to be pretty useless and that was his off-the-record answer. The answer did not satisfy me then, but now I am older and, occasionally, wiser.

If we could predict the future with perfect accuracy, there would be very little waste, in time, in soldiers, in money spent on research that goes nowhere. Personally, clairvoyance has never been my strongest suit. Lately, Ronda and I have been arguing about the importance of a college education. I suspect that, like her sister, Jenn, she often argues just to provoke me and doesn't really disagree that much at all. Her ostensible argument is that she doesn't know what exactly she wants to do for the rest of her life and so how can she know whether a course in middle eastern history or world literature or marine biology will help. Besides, some of those courses are completely useless.

My point, and I do have one, is that you can't predict what will be useful, so you may as well learn everything you can. For all we know, one day Ronda may be the ambassador to Iraq, and then she'll really wish she had taken that middle east history course. She might end up in the coast guard assigned to a site where an outbreak of some heinous flesh-eating water-dwelling virus occurs and that course in marine biology will save thousands of lives.

When I as an undergraduate, I, and all of my friends, complained about taking the required computer science course. Like, seriously. The only people who had computers were some weirdos who made them with parts they ordered through the mail from the special weirdo version of Radio Shack for weirdos. We were never going to use a computer and yet I had to take not one, but TWO classes in programming. Two other courses I took just because I was interested and with no pretense that I could ever see any possible use in my future career were mathematical statistics and systems analysis. Ironically, all of those courses provided information that I have used for probably 20 of the 30 years of my working life.

Of course, as with everything, I can see how this relates to judo. When I look back over the decade that I have spent raising money, organizing clinics, teaching, managing budgets so we could buy just one more plane ticket for one more player, it has been so often like trying to push water up-hill and at the end, most of those players are not actively involved in judo today. So, was it a waste of time? Yes. Do I think people should not be doing these things - donating money, organizing clinics, taking players to tournaments? No. I think we should do more of it.

There are two reasons. One, being successful in life is a very wasteful enterprise. I took courses like Medieval Economic History, Regional Economics and Japanese Literature. I learned from everything I did. In being part of these judo committees, I benefited by being able to see how other people think. One comment Chuck Jefferson made really opened my eyes. He said,

"I don't know if you realize this, but not everyone who is going to the national championships is training to be a national champion. I am, but not everybody is."

Again, in hindsight, that seems pretty obvious. Sometimes, though, people change. I always think of world and Olympic silver medalist, Lynn Roethke, who was really not very good at all when she was a teenager, but trained, focused and became a dramatically successful athlete. You cannot select in advance who is going to be a highly successful athlete. This weekend, we have players from the West Coast Judo Training Center competing in Michigan, Washington, San Diego and Las Vegas. By developing breadth and depth in judo we are going to increase the number of champions. You cannot predict who it will be in advance, so you have to "waste" your money and spread it around. To do that, you have to get some money in the first place and then you have to organize tournaments, camps and clinics where you can bring those players.

At the college I used to teach there was a saying:
"Always be nice to your A students because they will come back and be your professors. And always be nice to your B and C students because they will endow your buildings."

This is the second reason that none of the activities we all do, from teaching kata to fundraising to flying across the country to do a coaching clinic are ever wasted. That kid who is not very involved any longer who we sent to the Ocean State International or the USJA Winter Nationals or the Continental Crown may very well come back and teach a judo class for 50 kids at the YMCA, send us a check out of the blue to fund a Midwest Judo Training Center, start a camp that becomes an annual event for the next twenty years. Or, maybe he or she will just become a good banker, teacher, business owner or florist who cheers for judo during the next Olympics.

It's hard for me to see how anything we do that's good is ever wasted. I actually think that doing good work, whether it is in science or judo or government is never wasted. It's like when you put yeast into bread. It may seem like nothing happened at first, but eventually it rises. We just need to be careful that, while we're waiting, we don't listen to the people who say,

"That stuff never works. You should quit bothering with it."

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

This seems like another obvious one but I see lots of people who don't get it and they can't all be stupid so, clearly, it is not so obvious after all.

It is often harder for people to escape when you are NOT holding very tightly. I frequently practice matwork without using my hands. This isn't to show off but rather for good practice. What holds the opponent down is my body weight. I try whenever possible to have all of my weight on my opponent's face. If that is not possible, I'll usually settle with pinning one shoulder to the mat. Imagine if your head is stuck to the mat, or there is a nail driven through one of your shoulders. Obviously, you won't be getting up any time soon.

If I am not holding the person tightly, when she moves, it is easier for me to shift my weight and move also. If I am locked on to the other person, if she rolls over, I'll roll over and end up under her. If I am not holding so tightly, when she turns to roll me to the right, I can shift my weight to the side or back and pull or push her right into position again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Random thoughts, judo and otherwise

I have been really busy the past two weeks teaching statistics classes, grading exams, attending a software conference and the usual cleaning the house, paying bills, going to work, etc. etc.

Yesterday I called Jim Pedro to rub in that a Democrat had won the election. I had meant to get him a Republicans for Voldemort bumper sticker but never got around to it. I told him I was feeling that judo sucked up so much of my life. I'd like more time to go to the museum, hiking in the mountains, lay around and read books. I said,
"It's not that I don't like judo. Every time I ever went to practice, whether as a competitor or a teacher, I enjoyed being there. It's just that I think of all of the other things I am missing out on doing. I could be going to plays, art museums, libraries, the Farmers Market. Don't you ever feel like you missed out?"

He said, positively,
"Nope. And you didn't either. You wouldn't enjoy those things as much as you do judo. Besides, too much of anything is, well, too much. You should take a week off, go to the mountains. I guarantee you,though, that if you went up to the mountains with your family every weekend you would get sick of it after a while. "

I asked Ronda the same question, whether she ever felt like she missed out and she said,

"No, because for all of the things I didn't get to do, there were other things I did get to do because of judo and I think that more than made up for it, like going to Spain, or Beijing or Brazil. "

Everyone takes off tomorrow. A bunch of people leave for Seattle on one flight and a bunch more leave for Michigan on another. More of our guys are going to San Diego or Las Vegas for a tournament. GOOD LUCK, EVERYBODY ! Gary is going to Seattle to coach. Ronda is going to Michigan to coach and compete.

I am going to Las Vegas to learn about data mining and predictive analytics.

Oh, we are back at the West Coast Judo Training Center NEXT Saturday. 123 South 1st St., La Puente, CA

Were you not paying attention to all the tournaments this weekend? No, there is no practice this weekend. You should be at a tournament.

There is no practice next SUNDAY. We were going to have practice until we realized the Mojica tournament was that Sunday.

---------- Brain-dead obvious judo tip -----------------

Be in shape! Cross train every day. By that I mean run OR lift weights every day. You'd think it would be obvious but the number of judo players I see who claim to want to succeed in international competition and do not have the cardiovascular ability to go a five minute match - and forget about overtime - makes it clear to me that this obvious point has been overlooked.

Skateboarding, surfing, aerobics - none of those count as cross-training, although they may be fun for some people and useful for cutting weight. Cross-training for judo needs to be intense. Please don't EVEN try to tell me how intense your aerobics class is. Nothing you can do wearing sparkly spandex is cross-training.