Friday, January 23, 2009

Confess! (or not)

Did you go to practice this week? How many times? Did you run this morning? Did you lift weights this week? What are your goals for judo? Did you do none, or almost none, of the above and not feel the least bit bad about it?

My goals for judo are:
Keep learning more and understanding how it all fits together better until I quit judo or die, whichever comes first.
Not becoming a fat, saggy, crabby old woman who cannot see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Getty because she is too out of shape to walk up the stairs.
Help young people who are interested in learning from me to become better judo players and more successful in life.

That's it. Of course I will be happy for Ronda if she wins a gold medal in London, for Crystal Butts if she is on the 2012 Olympic team, and so on, but those are goals for THEM, not for me.

I went to practice today, watched Kenji Osugi teach the kids (he did a good job), watched Thierry Dusigne teach the adults (he did a good job, too). I already knew how to do harai goshi, but not as well as Thierry, and I already knew okuri ashi barai and de ashi also, but I liked the way Kenji taught it. So, it was a very good judo day for me. I also got to work out with my daughter, Julia in tachiwaza twice and in newaza twice. I love Julia and, as Maurice Allen told me once, any time you spend with your child is precious and spending it doing a sport you love, doubly so. I have been trying to get Julia to do combinations FOREVER and she finally threw two people with a combination at practice. I did a little dance each time. I am easily amused.

If you haven't read Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers, I highly recommend it. Among other topics, he talks about the ten thousand hours of practice most people who are outstanding in any field have spent practicing it. He applies this ten thousand hours principle to hockey, computer programming and music. The key point is that people who are stars in a field did not just practice much harder than other people, they practiced much, much harder.

Kenji talked about the same subject at practice. When he asked how many of the kids were going to the two tournaments next month, a few raised their hands each time. He said,
"If you are afraid of losing, you'll never win. No one likes to lose, but you need to go to the tournaments and either win or lose. Either way, you'll learn and you'll get better."

He is very right. You learn a lot in a tournament, not the least of which is facing up to the stress of competition.

So, why did I take Julia home after an hour and a half of practice? Because she needs to study. Those ten thousand hours have to come from somewhere. As a parent, I decided she needed to go home, study for the tests she has in fifth grade next week, and get to bed at a reasonable hour.

However, if YOUR goal is to be a champion, and you did not answer "Yes." "Six." "Yes." and "Yes." to those first four questions, you better get your @$$ in gear. You're about 9,000 hours short.
=============Judo Tip ================

COMBINATIONS ! Oh my God, if I had a dollar for every time I saw somebody miss the opportunity for a combination, I would own a house in Maui, another in Malibu and a collection of jaguars. Practice these because almost no one does them! By the way, a combination is not one half-@$$ technique followed by a real technique, it is a real technique, which the opponent blocks, which you then follow with another real technique.

I recommend you add this to your repertoire, seriously. If you do uchikomi at every practice, do one set with a combination. If you do throws every practice (you should) make one set a combination. That is the only way. You can't buy combinations that are like reflexes at the combination store.

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