Saturday, June 27, 2009

AnnMaria's No Good Very Bad Day

The average school milk carton contains 8 fluid ounces. Imagine having well over half of that milk carton sucked out of your knee through a needle.

This morning, I went to the doctor, she stuck a needle in my knee, drained out fluid until the syringe was full, then did it again, and again, and again. It felt just as good as it sounds. Then she gave me a shot in my knee to reduce inflammation and another shot of steroids which is supposed to do something, I don't know what.

The only amusing part of it was when she asked me if I was on the athlete drug testing program. I told her I was about a quarter-century past that, but thanks for asking.

Maybe it is just old age catching up with me, because I could not remember any specific thing that caused my knee to swell up like a basketball. The doctor said that sometimes continuous overuse can cause real problems. We did have six hours of judo each day at the camp this week but it wasn't that much more than a usual weekend at the West Coast Judo Training Center.

I felt bad I could not go to practice this weekend, but I am now sitting here with doctor's orders to REST (pretty much stated like that), and our other coach, being one of LA's finest, has been called in to work and assigned to watch Michael Jackson's house, so we told everyone to go fight in the tournament in Claremont. An extra tournament is good for them anyway.

Thirty-three years and six operations ago, when I first injured my knee, the original physician told me if I kept this up I would not be walking when I was forty. Fortunately, medicine has progressed a great deal since then, and I can still walk, although I haven't been able to run for a few years.

As she walked out of the room, the doctor smiled knowingly and said,
"Sometimes you have to pay the price for the choices you make."

Before putting the dressing on my knee, the (much-younger) nurse looked at the scars and asked,
"I do martial arts myself. You've certainly been through a lot because of judo. Was it worth it?"

I thought to myself, 'Son, you don't know the half of it.' then I told him,
"Yeah. It was worth it. I'd do it all over again."

I am mad at my family, though. I never cry, no matter how much something hurts, no matter what. That may be a bad trait, but there it is. So, they never worry about me much. Dennis went and got a haircut. Jenn went out with her friend. I drove myself to the doctor, to the pharmacy and home. While I was out, Julia called five times about whether I would take her rock-climbing, to the movies, to her friend's house. So, I came home, told everybody who was here how rotten they are and went to bed. In an hour or two when I am done being mad at them, I am sure I will feel the ungrateful, unhelpful children were worth it, too.

I wasn't going to take the painkillers the doctor prescribed because that would make me feel a little too much like Michael Jackson, besides, taking drugs is bad, right? When I talked to Jake he reminded me that when he went to medical school, he stayed awake and learned stuff, and suggested that perhaps my doctor did, too, and I should follow her advice.

Steroids, Vicodin and God knows what else. It's a damn good thing they don't have USADA testing for coaches or just old people in general.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Everybody Learned Something

The last five days I spent in San Diego at the USJA Board of Directors meeting, followed by the USJA Junior Nationals, followed by the USJA/ Judo Forum camp.

Some people learned that you need to lock the person's arm AGAINST your body when you do an armbar, then rotate toward his head and back to a 180 degree position.

Since it was six hours each day of judo, the little ones under 10 got a bit tired. At one point, Judo Forum originator Neil Ohlenkamp took them outside and had them draw a picture of what they learned at judo camp. My favorite was the little girl who drew a picture of girls on the mat doing Kiss A Gatame. (You guys get your minds out of the gutter.)

Favorite quotes:

About a rather too pompous person at the board meeting ....
"When I first met that guy, I thought he had pretty good ideas. Then, I found out that he didn't invent judo, Kano did, and I wasn't too impressed with him any more."

"That Grandpa Pedro guy isn't as scary as he wants you to think."

"Me and my friend were talking and we decided that after this camp we like judo more and we want to do it more."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To the men & women in the arena ...

At first I started to write this response to a friend about the toxic rhetoric flying around, but then I decided to share it. People need to hear about the very much good news that is happening in the USJA.

These are the changes in the USJA over the past three years, a trend that continues this year:

The USJA has grown in membership and financial stability.

Below is what Gary Goltz, Jim Bregman, Jim Pedro, Sr., Lowell Slaven,George Weers and I and many others have worked to accomplish, which has contributed to this improved functioning. Others with whom I am proud and fortunate to be associated include Paul Nogaki, who has organized the coaching clinic at winter nationals and the camp after junior nationals, Roy Hash who hosts the Texoma judo camp, Neil Ohlenkamp who runs the Judo Forum, Deb Fergus who works tirelessly for the All-Women's Tournament and Fight Like a Girl Camps, Mark Hunter who organizes joint workouts hosted by the USJA and USJF in Ohio, Joan Love who is chair of regional coordinators, Serge Boussyou who organizes the Mayo Quanchi camps, Bill Montgomery who is a major support for our coaching program.

These are accomplishments that anyone in the USJA can point to with pride and to which I believe our improved membership and financing can be directly attributed.

  • We have a cadre of regional coordinators around the country who organize events including joint workouts and clinics.

  • We have a camp after junior nationals every year, open to all ages.v
  • We have added a second on-line magazine

  • We have a USJA forum on-line.
  • We have a USJA facebook.

  • We have a volunteer Chief Operating Officer.

  • We have a volunteer web master.

  • We have a coach certification program with a consistent curriculum. In the past several months coaching clinics have been offered in Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Rhode Island, North Dakota, San Diego, Los Angeles and Texas. Upcoming clinics are scheduled in Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, San Diego, San Francisco, Nebraska and Sonoma.

  • We have a joint program with the USJF for sponsoring events, including a Winter Nationals, National Novice and Brown Belt Championships and an upcoming joint junior nationals.

  • We have been able to provide camp scholarships for USJA award winners and junior national medalists.

  • We have established a training center, funded through donations, in southern California.

  • We have a development fund used to support camps and clinics everywhere from Michigan to Mississippi to Louisiana to Los Angeles.

Theodore Roosevelt said:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

I hear a lot of those critics but I don't hear anything from them other than criticism of other people. I would ask those critics to first point to something that exists now that did not three years ago that they were in some way involved, other than the "Save American Judo from AnnMaria" campaign.

I believe our members want to see positive action. They want to see us be the men and women in the arena rather than the critics.

I'd like to thank you all who are working to support the USJA and judo, from Keith Worshaim in Mississippi to Ed Thibideau in Arkansas to Chuck Wall in Virginia to Vern Borgen in North Dakota and the thousand others who want to see action and results rather than hear criticism and spite. If I didn't mention you by name, please don't feel you are appreciated any less. I know you are not doing it for the appreciation but rather out of the goodness of your heart.

Thank you for being you.

JUDO GAME ==============

Stolen from Ana Hankins of Kouhaku Judo Club in Corona ...

We went to the Nanka Shorai practice last weekend run by Ana Hankins, formerly an outstanding competitor from Columbia, now a judo instructor. She did a lot of judo drills and games. One of my favorites involved having one person in the middle with one finger on the mat, bent over turning around in a circle. The rest of the group moves around in a circle (teaches moving correctly, not crossing your feet). On hajime the middle player runs around the circle throwing each person (teaches to throw while moving). At matte, a new player moves into the middle and they start over.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo World Finals

And so, today, to the sadness of some and great relief of others, we close out the first annual Sneakerdoodle Zebra World Judo Championships, held in AnnMaria's living room. We are already taking applications for next year for both venues and competitors. If interested, please email, enclosing an application form written in crayon, a stick of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum and a photocopy of your most recent traffic citation. If traffic citation is not available, a note from your mother or most recent date granting you permission to use the living room is an acceptable substitute.

I had an absolutely great time at the Nanka Shorai practice at Kouhaku Judo at the Gracie Barra club in Corona. I took a lot of pictures which I will try to get up tomorrow if I have time after I finish editing Growing Judo and doing a powerpoint for a class I am giving Tuesday and a lecture for a class I am giving Monday.(I do have an actual job that does not involve matburn.)

Relevant to this blog, Sensei Ana at Kouhaku, a former Columbian national team member, mixed a lot of judo games and fun exercises into a practice that also included escapes from pins, attacking drills and randori.

The common theme from both - have fun at judo. Don't take it seriously. This is something we do to have a good time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo Worlds Round 2

Today, we continue with the Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo World Championships, Round 2,

USA vs Venezuela


at the end of Day 1 of the Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo Championships, the referee challenges the president of the competing association to an arm-wrestling match to decide exactly who is going to suspend who. Unfortunately, this progresses to a tragic incident of child abuse followed by elder abuse followed by child abuse.

Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo World Championships

The Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo World Championships are brought to you sanctioned by the Woohooshidan Judo Association and sponsored by The Julia Group.

As with all world championships, we begin with a meeting on the rules, immediately followed by our first match.

Match 1: France versus Venezuela
Ronda Rousey refereeing.

Check back tomorrow for match 2, Ronda Rousey, USA versus Venezuelan in a hat.
Also, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars, USJA President versus German chick whose name we don't know because she said it in German.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Below is the June President's Letter I sent out.

Do you ever think why we teach judo, play judo, support judo? Each of us has a different story. For many, a judo instructor made a difference in their lives when they were young, unsure of themselves and friendless in the world. Now they teach to help other young people grow in to healthy, confident adults. I know coaches who could have been great athletes but never received the opportunity. Just like so many parents want to give their children things they never had, these coaches want to provide the support for young athletes that they missed in their prime. Some people came to judo as teenagers or adults, for a great many reasons – they wanted to develop strength, self-defense, social skills or they simply saw it as a positive way to contribute to their community.

The United States Judo Association tries to support all of those different people living those different stories. June 19-21st we will be having a junior national championships in San Diego, California. A family event, in the beautiful Town & Country Resort, it gives children the opportunity to test their skills and is in a great location for a family vacation at Sea World, Legoland and the world famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. It is open to judo players born in 1990 or later. (Download the application form at the USJA website )

After the tournament, June 22-23, is the USJA Camp, co-sponsored with the Judo Forum, open to ALL ages. There are experts in kata, coaching and competition, as well as private lessons available. You can also certify as coaches here. It’s not too late to register. You can find more information on the Judo Forum

We continue to have volunteer activities aimed at judo players throughout the country. Volunteer John Moe maintains our website, Connie Halporn and Ronald Charles edit American Judo, Charlie Robinson hosts Camp Bushido, Deb Fergus has been organizing Fight Like a Girl events, supported by Roy Hash, Terry Kelly and many others. For profiles of these individuals and more, please check the June issue of Growing Judo magazine.

One question I have gotten lately is about various emails sent out defaming the USJA. I did not want to allow this issue to distract anyone from the great work our people in the USJA are doing. There have been wild allegations thrown around that I can summarize it in three words – “politics as usual”. There is a USJA board meeting June 19 in San Diego, and a USJA election this summer. You might recall that exactly four years ago at this time, a lot of claims were made about the USJA, none of which were ever substantiated. The facts are this:

ANYONE with a USJA, USJF, USJI card or membership in a foreign judo organization is eligible to compete at all USJA-sanctioned events. USJF has a reciprocal agreement with USJA in coach certification and sanctions. All USJA players can also participate in all USJF events. For many years this was true with USJI (now sometimes known as USA Judo) as well but a few years ago they decided that no one could compete in their events without joining their organization. The USJA sanctions events within the United States hosted by USJA member clubs. We do not sanction events outside of the U.S.

Our focus in the USJA continues to be growing judo at all levels. In upcoming months I will be attending the AAU National Judo Championships in Kearney, MO, the World Masters Judo Championships in Atlanta, GA. and Panamerican Masters in Massachusetts. We need to begin reaching out to the many organizations promoting judo. We are also discussing sponsoring a judo tournament within larger fitness/ martial arts expositions. This is just one of the ideas that I think could get more people involved in teaching and learning judo in the U.S. If you think judo can be a positive force in people’s lives, which I do, it only makes sense to seek out ways to expand and improve our ability to reach new and current participants.

There is any election coming up (hence all the nasty rumors flying). Change can be frightening for some people. Getting better, though, requires change, in fact that is the very definition – changing for the better. My personal goal is to see the organization of judo in America get better. I loved competition, personally, but development isn’t about getting one gifted kid to one tournament (okay, I admit it, I stole that line from Julie Koyama, vice-president of USJF). Gold medals are great, I know, but 99% of our members come to judo for their own goals – to learn technique, to lose weight, to find some good friends, to have a good time. We need to be an organization that focuses on those goals. Whatever we can do, from camps to coach education to on-line communication to scholarships to whatever ideas YOU the members bring to us, that needs to be our goal in the USJA. That is why I am running for the board again. Judo helped me meet a lot of goals and I hope to help others do the same. Please join me and the rest of the USJA in

… making judo better !

HOT TIP: Check back here late tomorrow for a live streaming video of the new Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo World Championships sanctioned by the Woohooshidan Judo Association . You don't want to miss this INTERNATIONAL event. It will include a world champion, world silver medalist, THREE USJA Junior National gold medalists and competitors from France and Switzerland speaking French and bearing Swiss chocolate.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Politics as Usual

As usual, I went to work at USC today. Then, I went to LMU where I am teaching a summer course in statistics in the graduate school for the next few weeks. I came home, nagged Ronda about going to work out, which she did, had dinner with my husband, answered some email and ran some analyses in SPSS for nice folks from USC who needed it for a morning meeting.

There was a lot of email about the USJI, who now call themselves USA Judo, suspending the USJA. A couple of people told me I should respond. Others recommended I not bother giving it any more time than it deserves. Since I still have more work to do (for actual money, not judo) and since Sam Garcia did an INCREDIBLE job remodeling my kitchen and now I have to pay him so I am quite motivated to do work for money, I will give my two cents worth and answer a few questions.

Q. Is it true that the USJA sponsored a suspended coach to a tournament where he sexually abused a young athlete?
A. No, that is a lie. The USJA did not sponsor any suspended coach to any tournament. Someone who was suspended went to a tournament. We did not stop him. Neither did USA Judo, the USJF, the CHP nor the PTA. I am not aware of any legal means by which the USJA can stop someone from going to another country and watching a judo event. I can think of some illegal means but those are, well, illegal.

Q. Is it true that the USJA sanctioned the World Masters Judo tournament?
A. Yes. A USJA club applied for a sanction, included their $25, we checked the paperwork and sent them the sanction. This is one of the benefits we offer USJA clubs.

Q. Is it true that only USA Judo can sanction international events?
A. Our lawyers certainly don't believe so. No disrespect intended but I don't think whoever wins the 66 kg division in the 50-54 age group is going to the Olympics any time soon. USJI, or whatever they are calling themselves these days, is supposed to be involved with the Panamerican Games and Olympics.

Q. How does this suspension of the USJA by USJI affect the members?
A. Not at all, as far as I can see. They already forced our members to buy their membership if they wanted to compete, coach or referee in USJI events. It may save us $1,500 - or possibly $23,000 since the USJI recently sent us a letter demanding we pay them $2 for every member we have.

Q. Why do you think the USJI is doing this?
A. I think it is pretty obvious. Four years ago they suspended the USJA just prior to our national meeting and election, with a lot of allegations against the president that were never supported. Now they are doing it again. They would very much like to replace some of the current board members, me included, with those who are compliant and will do what they are told.

Q. Do you think it will work?
A. Nope. The USJA has always been made up of an independent, creative, sometimes cantankerous bunch. That is what I love about our organization. It was founded on the premise of an independent, honest, American organization. We are moving more and more in that direction every day. Our members are smart and don't like to be bossed around. That's why they joined the USJA.

Q. Does this bother you personally?
A. Not at all. I read the L.A. Times every day, the New York Times quite regularly and listen to all of the political news. People far more important than me get accused of far worse things every day. It's not right but there are dishonest, bitter, petty people in the world. They weren't put there deliberately to annoy me. I'm not that important.

Quote of the Day

"AnnMaria? She might have won the world championships but all she did was matwork."
"Oh, really? Then she must have been really good at it!"