Monday, July 29, 2013

No one cares if their accountant is a black belt

My accountant, Donna Remer, is amazing. She specializes in small business and has been with me through three companies I have founded or co-founded. I'm pretty sure she doesn't do any martial arts, but more to the point, I don't care.

It just floors me when I see people who have a picture of themselves in a judo gi on LinkedIn - and their profession is listed as Project Manager, accountant or software developer. (If you are a professional judo instructor, then it is completely understandable, but these people are not.)

It's bad enough when the person in question is someone young who has recently retired from competition and may not have a lot of professional accomplishments yet. It's still not correct, but it is understandable. When the person in their judo gi is over fifty years old, it just floors me. Seriously, what are you thinking?

Before you point out that, in fact, I have my picture in a judo gi in my profile, let me point out first that this is my PERSONAL blog. I am founder and president/ CEO of two companies. You can see my bio for The Julia Group here and there is nothing there about judo because it is irrelevant. 

Above is a photo of my very dear friend, Dr. Jacob Flores. The relevant point here is that he is giving a lecture to staff from a vocational rehabilitation project on symptoms, treatment and prognosis for patients with Type II diabetes. A second relevant point is that he has an MD, is board certified in geriatrics and treats predominantly patients with chronic and terminal illness, with a high proportion of individuals with diabetes on his caseload.

The fact that he is a fifth-degree black belt and had two sons on the world team is totally irrelevant, even though he and I were both in this meeting.

You know where judo is on my resume? Under publications, I include the book I wrote, Winning on the Ground. That's relevant because it shows that I write well enough that someone would publish a book by me. Of course, there are a lot more publications listed on things like comparative factor structures.

When I see someone in a professional setting - say on their resume, company web page, LinkedIn, etc. highlighting their martial arts expertise instead of their professional accomplishments, it leads me to assume that they haven't achieved much professionally, otherwise, they would be talking about that.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Devious Plot to Undermine the Guard

Okay, well, I guess if I was more devious I would not be posting it on here, but ninjas don't have blogs either - yeah, that sentence made more sense in my head than when I saw it in writing.

Anyway ... the guard will be forbidden on Sunday as Gary, Blinky and I spend four hours trying to convince people of the desirability of different positions (get your mind out of the gutter!)

There will be a few rounds of "no guard allowed" matwork.

Then, I am going to go through attacks when the opponent is on all fours (turtle position, wrestling referee's position). I'm also going to cover attacks when YOU are on all fours, including a counter to the triangle.

I am going to demonstrate turnovers to pins mostly, and two arm bars. I will do one choke, complete with song, unless Crystal Butts pays me enough money not to sing.

I expect Gary and Blinky will cover more chokes. Gary is also going to (I hope) review the half-nelson because most people don't do it well enough or often enough.

As I said previously, it's not that I hate the guard position, or don't like people who do jiu-jitsu (except for you Joe Walsh from Joe Bob's Jiu Jitsu in Pocatello, Idaho. You annoy me.)

My point is that to be really lethal in matwork, you can't only be dangerous from one position.

Go here: July 28th from 2-6 pm
Overcome your guard addiction!
Ogden Judo School, 17034 Bellflower Blvd. Bellflower, California, 90706


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Monday, July 22, 2013

A letter from Jim Pedro, Sr. to all USA Judo Members and Affiliates (follow-up)

Note: Someone asked me about this early in the morning (okay, for me, that is about 10 a.m.) and I hadn't read it. I told the person that knowing the parties involved I was sure that Jim was in the right. Having read his letter, I still say the same.  I had the letter posted here earlier today and then received the statement at the bottom ... So - that was interesting.



To All USA Judo Members & Affiliates

USA Judo has read the letter that I posted today, I have removed my letter after speaking with the USA Judo President Lance Nading I was "promised" & "assured" that all the problems we have and have had with our athletes will be taken care of and we will FINALLY have our program in place for the next three years so we can accomplish our goals at the 2016 Olympic Games. I would like to personally thank everybody who read and supported my letter. Hopefully, USA Judo will be on the upswing again.

Jim Pedro, Sr.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Think Outside the Guard! Clinic July 28

I'm not particularly anti-jiu-jitsu or against pulling guard. It's just that overdoing ANYTHING tends to be a bad idea. I like beer as much as the next person but if you drink it all of the time  you turn into a fat guy with a beer belly. You have been warned.
Mmmm ... . beer
The same is the case with always using the same position in mat work. No one in their right mind would teach only forward throws and yet I have seen far too many people lately ALWAYS attacking from the same position in matwork.

A few years ago, everyone attacked only with their opponent on all fours (in the turtle position). Now, the position of the year seems to be the guard.

Limiting yourself to any one position is a bad strategy. So, this Sunday at the West Coast Judo Training Center, we will be having a "Think Outside the Guard" matwork clinic. It's a measly ten bucks. Show up and have fun. 

We'll also do a few rounds of matwork where anyone who goes into the guard position automatically loses (just for fun). It WILL be fun to see how hard it is for people to break a habit, even for three minutes.

Isn't that a bad thing to do? What if being in the guard is the best position for that situation?
No, it isn't, and too bad, have a Plan B.

When Ronda was little she was really good at uchi mata.
The problem was, she as 13 or 14 years old and it was getting to be the only throw she did. So, we forbade her to do it at practice some nights. We'd have club tournaments and say that uchi mata didn't count as a score. She got really mad about it, but it forced her to develop other techniques.

Maybe the guard is the best position because that is where you are most comfortable.

Random fact about me: I'm going out to Kansas City to the AAU Grand Nationals in Judo , just for fun because my friends Steve and Becky Scott live there. Also, there is a hotel on a riverboat and that sounded pretty cool - because, well, isn't it obvious? Here is a link to the flyer. I couldn't find a link online so I uploaded it to my company website and linked to it here.


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Thursday, July 18, 2013

When to hold on and when to let go

Not to be mean to a small child, but on the site today there was a video of a little girl doing an arm bar and she made the mistake I see ALL the time. She grabbed her opponent's arm with both of her arms and then as she leaned back to apply the arm bar, she let go with one hand and reached that arm back behind herself, like reaching for the mat to see if it was still there.

Now, I have been doing armbars for well over three-fourths of my life and never once when I leaned back has the mat disappeared out from under me, so I think you are pretty safe in assuming it will still be there.

Maybe some people are afraid that they will hit their head as they arch back. In that case, just do the same thing anyone does when trying to prevent hitting the back of their head on the mat - tuck your chin.

Never, ever, ever when you are applying an arm bar and leaning BACK do you let go of the arm with either hand. Lock it to your body with both hands and arch.

There is ONE arm bar Ronda does when she is going FORWARD across the opponent's body and she lets go with one hand and reaches in front of her. I don't do it that way and she says she does it to stretch her opponent out.

If you want to see the ONE circumstance in which I think it is possibly maybe okay to let go of the arm it's on page 38 in Winning on the Ground.


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Monday, July 15, 2013

Think out of the guard

One point we made in Winning on the Ground was that you had to be able to attack from multiple positions. Recently, I was visiting a very reputable jiu-jitsu school and, as I try to do wherever I visit, I sat and watched practice for a while. I noticed that 90% of the time was spent in one position - the guard - that is, with one player on his or her back and the other in front or trying to get on top. I see this at most jiu-jitsu practices, no matter where I go.

Now that more judo players are going to jiu-jitsu to improve their matwork, a practice I have questioned in another post, I see more judo players concentrating on the guard position as well.

Asking about this, I was told that people believe it to be a more defensible position and that there are more opportunities to attack from that position.

Maybe that's true and maybe it isn't - that's irrelevant. It is bad practice to concentrate exclusively on attacking and defending from one position. The reason so many people get away with it is that they train with other people who do the same thing.

Once one person breaks out of that mold and gets expert on working from other positions, our "guard specialists" are going to have a hard time. What are you going to do if all of your attacks are from the guard and your opponent refuses to engage with you in that position? They're not required to, you know. What if all of your defense is from the guard and your opponent inconsiderately decides to attack you from a different position?

In such cases, I see the person switch into the guard as soon as possible, but that is really inefficient. It's almost as silly as getting up and getting on the opposite side of your opponent because you only have attacks from the right side and you happen to be on his left.

I have had people tell me more than once that it is bad practice to ever give up your back, let someone get their hooks in, and a long list of other principles that I forget and it doesn't matter anyway because they're mostly bullshit.

What *I* think is bad practice is to give up a wide range of situations in which you have a potential to win. There are few absolutes in life and even fewer in fighting.

My suggestions:
  1. Have a day every now and then when the guard position is forbidden. Make it against the rules, grounds for disqualification, etc. This forces everyone in your club to try something new.
  2. When working with a smaller or less experienced player, someone you know you could probably submit or pin, try to work from different positions, don't go into the guard at all if you can help it.
Of course the same problem of focusing on a single position exists if you only attack when your opponent is in the turtle position, like too many judo players who ONLY attempt sankaku, or in any other single position. It limits you. Stop it. Think outside the guard.


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Friday, July 12, 2013

Believe that success is the best revenge

I have been VERY irritated lately for reasons I won't go into. However, I have always believed that success is the best revenge. This belief has helped me my whole life. When someone really pisses me off, I don't bother trying to get even with that person. What I do is try even harder to be successful.

My reasoning has always been, why on earth should I put effort into even thinking about someone who doesn't care about me, or has screwed me over. Another belief I have is that everyone gets what they deserve in the end. Not necessarily at the end of each day, but sooner or later. People like that getting what they deserve, in part because eventually only people like themselves will associate with them, but that's another post, part of which I wrote here.

If you believe that your best revenge is by getting extremely successful and showing them - damn them - that you don't need them anyway, then it motivates you to work harder, to do more. In the end, regardless of whether you make up with that person, never see them again or see them on the FBI's most wanted list, the result for you personally is the same - that you are more successful.

And really, it only makes sense that you should put your efforts into yourself and those who care about you and not waste your time and energy on people who don't.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Four keys to building trust in your team

Someone on twitter (I apologize I cannot find the tweet now) asked me how do you build trust in a team. I said I'd have to think about it and get back to him, so here you go ....

1. Be consistent

This is most true for the coach. I feel bad that I can only teach at Gompers Middle School on Fridays but I try to be there EVERY Friday and if I cannot, I let everyone know in advance and arrange for a substitute.

If people can't trust you to show up for practice, what can they trust you to do?

2. Have clear standards

You might say having favorites is bad, but not necessarily. I know judo coaches who definitely favor the team members who win the most and they explain it by saying, "I like the players best who train the hardest. That's why they win." If getting more attention, funding, rank, whatever is based on how many practices you attend and how hard you practice at those, fine, but just make sure that applies to EVERYONE.

I know college coaches who favored players who were both good athletes and good (as in, at least not academic probation) students. They believed in the "student" part of student-athlete.

I don't believe that you need to treat every student or athlete the same, but I do believe that everyone needs to understand why certain people might be getting favored and they should have equal opportunity to be at the same level should they decide to practice more, study more or whatever your requirements may be.  In other words, you don't have to have equal results but you need to have equal opportunity. More than that, people need to understand what the opportunity is.

For example, at Gompers, if you make a grade below a C, you can't come to class any more and we don't care how good your judo is.

3. Don't talk trash about each other - ever

I don't care who you tell that you suspect Emil faked his injury to get out of fighting and almost certainly losing in the final or that Betty is having an affair with Jo. It WILL get back to your teammates/ fellow coaches. Just keep it to yourself. If you must tell someone buy a goldfish and tell him/ her (not really sure how you tell the gender of a goldfish).

4. Help your teammates train when it matters

When I was a member of LA Tenri Dojo "back in the day", we always had dozens of players going to the national championships who had a good shot at placing, and there were usually several of us on any U.S. team going to any tournament. One time, though, it just so happened that only the number one player was selected to go to a particular tournament and due to injuries, a bad day at the nationals and one thing and another, I was the only person who made the team to go overseas. I was a bit concerned about how I was going to train without the extra practices we usually had for the players gearing up for international tournaments. Then, my teammate, Steve Seck, arranged to have the dojo open extra days so I could train. About a half-dozen of my teammates who were around my size showed up regularly until I went off to Hongkong, where I won a gold medal.

I've seen far too many clubs where, if players aren't competing in a particular event, they don't bother to show up to practice. The message that sends is that if there isn't anything in it for me, I'm out.

So ... that's my advice on the four key points. Anyone else, feel free to jump in.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What is Armbar Nation and How It Came About

Very few good things begin with the reaction
Who the fuck are you?

That's what I thought every time I got an email, tweet, Facebook message from someone asking me to respond from an account with the name rondajrousey, teamronda or whatever. Sometimes they were selling some "autographed item on ebay. One even offered to contact Ronda for me (for a fee).

I had never heard of any of these people.

My niece, Jessica Bueler, inherited a store from her father when she was in her early twenties. She increased profits dramatically, making it a major success in the downtown business district on the west side of St. Louis. She topped that off by being elected president of The Loop business district about the time she turned 30. She also founded a social media company along the way. Since she has a pretty strong sense of integrity (and an ebay account that goes back almost to their founding), she tracked down a number of these phonies and had them excommunicated from ebay, but it was like Whack-A-Mole. They kept popping up.

To cut a long story very short, I had the url that used to host Ronda's blog and Jessica turned it into an official fan site that got a lot of traffic.

So here is where Ronda came in - she really did not have time to do one more thing and she didn't need the money nearly as much as fighters who are up and coming. They put up an apparel store to sell stuff and used her as a test case.

You can see the example here. They did make some samples.

Now ... Jessica is setting up a store that will sell everything from t-shirts to autographed photos to mouse pads to you name it. The fighter gets a percentage of the profits. There is no money up front and they don't have to DO anything other than agree to allow their name and image to be used.  Probably if you have a UFC contract there is some clause saying you can't do that (I don't know) but if you have a UFC contract you probably have a sponsor paying your bills. They can create products for you or you can come up with your own ideas or both. I *think* the profits are split 50-50 with the fighter but it may be more depending on volume, like 50% for the first $500 a month and more after that. Check with Jessica on the details.

Here's why I think it is a good idea -- I know plenty of people who need money to train but they have no time to do much but train. They don't have the technical skills to set up a store, negotiate with clothing manufacturers, take orders, mail orders, get a credit card account etc etc. Also, individually, they are "small potatoes" - sorry but it's true. However, you add up 50 of those people and they suddenly become more interesting to vendors.

I do something like that with the ads on my blog. I was writing this blog anyway. Now BlogHer sends me a monthly check. Armbar Nation is similar to Blogher in that you have to be of interest to the people who come to their site (no ballet schools or llama breeders or knitting clubs) and they have to be convinced that people are interested in you. On the other hand, they'll help see that they are by writing articles about you on their site, tweeting about you and promoting you in other ways.

I think very few people will make thousands of dollars a month from the site - though you might when you have a fight coming up. My guess is most people will see $100 - $300 a month. So, it's basically like picking up another sponsor to have your name on their shirts, coffee cups, etc. for people who aren't at the level to have a lot of sponsors right now.

Anyway, I thought it was a brilliant idea and a million points for Jessica for coming up with it. It is really set up with helping fighters in mind, seriously, talk to her. Her email is