Friday, August 30, 2013

How the Media Works - & Why I No Longer Dislike Dana White

There is a documentary coming out on Monday centered around Ronda, a.k.a. darling daughter number three. I joke about how the main point of the show better be that her mother was awesome or it's going to be pretty awkward around here next time she comes over.

Shortly after I won the world championships, I was interviewed for an hour for a radio show.  I talked about all of the places I'd traveled, friends I'd met, opportunities I had. At the end, I said that I was looking forward to everything I had put off - I'd never had time to plant a garden, go camping, take my daughter to the park or a hundred other things "normal" people get to do.

Guess what? The only part that aired was me saying all of the things that I never got to do. My brother said he was really confused because it certainly sounded like my voice but it wasn't like me to feel sorry for myself.

Seriously, though, here is how the media works  ---
People come around and film for days on end. They ask hundreds of questions to dozens of different people. They get 30 hours on film. Then, they take 3% of that and make a good story.

I'm not saying people in the media lie or distort things or that they are bad people. A couple of the people I have met seem to be jerks but the rest are pretty nice men and women just trying to do a good job. Their job is to entertain the audience. That's why you never see any clips of me sitting in my office writing the game - coding javascript just isn't that entertaining to watch, however much it might give a fuller picture of what my life is like than just showing me teaching judo.

I'm not complaining. The same is true of anyone, whether it is the president of the United States or a world champion in mixed martial arts. How many times have you seen Ronda on TV saying

"I don't have any problem with Sara Kaufman. She seems like a nice person and she was a former world champion, so she's a legitimate opponent." 

Ronda has said it plenty of times, but it isn't all that entertaining.

I used to get irritated at people who made comments about Ronda. There are two things that they don't understand.
  1. What you see televised or in print is only a small part of anyone's life. It's like they say about history, it's the remaining part of the recorded part of the remembered part of the observed part of what actually happened.
  2. There are times when someone may be on camera almost 24/7. Think about  yourself - how many days do you say one thing that is stupid or unkind that you wish you hadn't said? I'll bet even Mother Teresa, if you followed her around long enough you could find her saying something like "Enough with the leprosy already. Can't anyone ever just have a common cold around here, a broken arm, even?" The next day's headline would read "Mother Teresa hates lepers" And believe me, most of us aren't any Mother Teresa

So, cut people a little slack when you see them on TV or see some quote in an article.

Which gets back to me being a hypocrite. I used to dislike Dana White because of the stuff I would see that he had said - and then I realized I was doing exactly what I hate when people do it to Ronda - judging someone based on a few sound bites.  Every time I've met him, he's been perfectly nice and polite to me and to everyone else in my family. Based on a total of probably 10 minutes, I don't think I'm qualified to say he's a nice guy. No more am I qualified to say he's a jerk based on a few things I read or saw on TV.

People are multi-faceted. Don't judge them based on the one side you've seen portrayed in the media or the few minutes you've seen them in person. No, not even if you see them running over a puppy with their car on purpose - maybe just off camera there is a baby about to be attacked and the puppy had rabies.

You never know the whole story.

Speaking of awesome books (even though we weren't) I wrote one. It's called Winning on the Ground. You should buy it. 

If you think Amazon is "The Man" you can buy it from Black Belt instead 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Armbar Nation Auction for Expenses for Injured Boxer

Since I've gotten a number of questions about this, I thought I'd answer them here ...

In a nutshell, Ronda trained with Lucia Rijker before her last fight. Ms. Rijker is a boxing legend and all around good person.

After Ronda's fight, one of the boxers Lucia trains, Diana Prazak (who was also one of Ronda's training partners), fought for the world boxing title - and won it. During that fight, her opponent, Frida Wallberg, was knocked out, suffered a brain hemorrhage and operated on the next day.

Lucia knew that Frida had a young child and would need assistance following her injury. Her original idea was to do a clinic to raise money, but Ronda had to take off to Bulgaria for a movie and could not take part.

So ... Ronda asked Jessica, who runs the Armbar Nation website to help out. You can read about it in detail here. (Jessica has been on eBay practically since it started, so she was a natural person to ask.)

The short version is that Jessica had some t-shirts made up to be auctioned off for this and Ronda autographed all of them.  I know that the designs with Ronda's signature printed on them are ONLY available for fundraising like this. So, not only can you not buy them autographed elsewhere, you can't buy them period. Once this got started, other people, also donated autographed merchandise.

You can see the auction site here.

You can also click on a link just to donate.

I wish Ms. Wallberg a speedy recovery and hope that the funds raised make it easier for her to spend more time relaxing at home with her daughter and less time worrying about expenses.

Friday, August 23, 2013

First day back at Gompers Middle School - with more mats!

It's great to be back.
I'm super grateful for the new crash pad and new mats. Thanks, Mom!  Also, thank you to the very nice people at Soundcoat - the warehouse where I picked up the mats from Dollamur.  My sister bought them as a birthday present for my mom's 80th birthday. What Mom wanted was to support me teaching judo. How awesomely cool is that? The same woman who signed me up for judo at the YMCA when I was 12 years old.  My mom and sister are both super, "Buy American" fans, so they got mats made in the US. I got to the warehouse on their lunch hour and I was on a tight schedule from Santa Monica to a meeting in San Diego. Someone was nice enough to come in off of his lunch hour and load the mats into my van for me.

It was really nice to have more mats and a second crash pad. If you have to line up 16 kids on one pad, even if they are at both ends, each person does not get that much practice.

As you can see, the crash pads came to good use. It was HOT in there, so the energy drinks donated were also appreciated. Overall, a great start to a new year.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Drills to push a little harder

Every competitor, every coach, at sometimes has the dilemma of how to push a little harder than usual to step up training. Especially if you have a group that trains together regularly, there is a tendency to get too comfortable. Bob has accepted that he always gets thrown in practice by José and has just come to accept it. Meghan knows that Francesca's armbars aren't that good and she doesn't have to worry about getting armbarred. Everyone knows that Eric is the best in the dojo.

One simple way to upset that comfort zone is to have Eric tired out when everyone else is fresh. Here is a drill we did today that does just that.

  1. Put the class in groups of three people approximately the same size and skill level. Just get as close as you can, it doesn't have to be perfectly equal.
  2. Designate one person in each group to be out in the middle of the mat. If the groups are not equal, pick the strongest or most experienced person in the group. This person STAYS OUT THE ENTIRE TIME.
  3. Start randori with the person who is out and a second member of the group.
  4. After ten seconds, call "Switch", and have the third member of the group go out.
  5. After ten seconds, call "Switch" again and have the second member go out again.
  6. Keep doing this for five minutes.

Depending on the conditioning of your class, you may want to take a break and do it again for another five minutes, and maybe take another break and go for another five minutes after that.

I'm going to say this again - the first person stays out the ENTIRE TIME. So if you do it three times, the first person should be in the center every time.

The point is, after five minutes (or 10 or 15), that person is going to be a lot more tired than the other two. Even if he or she normally dominates in practice, it is going to be a lot harder. As for your other players, if they are the teeniest bit competitive, they are going to see their chance to get even and go harder than usual.

Coaches ask,
Shouldn't we rotate the person in the middle so everyone gets a fair chance?

The answer is,


The entire purpose of this drill is that everyone DOESN'T get a fair chance so some people have to work harder than others. If you feel that the two members who were not in the center got left out, let them be in the center another day, two weeks from now. Practice shouldn't be like Groundhog Day, where you always do the same thing.

If you just can't accept that one person got more practice, at the end of this drill, do a second one where you do the exact same format with the same groups but this time do matwork. Have a second group member in the middle this time.

Seriously, though, it's okay that not everyone gets the same amount of practice every day. Sometimes the focus can be on Meghan and other times it can be on José . Everyone should get their fair share of your focus overall, but it doesn't have to be an equal share every day.

Practice shouldn't be like Groundhog Day, where you always do the same thing. I said that twice because it was important.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A family (judo) affair and a fifth of good news

The latest bit of good news has to do with the students from Gompers Middle School - where The Perfect Jennifer did her student teaching and recruited her younger sister to teach judo four years ago.

First, my awesome sister, Dr. Joy Harris, donated a crash pad and mats to Gompers  in her name for my mom's 80th birthday present. Jose Gonzales, the teacher who has donated his time after school for FOUR YEARS also came down to school to let me in so I could drop it off. I pick up mats on Wednesday.

Second, when Ronda heard I was taking a group of judo players, she mistakenly thought I was taking the kids from Gompers. I was not. Four (at least) players from the West Coast Judo Training Center are coming. It would cost around $2,000 more to take four kids plus a teacher. Mr. Gonzales agreed to go as a chaperone, but since they just had their third baby, not too many extra dollars around for plane trips. So, she donated the shirt off her back - literally - her shirt from the PanAm games - for auction. She also donated her hoodie from The Ultimate Fighter.

Third, my niece, Jessica Bueler (who runs Armbar Nation over at ) had 15 black  Rowdy wear shirts, so she and Ronda agreed that those could be auctioned off on the site to raise money as well. 

Fourth, Ronda had previously autographed a bunch of white Ronda Rousey shirts, to raise money to help injured boxer Frida Wahlberg. Any money left over from the items sold to raise money for the Gompers Middle School students will also be donated to Frida Wahlberg.

Fifth, other people we have only met virtually, like Ritchie Greaser, or not at all, have donated everything from trading cards to Expendables posters to Invicta Fight posters.

So .... next time you hear something negative about judo players or mixed martial artists, think of people volunteering to teach in urban schools, raising money for kids from those schools to travel to tournaments, donating money to help injured competitors.

There are a lot of good people out there doing good things and I'm very fortunate to have many of them in my very own family.

Random Note: If you ever see anything that was supposedly Ronda's being sold or auctioned off and the proceeds don't go to charity, it's fake.

Shameless ad - Buy our book, Winning on the Ground

Click here for Amazon
Click here for Black Belt (can get paperback, Kindle, nook & more) 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Don’t Tell Me I Can’t: From World Judo Champion to Start-up Grandmother

I was asked to write a chapter for the book, Real Talk, Real Women, edited by Miriam Khalladi. Here is the beginning of my chapter

“Bitch, I will break your fucking arm!” is perhaps not the best statement with which to begin an inspirational essay.  However, it is a good summary of my attitude when I competed in judo.  I always wondered if maybe there was a week during my school years where they got all of the girls in the room and gave them The Rules. You know, the rules, like:
Your physical appearance will never match up to what it should be.
It makes a difference what clothes you wear.
Girls aren’t good at math.
No man wants a woman who comes home from practice soaking wet with sweat.
Women can’t be as successful as men in business, because they have children to raise.
Don’t say anything that might upset people.

If there was a week like that, I must have been out sick with the measles and missed it because all of my life nearly everyone around me has acted as if there was this set of rules.

“Why can’t you be like everybody else?”
“Why can’t you just accept that there are some things you CAN’T do?”
“Why do you always act like the rules don’t apply to you?”
“Just who do you think you are?”

I have heard that mantra all of my life and even though I’m probably the oldest author in this book, I still don’t understand it any better than when I was a child. Fifty years ago, I couldn’t accept that schools had boys’ sports but not girls’ sports. Thirty years ago, I couldn’t accept that women couldn’t be engineers. Today, I can’t accept that grandmothers can’t be CEO of a successful technology start-up, especially not in gaming.

Interestingly, I noticed that another judo competitor, Marti Malloy, is also writing a chapter for this book. I bet her chapter contains less swearing than mine.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friends, Acquaintances and the AAU Judo Nationals

I am super-duper excited to being going to the AAU Judo Nationals in Kansas City next month. Yes, it will be nice to watch the players from the West Coast Judo Training Center fight and I'm sure they will do great.

Ronda offered to help raise money  to send some of the kids from Gompers Middle School, and I just talked to the teacher who sponsors the program (we need a certified member of the school staff to provide adult supervision) - and he said he'd be willing to come along.

What I'm really most excited about, though, is seeing my friends, Steve and Becky Scott. My lovely Julia Rebecca is named Rebecca after Rebecca Scott. (She's named Julia after Gaston Julia, who came up with the Julia set of fractals. Obviously, her father picked her first name.)

Over on my other blog where I usually write about statistics and small business, I mentioned the hard lesson I had learned about the difference between business associates and friends. The same is true of judo. There are hundreds of people I have trained with, and now that Ronda is getting more and more successful, every day I hear from someone else that hasn't talked to me in twenty years saying,

Hey, we should get together, and bring your daughter with you.

The young (and idealistic) intern working for my company this summer asked me if I thought any of those people could be sincere. I told him, no, if they were sincere, they would have looked me up some time in the past twenty years.

I called Becky (who is a physical therapist) for advice, when Julia tore her Achilles tendon, and I was skeptical of the doctor who said it would heal without surgery if she went to physical therapy. Becky, and the doctor, were right and Julia was back on the field after several weeks, played the rest of the season and hasn't had a problem since.

Steve read early drafts of Winning on the Ground, and gave me insightful advice on everything from photo shoots to juji gatame to self-publishing.

So, yeah, the tournament will be good. Kansas City has great barbecue. We're planning on taking a riverboat cruise on Sunday. Most of all, though, you don't get to have a lot of 40 year friendships, so I am super-excited to be going to Kansas City.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How Not to Get Injured before Competition

In Hayward Nishioka's book, Judo, Heart & Soul , he has a picture of me asleep on the mats. It used to really irritate my competition that I would take naps between matches, but I didn't do it to irritate them, that was just an added perk. I also didn't sleep in the long stretch from prelims to finals because I was arrogant and wanted to rub it into my opponents that they didn't worry me.

No, I did it to rest and conserve energy, and I WORKED to get the ability to lay down and take a nap in the middle of the national championships. It never made sense to me that someone would be doing throws, jumping rope or running sprints in the gym for 45 minutes and then go out there and fight. Whoever saw a sprinter go run a mile before his or her race in the NCAA finals?

No, when people are doing all that jumping around and speed uchikomis during the tournament, it is for one of two reasons:

  1. Most likely, to work off nervous energy, or,
  2. An attempt to intimidate the competition.

 To quote one of my teammates on the US team, Robin (Chapman) Chow,

WHO are you trying to impress? I sure hope it isn't me, because *I* don't give a shit.

The exact same illogical behavior goes on in the week or so leading up to a competition. I have seen this in judo, and even more so in mixed martial arts. People get hurt the week or so before competition.

Let me explain this to you ...

If your competition is a week or ten days out, you are in shape as you are going to get. If you've been training for ten years or more, that extra week, extra twelve rounds of grappling, another ten hours of randori - it is not going to make the slightest bit of difference.

Seriously - the difference between a world title and second place is not which one of you has done another five hours of practice in the past week.

I know your brain is asking you,
"But what if it is?"

Don't listen to your brain. Listen to me.

"It isn't."

You're just nervous because - congratulations - you're human. A lot is on the line. Nothing is on the line for me. I'm just sitting here at my computer. That being the case, I'm in a lot better position to think rationally than you are.

Now here is what you do ... you rest and heal up. Rest is good. If you are going into fight it never occurs to you to skip sleeping the three days before. That would be idiotic. In the same way, you want to rest your body. You won't get out of shape in a week.

Besides, I'm not suggesting that you stay home and play the Wii. Jog a few miles a day. Run some sprints. Swim. Do a moderate number of repetitions of weights far below your max. Go to the gym and run through drills with a friend. Hit the bags for a while.

Notice what all of those activities I just mentioned have in common?

  1. They have a very low probability of you getting injured.
  2. They will help you cut weight.
  3. They will maintain your level of physical conditioning.

Here is the other thing that will happen ....

If you are doing a more moderate level of exercise after having hit it hard for the last few months, your body is going to be shocked. It's like dieting, but for exercise. You know how when you have to cut weight and haven't eaten for a couple of days, you just can't WAIT to have your next meal?

Well, your body is also used to training intensely, too. So, when you hold back for a week, when you are on a "diet" from intense training, your body starts to crave that, too. By the time your match comes around, you'll be chomping at the bit to get out there and fight. Instead of being tired and sore, you'll have to hold yourself back to keep from attacking before the referee says, "Hajime!"

Speaking of awesome books (even though we weren't) I wrote one. It's called Winning on the Ground. You should buy it. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo - How NOT to get out of doing your chores

For those who miss Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo - and also for those who ask whether I still armbar Ronda.

It's possible this may qualify as elder abuse, since I am almost 55 years old.

Ronda and Julia tried to argue that it was actually child abuse because Ronda is my child but they are wrong because:

  1. Ronda is over 18 years old so cannot be considered a child.
  2. I'm the mother and I said so.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Off to AAU Judo Nationals in September

I won the AAU Judo Nationals in 1978. It was fun - and my first senior national championships gold medal.  There is a point to bringing that up other than possibly giving Crystal Butts another excuse to mock me for being old.

When I heard the AAU Grand National Judo Championships were in Kansas City this year, it brought back a lot of good memories. Not only had the judo rules been much different back then, but there were a lot of good friends around - like Steve and Becky Scott.

Well, they live in Kansas City and one of their students, Kenny Brink, is now all grown up, running his own club and the national tournament.

Some of the differences in AAU Judo - well, the last time I was in Kansas City and saw the national championships here a few years ago, I think I saw two penalties given all day. The referees tend to stay out of the way and let the athletes determine who wins the match.

There are no rules against touching the legs - a double leg take down, fireman's carry (kata guruma) and similar techniques are allowed. Chokes are allowed at 11, armbars at 15 years old.

The AAU rules are a little stricter than the freestyle judo I wrote about earlier , but both rule sets are FAR more applicable to anyone who wants to compete in mixed martial arts than the current IJF rules.

Here is a link to the entry forms. I couldn't find them on-line so I uploaded them to my company website for your downloading convenience.

Here's a link to my book so you can study up on your matwork to win (-: