Often, people I have known for 20 years or more are surprised and a bit disappointed in me, I think, that I "only" teach judo once or twice a week. I've even heard people say that "my generation" have let the sport down by not giving back because we didn't go out and open up judo clubs.
In the 43 years I have been playing judo, I have
- taught at the Alton YMCA as an assistant instructor,
- started and ran an after school program at the Pillsbury-Waite Community Center near the Little Earth housing project in Minneapolis for a couple of years,
- taught a college class at Jamestown College in North Dakota,
- taught at the Jamestown YMCA,
- taught a college intramural class at UCLA,
- been an instructor at Mojica Judo Club in Baldwin Park,
- been an instructor at Venice Judo Club, in Los Angeles,
- run the judo program at Gompers Middle School, now for the third year
- taught two or three times a month at the West Coast Judo Training Center
With the exception of the two college classes, I have done all of this for free. I'm not complaining, I volunteered to do it and if I didn't like it, I would stop.
I used to do clinics for free all over the country. I still do them occasionally but not for free because I'm super busy and if I charge money, fewer people ask me.
I am doing a matwork clinic in Kansas City, September 27th - anyone is welcome to come and the $25 goes toward the hotel costs for the West Coast Judo players coming with me. The Gompers Middle School kids expenses are being paid by an ebay auction of Ronda's own personal stuff and some t-shirts and other things she auctioned off.
So, from my perspective, given that I have two businesses to run and one of them released its first commercial game this week, I've done and am doing a fairly exhausting amount of stuff. That's not to mention having competed for 14 years and held state, regional and national offices in judo organizations.
Other people don't see it that way - I'm not running a judo club teaching three, four or five times a week. I don't have a team I take around to all of the tournaments. The AAU Judo Nationals will be the second tournament I made it to this year and it's September. I'm a world champion. Shouldn't I be doing more than this to "give back"?
My lovely youngest daughter, Julia, plays soccer. She played with Santa Monica AYSO for three years. She made the "extra" team, which allows kids who are doing particularly well to have an extra season of several months more soccer each year. She loved it. The coaches were great. The parents and other kids were nice.
After she finished her last season with them and went off to boarding school, she played varsity soccer at her high school. And guess what, no one expected me to come back and volunteer for the soccer association - ever.
Do you have any idea how nice that is?
My judo coach, Jimmy Martin, was a terrific competitor, won the national championships seven times, a silver medal in the Panamerican Games, on several world teams. When someone asked him if he ever missed judo he said,
"Nope. Judo is like high school to me. No matter how much you liked it, you don't go back and do it again."
I see people who played soccer or basketball as kids still playing in the park, people who were on swim teams as kids swimming laps at the Y and no one asks them what they are doing to give back to the sport. I wonder if the notion that you have to be equally involved your whole life because "judo is a life-long sport" turns a lot of people off who otherwise might still be around.