"Every day is a good day when I'm on the mat."
It's beginning to feel that way. Today, 1980 Olympic team member Steve Seck dropped in unannounced for a visit.
Not only is Steve a terrific judo coach and an Olympic athlete, he also teaches at King Drew Medical Magnet High School. A major goal of our program at Gompers Middle School is to help students succeed personally and academically. Part of that is encouraging them to apply to the best high schools they can attend. Steve came last year to talk to our students and encourage them to apply to his school. Two of them did and were accepted.
He came again today and taught uchi mata because, being a former teammate of mine, he knows well that matwork is my strong point. (Uchi mata is Japanese for inner thigh throw. You can see why in the pictures below where Steve's right leg catches Ain about on the inside of his thigh.)
When Ronda was young, I took her to Steve and Blinky to learn uchi mata and now both of them have come to teach the students at Gompers.
Anyone who can hop backward in a circle can do uchimata.
Another point he made, and see it illustrated in the photo above, is that you are generally going to be more effective with uchi mata using a high grip on the collar than a traditional lapel grip.
Although Steve said he was too old to throw any more, you can clearly see that is not true. He's only letting go with his right hand at this point so as not to fall on Ain.
Speaking of good people - the good people of Orange County Judo Training Center had donated money to buy the kids water all year, since there is only one water fountain for 17-20 people, and that is on a different floor. Every kid running down to get a drink would take half an hour.
I thought the water came from the check they gave us. Today, I found that I'd had that check in my gi bag all along. José Gonzalez, the same teacher who has been volunteering his time after school for six years, also had been buying the water. I gave him the check for the Woodcraft Rangers so, from now on, that will be one less out of pocket expense for him!
We received a donation from a kind gentleman from Italy that will allow us to buy judo uniforms for the kids going to Kansas City and Gompers Judo t-shirts for everyone else. We desperately need more mats as the class is growing, so that is next on my list.
Everything is improving in every way all the time. I had fun teaching. Steve was a great help because his strengths in throwing match up perfectly with my weakest points. I injured my knee when I was a teenager, so during my competitive years, I couldn't do a left uchi mata to save my life. Also, every time he comes, it is one more bit of encouragement for students to consider King Drew Medical Magnet.
To even further sweeten the pot, a couple of our kids that I was really concerned about academically are doing much better.
It was a good day.
--------------- Black Belt likes me to remind you
occasionally that I wrote this book on matwork with Jim Pedro, Sr. and it would be nice if you bought it. It's about winning on the ground. That's why it's in the title.