Thursday, September 24, 2015

Judo Drill Day and Assistant Instructors

On Friday, I have to be at a a company event in Santa Monica by 5:30 and it takes at least an hour to get from Gompers Middle School in rush hour. I hate to miss class. So, what do I do?

Here is my plan. Feel free to steal it. Half of it I stole from other people.

I'm going to run class from 3:30 - 4:15.  I plan to do is a series of drills for their matwork and throws. After I leave, the assistant instructors, who are all green belts, but certified teachers/ paraprofessionals which means they have superb classroom management skill, will go through the same drills.

I think repetition can be a good thing, as long as you don't over do it. It’s my same idea in math, to sometimes teach and then re-teach and students remember better.  Hopefully, we can get through this series three times in the 90 minute class. Even twice is good. Students will be able to see a noticeable improvement in their matwork skills particularly the second time around. With both math and martial arts I see instructors often move on too quickly to the next concept or skill before students feel confident in the first one taught.

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----- Back to our regularly scheduled program

Here is the drill series and how long I have planned for each one.
  • The pushing and pulling drill. When I say, "Push!" you both push against each other. When I say, "Pull!" you I got  this from Jim Pedro, Sr. He does it for longer with his elite athletes. The main purpose is to build up strength and stamina in the exact muscles you use for gripping. A second benefit is that you learn to react to changes in direction from your opponent. Do this for 1 minute then switch partners. After another minute, switch partners again.  (3 minutes)
  • Running back and forth in groups of 3 or 4 fitting into your throws. You have one person at each end of the mat. Either 1 or 2 people are in the middle. The middle person runs to one end and fits into a throw. Then, they run to the other end and fit into the same throw.  Do this for 2 minutes then rotate in so that another person from the group is running. I got this drill from Venice Dojo. It is primarily conditioning but it also lets you watch and see if the students are gripping correctly and placing their feet correctly when they step into the throw (6 minutes)  
  • Another 3 person drill where one person fits into a throw, another is the person being thrown and the third is holding the uke (person being thrown) by the belt and the collar. In this drill the person throwing can go in really hard and the uke doesn’t get slammed. Each person goes one minute and then they switch positions. (We did this for something that was filmed recently on how I was training Ronda when she was young. It brought back a lot of memories.) (3 minutes)
  • Matwork drill where one person is on his/her back and the other person gets as close as possible without touching him/her and when you say Go they have 10-15 seconds to pin that person. Do this 3 times then switch partners and do another 3 times. This drill develops reaction time and teaches both the person on the top and bottom to react right away to better their position. (3 minutes)
  • Matwork uchikomis. Get a partner and do your favorite matwork move 15 times right and 15 times left. I've been doing these for 40 years and it is one of the keys to my success. (5 minutes)
  • Spinning matwork drill. One person is on all fours (hopefully with elbows bent or they deserve to be armbarred) and the other person is on their back. When you say, "Spin!" the top person spins around in one direction, leaving all of their weight on the opponent. When you say, "Reverse!" they spin in the other. When you say “Attack!” they both attack. Give them 1 minute, then switch positions. After they’ve both done both positions twice, switch partners and do it again. I got this from Venice Dojo, too. It develops quick reaction from whatever position you are in and provides practice in matwork in a competitive situation (8  minutes)
Of course, those minutes don’t include the time to move between drills, get new partners, water breaks.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

I So Suck at that Don't Worry Be Happy Thing

I can't think of many things in my life that I would change. I certainly wouldn't want to be famous. I look at how every thing Ronda does or says gets blown out of proportion, for good or bad, how everyone is all up in her business all of the time, and I know I would never want that.

Even if what I did this afternoon wasn't all that exciting - I worked on a grant proposal while waiting for my granddaughters to finish dance class - I still don't want pictures of me doing it showing up on the Internet.

I have a Ph.D. that I enjoyed getting 25 years ago and what I learned I put to use to this day. Education - check.

I really love the work I do. If I could pick any job in the world, I would pick CEO of a video game company. That doesn't mean every second of what I do is exactly what I want - I would rather write software all day than grants - but hey, no one has everything how they want all of the time.
Career - check.

Speaking of my career - if you'd like to download a free demo of the games we make, you can check them out here

I've been married for 18 years to one of the calmest people on the planet (a requirement to live with me), who is also brilliant and a great father and grandfather. I have four wonderful children who I love very much and the world's most amazing grandchildren.
Family - check.

At 57, I can still make the same weight division in which I won the world championships 31 years ago. I had my knee replaced, so I can hike in the mountains for fun and teach judo every Friday.
Health - check.

My bills are paid. I don't live in a 30-room mansion and drive a Lamborghini. I live in a townhouse by the beach in Santa Monica and drive a Prius, but I like where I live and I live 10 blocks from the office so I don't even really need a car. Recently, Ronda gave me her Range Rover so I had a car that I could drive a bunch of kids from Gompers Judo to events. I do not want what I have not got.
Money - check.

I have some really good friends, and although now that Ronda is doing great and the business is doing good, more and more new "friends" are appearing, I'm pretty adept at telling the former from the latter. I'd like to see my friends more, but when I think about them, I feel blessed with the number of people in this world I can count on.
Friendship - check.

So ... why every day am I worried about stupid stuff? I'm worried that my kids will make bad decisions, that we won't sell enough games to increase our part-time staff members to full-time, that the newest hire won't work out, that I didn't spend enough time talking to the stranger on the street telling me how reading Ronda and Maria's book changed his life ...

I don't just borrow trouble from tomorrow, because today is pretty good and tomorrow looks pretty good, too. I borrow it from six months from now.

If you're the same way, I'm sorry that I cannot really help by telling you why that is. I THINK in my case it is because it has worked out for me. Early in life, I did not have a whole lot to fall back on so I always had a Plan B and a Plan C and a Plan D and a Plan E and was constantly evaluating everything. However, while worrying all of the time might be responsible for much of the success that I have had in life, now that I don't really need that any more, I can't shake the habit.

If you're in the same boat, I can tell you that two things help me:

  1. Pray. I'm not one for running out and converting people. I think your religion is between you and God, but for the record, I'm Catholic and praying helps me a lot. It's the thing you can do when there's nothing else you can do.
  2. Count your blessings. I try to remember this because it helps immensely. Whenever I get stressed about things, my wonderful friend and mentor, Bruce Toups, calls me on it and says, "And look how far you have come."
There is a third thing that is Ronda's idea and involves water buffaloes but I am not so sure I agree with that one.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why the arguments for suspending Nick Diaz for 5 years are stupid

Well, it certainly looks like the entire Nevada State Athletic Commission is made up of a bunch of small dick vindictive little piss-ants.

It is possible that is not the case. I'm not in favor of trial by Instagram so it is possible that there are extenuating circumstances of which I am not aware that justify their actions - like maybe while Nick was smoking a joint he shot one of their mothers or something.

However, let me address a few stupid arguments I have seen people make, and I'd like to preface this with two things.

First, the Diaz family has been unfailingly kind, polite and respectful to my daughter and that began long before she became successful. I can't say that about too many people. Any time I have met either Diaz brother they have been as polite and respectful as you would hope someone to be to your mom. It's not just me. Other people who have met them have made the same comment. Away from the media, I have never seen or heard anything but good about them.

Second, my points below apply to anyone. So, although I have reason to like the Diaz brothers, I would hold these positions equally if I did not like them.

Stupid argument #1: If you break a rule, you should expect to be punished.

In America, we believe that the punishment should fit the crime. We hold this so strongly that it is in our original Bill of Rights. The eighth amendment to the constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Look it up.

I live in Santa Monica where parking tickets seem to be the city's main source of income. If I park on the right side of the street on a Monday when they are doing street cleaning, I expect to get a ticket. There is a sign posted saying not to park there on Monday. I do not expect the traffic police to knock on my door and shoot me with a bazooka, impound my car, run over my dog or any other punishment far out of proportion to the crime.

Stupid argument #2 : If you break a rule more than once, you shouldn't be surprised if they throw the book at you

Let's take a look at driving laws. If I talk on my cell phone while driving, the first offense is $20. The second offense and subsequent offenses are $50.

I've actually gotten two tickets for that and paid them both.

If I get a third ticket and they throw me in jail for three months and I lose my job, I'm going to argue that was vastly out of proportion to the crime.

What exactly would punishment like that accomplish? The point is to "teach me a lesson" so that I quit talking on my cell phone?

Why does the state of California not see that some people might just pay the $50 and keep using their phones while driving? I suspect they do see that but our state government officials realize the stupidity of causing people to lose their livelihood over relatively minor offenses.

Stupid argument #3: They have to make an example of people who continually break the rules. Otherwise, why have them?

Making an example of someone sounds uncomfortably to me like you are not treating everyone equally, and for any body doling out punishments, that's a pretty creepy thought. What exactly is this example supposed to teach? Don't smoke marijuana?

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE USED MARIJUANA IN THE LAST MONTH. That's 7.5% of the population aged 12 and older. 

I kind of doubt the NSAC ruling is going to dent the marijuana smoking population much.

Does this mean that they should just continue to give relatively minor punishments to people who repeatedly commit relatively minor offenses? Yes, yes it does. No matter how many tickets I get for talking on my cell phone, I don't think it is right for the state to impound my car to make an example of me.

Stupid argument #4: It is okay to penalize someone far more for a marijuana violation than steroids or cocaine because "He did it more than once"

So, let me get this straight ... by this reasoning, if I shoot my neighbor tomorrow, I should get a lighter sentence than if I go over and spray "You suck, neighbor!" on her front door for the third time.

There is a law against vandalism and I shouldn't do it. However, no matter how many times I do it, it doesn't cause the same harm to an individual or society as shooting someone.

Similarly, if you take Performance Enhancing Drugs, which really DO give you an advantage in an athletic competition (and have we forgotten here that the A in NSAC stands for Athletic?) then that should be penalized more severely than an inconsistent result on a test for a drug that does not provide you a benefit nor put your opponent at risk in an athletic competition.


There may be something here I am not seeing, but what it looks like is a few people got offended that they weren't receiving what they considered the proper amount of deference and assuming they were untouchable and above questioning in their little fiefdom, decided to mess with an athlete's life to teach a lesson to the rest of the peasants to stay in line. I have seen that kind of crap far too many  times in my involvement in elite sports and it makes me sick. 
This is my day job - making games that make you smarter.

You can  play them yourselves or donate one to a child or school so they don't grow up to be a dumb ass or on the NSAC , but  perhaps that was redundant?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Variety (and guest instructors) are the spice of life

If you are ever at a gym where they discourage you from training anywhere else - run, don't walk, away from them as fast as you can.
I'm not saying if they discourage you from training at a particular gym. I've probably never met your instructor but I'm perfectly willing to give him or her the benefit of the doubt that Bob's Gym 'o Slimeballs is a terrible place to work out.

However, here is a fact:

Anyone who claims to know everything about martial arts is either a liar or insane. 

I'm pretty good. I've got a gold medal from the world championships and a few other medals to back that claim up. I'm not so dumb to think that I know all of judo or that there aren't people better qualified to teach certain techniques than me. That's why I'm always THRILLED when we have guest instructors.

Let me give you a few reasons:

  1. Each student gets more individual attention.   As you might be able to see, we have a pretty full mat, with another instructor, we can divide the students into groups.
  2. Almost all classes have a mix of experience and ability. Gompers Middle School Judo is no exception. This being the beginning of the year, we have several brand new students, a few who began at the end of last year, and a group who have been in judo a year or more. With a guest instructor, you can divide the class into novice and advanced and teach each group appropriately.
  3.  No one is equally good at everything. Whoever visits is probably going to be good in some areas that are not your strength. Having that person teach will aid your students in that area.
  4.  Having a new person adds some variety and they may be a bit more attentive and work harder. No matter how awesome you are, your students have seen you hundreds of times.
  5. Inviting in guest instructors is being a positive role model. It shows your students that you are not arrogant, that you recognize many people in the world have knowledge to contribute, not just you.

So, you can understand why I was so delighted this month when we have had not one but TWO guest instructors stop in to visit. Friday, Steve Seck, Olympian, national champion, international gold medalist and teacher at King Drew Medical Magnet High School stopped by.

I asked him to teach uchi mata, because he is really, really good at it. In fact, he was one of the people who taught it to Ronda when she was little. I brought her to LA City College where he was teaching at that time for that express purpose.

While he taught uchi mata to our more advanced students, I worked on turnovers to a pin with our new students, then taught them falling and then taught them a throw.

At the end of class, Steve talked to the students about the opportunity to attend a magnet high school, specifically his, and encouraged them to apply. This is really important to start thinking about early in the year, and I could tell that many of the students (and the parents who had come to pick them up), were paying close attention.

Two weeks ago, Michael Fujimoto, a very successful competitor who had represented the U.S. internationally as a junior, stopped in and taught seoi nage. Being young and in shape, Mike also did randori with several students, giving them a challenge that they are not going to get from someone old and half their size like me. At the end of class, Mike talked about the University of Washington, where he works, and encouraged students to look him up if they end up attending there. (Are we seeing a pattern?)

 Two of the least utilized resources in judo, in my opinion, are guest instructors and assistant instructors.

If you are trying to be the big wheel and teach everything yourself, you are cheating your students. Cut it out!

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I haven't blogged in a while because I am busy making games, improving games, designing games, meeting with schools to tell them about our games.

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Already really smart? Donate a game or two to a school so they can be as smart as you.

Friday, September 4, 2015


Life has been really crazy lately and I haven't been blogging as much. We're in the Boom Startup Ed Tech accelerator, raising funds from investors to bring 7 Generation Games to the next level.

So, I've been flying back and forth between here and Salt Lake City, which is just amazingly beautiful.

As always, life has its share of good and bad.

Good: Gompers Middle School Judo is back in session, with many of our wonderful kids from last year and some new ones.

Every week, I think that I really don't have 4- 5 hours to spare from work to drive in rush hour traffic to south LA and back and teach for an hour and a half. Every week,  I feel blessed and privileged to spend a couple of hours with some of the best people I know.

Caution: Rant ahead

I absolutely HATE those coaches with the attitude that,

"You need to prove to me that you are good enough for me to coach. Work out here for six months, a year, two years and maybe I will honor you with the grace of my coaching."

Okay, seriously, who the fuck do you people think you are? Who raised you and what the fuck was wrong with them? I'm a world champion, Ph.D. and have founded multiple companies. Every single person that comes into Gompers Middle School Judo program, I try honestly and sincerely to teach them to the best of my ability from the very first day. They made the effort to overcome their fears to walk through the door. They are the child of someone who loves them very much, just like I love my children (no matter how old they are) and I am going to treat them with the same kindness and respect that I hope someone treats each of my children.

Let me tell you something - if you are a coach and you make someone train at your gym for 3 months, 6 months, a year or more until you condescend to train them it is not because you are such a great coach that they need to earn your attention. IT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE A FUCKING ASSHOLE.

On to another thing (I told you this was random) ...

Bad then Good: I sincerely apologize to everyone who told me they bought/ purchased games in the last two weeks. I was getting very down thinking we had zero sales AND the world was full of a bunch of liars. Turns out the email on the sales reports was being misdirected. Oops. Hope you enjoyed the games!



I wrote a blog about the Ronda bubble and half a dozen people (including a couple of women!) called to be reassured that they weren't the man I was talking about who wanted me to go with him to tell Ronda she was headed in the wrong direction. Of course, it was none of them because wouldn't you think if I recounted a conversation we'd had, you'd recognize it?

This further reinforces my belief that if someone is a true dumbass you can write about them freely as long as you don't use their name and they will never recognize themselves. Such is the nature of dumbasses. Maybe I should do a wikipedia entry on that.

I was thinking today about a young woman I know who is extremely bright. She ought to be working towards her Ph.D. She is truly fascinated by science and would be a brilliant success. Instead, she picks up with one loser boyfriend after another that she is trying to rescue, and is just limping along taking random courses, still finishing her bachelor's degree. Why is it that some incredibly talented people just can't see how good they are? This isn't a rhetorical question. I really don't know.

If I ever figure that out I'm going to patent it, sell it and I won't need investor funds because I will have billions of dollars and be laughing my mad scientist laugh - moo ha ha - as I fly over you all in my helicopter on my way to my private island with a herd of winged zebracorns.

Well, I suppose I should go to bed since I have to work all day tomorrow (and every day over this 3-day weekend) because that's the deal when you run a startup.  You can jump in and buy our games, or donate one to a classroom. They're fun and you'll learn stuff.