Sunday, November 22, 2015

You Have to Rescue Yourself

Everyone has a story and you can learn a lot if you just shut up and listen. 

I spent the past week in North Dakota, meeting up with lots of old and new friends.

I gave presentations at Minot State University, the Minot Job Corps and the Boys and Girls Club in New Town, North Dakota on the Fort Berthold reservation.

I also met a lot of people and heard a lot of their stories about overcoming (or not) everything from alcoholism to domestic violence to methamphetamine addiction. Different people, in different cities in different situations said pretty much the same thing :

It comes down to this: you have to rescue yourself.

It IS terrible and wrong that your husband beats you, but he probably is not going to stop, as harsh as that is to say. The police can arrest him, your friends can offer you a place to stay but YOU need to decide that you are better than this, take your children and leave.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence 10 times, been sent to treatment four times and have just been released from jail, your family may be willing to help you, there may be an open bed at a treatment facility, but YOU need to decide to go.

Sometimes when I say things like this, people object and say,

You don't understand, it's not as easy as it sounds.

Actually, THEY don't understand, because I don't think it sounds easy at all. Listening to someone talk about leaving her husband, being homeless with three children while she looked for a job - that didn't sound easy to me at all. What an amazing amount of strength and courage that she did it, though!

I know a lot of people who have been alcoholics and the hardest thing they have to do, as far as I can see, is honestly admitting they have fucked up. One man told me,

At AA meeting they have you say that you are an alcoholic and you have no control over your life. I said it but I didn't mean it. Not me! I was (a professional athlete)! I had a nice house, nice cars, women! There was nothing wrong with me!

Ever hear the phrase "painfully honest"? It takes a painful amount of honesty to look in the mirror and admit that you are wrong, what you have been doing is wrong and bad and (if you are an addict) it has been bad and wrong for a long time.

I heard a lot of stories by and about parents this week who gave their adult children money for drugs so they would not have to go through the pain of withdrawal, so they wouldn't steal the money for drugs and go to jail, who didn't turn them in when they DID steal the money, family members who denied being beaten by a relative.

Even if it is not that extreme, though, I think we all end up sometimes in situations where we are waiting for someone else to rescue us or trying to protect someone. That is fine if your four years old but not when you're forty.

Since I'm in the airport and have a few minutes to blog, let me give you some advice: Rescue yourself.

If you had a really good friend, a child, someone you loved, here is how I think you would treat them:
  1. You'd be honest with them, even when they didn't want to hear what you had to say. If they were in a bad situation, you would tell them. 
  2. You'd have the courage to face up to other people, even to that person him or herself, and help them make a change, whether it is moving with them to a new city, changing schools or filing charges against an abuser.
  3. You'd have the strength to continue on, even when people around you questioned your commitment, your motives, even when it was hard and you were tired and the road ahead to get a degree to get a job so you could support yourself, or to finish treatment or pay off your bills seemed so long.
That's what we do for people we love and if you would do that for your children, your best friend, then why can you not do it for yourself?

Plane boarding. Gotta go.


This isn't my real job, writing this blog - I make games that make you smarter. Honest, play for a few weeks and your math skills WILL be better.

All that stuff from 5th grade you forgot, yeah, it comes back to you.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Gompers Judo Christmas Camp: With a LOT of help from my friends

Just when you need more faith in humanity, your friends come through. For those of you who like to hear good news, here is what is up with Gompers Judo

  1. My friend, an anonymous benefactor bought Adidas judo gis for everyone. Many of our gis initially came from friends whose children had quit judo or outgrown their gis. Over the years, those had gotten pretty beat up. A year ago, Jesse Moya, of Moya Brand, had donated gis for every student - but kids in middle school grow FAST so many had outgrown theirs, and we had new kids join. So, look how cool they are all in judo gis that fit!
  2. Our friends at Gracie Barra Newport Beach offered up their school for two days on a weekend in December, for free, and instructor Tom Reusling offered to help teach.
  3. My friend, Steve Seck, 1980 Olympic team member in judo is coming to teach.
  4. My other friend, Gary Butts, a judo black belt and Marine Corps wrestler is coming to teach.
  5. My other friend (how did I get so lucky!) Patricia Gill, is a college admissions counselor and she's coming to speak with our students about college requirements and what courses they should be taking in high school.
  6. My friend (yes, I have another one), Brian Marks is one of the most renowned kata instructors in the country. He is coming to teach kata to get our green belts ready for their brown belt test. Another talent of Brian's is Christmas decoration. Yes, he has one of those unbelievable houses with the kid-size train set you can ride, slides and light displays that people drive to Orange County to see. He has invited us to his house after the team dinner on Saturday for a traditional Christmas party with cookies and hot chocolate.
  7. My lovely youngest daughter and HER friends are going to come in the afternoon to tutor students between practices.
  8. My lovely niece, her fiancé and HIS friends from U C Irvine's doctoral program in mathematics are also coming to tutor students.

I once commented that I felt I had better friends than I deserve to which Jacob Flores, Jr. (the son of one of my very best friends) commented,

I don't think that's possible. I think people get exactly the friends they deserve.

Damn! I sure hope he's right, because if he is, I must be far more amazing than I think!

In the Christmas spirit ?

Buy games that teach math, social studies and FUN !

Buy it for yourself, for a gift, or donate to a school.

Buy Fish Lake or Spirit Lake and we'll throw in a beta license for Forgotten Trail for free. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Random: What you don't see at a judo tournament

On Sunday, somewhere between working, mass, dropping Maria, Eric and children at the airport, I managed to fit in an hour to watch the Mojica Judo Tournament in Baldwin Park.  I went with a mission - well, a mission other than not missing my one chance a year to tease Tony Mojica about wearin a suit. (Evidence duly attached.)

My mission was this: I wanted to test my hypothesis that judo players do not do either counters nor combinations in tournaments. I decided to watch 10 matches and record how many times I saw either a combination or a counter. I was there around 12-1 so I was watching mid-range players. The tiny little kids had already competed and the black belts weren't up yet.

Here are my results, which were pretty consistent with what I have discovered at every camp, clinic and tournament that I've observed:

Players very rarely do counters, combinations or transition. This includes combinations of a standing technique and mat technique, two standing techniques or two matwork techniques.

In the ten matches I observed,  I saw zero counters, one attempted (unsuccessful) combinations and three transitions from standing to matwork (two attempted by the same person).  Let's look at this in percentages. Of the 20 players in those two matches, 0% did a successful combination, 5% attempted a matwork combination, 0% attempted a matwork combination, 0% attempted a counter and 10% did a transition from standing to matwork.

There should be a hint for you in here if you are an instructor or a competitor. Work on counters, combinations (particularly on the mat) and transitions to standing to matwork.

 It's a winning strategy to be strong where others are weak.

It's an even more winning strategy to be strong where others are non-existent.


Buy a game this week and we'll throw in a copy of our Forgotten Trail beta for free !