Friday, August 26, 2016

Judo tourism

There are a lot of small judo clubs in this country. I started judo at one, at the Alton YMCA. If you are at a small judo club, you may be the only instructor in your whole town. There may not be another black belt within 50 or 100 miles. You may not have anyone within 30 pounds of your weight or close to your skill level to work out with.

So here is an idea, how about if you are a black belt visiting in an area, you write or call ahead of time to the local judo club and let them know you'll be around. Now, don't take it personally if they don't jump at the opportunity to have you work out with them. Maybe they are busy or its deer hunting season or the weekend they have their fundraiser. However, they just might be very happy to have a guest instructor for a night or just someone new to practice with.

Now, here is mama annmaria's guide to not being a jerk when you are visiting

Don't ask for money! Very few small clubs have the money to pay someone who is an Olympic or world medalist to come out and do a clinic for them. If you are in the neighborhood anyway and can donate an hour or two of your time and are willing to do it that's great. If they happen to have an extra hundred dollars or so in their club budget to give you then that's great too. However, not every club does. Our judo club at Gompers never pays guest instructors other than in our vast appreciation(and we do really appreciate you).

Don't beat people up. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have seen visiting black belts slamming around people from the local club. I don't know what they're trying to prove in this situation. I'm not saying that you shouldn't foot sweep someone if you have the chance or that you need to lay down and let people pin you. What I am saying is that you are not proving anything if you are a 25-year-old black belt throwing around a 40 year old green belt – other than, perhaps, that you are a big jerk.

Do offer to show some technique. I'm assuming the instructor isn't an egomaniac based on the fact that he or she invited you to come. Any good instructor realizes that no one knows all of judo. Even if I know a technique I may not know it equally as well as a visitor. Speaking for myself personally, I'm always very happy to have someone show their favorite technique.

Do ask if there is anything the visiting club would like you to do. They may have a number of young teenage players who don't often get challenged in randori and just want you to work out with those players. The caution against being a jerk still applies here. On the other hand, their club may be excellent at, say, matwork but have very little knowledge of counters and want you to demonstrate a few counter techniques.

If you have a good bit of experience to offer and are visiting your great aunt in Camden, Arkansas or fly fishing in town – I – made – up, Montana or wherever you might be take an opportunity to share what knowledge you have and you'll probably meet some super nice people.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

This I believe: values

I was going to write about judo tourism, but something else has been on my mind for a long time, so I guess tourism is the next post.

There has been a lot lately that caused me to think about sports, martial arts, and values – everything from the Stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious woman to some appalling behavior at the Olympics to really good behavior everywhere from the Olympics to judo clubs in Wyoming.

A blogger on mathematics has a link to his personal values that says "this I believe". His link takes you to the Nicene Creed. That's kind of cool but I thought I would give my own values.

Just to lay it out there, here is what I value. I am not really sure I learned a lot of my values from sports in general or judo in particular.


1. Courage is the greatest virtue from which all others spring. I think Aristotle or some other old Greek said that. It's still true. Many people know what is the right thing but they are afraid to do it. They are afraid that other people will mock them or think less of them, they will lose their job or lose their friends. There are two types of courage – at least.
  • There is the courage to stand up for your own rights. That includes not allowing people to belittle you, to pay you less than you are worth, to not give you the same opportunities or rewards that other people get due to your gender, race, age or just because they are ass holes. This also includes the courage to stand up for yourself when you are being abused. 
  • The second type of courage is the courage to stand up for the rights of others. When your friend has been mistreated by someone do you still do business with that person hang around with them, work out with them? When you see people mistreated due to their status, be it because they are immigrants, children, waiters or whatever, do you speak up or do you just say, "I don't want to get involved"?
I am not a "go along to get along" type of person. If I see two people starting to fight whether on the street or kids on the playground, I get involved. I don't think I learned that from judo at all. I learned it from the many times in my life when I was young and helpless and bad things happened and no one stepped in. For all of the times that I wished that somebody would do something, now I'm that somebody.

2. Being judgmental is perfectly fine. I think all of that "Oh, you can't judge people", is bullshit. If you see bad things happen to your friends, and you still hang out with the people who screwed them over like nothing happened then I DO think less of you.

3. Right up there behind courage is honesty. Again, I think there are two kinds of honesty. There is honesty with other people and honesty with yourself. If you tell me something that you know is not true to delay the inevitable that I will get mad at you when I find out that you did not pay the bill or go to practice or write that program, then you are a liar. Let me repeat that because as simple of a concept as it is many people seem to have difficulty with it. If you say something that you know not to be true then you are a liar. 
  • There are lies you tell out of kindness, for example, not telling your family that you are terminally ill because you don't want them to be unhappy. I think those type of lies are between you and your conscience and in that case I really am not one to judge. 
  • There are lies that you tell to make life easier for you and you do that because you are a coward. I told you I was judgmental. Everybody is a coward sometimes. If you are a good person, those times are few and far between. If lying to make your life easier is habit you are a coward and a bad person. I try not to be either one. 
  • Then there are the lies that you tell yourself. For example, I knew someone who was sleeping with another woman. Then, he had the audacity to say that he didn't tell his wife because it would hurt her. And I thought to myself are you fucking kidding me? If you don't want to hurt your wife, don't sleep with other women. It seems like people tell themselves a lot of lies from I'm going to go back to college to I'm going to quit drinking to my boyfriend is obsessed with knowing what I'm doing every minute because he cares about me so much.

Courage and honesty are really very related because often we lie to ourselves and others because we are afraid to face the truth. If I quit that job, fire that person, get a divorce or move to Tibet like I deep down know I should then I'm admitting that what I had been doing was a mistake. Or maybe I'm afraid of what will happen when I'm a single person with a new job living in Tibet. Better to stay here working at the gym in Iowa married to Bob.

4. Never miss the opportunity to be kind. Whether it is leaving a tip or teaching someone how to do an arm bar or giving someone their first job, if you can do it, do it. I believe this in matters great and small. In fact, mostly small. If I can give someone a spare judo gi or help someone solve a math problem I try to do it as often as I can. I believe the world gets better not in massive events with millions of dollars and thousands of people but rather 10 minutes and $.10 at a time. All of those extra minutes that we spent reading to someone or running laps with someone, the dollars given to the kid selling candy bars or the poor box at church, that's what adds up to a better world. Most of it is done by people you never notice.

5. God knows what he's doing even when you don't. I realized that some of you who read this blog are atheists. That's fine. This post is about what I believe not what you believe. When I look over my life, all of the best things have their roots in the worst things. For example, getting divorced was pretty awful. However if I hadn't gotten divorced I never would have married Ron or had Jennifer and Ronda. It was pretty awful injuring my knee when I was young and it caused me a lot of pain and when it went out on me I lost some matches that I otherwise would have won. Because I couldn't do standing technique I became the best person in the world at ground technique.

6. Your family is your family no matter what. As the poem says "home is the place that when you go there they have to take you in". No one is like family but family. Now people have said in the comments at other times when I talked about this that that was not the case with their family at all. If that describes your experience I am sorry. However this post is about values what I think is important and what I believe to be true and how I think things should be.

And that about sums it up. There is a lot of other stuff, like don't cheat on your wife or don't get addicted to drugs but I think if you follow these first six caring about your family being kind not lying it pretty much covers the rest of the stuff.

I've been thinking about this a lot how much of these values did I get from sports from judo?

I got some of them from people I knew in judo and I think this is maybe the key fact about sports and values – you probably got some of your values from sports but it was from the people who coached you, who taught you and who you played with. If they had good values, you probably became a better person through sport. If they were the kind of people that believed in winning at all costs and it didn't matter if you cheated, it didn't matter what type of person you were off the mat or off the field, then you probably became a worse person.

**Please excuse any errors in spelling or grammar. I'm using voice input software for blogging while my hand is healing up.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Dining with Judo Legends (and me, too)

If you miss it this time, well, you’ve missed it forever. A dinner party with a few of our U.S. Judo greats (and me, too), organized by our very own Hayward Nishioka (that guy above). If you like judo, history or just hanging out with really fascinating people, you should check this out.

Speakers include:

*AnnMaria Demars, America's oldest world judo champion

*Hal Sharp, 9th Dan, Author and video producer

*Gene Lebell, U.S. Grand Champion, Stuntman

*Ernie Smith National Referee, Promotion chairperson USJA 

*Tosh Seino U.S. National Champion, Armed Forces Grand Champion

They will be telling their stories and answering questions, and giving us insight into our rich National and local history from the 40’s, 50’s 60’s 70’s and 80’s.

It will be held on October 2, 2016, at the Luminarius restaurant.

Dinner donations are tax deductible- $50.00 per person. Payable to Nanka Judo.

Send for your tickets to:

Teshima and Company

2215 W. 190th Street

Torrance, Ca. 90504

(310) 323-1040

Seating is limited to 100 persons so get your tickets early for this suit and tie affair.

Here are the orders, um, I mean description, from Hayward:

As we go forward in our judo it is important to know where we came from, how we got there, and what it was like for our trail blazers who pounded out the road to success in those early Golden years.

         Each of our speakers will have approximately 20 minutes in which to tell their story. This will be followed by a half hour informal forum among the presenters, and concluded with questions and answers from the audience. All this will be preceded by a social half hour of just talking and visiting with old friends before dinner.

These are some people who have really fascinating stories to tell. Some of the topics will be:

1.   What was your training like back then; who were some of your opponents, instructors, and tough guys, how many days a week did you practice, was it just judo or other things; running, weights, ect.?

2.   What type of dojo did you practice in? Was it a dojo with canvas covered over hard packed sawdust, or in a small house or room with wrinkled canvas covered mats, or community center with teachers or students who spoke a different language and had different customs? Were the floors at least even?

3.   What obstacles were encountered, like injuries, lack of practice partners, places to practice, not enough support from family, friends? Unaccustomed Japanese customs both expressed and silent?

4.   Tell of a defining moment in your judo career? When did you say to yourself, “ I like judo, in fact, I love it?”

5.    Do you think it changes a person for the better and in what way?

6.   What are some differences in judo today from judo in the past?

7.   What advice do you have for todays judoka who may be seeking the excellence that you have found in your judo careers?

8.   Give some detailed technical insight as to how to improve performance in practice or in competition.

9.   Give an example of one of your toughest matches and what you learned from it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Does Your Hand Hurt?

I'm having hand surgery on Tuesday and I'm pretty pissed off.

(This kind of has to do with judo although it doesn't sound like it at first.)

I'm not pissed off about the surgery. Oddly, I'm kind of looking forward to it because my hand has hurt so much for so long and this is supposed to fix it.

What I'm pissed off about is that no one mentioned this until last week.  My thumb has hurt for about a year, some days, it's really bad. Last week, I caught something heavy falling off of a shelf and it REALLY hurt - as in, I would be crying except for the fact that pretty much someone has to die before I cry.

Maybe that is my problem, because I had mentioned this to my family physician before and she just prescribed some cream. I mentioned it to the physician's assistant when I was having my knee drained and she recommended a brace.

I had it x-rayed - twice.

I mentioned it to the doctor at the urgent care when I went in and he said I should see an orthopedic surgeon.

Well, I didn't see an orthopedic surgeon because, again, when I went to the office they had me see a physician's assistant instead, who recommended an MRI.

I will skip to the whole long story and let you know that if your thumb really hurts there is surgery called  Ligament Reconstruction and Tendon Interposition

"The arthritic joint surfaces are removed and replaced with a cushion of tissue that keeps the bones separated. To accomplish this, surgeons remove all or part of the trapezium bone in the wrist.
A nearby tendon is detached at one end and then passed through a hole drilled in the thumb metacarpal. The remaining tendon is rolled like an anchovy and placed into the space where the bone was removed. "

So, I'm having that on Tuesday. What I'm pissed off about is that no one mentioned this to me as an option for a year. In fact, it was just kind of luck. My daughter, Ronda, came to pick me up from about the fifth "doctor's" appointment. I put it in quotes because all I ever saw at the orthopedists was physician assistants. When they were going to have me come back in two weeks and see yet another physician assistant, she said, and I believe this is a direct quote,

"This is bullshit."

She called some people she knew at a different orthopedic group and I actually saw an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand surgery and he is operating on me this week.

After this, I've talked to a couple of people, one who had the surgery and one who is a physician who provides rehabilitation for lots of patients who have had it.

So, now you know three things.

  1. There is a surgery for if you have arthritis and your thumb hurts all of the time.
  2. Maybe if you have been stoic all of your life competing in judo or similar sports, you need to emphasize a little more to doctors and their assistants if you are actually in pain. As I finally explained at the last appointment - "If I say that something hurts, it REALLY FUCKING hurts."
  3. If a doctor or clinic doesn't take you seriously when something is bothering you, find some place else, even if you've been going to that place for years. 

I asked the doctor doing the surgery if this could be related to judo. He said he doubted it, that he does lots of these surgeries every week and I'm the first one who was a judo player. It's just due to arthritis. It's true, my grandmother had arthritis really badly and I'm pretty sure she never did judo.

So, if you didn't know, now you know.


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Monday, August 8, 2016

Do Grandmas Need a Six-Pack?

I blame Jane Fonda.

I remember when she came out with her aerobics video looking all in shape and said,

"This is what 50 looks like."

I remember my grandmas when I was a kid and 50 looked nothing like that. My grandmothers wore house dresses, not leotards, and the only exercise they ever got was from ironing.

After flying from Los Angeles to North Dakota yesterday, I got up at 7 this morning (5 am Pacific Time), drove for an hour and a half to a meeting in New Town and after five hours of meetings, came back to the hotel, worked for another 2 hours, then I went hiking for half an hour.

I came back to the hotel, worked some more and then did another 30 sit ups because I thought walking for half an hour wasn't enough exercise.

All of which brought me back to the question -

Do grandmas really need a six-pack?

I'll be 58 years old on Monday. How old do I have to be before it is okay if I don't want to swim the English channel or run a marathon? People post in the comments on my blog about how serious training for masters competition is, how age is just a number.

Frankly, I think that 'age is only a number' idea is bullshit.

The reason I did sit ups is that my hand has been bothering me so much that I'm having surgery next week, so I can't do 30 push-ups like I usually do.

This is my second joint being reconstructed. (My knee was the first.) So, yeah, don't give me that age-is-only-a-number crap.

Now, I'm not saying that we should all just be sitting in rocking chairs, knitting and eating pizza.

 I think there should be a point after which it's okay to come back to the hotel after a 12-hour day and drink a glass of wine while watching Scared Straight and not feel as if it's mandatory to run 3 miles on the treadmill because "after all, the workout room is open 24 hours".

So, yeah, take it from me, You don't have to keep trying to set world records when you're 42. I'm going to be guilt-free while I drink my glass of 3 Blind Moose (I swear that is the house brand of Chardonnay at this hotel).


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