Friday, February 24, 2017

For Fuck's Sake, Quit Letting Fear Control Your Life

An interviewer asked me,
 "When was the last time you were afraid?"

I answered him honestly,

"I don't think I have been afraid for a very, very long time. Not since I was a child, because I figured out early on, that is how people control you."

I remember precisely. I was 8.

Yeah, pretty crazy, but a lot of stuff in my life that seemed normal at the time is kind of insane when I look back on it. That's another story, though.

When I was in juvenile hall, this belief was even more confirmed. They find out what you are afraid of - being locked in solitary, handcuffed - whatever it is - and then they threaten you with that.

It's not that stuff didn't hurt. I was a 14-year-old girl with my hands handcuffed behind my back having a full grown man who was a guard punch me in the face. Yeah, it hurt. That's why I don't talk about this stuff very much, because it totally sucked. It's why I don't write my autobiography - because who wants to relive that shit?

I'm talking about it today, though, because I see too many people living lives that are dominated by fear, even if they won't admit it to themselves.

  • I'm afraid we won't get along if we work together.
  • I'm afraid of what people will say if I quit my job.
  • I'm afraid no one will love me if I break up with my boyfriend/girlfriend .
  • I'm afraid I'll lose everything if I start a business.
  • I'm afraid immigrants will take my jobs if we let them in the country.
  • I'm afraid Muslims will kill me if we let them in the country.
  • I'm afraid my mother won't love me if I say honestly what I think.
  • I'm afraid my children won't respect me if I admit I made mistakes.
  • I'm afraid if I leave this group of friends I'll never find real friends again.

I could go on and on and on.

When did we become such cowards?

If I was afraid of something, I would do it and then I wouldn't be afraid any more. The worst thing that you think will happen probably won't and even if it does, you'll survive it and be stronger.

God, just stop!  If I could do it when I was 8, you can sure the fuck do it now at however old you are.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Judo stunt workout

Friday it was pouring rain in Los Angeles. Not many kids came to practice and I can't blame them. Some of our kids ride their bikes or skateboard to get to practice and we got several inches of rain. They would have arrived cold and soaked to the skin. Other kids are dropped off by their parents or take the bus but, possibly because some trees had downed power lines, many stop lights were out causing major traffic jams. Practice was over at 5 PM and I didn't get home until 8 PM. Now, I did stop over at another school and meet with someone for half an hour, but still it was pretty crazy because I only live 17 miles from the school.

So, it seemed like a perfect day to do some new fun drills.

It may not be obvious what we are doing from this video.

Did you ever think about the fact that o soto makikomi  is a perfect throw if you are fighting more than one person? I've noticed when working with people who do stunts in the movies that this is one of the throws they like because as you are going to grab the person's head you can throw punch and hit someone behind you or to the side. Thus, it's a great throw for one of those fight scenes in the movies when you are attacked by multiple villains.

As you can see, the person doing the throwing gets practice doing a good judo throw and the focus on punching someone to the side gets them to get that arm around the head which students often seem to not get far enough. The further around the head you can get, the tighter the throw is going to be.

At the same time, that the person is working on their throw,   the one being  "punched"  is working on his or her falls. Now, falling probably isn't the most fun skill to work on as a general rule, this activity makes it fun. Also, I know that the ability to fall without hurting yourself is really useful to people doing stunt work.

So, there you have it, a fun drill for a rainy day, that teaches good form for throwing and falling.

 When I'm not teaching judo, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Manny Gamburyan Gives Private Clinic for Gompers Judo

I've seen Manny Gamburyan coach kids many times and I know what a rapport he has with kids like our Gompers Judo team - that is, they are attentive, respectful and interested in learning judo. When I heard he was available for private lessons and clinics, I contacted him the same day.

I often hear judo coaches complain about the difficulty of retaining teenagers in the sport but I don't always see them making an effort to understand what might be of interest to that age group. Manny is someone they have seen on TV and he is a lot closer to their age than I am! He has shown how judo can apply outside of tournaments in his ten-year career in the UFC.

It was a GREAT clinic. He started by asking students what they wanted to learn and when they said, "matwork" (kids after my own heart) he showed a pin and a choke.

I then asked him to show a throw.

Then, he gave the students a pep talk about staying in judo and about becoming a more respectful person, giving examples from when he was young and not as respectful as he felt he should be, and learning to be more mature.

We are at a middle school and many students came over from the gym and sat watching for the whole hour and a half class, waiting patiently to get an autograph, a selfie or a picture for instagram. Manny stayed for an extra half-hour and talked to every single kid, signed every autograph.

I am old. I admit it because it's true. It's nice to have someone young come to practice, randori with the students and give  fresh perspective.

It was GREAT.

I'm not sure how you contact Manny to get a clinic or private lessons if you don't have his number, but you can tweet to him @mannygamburyan on twitter.
or you can call or text me and if I know you're not a weirdo I'll give you his contact information.

When I'm not teaching judo, I'm making games. Please check them out. You can learn math, social studies, build your vocabulary.  Here are some free games and demos for you just because I am so nice. (Manny has been a good influence.)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Choking Makes Me Happy

I'm not sure why this choking drill made me so happy on Friday, but it did.

Maybe it is because it reminded me of when I taught it to my daughter, Ronda, when she as that age.

Maybe it reminded me of all of the times my friend, Tina Thomas, and I ran through it at Venice Dojo just for the hell of it  - so often that Gary Butts took to calling it the "Rousey Roll".

Maybe it's because I remember all of the times I did it in tournaments, starting from when I was 13 years old - old enough to choke but not old enough yet to do arm bars.

Maybe it is because I've been working so much the last several weeks that I am happy just to be on the mat, outside, anywhere but adding one more reference to a report, writing another paragraph, staring at another budget.

More likely, it is all of those things. I don't know. I just know that sometimes, choking people makes me happy - even people I like!

My day job is making video games. Support me by buying a game or donating one to a school. Give it to anyone you'd like to be smarter.

Fish Lake runs on Mac and Windows

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Making Camp on iTunes and Google Play

Friday, February 3, 2017

Government Bureaucrats are Braver Than Me

I've worked with federal employees for most of the past thirty years. I have found most of them to be conscientious, competent and sincere in their belief that they are working for the good of their country. This stereotype of people raking in huge salaries doing very little work has never fit with my experience.

So, I'm not a big hater on government bureaucrats, but still, "brave" was one of the last adjectives I'd use to describe them.

Most people I've seen who spend a career in big government, big business, big universities or any other "big" go along to get along. They are comfortable with following the rules from the top down. After doing their job and following orders for a couple of decades, they can retire with a pension. That's the deal.

Lately, though, I have seen people I know making major steps outside of their comfort zone. Of course, Sally Yates, who was fired for refusing to enforce an executive order she believed indefensible, was the highest profile.

However, there are other people I know who just quietly left their jobs because they felt that the policies they would be expected to enforce were immoral.

Think about that for a minute. Whatever you believe - whether you adamantly are sure that abortion is murder and a sin or you think that women have the right to choose what happens to their own bodies - however you come down on any side of a moral issue - would you really quit your job over it?

Think how often have we seen people doing things we think are horrible, whether it is foreclosing on a family farm or refusing an elder medical care that would make their life less painful because "It's my job."

It would have been so easy for the people who quit those jobs to say,

"I need to think about my family. I have kids in college, a mortgage. I could lose my house. My children need an education. What can I do?"

But they didn't. That took bravery. They are braver than me because, as we all know, it's pretty much an instinctive reflex for me to tell anyone who wants me to put up with unethical behavior to go fuck themselves.  For these people, it was out of character and it took a lot of courage.

On Tuesday, we were recording next week's podcast (not up yet, but you can listen to all of our other podcasts here) and for a moment, Maria and I discussed whether it was a bad idea to be too outspoken about how loathsome we believe the immigration ban is, how I feel not having the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the National Security Council is wrong and a lot more. Then, I thought of Sally Yates, of the anonymous civil servants I knew who had quit their jobs because it violated their conscience. So, I leaned into the microphone and said,

I call bullshit on all of you people who said, 'Oh, we're not against immigrants, just illegal immigrants.' Well, FUCK YOU because you are a liar. You can't change it now. Sixty days ago you were fine with legal immigrants who had done everything right to get into this country but now, today, you're not? Go fuck yourself!  Oh, now, it's brown immigrants you're against. If they're not the same color or religion as you, even if they are legal, even if they did everything right and waited all of  those years like you said two months ago, that you were okay with them then, NOW all of a sudden only certain legal immigrants are okay? Well, FUCK YOU, for denying entry  to the United States people who risked their lives as interpreters for us.

Yes, Maria waived the one swear word per episode rule for this.

So... maybe fewer people will buy our games. That is the tiniest sacrifice compared to giving up your job, your pension, your certain future and your quiet life.

Honestly, look in the mirror and ask yourself, would you really quit your job because it violated your ethics, your morals?  I'm finding that some unexpected people would and it gives me some faith back in humanity.

If you still want to buy our games, you can find them here. Get smarter, have fun. Learn math and social studies. Donate to a school. Donate in the name of your favorite politician, or Betsy Devos.