Sunday, February 10, 2019

Do what you can. Life lesson 1,012 learned from judo

World judo champions are a small club and I don’t fit in. Let's look at what some other world champions did post-competition

  • Mike Swain - owns a company that sells mats
  • Jimmy Pedro, Jr. - sells mats and runs a judo club
  • Kayla Harrison - competes in mixed martial arts
  • Yamashita - something judo with the IJF

Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m so not in with the cool crowd that I have no idea who won medals or what most of them are doing. Travis Stevens got a silver in the Olympics (I think) and now does judo and jiu jitsu clinics. Some guy in Canada got a silver medal a while back, I only remember he was nice because - Canadian  - and I think he does something with their national sports program.

Then there is me. After the world championships I went off to get a Ph.D. , specializing in Applied Statistics and Psychometrics. I’ve founded four companies and spent most of my days writing software, meeting with investors and potential customers, writing budgets or writing up results of quasi-experimental designs for grant reports or academic journals.

It’s not that I don’t like judo or think it’s a good thing for people to do but I’m pretty busy. You don’t see Bill Gates out on the mat, now do you? (No, I’m not Bill Gates but I’d kind of like to be, except I’d like to not be a guy and keep my kids.)

 This IS my day job. Check out Making Camp Premium for your iPad/ iPhone  or Google Play or on the web. You’ll learn about the Ojibwe people, brush up on your math skills and other useful knowledge like synonyms and idioms. Get it for yourself, your kids or donate to a school to help other people’s kids.

I’ve gone from doing judo every day and twice a day on weekends to once a week and now only a few times in the last year. 

Occasionally, I’ll wonder for a moment if I wasted all those years. Maybe I would have been better off taking more computer science courses, learning more about algorithms, practicing not telling people to go fuck themselves if they pissed me off (still not one of my better skills). Perhaps I really WOULD be running a business the size of Microsoft if I’d put my energy into that instead.

Oh, and don’t start with the “Look what great friendships you made.” I only like a few of you people and I haven’t even talked to you guys recently because I’ve been in Chile and my phone was stolen. (Yes, I owe a lot of phone calls to people now that I just got back.)

When I think about it for more than sixty seconds, though, I always realize that there is a great deal more I learned from judo than how to transition into an arm bar. 


Some of this came about because I did NOT have the advantages that “kids these days” swear they need of just doing judo full time. Since I was working full-time during my competitive years, there were a lot of times I couldn’t be at the best judo club, or sometimes any judo club. I learned to do what I could.

  • Can’t get to practice? Get up and run sprints in the morning before work.
  • Can’t get to practice? Lift weights at the gym near my house.
  • No one near my size/ age to train with? Ask the guys at the Naval Training Center to run matwork drills on them over and over.
  • No one really interested in training seriously at the club? Ask each person if they’d mind taking 25 falls for in a line so I can get in 200 throws.
  • Injured my knee and can’t do standing technique? Do dumb bell curls and exercise to build up my hands and arms for gripping and chokes. Do sit-ups. Do matwork drills.

I don’t remember anyone ever specifically teaching me this. I think I just figured it out through necessity of wanting to win and being in a lot of situations that were suboptimal for making that happen.


I’m writing this on a flight from Santiago to Panama City, after which I have to sprint to catch my connecting flight to Los Angeles. I’ll be spending 19 hours in planes and airports, none of which have wifi. What would be the optimal thing to be doing right now? Working on the new game we have under development for which my part is behind schedule. Unfortunately, the first thing I’d need to do is pull the changes from the other developers on the team, which I cannot do because of the whole no wifi thing.

So, what am I doing? Well, other than this blog post (seriously, it didn’t take me 19 hours), I’m writing up several lesson plans for the new teachers’ site we’re creating to go with our games. To do that, I’m playing the games that have an offline version, taking screen shots and writing the lesson plans, so when I do get back to Internet connection land, I can slap in some links and boom! have three or four ready to go with an hour .

Before I left, I downloaded two books on Wordpress and one on virtual worlds on my iPad and packed a book on game design (yes, an actual book on paper) so I can read up on some areas that will help with the various projects I’m working on.

What I learned from judo is not only that winning is a habit but also that WORKING TOWARDS winning is a habit. Even if conditions are far from the best you could hope for, there is always something you can do to be pushing forward towards your goal if you just cut the woe is me crap, find it and do it.