I had the great pleasure of attending two of Sid Kelly’s Southern California clinics back in March. Although Sid and I are on the same page when it comes to pedagogy for Judo, I came away with lots of good drills, ideas, and key phrases that make my own approach to teaching Judo all the more rich and effective.
Thanks to the efforts of Hal Sharp from Gardena Judo, Coach Kelly was brought over from Connecticut and sponsored by Nanka with the intention of presenting to club leaders a different approach to teaching our sport, one that would help us attract more people to Judo and retain a greater portion of those who do join.
Coach Kelly’s clinics are truly unique in content, and given the size of the Judo population in Southern California and the fact that many of our clubs are dying a slow but sure death, they should have been attended by hordes of information-crazy clubs leaders. But lo and behold, reality reared its ugly head: almost nobody showed up! Apparently, our club leaders don’t need continuing education and new ideas.
At the Goltz Judo Club session on Saturday, there were four clubs represented besides the host club. From those four clubs, there were two players on the mat and three or four sitting on the sideline. Had it not been for the presence of roughly twenty-eight students from the host club, we would have had a mere three participants on the mat.
Sunday’s session at Tenri Dojo was similarly poorly attended: a total of seven participants representing three clubs! Yes, some clubs were at a national event, but clearly not all their coaches were absent from the area. While you digest these numbers, keep in mind that there are over fifty clubs in Southern California. We should have had at least one representative from each club.
So the question begs: does anyone care about the survival of Judo? Does anyone realize that we must change our approach to teaching Judo if we are to successfully contest in the twenty-first century? Does anyone realize that teaching Judo need not follow the “mat bashing-static uchi komi-randori” model that is prevalent in most clubs? Based on the turnout to Sid Kelly’s clinics, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
I constantly hear from club leaders that membership is not what it used to be. Kids are doing x, y and z, but not Judo. In most instances, these club leaders have not revamped their instructional program in decades, and have not stayed current with the times. Yet they wonder why nobody wants to do Judo or stay in Judo. Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. That’s American Judo. We keep using the same old, tired model of instruction, and we keep losing far too many people after they have stumbled into our clubs.
So, kudos to Nanka for sponsoring and bringing Sid Kelly out to the West Coast. On the other hand, shame on its clubs for not supporting the clinics. USJA clubs should also be chastised for not giving a hoot. The turnout for Sid Kelly’s clinics was pathetic, shameful and insulting to the clinician. This is just another small nail in our coffin.
One final comment about attending clinics: be considerate of the clinician by arriving on time, putting your gi on, getting on the mat, participating to the best of your physical condition, and by not leaving until the clinic is over! That’s common courtesy that the clinician deserves.