I Don’t Agree With You!

The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know. Napoleon Bonaparte

If I received $100 every time someone told me that he reads my blog, agrees with much of it, but doesn’t always agree 100 percent, I could retire my substantial house mortgage.  I’m not sure why there’s a need to tell me you disagree with me without further explanation.  I would much prefer that you engage me in intellectual discourse, and tell me why you disagree or what you disagree about.  That would be beneficial.

I don’t blog hoping that people will agree with everything I say.  I started writing because I felt the need to empower people to think outside-the-box, just as Geof Gleeson had empowered me, and to begin a dialog that would help us grow Judo.  My blog allows me to educate the Judo community as much as it allows the Judo community to educate me.  Unfortunately, the Judo community can’t enlighten me if it agrees with me, or if it disagrees, but won’t tell me why.

I value open, intellectually-driven debate because it allows me to better understand where my detractors are coming from.  Debate can also point out problems with my own ideas and thoughts.  I’m grateful for the passion and concern of those who disagree with me.  Your comments will spur worthwhile discussions.  Of course, they can also be the catalyst for future stimulating posts.

Edgar F. Puryear Jr. states in American Generalship: Character is Everything: The Art of Command that one of the main characteristics of leadership is an aversion to “yes” men.  While I appreciate positive comments, I’m grateful when people are kind enough to take time out to offer opinions that are contrary to mine.  These viewpoints keep me on my toes.

So, feel free to disagree with me all you want.  Don’t be shy.  If you don’t agree with me, I’d like to know why.  This is what I would consider intellectual discourse, and mutual welfare and benefit: a win-win situation for Judo.

26 thoughts on “I Don’t Agree With You!

  1. Mr. lafon, there is alot that I personally disagree with you indeed but for one your blog does not allow an open forum for all to give there opinion without you picking and choosing who’s comments help make “your” point across. It is unfair and it enslaves you to your own opinion. On the other hand parents, students will just leave not caring about promotional ransom or wasted efforts in trying to agree with you. But I tell you what! I’ll start you with one subject and we will see how it goes. I would like to tell you Why I disagree with you respectfully and will go from there deal?

    # 1-uchi komi

    Most people know how you feel about it but in a synopsis please explain how you feel about uchi-komis? “Practice makes perfect or does it?”

  2. Honestly, the only comments I don’t post are ones that have nothing to do with the post in question- in other words comments that ramble on with the author’s personal agenda on some other issue. That’s not intellectual discourse. Sadly, most of your comments are inappropriate and misguided attacks and digs on people I know, or have absolutely nothing to do with the post in question. I understand that you want the best for your kids, and I understand that you are angry with your children’s prior coaches. Your last invectives toward Susan Marquez that dragged your jujitsu instructor into the fray did nothing to help your cause. Your personal Judo training is non-existant. You are merely a Judo parent- one who seems to think that coaches are wrong, but that you are right. You speak emotionally, not rationally. That’s not intellectual discourse. You have been to my USJA Coach Education course. You have read all my blogs. I have talked extensively about learning principles, which you choose to ignore. If you want to talk about uchi komi, then YOU tell me why they are so great. Please site the principles in play. At that point, maybe we can engage in a fruitful discussion. Regarding “practice makes perfect”, you know that’s nonsense. If you practice crappy Judo, that’s what you develop. The content and the quality of the practice are the important factors of development, thus “perfect practice makes perfect.” I am not sure what you refer to when you ramble on with “promotional ransom” but I’m guessing it has something to do with your past experience with Susan. If you care to debate, please stick to the subject. I look forward to your well-thought contributions.

  3. Well Mr. Lafon uchi komi is the subject shall we? I would like to start by defining uchi komi because “repetitive practice without kake” just sounds to vague so if you would please define in your words what uchi komi is. Mine would be “repetitive practice without kake” but is it correct? will your definition be everyones view of uchi komi?

  4. Obviously some people complement first, in order to Soften the disagreement that follows. While not the subject of this post I would like to respectfully ask two questions.
    1. What should your terminal rank be, and why?
    2. On coaching certification. What purpose does it really serve?

    David Schrock

  5. Gerry, the comments you make on your blog are well thought-out and stimulate thought on the part of readers. I enjoy your blog and what you have to say. Consider this an unsolicited endorsement. No one usually agrees totally with what another person may say or think, and that’s what makes life interesting. You and I both, along with many readers of your blog, have shared a common passion for judo for many years. We’ve seen and heard a good many points of view, some rational and all too often, many that are not. As my friend Bill Clark once said; “Opinions are like noses, some smell more than others.” Judo needs thoughtful dialogue and thoughtful action for it to continue as a viable form of sport and physical education. You provide both.

  6. I’ll chime in here, but I’ll try to stick to the topic. I agree that much of our traditional judo practice is useless in that it’s disconnected from the actual practice of judo, i.e. randori and shiai. There are a number of problems to solve. First, open people’s minds that there are possibly better ways to practice. It took me a while to get used to the idea, even though I had already come to the realization that I needed to show my students how, not just what to do in judo. After that, people need to see (with solid examples) what the alternatives are. We still don’t do a very good job at this one (Kelly’s Capers is a good example of what to do. We need more like it.). While I understand the principles of what I should be doing in class, I still feel like I’m reinventing the wheel with every drill I try to design. I’ve discussed this many times with Bill Montgomery.

    On “dad’s” note above, as far as uchikomis are concerned, the fact is that “practice makes permanent”. (I stole that from Sid Kelly. He may have stolen that from someone else.) If you practice the wrong things the wrong way, they become ingrained, too. Like I mentioned earlier, they often have little connection to the actual practice of judo. Unless you take your static practice and apply it to the dynamic situations of judo, you’re just practicing something you’ll never use.

  7. Thought I was going to ignore your post, didn’t you? Let’s call this monstrosity “repetition without completion.” Since none of the dynamic variables is present (and only one if you consider moving uchi komi as an upgrade to static uchi komi), we should probably redefine uchi komi as “repetition without completion, and lacking most of the dynamic variables required in a performance.” Since you took my coaching course, you should remember the requirements of skill improvement. I’ll include this here so you don’t have to kill yourself looking for your notes. Skill improvement occurs when the skill is repeated correctly, frequently, in its entirety, and reflects the conditions under which the acquired skill will be ultimately performed or used. In conclusion, I have nothing against repetitions as long as they are performed in a meaningful way.

  8. Terminal rank in the U.S. for the average judoplayer used to be godan, until of course Phil Porter (USJA) opened up the floodgates and started raising money by selling high rank to people who should have bottomed out at 4th or 5th dan, but instead have risen to 6th-9th dan! USA Judo and USJF have followed USJA’s assault on high ranks.

    Coach certification is a way to control coaches and raise money. This is especially true for USA Judo. It may also make the insurance carriers happy that we are educating our coaches with the hope that training will be more scientific and will lead to fewer injuries and claims. On the other hand, coach education is a totally different animal. Coach education- in the form of continuing education, online courses, and a professional reading program- should be our priority, but sadly it isn’t.

  9. It’s a start mr. lafon..already everyone has a different view of uchi komi but I think this is fruitful we might be going somewhere with this.

    Re: your comment “Skill improvement occurs when the skill is repeated correctly, frequently, in its entirety” for beginners that would not be possible, they don’t know the throw for one and the principals and details that go into a throw, for example.

    1. Happo
    2. kumi’s/control
    3. kuzushi
    4. tsukuri
    5. kake

    all happen almost at the same time and even if I agree with your definition
    “repetition without completion, and lacking most of the dynamic variables required in a performance.”
    All the dynamic variables have to be broken down wich I believe is the 5 just mentioned above. How can Skill improvement be repeated correctly, frequently, in its entirety IF the judoka does not understand some of the basic principals of the throw (5)? I believe mr lafon that the throw/principals has to be broken down into what I would call my definition of uchi komi’s (5) we can’t just do away with them. To put it simple.. I bet that if a judoka is doing a throw and it’s not coming out right they are missing at least one of the five.. always a pleasure mr lafon.

  10. Nice try, but you are missing the forest for the trees. Here are a few comments in reply.The dynamic variables that are missing from traditional uchi komi are sidedness, space variation, posture, stance, movement, direction, tempo, and opportunity.

    The only thing that changes for “raw” beginners is that you should simplify the techniques at first and then shape them (I hope you remember what that means) later. I trust you also remember how I talked about “being in the ball park” when is comes to defining “correct.”

    All sports have their own variation of kuzushi, tsukuri, and kake. I don’t know too many that practice incomplete skills. Most kids in the world learn to play their sport, unsupervised, on the streets, beaches, and parks, and live by the skill improvement tenets I mentioned.

    One final idea for you to ponder. Is it really kuzushi followed by tsukuri, or rather tsukuri followed by kuzushi?

  11. well I would say tsukuri before kuzushi but I’m not sure that applys to all tachi waza.

  12. Just to give you a heads up. I also don’t agree with the fact that judokas are taught to give there back instead of getting in there guard to develope ne-waza. Re:”practice makes permanent” to develope the bad habit since the age of 4 of giving your back until you are 13 and then trying to break a bad habit makes no sense to me WHATSOEVER.

    2 “ukemi’s” I have seen this 5 yr old girl break her arm because she was not taught traditional ukemi’s in fact we all saw that day. Im all for your progressive ways of ukemi waza but I see no reason to eliminate traditional ukemi’s.

  13. Your response is contrary to the oder you listed in a prior post. So which way is it? Do we kuzushi before tsukuri-ing, or do we tsukuri first to create kuzushi?

  14. I agree with your “giving up the back” comments. But if you are going to play the Judo game, going to your stomach solves problems. So the obvious solution is to learn both sets of skills. I might add that staying on your back also has its fair share of problems, especially from a self-defense perspective. Going to your stomach isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you know what to expect and how to defend against it. So which is the lesser of two evils? Getting pummeled while on your back, or possibly getting choked or hit while on your stomach?

    Regarding your comments on ukemi, we don’t eliminate anything. Just because a club doesn’t use the “mat bashing method” of traditional ukemi practice doesn’t mean that its students are not learning traditional ukemi. Because we do full throws all the time, my kids fall more- and do proper ukemi- in one practice than most students in a week. And they do it the way it should be done: in conjunction with a Judo throw, not as some solo exercise. All techniques that are not fully ingrained can cause injuries. Don’t you just hate it when a crappy O soto blows out a knee, or an uncontrolled juji gatame breaks an arm? Who should be blamed then? Should we ban those skills?

    By the way, you ignore some factors regarding the broken arm. Was she thrown with a throw she was not familiar with? Did tori have any bearing on the injury? You realize that tori has a vote in how uke lands, right?

  15. It is unseemly for a contraian like me to slobber all over this key board. But I am. President Porter was the biggest bone of contention between me and my sensei. He knew Phill as a teen and supported him in his bid for President. In the early 90’s when Porter started holding his clinics “promoting worthy attendees” I regularly argued with him (sensei) on the subject. It was my practice to test the new Dans in randori. Personaly I never saw any inprovement in there performance. Then Sensei accepted a promotion. Unfortunately I told him what I really thought. He was my friend and mentor, and it probably didn’t have to be said. Sensei has gone on. I’m still not playing the promotion game.
    Personally the USJA coaching clinic seems like a waste of time.

  16. Re: your question;

    your response is contrary to the order you listed in a prior post. So which way is it? Do we kuzushi before tsukuri-ing, or do we tsukuri first to create kuzushi?

    My answer was “well I would say tsukuri before kuzushi but I’m not sure that applys to all tachi waza.”

    The reason being is not all uke’s make tori do all (5) steps sometimes uke gives tsukuri and kuzushi leaving just kake to tori but there is a myriad of situations, on the other hand the judoka who manipulates all just for kake has reached a level that our judo community have yet to witness, seems as if our judo community has plateud. Having to drive 4 hours for good judo would make anyone think i’ve gone mad but I share a passion to continue to learn and have and open mind to everyones view’s about our sport, you said so yourself be skeptical and of course you are not exempt. what that mean’s mr lafon is that we should all put on a white belt for a day or so to show our fellow judokas in good faith that we are open minded and willing to learn and grow for generations to come, wow imagine all the big judo bureaucracyI’ll always have mine

  17. It was the loyalty test thing, and you guys must not let it become that way again. First coaches were asked to sell this quack product and then that to raise money for the USJA, to affirm their loyalty to the organization. Then we all were pressured to accept pre-mature promotions, not just by Phil Porter, but by numerous other leaders in the USJA. When we refused to accept them, several coaches would approach us and insist that we had to do this for the USJA. My personal favorite is my “Nage No Kata Judge” credential that Sensei Porter bestowed upon me and that still appears on my membership card. I never certified in the Nage No Kata — did two other kata for my Shodan! Most of us had no such valuable forum as this to discuss things in those days, and we tend to assume that those who were at least once over-promoted favored Sensei Porter’s betrayal of the traditional judo rank standards. But virtually everyone in the organization perpetuated the notion that we were disloyal to the USJA if we did not go along. Now we do have this forum and others and should be able to defend the several organizations against “going along” rather than questioning the latest trends, requirements, and loyalty tests. Phil Porter did not violate the rank standards by himself. Virtually all of us contributed, and we cannot continue to attribute all our blunderings to Phil Porter or to his presumably never-questioning disciples.

    As you develop new ways of doing things and expect coaches to give time and money for new credentials, you might have to persuade them that these indeed are improvements and not just more loyalty tests. True, some do not like to learn new ways, and many do not like paperwork, but nobody wants to feel that they must do something just to demonstrate loyalty to a group of individuals or that they are not ‘set in their ways’ (or in the Phil Porter ways). You’ll have to explain to coaches how the changes are for the good of their Judo/Art. With three or so judo organizations to bounce back and forth in, coaches can avoid requirements that they think take their time and money without accommodating their needs. Maybe you can concentrate more on explaining the merits of the new program rather than categorizing or contending with those who decline to sing its praises. There are a lot more categories out there than just ‘willingness to improve’, or ‘stuck in the old ways’. There are lots of points of view out there. May they continue to get aired here without hostility.

    Cheryl Ellis

  18. wait a minute so if your laying on your stomach problem solved? but if you get in your guard “you Get pummeled while on your back, or possibly getting choked or hit while on your stomach”? its not mma mr lafon! Getting in your guard makes you better at ne-waza.

  19. You are absolutely 100% correct that many of us went along with Phil’s largesse and did nothing. Unfortunately, I don’t hear enough 6-9th dans singing the same song. Until they come out and admit to being part of the problem, little will change.

  20. Once again, I have no idea what specific statement you are replying to. What problem is solved? Not sure what the mma reference is to. Suffice it to say that face-down and face-up positions have their own set of problems. Are you talking about sport, mma, or street fighting? Notice that many mma fighters do go to their stomach to stop blows raining down on them. Not all of them get choked out or lose as a consequence. If you wish to continue the dialog be more specific and less “I know-it-all-in-spite-of-having-little-experience.”

  21. What are the possibilities for what can be done now about the excess promotions of the past? How would it help for them to admit they are part of the problems of the past, if, as you assume, they do not admit it already? Could they all agree at the same time to become Godans again? Except for some ridiculous ‘back-dating’ of promotion dates, most of those guys did at least meet the minimum requirements established by the USJA for each of their excess promotions. And, our club struggles now with an assistant who insists that “It ain’t fair!” when someone he likes has sufficient time and points but does not get promoted until his/her judo improves. The only way rank can be ‘fair’ is if promotion criteria are standardized, preferably with agreement among all the American organizations. Thank goodness the promotion board is not at the whims of any particular President or Board anymore, and the standards are tighter. It is difficult to standardize performance, of course, though it is done well in many sports and arts. And, I doubt if many coaches would agree to weighting competition as highly as some now recommend if competition is not all-important in their view of Judo. It does seem that if a person’s judo is Dan quality, he/she should be able to compete reputably at least at a regional level. And, declaring that the USJA is a ‘grassroots’, recreational judo organization seems to concede that the quality of our judo is lacking. But even if promotion criteria become perfectly fair and standardized, the promotions of the past remain. What do you think can/should be done to straighten out the rank irregularities of the PAST?

  22. You bring up some good points. Since you live with a high dan holder, you should quiz him about some of your suggestions. When I last talked to him about high rank and how we don’t understand international standards, he looked at me like I was crazy. Americans live in a fishbowl, unaware of what standards are elsewhere in the world. You are right that they almost all qualified under our standards. The problem is that our standards are not on par with those of other Judo powerhouses. Thus we have more 9th dans than France, which has ten times the Judo population and number of World and Olympic champions. Performance is not really difficult to standardize. What to do with past promotions is a difficult question to answer. Freezing future promotions is one thing. Unfortunately, what do you do with all the unmerited 8th and 9th dans who probably won’t see another promotion? Can we ask them to give their promotions up? Would anyone do that? Rather than worry about past injustices, we need to change our promotion culture and our standards of performance. In case you have missed it, I have commented on promotions in prior blogs: Our Entitlement Culture and Promotions Run Amok

  23. say what you want to say and think what you want to think. ther is always someone that not agree, and d’not accept

  24. Coach, you’re great. And I’m just saying that! You know me from Judo-L. My two cents on Uchi Komi. Not the biggest fan of traditional uchi komi. For years I’d get two or three reps into the set and just start throwing uke; completing the technique. I used to get stares and sharp comments from some of the teachers, sometimes I’d be ‘punished’ by being made to do push-ups (which I do gladly for the conditioning), then I was eventually left alone, too far gone to change. Now that everybody KNOWS when they practice with me that I’m going to throw during uchi komi, its all good. My ukes never complain. I always insist they return the favor. Sometimes I make them throw me.

    Years ago a visiting Sandan from France dropped in on our club. He said everybody was jittery about throwing and falling. Too much reliance on uchi komi. People need to get comfortable with falling and completing their throws. He said it plain as day, and then flew back to France. He could afford to be honest. The words weren’t lost on me.

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