Judos Unknown Unknowns

“As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” So spoke Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, back in 2002, regarding our knowledge of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He could have been talking about Judo, too.

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A few days ago, I stumbled across a review of a coaching conference, at which I was one of the technical, on-the-mat clinicians. The author gave a fair assessment of the five presentations that were offered. I thought his comments on my presentation were positive, except that I was labelled one of the most ‘controversial’ figures in U.S. Judo, and that some of my ideas were “outrageous” by conventional ideologies.  Both perhaps true, but nonetheless bothersome. What gives?

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Anatomy of a Coaching Course

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

The problem with stretching man’s mind, especially in a highly traditional sport like Judo, is that it’s fraught with opposition. Recently, I had the pleasure of conducting a USJA Coach Education Course for twenty-two coaches from Southern California. Several had shown up because they had heard that I was controversial! Much to their credit, they came to see and hear for themselves, rather than rely on the words of people who have never had an intelligent conversation with me.

John Locke was correct when he said, “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed without any other reason, but because they are not already common.” While I am considered controversial in Judo, my courses are based on the latest research, and I would be considered mainstream in other fields.

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Do As I Say, Not As I Do

One of my pet peeves when it comes to Judo is how much time is wasted on irrelevant training: practicing skills that in the best of cases will do nothing to improve our game, and in the worst of cases will be counterproductive to bettering our game. Unfortunately, because of our allegiance to traditional methods of training and our lack of skepticism, few of us in the Judo community even recognize the presence of irrelevant training on our mats. Continue reading