I just finished my cardio workout, which as usual consisted of riding my mountain bike around my neighborhood, and in particular through one of our community sports parks with baseball fields. Observing baseball kids in inactivity for 95% of the time they’re on the field has encouraged me to say that we in Judo are missing the boat on the powers of our sport, especially when it comes to physical education benefits.
While there are many books that cover various aspects of Judo history, they always seem to me to be incomplete, maybe even superficial. That all changed when I read A History of Judo by 1964 British Olympian Syd Hoare, 8th Dan. Finally, this was the book that I had been looking for. A History of Judo was so informative and transformative that I bought out Amazon’s stock twice in order to offer the book to my assistant coaches.
Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful is the title of Yuriko Gamo Romer’s still-in-progress documentary film chronicling the life of Keiko Fukuda. Ms. Fukuda, the last surviving judoka to have studied directly under Jigoro Kano, was recently promoted to 10th Dan by USA Judo. She remains the highest ranking female judoka in the world, and becomes the first female 10th dan.
While growing up in Secaucus, New Jersey, I started collecting stamps as a project for a Boy Scouts badge when I was eight. My Czechoslovakian grandmother and French father were good sources for foreign stamps. Dad worked in the restaurant business in New York City and had access to lots of customers from all over the world. When I moved to France at age ten, my stamp collecting took off like a rocket.
From time to time, I get requests to post this and that or link my site to someone else’s. Recently, I received such a request from a professor at Tsukuba University in Japan. Since I had visited Tsukuba right after the 2010 World Championships in Tokyo, I was already familiar with its Judo program and campus. It also helps that Kae Takei, a former player of mine, is currently training at the university. Since it isn’t often that judoplayers get offers for academic assistance as well as training opportunities abroad, I was sure that our national organizations would be willing to distribute the information. Much to my surprise, it turns out I was wrong. Thus, I volunteered to spread the word. Here is the initial letter of introduction I received.
Whether you call it Judo culture, or mentality, or mindset, one thing that’s clearly MIA- missing in action- in our sport is skepticism. In other words, most of us are meek sheep following some leader who is often misguided, ill-informed, or just simply lost. We keep marching to the tune of our Judo Pied Piper almost never questioning whether what we are doing makes any sense. Even when it does dawn on us that what we’re doing is crazy, there’s almost no attempt to discuss issues and remedy our lot. Chalk up this behavior to our traditional hierarchy that instills in the lower ranks unwavering (and unquestioning) respect for our senior ranks.