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.
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a promotion ceremony for my business partner, Parker Linekin, a kenpo karate and tai chi instructor. His sensei, Brian Adams, was flying in from the East Coast to promote him to grandmaster 10th dan in Adams’ Integrated Martial Arts system. Adams had been one of the first students of Ed Parker, founder of American Kenpo Karate, and had studied a variety of striking and weapons systems before founding his own system.
This year’s Tokyo Grand Slam was held in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, which is right next to the 1964 Olympic stadium. Half as many countries participated in this event as did in the 2010 World Championships in Tokyo just three months prior. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that, as the host nation, Japan could enter four players per division.