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.
Comfort zone: [definition] a behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.
One of the reasons progress has been so slow in coming to American Judo is that we are deeply happy and comfortable with the traditions and training model of our sport, and we don’t want to be the nail that gets hammered down. By golly, if it was good enough for my sensei and his sensei, then it’s good enough for me. Unfortunately for us, progress comes from stepping outside our comfort zone just long enough so that new skills can be learned and better performances can be achieved.
San Diego County used to have a vibrant Judo community in the 1970s when I first started my coaching career. We had over twenty-five active Judo clubs. Our members participated in monthly clinics, and tournaments, which would attract 250-300+ players. Little by little, our coaches, many of them active military personnel, were transferred out of the area or they retired or they died. Few had successors to keep the clubs going. Politics, pitting USJA and USJF supporters, and personal issues between the few remaining coaches further weakened our area. Continue reading