My last post elicited demands for more information, ranging from videos to full curriculum, on how I handle beginners and people trying Judo for the first time. Rather than give you the whole enchilada, I’ll take the proverbial route of “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
A few weeks ago, Japan’s women’s soccer team won the World Cup beating the favorite American team in a penalty shootout after twice coming from behind. Along the way, Japan had eliminated another favorite team: Germany, the host of the 2011 World Cup and winner of the last two Cups. What’s remarkable is that just twelve years ago, Japan was routinely losing to the U.S. by scores of 9-0 and 7-0. So how did the Japanese close the gap so quickly with only 25,000 females playing the sport, while 7 million do so in the Unites States? That’s a story that should be of interest to American Judo.
I’ve known this for many years, but it really hit me hard during the Winter Nationals Coach Education Course as I watched coaches running through Kelly’s Capers: we lack a basic understanding of tai sabaki (body movement) and the ability to perform it fluidly. When I say we, I mean coaches. Since coaches are supposed to be role models for their students, this presents a problem that needs to be addressed. If coaches can’t do proper tai sabaki or have no knowledge of it, how are their students supposed to learn these skills?
As I write this, I’m travelling in Japan. I’ve already taken in three days of the Tokyo Slam. Yesterday, I received a chiropractic massage from a traditional practitioner of Muso Taijutsu. And today, I climbed 1373 steps to reach the last shrine of Kotohiragu in Kagawa Prefecture. I hope there is no Judo club nearby as I fear a crazy Judo coach might consider the ascent a great daily conditioning regimen for his high school Judo students.