George Washington brought them over from England by the trunkload. At the time of his death, he had over nine hundred, a considerable number back then or even today. To develop his intellectual depth, Benjamin Franklin relied on them extensively to supplement his two years of formal education, which stopped at age ten. George Patton carried them onto the battlefield. General Dwight Eisenhower stressed their importance. USMC General Jim Mattis, our current Secretary of Defense, had a personal collection of 7,000 of them. Yes, we are talking about books.
I find it distressing when I ask coaches about the books they are reading to better themselves, and I get the blank stare that suggests they aren’t reading. Sure, they may have a few books with lots of pictures of techniques, but what is sorely missing are books that are transformative, books that make you skeptical of everything you’ve ever been told about Judo, and books that make you go, “Why didn’t I know about this twenty years ago?”
The Judo community is not unique in its aversion to reading. Here’s a quote from 19 Stars by Edgar F Puryear.
Some officers showed great promise in the junior grades during World War I, but flopped when given the opportunity for higher command in World War II. Why? Because during the period between the two World Wars they stagnated- they softened up; they stopped studying books and people.
For the purpose of this article, I’m only going to suggest a list of five books. There are many more that you should read, but these five are truly transformative.
George Santayana was right when he said, “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Most of us in the Judo community have either forgotten or never known much about the historical trials, tribulations, and rule changes, which ultimately have led to the current emasculation of Judo, and the ascendancy of Brazilian Jiujitsu. Your professional development should therefore start by reading A History of Judo by Syd Hoare, a British 1964 Olympian.
Next up, become acquainted with the three major works of British coach and international player, Geof Gleeson, considered to be the father of modern Judo thinking. His Judo for the West, Anatomy of Judo, and Judo Inside Out will stretch your mind, give you much to ponder, and hopefully empower you to think outside the traditional box. Book reviews for the three books are available at betterjudo.com.
Finally, the best generic coaching manual on the market in English is Successful Coaching by Rainer Martens. It’s been used by many sports organizations, and was adopted, although not really used, by the USJA. It should be required reading by USA Judo, USJF and USJA for all coaching credentials.
So, there you have it; five books, all transformative for the vast majority of our Judo community. Read them. Stretch your mind. Step outside your comfort zone. Grow your coaching skills. Get excited about your intellectual growth, and heed Kano’s admonishment:
Finally, I would like to discuss the need for broad-mindedness. Broad-mindedness means being open to new ideas as well as the ability to organize various kinds of ideas at the same time without mixing them up. The reason this is important to the practice of judo is that when there is no broad-mindedness, people often become overly confident in their own beliefs, such that even if there are new ideas that are superior, not only do they not accept these new ideas but in doing so they fail to determine their value, and whether they are good or bad. The same is likely to happen to anyone with regard to the theories of nage-waza or katame-waza in judo.