One of the best tools for someone that is serious about the sport is a Judo journal. This is a notebook where you can keep track of goals, training schedules, new moves learned, thoughts about Judo, and debrief about the things that get in the way of Judo. (This is an update of an article that was originally published in the USJF magazine, thanks Marisa Pedulla for organizing that.)
Why Keep a Judo Journal
- Because you are a student and students take notes. At the end of a long practice or a clinic when you have learned
a lot of moves, one of the best ways to remember them is to sit down and write what you recall. This should be done as soon as possible after you get off the mat. Even if you never look at the journal again, just writing it once is a big boost to memory.
- For motivation. It helps to have a map or a plan so you stay on track, and creating your own guide is one of the best ways to remind yourself of the progress you are making.
- To watch for trends in your competition history. As you gather more information about yourself, you will be able to spot patterns that wouldn’t be so obvious with just memory. A detailed training and competition record can quickly show you where you need improvement.
- Because the pen is mightier than the sword.
How to Keep the Notebook
The most important thing to remember is that this is your journal. There is no right and wrong way to keep it – do what works for you. These are some of the ideas I have found along the way that worked for me and my students back when I was coaching more.
1) Write comments that are meaningful to you. The ideas that people give you about the sport and about your life are going to have a longer use for you than the nitty gritty details about each technique, so try to capture the big picture as well. Here are some examples from my journals:
Hayward Nishioka: “You have to set little goals for yourself. Like I used to see if I could develop a throw that was hard enough to knock the guy out. You have to have the will to throw, to go through the person. Then you have to catch your body up with your mind by blasting in each time in practice.”
Steve Cohen: “You have to have a maximum weight, where if you get past it, a red flag goes up and you say, ‘Whoa, wait a minute.’ ”
Pat Burris: “I used to think that every time they attacked me it was an insult. I went out there thinking that judo was my life, my livelihood, and they were trying to take that away; because Judo is what makes you special and different.”
These comments weren’t just the best from all the journals, they were just one of the first pages I opened to. Stay tuned to this blog for Wednesday and Sunday updates and I’ll be posting more of these kind of conversations. Judo is full of interesting people, and talking to them can give you more ideas than a whole workout. If you’ve had a good discussion one day, then make some notes when you get home, so you can remember it.
2) Keep a list of personal records. These are just simple markers that can keep you inspired to surpass yourself. You might record the most pushups you’ve ever done, the most throws you’ve done in a minute, or the fastest time it takes you to run to school. It could be the longest workout you’ve attended or the most weight you can lift, or the farthest you’ve ever run. Keep track of anything that will keep you pushing your limits and trying to improve.
3) Write down your goals. Make sure your goals are measurable, and depend on your efforts and not just outcome. For example, winning a match is an outcome goal, whereas making 20 attacks in that match is a measurable goal you can directly affect.
4) Keep a competition record. I noted the tournament, who I fought, what club or country they represented, win or lose, the score, and the winning technique. It may sound like a lot, but I could get this into a single line of the notebook, so that I could see the patterns pretty quickly as the year went on.
5) Build a pocket into the journal. Use duct tape or electrical tape to attach a stiff piece of cardstock on the back cover so you can slip loose pieces of paper into this pocket. This is great for tournament brackets or clinic handouts or notes you might write when you are separated from the journal.
6) You don’t have to write every day. You want to write when you are trying to figure out something new, when someone says something inspiring, or when you want to remember a new move. These things tend to come in bunches. If you write boring stuff in your journal, you’ll never want to reread it, and it gets repetitive to keep making entries. The point is to be inspired, so write things that are interesting to you.
Just do it!
Once you get started, you’ll find out some of the new benefits for yourself. Keeping a notebook is a great tool to improve your Judo, coordinate your total training schedule, and keep yourself inspired.