I’m in this Renjuku program with Welcome Mat Judo Club where I learn and share how to be a better coach and how to share as much as I know about winning Judo strategies.
One of the questions was, “What did the winning Judo strategies section of Steve Scott’s book mean to me?” In this case Steve Scott’s book is Winning on the Mat. He’s written a ton of books, but this is one of my favorites of his so far. He’s great a Judo theory and understanding the sport. I think if he had become the coach at the Olympic Training Center in 1989 when applied for the the job, that the US would have started winning more Olympic medals a lot sooner.
What I thought about when reading this book:
Well, I guess you have to read the book. This book is an awesome collection of winning judo strategies, skills, and ideas about how to stay motivated to be successful in Judo. What I find that most people don’t know is that winning Judo strategies are not just on the mat, they are also off the mat like keeping a Judo journal, building fitness, watching video, planning training, and talking to other people who are knowledgeable about the sport. Many people neglect those other aspects of the sport.
At one point I set up to do a Judo clinic and wanted to teach people about how to make training schedules, set realistic goals, use a heart rate monitor for fitness training, and that kind of stuff that makes athletes successful off the mat. I set up to do that kind of stuff in one clinic and then show moves in the other clinic. Only 4 people showed up for the off the mat stuff. Part of it was my fault because my marketing materials had the word “poetry” on them.
But I was pissed for the second half. I said, “Sports are 90% mental and 10% physical and you all are only interested in the 10%.” So then I figured out a way to combine both halves into the same clinic and do better marketing and everyone was a lot happier.
I found it interesting reviewing the Winning Judo strategies section because it turned out that I knew a bunch of this stuff already. It covered things like:
- how having a good offense is also a good defense
- a throw is a weapon
- transition from standing is essential for starting good matwork
- function dictates form
- posture is essential for both defense and offense
- grip fighting is the start of all offense
- good guidelines for gripfighting
- practice your defense by drilling
Some of this sounds pretty obvious, but for some people it isn’t. I saw many Judo athletes along the way that weren’t well coached in the basics. Many junior players had heart or technique or fitness, but rarely all three. I’m glad I learned a lot of this in the first Judo club I went to. I think one of the main reasons I became more successful than many other Welcome Mat athletes is that I got to New England where there were more tournaments and travel to tournaments was a lot easier.
It was funny how when I retired and came back to Kansas City all the athletes had to tell me their excuse about, “I would have done it, but….” The best one I heard was Kenny Brinks, who was honest, and said, “I just didn’t work hard enough.”
In New England I could fight in a tournament every weekend, and sometimes two. I grew into the swing of tournaments until I could spot all the times in a match that I didn’t want it bad enough, and gave up. I learned never to give up on the mat. I think that’s why I became more successful that other athletes from Kansas City.
How your choice of winning Judo strategies can backfire sometimes:
I would have stayed in Judo for more than one Olympics if I had a coach I trusted that wanted to tour with me. I ended up choosing uchimata as my favorite technique for some dumb reason and it was OK when I was fighting 56 kilos. After a while, though, I had to cut weight too hard to stay in 56 kilos. I tried to move up in 1995 but realized uchimata wasn’t going to work in 61 kilos. At that point I would have had to completely re-work my standing technique in order to move up and I didn’t feel confident doing that without a coach I could trust. It wasn’t that the coaches I had were bad people, just that I am a person who has a hard time trusting people.
I miss competing. I do some Alley Kat bike races but maybe I should do some masters Judo tournaments. I heard the World masters were going to be in Florida and I got all inspired to come back so I entered a local tournament for fun. My winning Judo strategies still worked just fine. I realized that I haven’t been inspired to lose weight for vanity reasons, because I would look better on stage. It’s true, but vanity has never been much of a motivating factor for me. But training for a tournament, now, that would add some intensity and purpose to my workouts. That’s gotta be a good thing…