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Judo/Sambo UnderGround >> Athlete: I don't think it means what you think it


5/26/11 2:29 PM
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gbutts
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FUNNY STUFF ANN MARIA


"You keep saying that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

If you don't recognize that saying, you never watched The Princess Bride. Oh well.

Some people may be surprised that our book will have 50 - 80 pages on physical conditioning for judo. (More than half of that is photos.) I'm sure that some people will just skip that section and go to the "judo" part. If they want to just be in shape, learn judo and have something more interesting to do than run on a treadmill, that's perfectly fine. If they want to be a successful athlete, they've missed the point.

Years ago, a pretty good judo coach said to me,

"You know, Jim Pedro, Sr. really isn't as smart as you think he is. Any six-year-old can figure out if you have two boys wrestle, other things being equal, the stronger boy will win."
I told him,

"Then we ought to have a six-year-old running our judo development program in this country, because we're NOT winning."
That's pretty much the key point. From what I've seen in California, we have plenty of people who have good judo technique. They're good judo players. They're just not particularly good athletes.

The Olympics are an athletic competition. To win an Olympic event which requires physical effort, you must be in unbelievably good physical condition, better than almost anyone in the world.

I'm surprised I have to explain this to people. It seems obvious, doesn't it? And yet, I have people argue with me about this. They say they ARE in good physical condition. They run miles every week. They exercise regularly. They do push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts. They lift weights. They can pull up their shirt and show you - they have a six-pack.

Well, guess what, so do I, and I'm a 52-year-old grandmother. The other thing you and I have in common, honey, is that neither of us is going to be winning the Olympics any time soon.

There is a vast difference between being in shape so that people don't hide their eyes when you go to the beach and being in shape to win the Olympics. There's a big difference between being in good enough shape to place in the national championships and being in good enough shape to win the world championships.

Jim and I come from thousands of miles apart, both literally and figuratively. Most of his life he has focused on teaching and coaching judo, while working as a firefighter. Most of my life, I've focused on statistical analysis and technology, while winning a world championships and coaching. And yet, we reached the exact same conclusion about why one person wins and another loses.

It really is as simple as how much harder some people train. "Intensity" is a word that comes up in our conversations over and over. You can go to judo and you can fight my daughter, Ronda, who, as Kevin Earls, of the New York Athletic Club put it, "Looks lovely, but this young lady is Walking Death". Or, you can go to judo and fight my equally lovely daughter, Julia, who is a 13-year-old purple belt and kind of works out when the mood strikes her.

You may say that is an unfair comparison, but it isn't. For example, our book includes four types of abdominal exercises - bent knee sit-ups, knee-ups, V sit-ups and V sit-twists. Most people do sit-ups. Maybe they do two types. Most days. That's it. The point of adding the additional exercises is to make it harder. Take the V sit-up. You have both arms and legs off the floor as shown below.


Sit up in a V.
Then go back to a starting position.
Do 10 of these without letting your arms or legs touch the floor.


Not all that tough, really. Except this one exercise is part of a circuit. You are going to do 10 of these, then 8-10 of several other exercises. That's one circuit.
Then you repeat the entire circuit two more times.
You time it and each day you try to beat your time.

And that is the difference in intensity and in being an elite athlete versus someone's grandmother. Doing one set of one exercise is not all that hard. Doing all of the repetitions of every set is pretty damn hard. Doing it regularly for years on end and getting better and better and better puts you at the top of the world.

One reason this book is taking so long to get finished is that we are including a lot of pictures. There's a very definite reason for that - because we KNOW that people often cheat and lie to themselves. They'll do the exercise above and lay back on the floor between each repetition.

"Oh, were you supposed to keep your arms and legs off the floor? I didn't know."

So, for each exercise, we put in pictures and an explanation of how to do it correctly.

We pause here to prevent stupidity ....

It's easy to show how great your athletes are compared to somebody else. You have your athletes regularly do one set of exercises - bench press, barbell curls, bent-knee sit-ups, chin-ups and as many throws as you can do in five minutes (I just randomly picked those). Then, you have visitors come and they do the same routine and they can't do it as fast or as well or as heavy, so, hey, you're amazing and they all suck. This is a stupid comparison I see coaches make all of the time. They don't stop to think that maybe if they did the workout those other people practiced - push-ups, rope-climbing, five two-minute rounds of matwork drills - that they, by comparison would suck.

In fact, there isn't any magic program, although what we have laid out works very well, certainly variation is possible, even recommended and we do talk about that in the book.

What is key is to compare your OWN performance on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. How much more can you lift than a year ago? How much faster can you do your circuits than three months ago? If you can't answer that, why not?

Let me emphasize again, none of this is INSTEAD of your regular judo work outs. This is IN ADDITION TO. I used to have a sign in my room to remind me - if we'd had email back then, I'm sure it would have been in my signature -
5/27/11 6:37 AM
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judoblackbelt
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Gary, nothing beats athletic talent, physical gifts to start with.
5/28/11 12:31 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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I have to disagree that "nothing beats athletic talent, physical gifts to start with."

Check out the book "Talent is Overrated." While there are obviously some physical tools that are beneficial to certain sports, judo is one of the sports with an open enough style, and enough divisions that someone of almost any physical background can achieve a reasonable amount of success with enough hard, smart work.

That being said, perhaps at the World/Olympic level those slight advantages given by certain genetic gifts will make the difference, but for 95% of players, it actually boils down to hard, smart work.
5/28/11 7:02 AM
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judoblackbelt
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CS, if you reread my comment it says "to start with". The whole gamut of development is as you say. Plus what makes a world class judo player is internaional competition whether at junior or senior level.
5/28/11 8:11 AM
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Chocolate Shatner
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jbb, I guess my point is, there are plenty of stories in other sports, perhaps even from judo, of those without the genetic talents of others, and still succeeded.

I mean, Spud Webb was frickin' 5 foot 6.
Marcus Allen and Jerry Rice were both considered "too slow".


When our overall level of athlete in judo in the US is deficient in comparison to others, then we don't even know IF they have the genetic makeup of other elites, or if they lack.
5/28/11 7:06 PM
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judoblackbelt
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I believe the talent in the US exists for world class competition. Just look at all young BJJ talent there is. Some of these kids could have excellent judo careers. Judo just doesn't attract them for many reasons we have already discussed on this forum. There are so many other sports for kids /young adults to compete and develope in that might lead to some college scholarship/professional career/coaching career latter in life. What career does an ex judo olympian lead to? Spud Webb, Marcus Allen and Jerry Rice all started there sports early in life and had great success along the way. All had unique physical abilities. Spud Webb jumping, Marcus Allen hitting a hole quickly for big yeards and avoiding big hits,. Jerry Rice had great hands and more speed than you give him credit for. Sidebar: We had a College Lacrosse player start judo 2-3 years ago and he was the tuffest kid I have seen in a long time.
5/28/11 7:56 PM
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Chocolate Shatner
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jbb,

Webb developed his jumping ability. Allen and Rice both developed football skills that allowed them to develop despite their lack of breakaway speed. In Rice's case, he developed such a precise route running ability that each cut, each turn gained him precious feet of separation on his opponents. That, in addition to his trained levels of endurance, allowed him to make most of his impact.

You are correct in that the athletic ability to win on the international level does exist in the US. I will agree that there are other sports that drains away the best athletes in America.

However, that does not detract from the fact that even the "mediocre" athletes left over would do better if they would train in such a manner as to maximize their genetic abilities.
5/31/11 9:35 AM
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thePetester
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"Just look at all young BJJ talent there is. "

There are two great BJJ countries. Brazil and the US. You don't really know how great their talent is because it isn't practiced enough elsewhere yet.
6/3/11 4:42 PM
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JuDoK@
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Judo is one of the hardest sports in the world to excel in.

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