You must NEVER tell Ronda Rousey it’s your birthday

Sunday, January 10, 2016

There are a few inviolate rules in life. Don’t spit into the wind, for example. And breathe; that’s a big one. Also, do not tell Ronda Rousey it’s your birthday. No good will come of it.

Rousey is currently the best known fighter in mixed martial arts history, with roles in multiple Hollywood movies, a New York Times bestselling autobiography, and bringing in the largest crowd in UFC history. Last year Rousey was the third most searched person on Google. For the record, Lamar Odom was #1; Caitlyn Jenner was #2. $4 was Donald Trump.

However, back in 2008, she was a very little known athlete, in a little followed combat sport – Judo. The Beijing Olympic games were coming up.

She was training at Valley Judo Institute, a highly-regarded, non-profit Judo club in Studio City, Calif, established in 1954. This particular club has a tradition. On your birthday, instead of a cake, presents, and a song sung in unison, you get thrown.

Three times.

A brown belt had the misfortune of having his birthday that day, and Ronda Rousey put a little English on it.

She hit a Seoi Nage with modified grips, then a Tai Otoshi with modified grips, and then a more conventionally executed O Goshi. People say that Judo does not have a developed striking game. This is not factually correct. In fact, Judo is the art of hitting people with the planet Earth. And then falling on them.

Wait for the groan. It’s funny.

Rousey went on to win Bronze in Beijing. Due to Judo’s medal structure, Edith Bosch from the Netherlands also got bronze. Anaysi Hernández from Cuba got silver. And Masae Ueno from Japan got gold.

Like all other judo events, bouts lasted five minutes. If the bout was still tied at the end, it was extended for another five-minute, sudden-death period; if neither judoka scored during that period, the match is decided by the judges. The tournament bracket consisted of a single-elimination contest culminating in a gold medal match. There was also a repechage to determine the winners of the two bronze medals. Each judoka who had lost to a semifinalist competed in the repechage. The two judokas who lost in the semifinals faced the winner of the opposite half of the bracket’s repechage in bronze medal bouts.