The Poison of Skipping Class

Just wanted to get a quick note out on that bane of all coaches of everything, everywhere:  people skipping class.  After a long absence, it's recently been rearing it's ugly head again.  Of course, as coaches - particularly martial arts coaches - we dream that our students will feel this internal obligation to attend their classes.  In my experience, that happens for the rare few, but honestly, we can't expect that from most of our students.  It's on us as coaches to make our classes engaging and interesting.  I certainly try, and I can certainly do better...

But it seems like there are times when a chunk of folks suddenly stop showing up.  This then causes a bit of a death spiral - the fewer people that show up to class, the less enjoyable classes are for the folks that do show up... so maybe they stop showing up, too.  And when you don't have many people in your class to start with, it can be harder to attract new students.  Never mind how frustrating it is when you plan your class to help out brown belt X or yellow belt Y, and they don't show up...

So:  Coaches - how do you deal with this?  Any tips on heading it off (other than "be better")?
Students - What causes you to skip class?  How can we keep you engaged?
My students - Any specific feedback you have? 


Congrats to Claude

Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Claude Ranson for getting his Rokkyu this morning!  The ukemi looked good, the throws looked good, the groundwork looked good.   Good work!
Leo gave some good advice to Claude (and to anyone else who may be testing soon):

  • Tell your uke what you want him/her to do... How to grip, stand, move, etc.  Help them set you up for success.
  • Accentuate key points of the throw.  Demonstrate control, off-balance, etc.  Point your toe and draw the "C" when you do Ouchi Gari... things like that.
Again, congratulations to Claude.  Who's next?


More on Cross-Training

Forget the past?

In response to my unfortunately long-winded post about cross-training BJJ, one of my old Judo friends made this comment:

    "...I agree, under the caveat that the instructors are qualified to instruct (which isn't always the case) and the student enters into each different art to learn that art.
    I've seen similar benefits from cross training between judo and amateur wrestling, judo and aikido, etc. Other than qualified instruction, I think the key component is an open mind and an approach to learn what there is to learn from the art or sport in which you cross train. All too often, I've seen the approach, "I'm going to go in there and show them why judo/wrestling/aikido/bjj/​tiddlywinks is better." That closes the mind and takes away the educational benefit of cross training. A similar problem is when a person can't "let go" of their "first" art and keeps trying to apply it in the new class. An example is when I was teaching judo I'd often have high school wrestlers join the class. The problem is they would come to judo and wrestle instead of do judo. Once a foundation and a level of understanding is developed in BOTH arts one can start to figure and learn how to merge the two or adapt aspects of the one you consider the cross training."
I tend to agree with this...  Certainly, you shouldn't go in to things looking to prove why what you already know is superior...  It's a waste of your time, and won't prove anything anyway.  If that is your goal, just enter tournaments. 

I do have a question mark, though, around "letting go" of your first art.  I'm not sure if I would say let it go, but I do support trying to apply the things that are taught in class, and working to achieve the goal of the art.  For instance, for a Judoka doing BJJ, don't settle for pinning your opponent - work to submit them.  For a wrestler doing Judo, try to nail the minimum effort/maximum efficiency part...

What do you guys think?  How should you approach cross training?  Do you need to let go of your outside experience?  Is that even possible? 


Congrats to "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey

Just a quick shout-out to US judoka "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey for winning her Strikeforce debut.  And in under 30 seconds.  Unfortunately, it wasn't without controversy, but screaming during a submission attempt is generally seen as submission.  "I didn't say 'tap'!  I said 'AAAAAAAH'!"

Check out the full fight on her blog.

And check out this interview from a few weeks ago.


Cross-Training: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Not sure if there will be a "cross training" series, but I wanted to get some thoughts out of my head about the good and bad side of BJJ from a Judoka's perspective.  This isn't one of those "Judo is soooo much better than BJJ" type articles.  I enjoy both, and practice both.  I'm not one of those guys that think that BJJ stands for "Basically Just Judo" either.  They are siblings...  fraternal twins, maybe.  They have the same genetic base, but they look and act differently.  Obviously, there is a huge overlap in the technique base, but the contest rule differences, both in terms of permissible techniques and encouraged/discouraged behaviors leads to make them cultivate different techniques and behaviors, and makes them distinct arts.

So, with no further ado, here are my thoughts on what a Judoka should and shouldn't take from BJJ, and vice versa.

Good things that Judo can take from BJJ:
  • Ground Defense:  You will generally see a broader range of attacks when rolling in BJJ than in Judo randori, and you'll get more groundwork in than your typical Judo class. Together, this allows you to really build a great "Spidey Sense" in your groundwork.  "Wait, Chad.  You meant groundwork in general, right?"  Well, yes, but read on... 
  • Ground Offense... ish:  To be sure, there is a wide world of offense in BJJ.  And despite what some "Judo is best at everything" people may say, the BJJ community does have a better-developed ground game than the Judo community.  But the Judoka must be selective here, because if something takes too long to develop, it may not be allowed to develop (you'll get stood back up), and therefore shouldn't be at the top of your list.  
  • Exposure:  While it won't all be directly applicable to your Judo, it will augment your martial skills, and can expose some holes in an area where you may feel very confident.  Leg locks and other joint locks and nobody to stand you back up... you'll see different stuff than in your average Judo class.
Good things BJJ can take from Judo:
  • Decisiveness:  There is certainly decisiveness in BJJ...  Lord knows I have been on the receiving end of some decisive chokes and arm-bars.  But if you are a BJJer that finds yourself consistently taking the long road to victory (or long road to defeat), Judo will force you to be snappy, both standing and on the ground.  That, to me, is the good side of getting stood up if you don't make constant progress on the ground (though I still don't like it).
  • Standing game:  Given that most of your time in BJJ is going to be spent doing groundwork (and in some places, more than 99% of the time is spent on the ground), Judo will help you develop a standing game.  But just like Judoka need to be selective about what ground techniques and habits they pick up from BJJ, BJJers need to be selective about what standing techniques and habits they pick up from Judo.  Because a Judo match can end with one good throw, Judoka can develop throws that don't leave them in a good position for groundwork.  So don't let that be you.
  • Position before submission:  In Judo, you can win with a 25-second pin.  This generally leads one in Judo to secure a sound pin as a first concern, and seek a submission secondarily.  This can have a down-side, of course, but I think it is generally a good practice to secure control of your opponent before attempting to tap the sucker.  Nothing really revolutionary there.
  • Safe falling:  Yeah, yeah... "Falling is not a reason to do Judo."  Blah blah blah.  If you are training to win the Olympics, sure.  Fine.  But I think it is one of the most useful self-defense techniques you will learn.  Most folks won't get in to a physical confrontation that really requires self-defense, but most folks will fall multiple times in their life.  And for the BJJer, you can take the stun-factor out of the big throws - that could lead to a loss - if you have been dumped a few thousand times...  =:>
But there are bad habits, too...  Bad habits that Judo can take from BJJ:
  • Reliance on slow-to-develop techniques:  As mentioned, you need to be decisive in Judo, and, especially when you are on the ground, you need to constantly make progress.  Accordingly, you need to pick which clubs are in your bag, so to speak - and make sure your go-tos are the ones that have a high chance of working, and working quickly.
  • Reliance on illegal techniques:  Leg locks, hands to the face, etc...  All quite useful, but, if you are planning to compete in Judo, you need to be mindful that these techniques aren't a linchpin in your game.  You'll likely hesitate, or worse, move forward with the technique and get penalized or kicked out, entirely.
  • Allowing roll-overs:  BJJ is A-OK with allowing a mounted opponent to roll over.  Because then you can take the back (getting more points), and have an easier time tapping them.  But in Judo, you may have just gone from a likely win (having pinned your opponent), to a situation where you will likely have to stand up.  I'm not the best in the world.  Lots of people can eventually submit me if they take my back.  But I haven't come across many folks that can tap me in a time frame that Judo would allow.  So fight for your pin, and don't let the bad guy roll.
Bad habits that BJJ can take from Judo:
  • Turtling:  It's related to my previous point.  Judoka are generally more worried about a pin than a submission, and so rolling over and turtling is a common "defense."  Personally, I would like to see this penalized in Judo, because it is an absolutely terrible habit from a self-defense perspective.  But it does make sense with the common Judo rule set.  So don't let yourself adopt this particular bad habit.  You'll get your back taken.
  • Throws that don't end well:  If a Judoka gets an Ippon (winning throw) in a contest, then it doesn't matter what happens next:  the guy who was just thrown could roll him over, pin him, and choke him out in less than a second - but the thrower still won.  And because tournament rules tend to dictate training behavior, many Judoka tend to train this way.  But you can't win just from a throw in BJJ, so you'd better make sure that you are positioned well for groundwork at the end of your throw.
  • Overcommitment:  Similar to the last point, but applied to the ground.  The Judoka is encouraged to take more risks than the BJJer  (BJJka?), because if he gets into trouble, he only needs to stop progress for a short time to get bailed out - stood back up by the ref.  In BJJ, if you get into trouble... you're in trouble.
  • Settling for a pin:  As mentioned, you can win with a pin in Judo, but not in BJJ.  Well, you can, sort of... if you are ahead in points, you could ride things out with your opponent.   And I am a big fan of not forcing things... let your opponent make the mistake in his attempt to escape your pin.  Just be ready to snatch that submission...
So... what did I miss?


    Interview With USJA President Gary Goltz (Part 2 of 2)

    Here's part 2 of the interview with Gary Goltz, the current President of the USJA.  In this part, we get a bit more in to what's going on with Judo in the US vs. the rest of the world, and how it can be grown...  If you didn't catch it, you can find part 1 here.

    CM:  I recall that you mentioned that there were ~25,000 registered judoka in the US. About how many of those 25,000 are registered with the USJA?
    GG: We have about 9,000 active members and about 20,000 life members - though many of those are inactive. The USJF and USA Judo have about the same in terms of active members.  There are many people who are members in more than one organization, which is how we arrived at the 25,000 total amount. If you count some of the other groups that aren't recognized by the NGB there may be about 30,000.

    CM: When did US Judo participation peak, and how many folks were practicing at that point?
    GG:  Right after WWII during the 50's and early 60's, judo was at an all-time high in this country perhaps twice the current amount.
    CM:  So while we've seen the US population almost double, we've seen judo participation cut in half.
    GG:  Exactly. During the 50's and 60's, we were the martial art. There wasn't that much karate, tae kwon do, aikido, kung fu, or any Brazilian jiu jitsu. You know, when I started judo in 1965, I watched the Green Hornet with Bruce Lee and I said to my dad I want to learn how to do that stuff... The next thing I know, I'm at my local Y enrolled in a 10 week judo class as that was all they had back then!

    CM:  Do you think that the competition from other martial arts has pushed Judo to the background, or is it something that we in the Judo community have done to ourselves?
    GG:  I think the judo community can take much of the credit. In the early days of judo, there was an aversion to anyone trying to do it professionally or trying to make money.  Some great players like Gene LeBell were ostracized and banned from tournaments.
    Karate schools on the other hand spread like wild flowers into the strip malls and many successful businesses were born. Stars like Chuck Norris and the striking arts got more popular while judo moved to the back-burner.
    Since we never got connected to high schools like wrestling, we really had nowhere to go. Judo wasn't expanding commercially or non-commercially.

    CM:  It's true... there are a ton of clubs - I'll even include myself in this - that just aren't trying to make any money.  You don't seem to see that in other arts.  Where did this sentiment come from?
    GG:  The old AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) as I understand it was based on the notion that only amateurs could compete in events like the Olympics.  And they used to govern judo along with the JBBF (now the USJF).

    CM: Do you have any sense for what is going on with Judo in other countries... France, Japan, Brazil?  Have they been growing, shrinking, or holding steady?
    GG:  I'd say that judo is still growing. It's very popular in those countries, and in the former Soviet Republics - Russia, Georgia, etc., it's obviously popular in Asian as well as Central and South America, even in Africa judo is gaining ground.

    CM:  So why is judo growing in these places and shrinking here?
    GG:  I think we may have bottomed out and are starting to come back. One of the things that we're seeing is mixed martial arts schools and Brazilian jiu jitsu academies have begun embracing judo. In the USJA, we're trying to broaden our appeal too promoting judo as a great way to stay in shape while and learning self-defense skills.

    CM:  So why do you think that Judo is so much more popular in France (and most of the rest of the world) than it is here?  Can it all be explained by cultural factors, or are there things that we should learn from their Judo community to apply here in the States?  And if so, what?
    GG:  There are several reasons: They have national organizations that are supported by their governments in terms of money and authority. They have a single national standard (the judo that you learn over there is much more consistent). Their tournaments are televised and they've had a lot of success at the Olympics. Another thing that the French and the British did was from the beginning they took what they learned from the Japanese and interpreted in a manner oriented towards Westerners. For something to succeed in America, it has to be American... we have to make it a part of the American culture. If you look at Karate, they have done a great job of that. Also in other countries competition is geared towards teenagers and young adults. Here in the states we tend to push judo like a Pop Warner football league on kids. We need to be smarter in our marketing approach understanding that people come to judo for different reasons and that not everyone wants to be an Olympic champion.

    CM:  Changing gears a bit - or maybe not - what is your personal opinion of the IJF rules, particularly the latest leg-grab changes? 
    GG:  After these rules went into effect, I became much more serious about refereeing. I didn't want to be teaching my students something that would get them disqualified in a tournament. I have mixed feelings about the new rules. I like them in some ways - the quality of judo that you see in tournaments is better overall. You really are seeing more quality throws. On the other hand, I think that leg grabs are important. When I started judo, I did it for self-defense. Well, people grab your legs in a fight and you need to know how to handle that situation. There has to be some moderation where you encourage good stand-up judo, but you don't take so much out of it that it becomes unrealistic. Another thing for people to realize is that there are now many grappling and no gi tournaments outside of the main stream of judo which provide opportunities to still use these leg grabs, pick-ups, and even some striking techniques.
    CM:  That's true, but like you said, people are going to end up teaching what is legal in a tournament, and most coaches are only sending people to IJF-rules judo tournaments.  So tournament-legal judo is all they are being taught, and that, then, doesn't work well in these other competitions...
    GG:  You can always teach your students based on what tournament they are going to. Versatile instructors should be able to make the adjustments to fit each situation.

    CM:  So if you could design the rules, how would you do it?  What would the Gary Goltz judo rules be?
    GG:  Instead of hansokumake [immediate disqualification] for the leg grabs, I'd make it a shido [a lesser penalty]. It’s pretty devastating to hansokumake somebody because they got excited and grabbed a leg. It's too extreme and shido should be used as a warning to put the rule back in their head and let them continue with the match.

    CM:  Does the USJA sanction tournaments that don't use IJF rules?
    GG:  It depends on the situation. If they just want to use just ippon and wazari like in the olden days sure, we'll sanction it. However, if somebody wants to allow kawazu gake [leg entanglement, a dangerous banned technique] then we won't sanction it. It really depends on whether we can in good consciousness support it and provide liability insurance.
    CM:  But it's not a matter of "If it's not IJF, we won't sanction it"...  But if it's safe and reasonable...
    GG:  Almost all tournaments deviate from the IJF standards in one way or another. For example, the IJF requires a huge mat area for the Olympics, but at most local events they use smaller mat areas. So there are almost always some modifications.  Bottom-line is if it's dangerous regardless of the IJF rules, we won't sanction it.

    CM:  What is the significance of IJF rules to most US Judoka?  That is, should we pay any attention to them, given that most of us will never compete in an international tournament? 
    GG:  Well, they are relevant because most tournaments in the US use those rules. But like we said most competitors don’t think about competing in the Olympics and world championships. They compete within their local area and that's it. These are the people the USJA needs to focus on. To this end, the USJA and USJF formed its Grassroots Judo alliance with the goal of fostering participation in all aspects of judo. 

    CM:  When I started Judo in the 90s, it seemed that the 3 big Judo organizations were constantly competing with one another, likely to the detriment of Judo.  I know nowadays, I can at least compete in a USJF-sanctioned tournament with my USJA membership, so it seems that there is at least some level of cooperation.  Are the other examples of such cooperation?  What, if anything, should we expect in the future?
    GG:  Absolutely. The USJA and USJF the Grassroots Judo alliance now encompasses our joint Junior Nationals, Winter Nationals, and several other events. Another thing we’re doing is the USJA, USJF, along with USA Judo are communicating regularly to improve the brand of judo and we're working on a joint marketing initiative. The best part is that now if we have a problem with each other we feel comfortable picking up the phone and calling one of our counterparts to work it out.
    CM:  That's great.  Are there any other examples?
    GG:  Yes. Last year we issued a Triad Positioning Statement, where we said that our goal was to grow judo in the US. We no longer see pilfering members from each other’s organizations as a real growth strategy. We now defined "growing judo" as getting more (new) feet on the mat.

    CM:  Is there a need for 3(+) organizations?  Do any of them serve a unique role, other than USA Judo and it's affiliation with the Olympics?  Is it better for the US to have many organizations tocan compete and hopefully innovate, or do you feel that we could get more done under one big umbrella?
    GG:  The American Way is that we American's like choices. When you go to buy a car, you can look at Ford, at a Chevy, and many others. The USJA and USJF are working well together now and learning from each other. We each have different areas of expertise. I think that having the USJA and the USJF focused on growing Grassroots Judo™ with USA Judo focused on taking our best athletes to prepare them for the Olympics and the world championships as a viable plan. It would probably be cheaper if there was a single organization as there would be less overhead. But we're only going to get there by taking baby steps, building trust and letting nature take its course.

    CM:  Thanks a ton for your time, Gary.  I really appreciate it.


    Throwing Principles: The Following Foot, or How Big is Your Butt?

    "How big is your butt?"

    Anybody who has come to at least 2 classes has heard me ask this question.  The ladies in the class really appreciate it.  But it's because, as we are doing some drill that involves positioning yourself for a throw, I often instruct folks that you want to target having one foot under each butt cheek.  This helps you check that your feet are lined up right and are about at the right distance apart from each other.  But then I'll see someone damned near doing the splits try to load someone with Ogoshi...  Not impossible, to be sure, but not what you want to train for.  So, "How big is your butt?" reminds them to put their feet under those cheeks!

    This brings me to my point:  Why are they so frequently standing so wide?  Because when they set in for their throw, they only took one step when they should have taken two! 

    But let me back up again... First, the case on why you want your feet somewhat close together:

    • Your lifting ability comes primarily from the straigtening of your legs.
    • By widening your feet you reduce the max height of your lift.  That is, the wider your feet, the lower your hips.  In fact, I think the reason that people like their wide feet is because it makes it "easier" to get lower.
    • By widening your feet, you greatly reduce the upward force that you can generate.  If you were to draw a line between the ball of your foot and your hip socket, that is the direction that your leg is applying force.  With normal feet, you have two parallel lines pointing up (and forward).  With wide feet, you have perpindicular lines that have much less "up" to them (and the crossing shows that they cancel out each other's power).
    • You are more mobile from a normal stance (which I am defining as "feet are less than shoulder-width apart").  Test it out: it is easier to move (and therefore generate power) in just about any direction from a normal stance.
    • A wide stance is much easier to sweep. A normal stance is harder.  But don't go too narrow;  I can't think of a situation where you would want your feet touching each other.
    • There are probably other advantages.  (I'm hoping that you are convinced already, because I realize this last one may not push many folks over the line).
    Ok.  So now that you are all geeked to put your feet closer together (but not too close), let's look a  mechanism for that.  We call it "Tsugi Ashi" - "the following foot."  In normal walking, you put one foot in front of the other.  In Tsugi Ashi, after you step forward with the first foot, the second one slides forward to close the distance, but doesn't pass the first foot (and usually will stay slightly behind the lead foot).  Kind of like how they teach you to walk down the isle at a wedding - but slide your feet, if that helps.  We use it a lot in Judo... I've never actually done a study, but I would guess that the vast majority of body movement in shiai is done with some form of Tsugi Ashi.

    Most people end up with wide feet for their throw because they are just taking one giant step in their set-in.  How many times have you seen this:
    1. Noob has a waist grip on his opponent, and he's standing on their left side, facing their right side (perpindicular).  
    2. He wants to throw Ogoshi, so Noob steps with his right foot to the opponents right side.  
    3. His feet are maybe double shoulder-width apart, and he tries to throw. 
    4. And fails. 
    5. And he probably got swept before he got to the "try to throw" part anyhoo. 
    What he should have done is:
    1. Starting from the same position...
    2. He steps with his left foot to his opponent's right side (I'll do another post on why I like that better).
    3. His feet are, for an instant, maybe double shoulder-width, but he immediately slides his right foot to be in line with his left foot (probably still facing perpendicularish).
    4. He throws.
    5. His opponent lands on the mat.  And explodes, due to the awesomeness just applied to him.
    Now, there are other ways to get butt-cheek feet other than Tsugi Ashi.  My guess is that the top folks will "hop" both of their feet into place more than we mere mortals.  But it is easier to learn with Tsugi Ashi.  And not every throw requires butt-cheek feet.  But most do.

    By the way, a quick disclaimer:  If I haven't said these already, these "principles" aren't in any particular order, and aren't necessarily gospel, either (as another FYI - nothing I say/write is gospel... in fact, I make most stuff up on the spot, so always question me).


    Interview with USJA President Gary Goltz (Part 1 of 2)

    When USJA President Gary Goltz paid us a visit, he agreed to an interview for the blog.  He's been really awesome, as I have had a ton of questions for him over the course of several phone calls.  I've been working on transcribing this interview in my weekly 30 minutes of free time, and it is taking a while, so I figured I would go ahead and post what I have (as it has some pretty good stuff to digest), and then I'll post the next part when I wrap it up.  Enjoy!  (Editor's note - there were some revisions added after the initial posting, as Gary wanted to add a bit more detail to some areas.  And you can find part 2 here.)

    CM: Let me start with an easy one: What does the USJA do, exactly? What happens to my $45/year? I know about the insurance, but what else?
    GG: We are a national accreditation body that provides sanctions as well as insurance for events. The insurance cost is around $20+ and is definitely the largest part of the $45, the remainder of the money goes towards overhead; we have an office, and executive director, a full time staff, equipment, postage, taxes, a website, and a database that we need to maintain, and lots of phones!  So in short, every penny of that $45 goes towards running the USJA.

    CM: And here is another one: other than touring the country teaching fantastic clinics, what does a USJA president do? What are your responsibilities/duties/superpowers?
    GG:   First and foremost, I’m a member of the board of directors - as such; it's my responsibility to promote the goals and mission of the USJA. Beyond that, a big part of the president's job as I see it is public relations. Having come into the position after being the Chief Operating Officer for 4 years, I had a lot of knowledge of what our operation entails. In addition I'm pretty much the untitled Chief Fundraising Officer, working to bring in new donors and nurturing our existing donors as well. By the way did I mention that when I went from COO to President my salary was doubled!  All kidding aside my approach towards leadership in the USJA is based on this credo -

    • Honorably serving our members with communication founded on reality based information, positive, productive and ethical thinking
    • Following judo’s core principles of maximum efficiency with minimum effort and mutual welfare and benefit with the goal of developing good character
    • Remembering the spirit of our founders; Jim Bregman, the late George Harris, Karl Geis, and others in terms of the high standards they strived for
    CM: Can you tell me more about the fundraising? Who are the big donors, and where does this money go?
    GG:  We have companies like GTMA, Judo Unlimited, and Black Belt Magazine where the USJA gets some revenue. We have member donors like Andy Connelly our club leader in Texas who gives a donation of $100 every month on his Visa card, Dr. James Lally who is a board member has been our donor of the year for over 5 years, and there are countless others. Every donation helps defray our membership fees.
    CM: I'm sure that's a big help to the organization...
    GG: If we just went off of the $45, we wouldn't have enough money to run. We haven't had a price increase in years; that's where the donations come into play.

    CM: Looking at this post, can you tell me what where you come out on some of the issues raised?
      Technology Resources:
      GG: Our Coaches Portal was the result of a complete make over of our entire database. It is now interactive so our club leaders can look up promotion information and membership expirations online.
      Help for Fledgling Clubs:
      GG: Beyond providing liability insurance for clubs, through our supplier partnerships our clubs can receive discounts on tatamis and gis. Another thing we've done do for our members is instituted background screening not only for coaches but for all black belts. And we’re in the process of developing a marketing manual for USJA clubs. As for your Mat Co-op Exchange idea, you're not the first person to think of that. We could definitely do something along those lines. We just need someone to take the initiative and get it going. We are always looking for volunteers.
      Help to Start Tournaments:
      GG: We offer sanctions for $25 and have a referee as well as a technical officials committee to help support tournaments. Our IT (volunteer) Director, John Moe developed a free Scoreboard Program for running matches. We use this at the Winter Nationals and all my club’s events.  It’s excellent, easy to use, and always up to date.   
      Setting Promotion Standards:
      GG: The USJA promotion system has always been one of our selling points. We're more up-front with what you have to do and more objective. If somebody meets those criteria, it's generally a done deal. Along the same lines, we try to keep our standards current. We're in the process of updating them as we speak. Sid Kelly, the creator Kelly's Capers and head of our promotion board, has revised our senior promotion system. I've had a chance to go through it and it looks a lot like the modern approaches taken by countries where judo is really proliferating. Hal Sharp, who wrote The Sport of Judo and many other books, is doing the same with our junior promotion system and junior manual. Our goal is to have these rolled out by the 1st quarter of 2012. It's been a big undertaking and those guys are doing a great job.
      Term Limits for Any Positions of Influence:
      GG: The USJA board adopted them a few years ago. I was one of the people who raised this as an issue. Now board members can only serve two terms then they have to sit out for 2 terms before they can run again. The terms are four years. This is my first term as president, so I would be eligible to come back and serve again then I'd have to bow out. You know we have a quality team of board members and Katrina Davis is an outstanding Executive Director with 20 years’ experience. They are intelligent and have common sense. While there will always be some disagreements, every one of them is committed to the USJA and making good decisions
      Spreading Knowledge:
      GG: Our online magazine, Growing Judo is one of the greatest support arms to the membership.  Joan Love our Vice President, who is its editor, puts her heart and soul into each issue. I've seen the publications that the USJA has put out for the last 40 years, as well as the ones from other national and even international organizations and can say that "Growing Judo" is among the best judo publications ever. We cover the entire geography of the USJA. There's a section on new clubs, promotions, human interest stories, articles on how to grow your club, etc.  Among the clinics we offer are coach certification, referee certification, kata certification, Kelly’s Capers, and just about anything you want to learn we try to find someone within a stone's throw of our clubs who could come in and teach.
    OK, so that's our ballgame for part one. I hope you enjoyed it, and stay tuned for part 2...  It gets even better!