Friday, August 31, 2007
Judo, Life, Success - in that order
A very wise man who is also a terrific judo coach wrote and gave me some great advice. In short, he said even though you have accomplished a lot, most of the people who are around you nodding their heads and smiling are not really your friends and would be just as happy to see you fail. He is one of a few people who have been honest enough to say to me,
"Your success is a threat to a lot of people. It makes them feel less when you do more. They want you to fail. Don't let the bastards get you down."
More than once, well-meaning acquaintances have cautioned me,
"Don't mention you have a doctorate. You don't have to mention you were world champion. People don't need to know you started a successful business. They get mad when you are acknowledged for doing those things because it makes them feel less."
This is a sad truth of life, the world is full of small men who want to tear others down to make themselves feel bigger. It is also interesting that well-wishers give me two very different kinds of advice. In short, one is saying to stand and fight, while the other advises me to give in, to not make anyone angry.
What does this have to do with judo? Lately, we have had a lot of success. Our new West Coast Judo Training Center will open on September 15. My own club, Venice Judo Club, is starting to grow. The United States Judo Association is doing well with great people around the country organizing camps and clinics, donating funds to support our programs.
There are really three keys to success, in anything, I think. The first is hard work. The second is overcoming fear. Everyone is afraid sometimes, and one of the most common fears seems to be that we will not be accepted. I was reading a post on a judo forum where someone made the comment that he could not speak up to another person because that man had been a black belt longer than he was. Someone else responded,
"So he is a higher rank than you. What is he going to do? Have you drop and do push-ups. Have you frowned at by a Council of Elders?"
Most of the things that hold us back are so trivial. Joe, who sits next to me at the meetings, might not think this is a good idea, so I guess I won't do anything. The way I see it, there are two possibilities. Either Joe is a good guy and will support me if my idea works and forgive me if it doesn't. Or, Joe is a jerk and just comes to meetings to make himself feel bigger by putting down, insulting and criticizing other people, in which case, I don't care what he thinks.
What does all of this have to do with judo? Shouldn't I occasionally post something here on ko uchi makikomi (hit it right off the grip. Hit low.)
The truth is that the key to winning, in everything, is you honestly have to believe. Deep down, you have to know that you can beat the other person, that you can get that pin, that throw, that armbar.
Hal Sharp once asked,
"What is the most important thing in making a throw succeed?"
Students gave all kinds of standard answers,
"Kuzushi - off-balancing - good technique."
Hal shook his heard,
"The most important thing is that you have to really, really want to make it go."
It's not easy to believe, especially when there are so many people telling you to not stand out, the nail that sticks up gets hammered, don't be too successful or people won't like you. Besides, who are you anyway?
It goes back to the first step. If you worked really, really hard, you have every reason to believe that you can win.
It's funny, people tell me all of the time that I am scary. I weigh 120 lbs soaking wet and am not quite 5'2" on a tall day. What is scary about me, to some people, I guess, is that I do work very hard, and whether it is a throw, an armbar or a new training center, I really, really want the thing to go and I believe that I can make it happen.
Okay, by popular demand, I will start including a judo tip in each blog. Tip #1: When you do an armbar, lock the opponent's arm against your body. You should not be using your arms trying to pull the person's arm in any direction. The most efficient way to do an armbar is to have the opponent's arm tight against your body, between your legs When you arch your hips,either the person will give up or her elbow will dislocate.