Feb 02/02

Judo Tournament

As my longtime readers know, my kids are both in judo. I even was, for awhile - but work took over again, so I had to give it up. I wasn't happy about leaving it, because I was learning a lot of valuable skills while I was there. Much beyond the throws and the falls, Judo helped me develop a new awareness which was budding at the time. The workouts were tough, but I enjoyed them.

Last weekend was our first judo tournament this year. My wife ran one of the tables, so I was right there in the thick of things, although my only function was watching our kids. Neither of my kids won anything. My older son lost a tough split decision. His opponent couldn't get advantage over him, but he threw his opponent once, so thought he should have won. He wasn't alone in thinking so. However, his opponent was more competitive: she clearly wanted to win more. (At my kids' age, judo is unisex.) I think her drive to win - even though she couldn't convert it to anything decisive - caused two of the judges to give her the decision. The other judge gave my son the decision - probably because, tactically, he fought a better match.

As I've said before, I don't care about winning. I tell my kids I don't expect anything except that they shouldn't get upset if/when they do lose. My younger one still has problems with that, but my older has pretty much got it down.

The "winning" issue continues to fascinate me - specifically, how unimportant winning really is. Although I'm not competitive now, I did have my share of victories (not in judo, of course, but in other ways) when I was younger. However, they never seemed to lead to any lasting advantage. The win was all I got. It's like when you win, that's reward enough; you shouldn't expect anything else. I recall encountering the same idea in Shelby Foote's The Civil War. To paraphrase: Jefferson Davis realized that although the South could win battles, winning the war was something different. General Grant and the North could plod on forever, while Lee, as brilliant as he was on the battlefield, couldn't protect the South from eventuality....

Back to the tournament: one comment that was announced was how important it is to have qualified judges and referees available for judo tournaments. The importance of having decision makers was illustrated to me first-hand, when a round-robin six turned out to have three people in second place. What was to be done?

"Fight 'em all again," one black belt declared - the one pictured at right. And so it was, which yielded decisive first, second, and third place competitors. I thought the decision showed common sense as well as tremendous love for the sport. Truth is, we all wanted to see the guys fight again. The drawing is from memory, but is actually pretty good - unless you ask my wife:):)

Looking good, Sensei. I'm proud you're from my club.

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