Category Archives: Judo

42: Jimmy Pedro on What Makes a Champion, New Rules, and the Future of Judo

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Jimmy Pedro is an American judo competitor and coach, World champion, 3x World medalist, 2x Olympic medalist; we talk about his father (Big Jim Pedro Sr), his early career, the times he wanted to quit, overcoming a neck injury, coming back from retirement, the life of an athlete vs the life of a coach, a system for developing elite-level judoka, Japanese vs Russian judo, periodization, a weekly program for an elite-level judoka, toughest moment as a coach, watching Travis Stevens lose the semifinals at the Olympics, mental game, visualization, IJF, judo as a spectator sport, the future of judo in the United States and the rest of the world, and more.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS, and check out our facebook page.

Full Video Interview on YouTube

Jimmy Pedro Quotes (from Podcast)

On failure and doubt:

“Every champion wants to quit… At 19, I lost at the Kano Cup, went 0-2. I remember sitting on the steps of the Budokan, thinking to myself: I hate this sport, I just want to quit, this stinks.  People see champions as winners, but they don’t see those dark days, the days when they struggled or they lost or they failed or the day in training when they got their butt whooped or those tournaments where they fought miserably. We all go through it. Nobody goes undefeated.”

On never quitting on the mat:

“I’ve never been broken in a judo match. I’ve never quit. I’ve fought some guys who were tough as nails. I’ve had to fight for my life. But I’ve never backed down. I might’ve been beaten, but I went out fighting.”

On strategy:

“We know we can’t beat the Russians, the French, the Brazilians, the Japanese by doing more judo than they do. They have way more people to train with, way more opportunity. So we have to beat them with physicality, strategy, gripping, newaza, conditioning, toughness, and the mindset that we are going to win.”

Links

29: AnnMaria De Mars on Raising Ronda Rousey, Aggressive Judo, Math Education, and the Value of Hard Work

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In episode 29, I talk with AnnMaria De Mars about being the first American to win the Judo World Championship, raising four kids one of whom is Ronda Rousey the current UFC champion,  getting four degrees including a PhD in applied statistics, her book Winning on the Ground, her blog, her grandmother’s advice, the passing of her husband, the absurdity of sport, coaching an elite level athlete, balancing academics and sport, Ronda’s 2007 World Silver and Olympic Bronze and her matches against Edith Bosch, refusing to lose, being a woman in a combat sport, teaching kids math through computer games at 7 Generation Games, math (and hard work) as an important foundation for long-term success in life, and more.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS, and check out our facebook page.

Edit: I wrote a blog post with some post-interview takeaways.

Quotes

AnnMaria on the advice her grandmother gave her:

“Do the best you can with everything you were given. She really believed that quote in the Bible: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.'”

AnnMaria on being asked if she is afraid of death:

“No, I can think of a lot worse things than death. One of the reasons people are afraid of dying is they have regrets. They haven’t done the things they want to do. Because my husband passed away when I was young, that changed the way I thought about things. He was a great guy, worked hard his whole life. There were a lot of things he wanted to do that he never got around to doing because he always thought there would be time later. So now when I want to do something, I do it.  When I look back, I’ve had a lot of accomplishments and experiences in education, academics, I published scientific articles, I wrote a book with Jimmy Pedro Sr, I have wonderful children, so if I died right now I have no regrets. You want to live like you might die tomorrow, because you might die tomorrow.”

AnnMaria on the absurdity of dedicating years of your life to achieving a singular goal like winning a World Championship:

“You have to be smart enough to do it and dumb enough to believe it’s important.”

AnnMaria on what it takes to be successful in judo or in math or in anything:

“You get good at something by doing a lot of it.”

AnnMaria on trash talking:

“Like Dr. Seuss said, ‘Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!'”

AnnMaria on what will go on her tombstone:

“I’m smarter than I look.”

YouTube Version

Links

28: Kayla Harrison on Winning Olympic Gold and Overcoming Trauma

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In episode 28, I talk with Kayla Harrison, first American to win Olympic gold in judo, about her training methods, visualization, competition mindset, Olympic final experience, warm-routine, Eminem and country music, overcoming a past of sexual abuse, PTSD, finding forgiveness, finding strength in judo, being coached by Jimmy Pedro, her Team Force teammates, moving up two weight classes, strength and conditioning, going to college, writing her memoir and also a book on recovering from sexual abuse, new judo rules, serving as the IJF athlete representative, and much more.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS, and check out our facebook page.

Quotes

Kayla on the evolution of women’s judo:

“In 26 years (since Ann Marie DeMars became the first American world champion), we’ve seen women’s judo come a long long way. I’m very fortunate that I had pioneers like Ann Marie and Rusty Kanokogi and women like that who paved the way to allow me to pursue my dreams.”

Kayla on what was going on through her mind as she was stepping on the mat at the Olympics:

“I don’t know if I’ll ever forget that day. I was just a psycho. (Lol). I am very big on visualization. Before the Olympics even occurred I visualized that day a thousand time in my mind. I would go over it and over it and over it. And I would tell myself: ‘Kayla Harrison, Olympic Champion. This is my day. This is my purpose.’ And all that day, Jimmy (Pedro) was chirping in my head: ‘Do you want this more? Have you worked harder? No one deserves this more than you. You’re Kayla Harrison, Olympic Champion.’ “

Kayla giving credit for her success to her coaches:

“In order to be a great coach, you can’t be an athlete’s friend. He’s not afraid to make me cry. They are not afraid to light that fire, and tell me when I’m wrong. They are not afraid to push me when I need to be pushed, and pull back when I need to pull back. They don’t really care if I like them. I do, but they don’t really care either way.”

Kayla on whether fear/doubt enters her mind in competition:

“When I was younger I used to be pretty scared. I was more afraid of losing than I was willing to win. And when you’re afraid to lose, you don’t compete,  you don’t show up, you just worry about losing. Through the years, through experience, and just literally competing in every single tournament on the face of the Earth, I started to get into a habit… One of the things I’ve heard before and that I completely agree with is: ‘Success breeds success.’ When I start to win and I get on that roll, I don’t question myself, I don’t doubt myself. If you look at that video of me on the day of the Olympics, every match, even the one I was losing, I was losing my quarterfinal to a girl I’ve never beaten before, at no point did I question myself. I don’t know, I was a psycho. I thought I was going to win, and damned if I wasn’t going to go out there and do it. I trained too hard, worked too long, sacrificed too much, been away from my family too long to lose.”

Kayla talking about losing a match at the 2011 World championships:

Failure is my fuel. If you beat me, I’m going to sleep that night thinking about ripping your arm off.

YouTube Audio-Only Version

Links

27: Chris Round on Climate Change Science and Policy, Balancing Sport and Study

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In episode 27, I talk with Chris Round about judo, balancing sport and study, the science and policy of climate change, his work at the School for Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University, growing up with asperger syndrome, training under Jimmy Pedro, conditioning, groundwork, harai goshi, Team Force, the science of global warming, scientific consensus and public opinion on climate change, Naomi Oreskes, evolution in schools debate, industry funded doubt, China, fossil fuel consumption, the motivation of the scientific community, empathetic messaging, being open to the possibility of being wrong, etc.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS, and check out our facebook page.

Quotes

Chris talks about focusing on being prepared:

“If you do everything right leading up to a tournament. You handled your weight correctly. You trained hard. You did everything right. If you go out there and you lose, and you did everything right to get there, then how the hell can you be a loser?”

Chris on balancing judo and study:

“I’ve managed to finally strike a balance through a lot of practice at striking a balance, a lot trial and error.”

Chris’s advice on putting a lot of effort into building a habit of study and training:

“It’s really easy at the end of a long day to say: ‘Alright, I’m taking practice off.’ The first three weeks are key. It’s establishing habits more than anything. First three weeks of a semester or first three weeks of getting back on the horse in training, you have to chuck a lot of mental energy at making sure you go to everything.”

Chris on why climate change is often such a device topic of conversation:

“I think a lot of people fuse (political issues) with their identity and what makes them a good person. And when you attack an idea related to that issue they are not taking it as a rational discussion. They are taking it as: ‘You’re attacking me as a person. You’re attacking my identity.'”

Links

23: Matt Marcinek on Grappling with Cerebral Palsy and Competing to Win

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In episode 23, I talk with Matt Marcinek about cerebral palsy, his will to win, Dan Gable, Cael Sanderson, going through multiple surgeries, physical therapy, mental challenges of day to day life, professional wrestling, Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), DDP yoga, cutting weight, the Dolce diet, judo, freestyle judo, IJF, gripping rules, competition, coaching, and more.

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Quotes

Matt on his approach to competition:

“When I compete, I want to win. There’s no doing it for the sake of doing it.”

Matt on striving to improve:

“It bugs me when people have a ‘good enough is good enough’ attitude. No. Sometimes you have to push yourself to be the absolute best.”

Links

18: Ilias Iliadis Interview

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In episode 18, I talk with Ilias Iliadis. He is truly one of the legends of judo, an Olympic gold and bronze medalist, two-time world champion, and 5-time world medalist. And still only 26 years old (turning 27 two days after the interview and of course training on his birthday). We talk about his birthday two days after the interview, his son and daughter, his father and coach, starting at a young age, the 2004 Olympics,  the 2010 and 2011 world championships, Mark Huizinga, Varlam Liparteliani, Mark Anthony, winning international tournaments in four different weight classes (73kg, 81kg, 90kg, 100kg), Teddy Riner, 2013 world championships, ogoshi, seoi nage, no-gi, and more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Thank you to Teo BJJ for hosting us for the interview. And thank you to my friend Niko for helping make it all happen.

Video Version of Interview

Quotes

Ilias Iliadis on when he first thought he could be an Olympic gold medalist:

“When I was young I dreamed I could be Olympic champion. I believed it then. But it happened even faster than in my dreams.”

Ilias Iliadis on learning from a loss:

“I believe when you lose you learn. You gain experience.”

Ilias Iliadis on maintaining the edge on the best in the world:

“If you want to take the tile, you have to be training, always. When I’m training, I think of my opponent and how he is training. I want to always be training more than my opponent.”

Ilias Iliadis on there not being any one element that is most important for a throw:

“In judo, when you do a technique, you need your whole body.”

Ilias Iliadis on the uncertainty of a judo match:

“Every competition is important for me, and every competition I think I can win. But this is judo. Everybody has a chance.”

Iliad Iliadis on whether he likes the new judo rules:

“We are athletes. We can’t change anything. All we can do is fight and win.”

Links

17: Niko and Lex Talk a Little Judo

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In episode 17, I talk “a little judo” (for 90 minutes) with my comrade and judo mastermind Niko Dax. Our conversation is always full of opinions, disagreements, and Russian accents. We talk about Teddy Riner, Ilias Iliadis visit to the United States, judo in Kansas, AAU freestyle judo, being a big fish in a small pond, Nick Delpopolo, Travis Stevens, Kayla Harrison, Ole Bischof, financial support of American judoka, and much more.

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Quotes

Niko on one of the many reasons Ilias Iliadis is already judo legend at the young age of 26.

“Iliadis is amazing because he has major wins in four different weight classes: at 73kg, 81kg, 90kg, and 100kg.”

Niko on the challenge of training without a nation-wide system that supports judo:

“If Travis Steven or Nick Delpopolo win a bronze medal in the next Olympic games, that medal will have much more value than a gold medal by any Russian player, because that bronze medal will be won despite (the lack of financial support).”

Niko on money and happiness:

“Money won’t buy you happiness… unless you don’t have money.”

Links

YouTube Version

16: Sebastian Brosche on BJJ, Judo, and Yoga

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In episode 16, I talk to Sebastian Brosche, a jiu jitsu competitor, judo black belt, and yoga instructor. He won double gold at Worlds in purple belt, and gold at Abu Dhabi World Pro at brown belt. We talk about his early years in judo, the support of his mom,  Olympic gold, street fights, adopting his judo for jiu jitsu, training at Frontline in Oslo Norway, improvising, exploring, failing, breathing, ego, yoga, guard passing, open guard vs inverted guard, stabilizing position, dealing with negative energy, Jackson Souza, Joao Miyao, Kit Dale, Abu Dhabi World Pro, IBJJF Worlds double gold, and much more.

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Check out Sebastian’s awesome Yoga for BJJ wesbite.

Quotes

Sebastian on BJJ:

“That’s BJJ: we keep what works and we leave what doesn’t.”

Sebastian on the things BJJ guys can learn from judo:

“The two most important things we can take from judo to bjj are… Number one is grips. Knowing what a good grip is and what a bad grip is. And what I tell beginners is: a good grip is one you can pull and push without changing the grip… With a good grip you can start moving, and then you don’t have to have Olympic-level throwing and still accomplish what you need in a BJJ fight. So number one is gripping, number two is base for movement. You need to know how to move your feet, how to judo-dance, and make the guy move. Because you can’t just stand in a fight with a grip and wait for the guy to put his foot forward, you have to make him do it.”

Sebastian on the value of recording your matches:

“The video camera is one of your best friends because it is honest. And if the guy who’s filming is not shaking the camera and you can actually see what you’re doing, you can learn so much from watching your own fights.”

Sebastian on his approach to yoga:

“We try to balance between strength and length, and between working hard and letting go. In the middle, we find out who we are.”

Links

Video Clips

YouTube Version

13: Travis Stevens on Fighting Through Injury and Training to Exhaustion

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travis-stevens-take-it-uneasy-podcastIn episode 13, I talk to Travis Stevens, an American judoka, 2-time Olympian, and also one of the best BJJ brown belts in the world. He talked about training and competing through injury, fear as the thing that makes you tired, the role of coaching, adjusting to the new gripping rules, coming back from a deficit, cherishing the feeling of exhaustion.

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Quotes

Travis on his passion for judo:

“I wake up every morning excited to do my job and train. I want nothing more out of life than to be healthy enough for the next training session.”

Travis on whether he has ever been scared to face a particular opponent:

“I laugh at people that get scared. How can you fear someone in a competition. There are rules in place to protect the competitors. If you look at a list of people competing and you fear someone in the bracket just quit and go home and save your money and don’t waste the time of the people who want to compete. Because what you really fear is yourself and you don’t have the confidence within yourself. You think you don’t have the ability and if that’s the case why bother. You should be itching to fight the best and prove yourself, not hiding in a corner hoping for easy street to just land at your feet.”

Links

YouTube Version

11: Nick Delpopolo on His Olympics Experience, Close Matches, Coaching, and Starcraft

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nick-delpopolo-judo-olympian-take-it-uneasy-podcastIn episode 11, I talk to judo olympian Nick Delpopolo. He is ranked #1 in the United States and top 10 in the world. We talk about the four dramatic matches that qualified him for the 2012 Olympics and the four matches at the Olympics, the loss by referee decision, overcoming the aftermath of the THC test, his journey in judo and wrestling, the Hound and Tyrion from the Game of Thrones, the importance of a coach, Yoshisada Yonezuka, Jimmy Pedro, Jason Morris, close referee calls, training partners, uchimata, new gripping rules, randori, weight cutting, his life in an orphanage, his parents, Starcraft, etc.

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Matches with Commentary

Quotes

Nick Delpopolo on  not complaining about referee decisions during the match:

“When you lose a referee’s decision 2 to 1 in the Olympic quarter final and the match to get in for bronze, you’re just shreds away, you’re just decimals away, it’s nothing, that’s how close it is, that’s how fine that margin is. That’s what you think about a lot. What would’ve made a difference there? Getting up for one more run? Anything could’ve helped. It’s so close. If you run out there and you get thrown for ippon in a minute, okay fine, there’s not a whole lot to think about. But if you run out there and you play a five minute match with one of the best guys in the world, you almost score a couple times, he can’t score on you, it’s really close… Man, there’s a lot to think about there. That’s what hurts about that: being close. But it’s just motivation to push harder.”

Nick Delpopolo on not complaining about referee decisions during the match:

“While I’m out there and if the call is not going my way there is not a whole lot I can do about it. Complaining about it… You’re only out there for 5 to 10 minutes. Being negative, throwing your arms up, causing a scene is wasting valuable minutes of energy… Just play the match.”

Links

YouTube Version