Tag Archives: olympics

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

26: Fred Turoff on Saving Temple University Men’s Gymnastics

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In episode 26, I talk with Fred Turoff, head coach of men’s gymnastics at Temple University, one of 16 D1 college gymnastics programs. He is in the US Gymnastics Hall of Fame as a coach. He is now coaching his 38th season, leading the team to be conference champions 18 of those years. We talk about the recent announcement that Temple will be eliminating 7 sports in 2014, men’s gymnastics being one of them. We talk about the unfortunate way in which the decision was made (behind closed doors, with no communication with the coaches) and announced (right before finals week). We also talk about gymnastics in general, the six events of men’s gymnastics, training methods, mindset, and much more. Please sign the petition and find other ways to help at templegymnastics.com.

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

Video Excerpt

Quotes

Fred talked at length about the various ways in which his program is a success regionally, financially, academically, and in giving to the community. Here’s a short random excerpt:

“Nobody engaged me as a coach and said ‘Look I have this financial problem, what can we do to help this?’ In terms of finances. When you look at the number of kids that are coming here for gymnastics and paying their own way. The total is more than the cost of my program. We pay for ourselves and we raise money. In terms of facility, although my facility here is not an ideal one when you compare it to the best schools, but we’ve been successful and we make do with what we have. According to the previous athletic director, we’ve been funded to compete well regionally. I think 18 of 37 conference championships is competing very well regionally.”

Links

24: Kyle Dake, 4x NCAA Wrestling Champion

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In episode 24, I talk with Kyle Dake, 4x NCAA champion, Dan Hodge trophy winner, and 2013 SI College Athlete of the Year, about a tradition of wrestling in his family, early wrestling days, the influence of his mom and dad, setting goals, overcoming losses early in his career, facing Jordan Burroughs, David Taylor, Andrew Howe, competing with a broken hand against a 2x world champion, Denis Tsargush, training to exhaustion, keeping the training fun, being pushed by training partners like Jordan Leen, Call of Duty, Breaking Bad, and much more.

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

Audio Clips on YouTube

Quotes

Kyle on the mental toughness advice his mom gave him:

“Your mind will break before your body will break.”

Kyle on his approach to the intense pace of competition:

“You have to learn how to function when you’re dog-tired… when you don’t think your body is capable of doing anything more, but you have to do more. You can either cower, give up takedowns, give up points, submit to the guy, or you can do everything in your power to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Kyle on the training to exhaustion:

“Feeling that exhaustive state is very important in the practice room, because once you get on the mat and you’ve felt that pain before, you’ve felt that exhaustion, it’s a lot easier to overcome it in competition.”

Jordan Leen, Kyle’s teammate and NCAA champ out of Cornell, said the following in an ESPN commentary as Kyle was wrestling in his 2010 NCAA finals match:

“Kyle Dake refuses to accept failure at any level. He takes it personally when he gets taken down in the room. It affects his soul almost. He is a well balanced wrestler, but they key is that he has to win. According to him, he has to win. He will do anything that it took to win.”

Links

22: Olympic and NCAA Wrestling with Charlie Neely and Chris Romanchick

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In episode 22, I talk with Charlie Neely and Chris Romanchick about freestyle, Greco-Roman, folk-style wrestling, Olympics, 2013 World Championships, Dan Gable, John Smith, Cael Sanderson, coaching high school wrestlers, the stacked 165 lbs division with Kyle Dake, David Taylor, Jordan Burroughs, Andrew Howe, “The Losses of Dan Gable” by Wright Thompson, Brent Metcalf, red shirt years, new wrestling rules, women in wrestling, changes to weight classes, cutting weight, rule sets in wrestling and jiu jitsu, and much more.

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Quotes

Charlie on his approach to coaching high school wrestlers:

“There’s no getting around the fact that I’m going to be pushing them, and they’re going to be working hard. I’ve learned over the years that wrestling is fun. I didn’t always know that. I didn’t realize it until later in life. I’m hoping to be able to communicate that to the kids and show them how wrestling can be fun. I think it’s all too easy to get caught up in the weight management part of the sport and the grind nature of the sport and the pressure that comes from competing or from parents.”

Chris on the value of wrestling or jiu jitsu in developing young minds:

“I think some of the best lessons you learn in life are lessons you learn on the mat, be it jiu jitsu or be it wrestling. It’s just honest, it’s real.”

Taking something  Charlie said completely out of context:

“Russia is #1.”

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.

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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

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

6: Niko Dax on Elite-Level Judo and BJJ

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niko-dax-with-georgii-zantaraiaIn episode 6, I talk to Niko Dax, a judo black belt, instructor, and the most knowledgeable dude on the elite-level judo competition circuit than anyone I’ve met in the judo community. Here are some topics we  talk about: The role of sport judo in growing the art. The top American judoka. The difference between ground work in judo and BJJ. History of judo and  japanese  jujutsu. The  ratio of tachiwaza (standing technique) to newaza (ground techniques). “Crazy” is the best technique in a street fight. New judo rules on leg grabs and gripping. Tamerlan Tmenov striking  fear into the hearts of his opponents. Etc.

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Niko Dax on a rule  of thumb to use when learning a technique in judo:

“If you feel that the technique requires power, then you’re doing something wrong.”

Here are links, videos, people, things mentioned in this episode: