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Dude, Where Are My Pants?

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... and other costuming mishaps, or my day in CT for the Open Workout and Town Meeting

Now, first and foremost, I want to thank the people at the Norwich Dojo for putting on a wonderful event. It was nice to see USJA Board Elect members wearing, gasp, gi, and getting sweaty, and taking falls, and throwing the author around. I also enjoyed seeing plenty of MA people there, from Boston to Northampton. Really nice to see the people from Northampton. I need to get back up there on a regular basis. I claim personal responsibility for the lack of chocolate chip cookies, because I couldn't get off my sorry ass and make them the night before.

Maggie and I got into the car around 10 a.m., giving us plenty of time to get to the dojo on time, get changed out on time, and spend some quality shmooze time. But, that was not to be. We missed our exit. Yes, I drove past the exit to Norwich, as if I'd never been there before. The next exit after Norwich is some 28 miles later. Well, not really, but it sure felt like that as I watched the clock tick down. Maggie was, of course, fine with everything. She's especially fine with everything when treats are involved. Somewhere after Springfield, I'd tossed Maggie's car toy a bit strange, and it landed where she couldn't get to it. That was her only major complaint.

Finally, we get turned around, find the right exit, get to the dojo, and Maggie gets out and pees while I fill her water dish. She hops back in the car, accepts a treat, and settles in for the wait. I grab my gear bag and head in. Once I have permission to join, I go to the changing room and start pulling out gi jackets, 1, 2, 3. I've got 2 plain white t-shirts. I've got knee pads. I've got the pad I use on my ankle. I've got tape. I've got a mouthpiece. I've got everything I need - except pants. Crap. I could have sworn I'd packed everything, including pants the night before. I check again - no pants. I go out to the car. No pants. I go back into the dojo and take out my camera, because, damnit! this is not going to be a wasted trip. There are no spare pants to be had. While snapping a few pics, another woman, around my age and size comes off the tatami, and I'm thinking maybe she has a spare pair of pants. No such luck - her pants have ripped, at least at the tie level, making them difficult to keep up. Yes, a wardrobe malfunction. She changes out, but then somebody loans her a pair of pants. Good for her, but lousey luck for me - I'm still without pants.

I'm snapping pictures mentally kicking myself for failing to check to see if I had pants. I'm usually the person who has extras of everything, but this time, I was caught without even one pair of pants. This was despicable, deplorable, irresponsible, and any other negative adjective I can throw at myself. I was beginning to seriously wonder how badly I'd pissed off the judo gods, how bad my judo karma was when I decided that, if I was truly meant to miss this entire event and sit along the sidelines just snapping pictures, I'd have less than $60 in my pocket and be unable to purchase a noob dojo variety single weave. I checked my pockets. I had more than $60. Maybe the judo gods weren't totally pissed at me. A local dojo guy sitting out because of a recent non judo related surgery helped me buy a new gi, and I went off to my car to get the rest of my gear and change out. Finally, I'm wearing my full judo kit, complete with a brand new pair of pant. Pants! I finally have pants! I swear, I'll keep these pants in my car as my emergency pants from here on out; scouts honor (not that I was a scout, but you get the idea).

So, I missed the warm-up, and most of the drills. Got in on the juji drill, which was great - I got to loosen up my arms by arm bar. I got to ease into it. Worked in with a couple from Boston who were around my size. And all was good. Suddenly, I felt like a judoka again, instead of a pant-less spectator. Then, just as my joints were finding themselves again, randori. I played. I haven't randoried in I don't know how long, but, hey, there I was, thinking I could throw my tai otoshi. Yes, I did mostly old guy judo, but it was good. We rotated out the next round. The following round? Joan. Let me tell you, folks, she's a scrapper. And her grip fighting reminded me that there's this thing called "grip fighting" and it makes a substantial difference to your throws. I threw her, she threw me, we moved around, and after about 15 seconds, I was shot. But, I hung in there. I actually managed to work up a sweat. Another first in I don't know how long. Oh, and Joan got a good clean throw on me just as they called, "matte" - perfect timing.

That being said, as soon as I tried to catch my breath, I knew I was in trouble. I sat out a few rounds. Switch to newaza randori. I snapped a few pictures while I wondered if my heart was going to give me substantial grief. But, amazingly, I started feeling better. So, I joined in. I went up against a woman from Middleton CT who coaches a high school program who's amazingly, around my age, and amazingly, around my size, but in a helluva lot better shape than me (well, admittedly, I'm in a very good generally round squishy shape - very few could beat me at that shape). So, I took it slow and deliberate. Every time I went to stack her, she grabbed my ankle for a sweep. Sprawl out. Try something different. Slow and steady, and my partner didn't seem to mind. Just as we were getting somewhere, matte. Sheesh.

By then, the open workout was over - 2 hours for everybody else, 45 minutes of workout for me, 1:15 of searching for pants. Damned, the pants! Next up, town meeting. People changed out, except for me - I paid for those pants, I was damned well going to wear them. Did take off my jacket and obi. Anyway, Ann Marie finally arrived, sans the promised mini-me who had been shanghaied into babysitting. I was promised a good story about what had happened to make her that late, and I'm still waiting for the story. It's gotta be better than forgetting your pants.

Anyway, most of the people who were there for the practice were there for the town meeting. Elect members Joan Love, Bill Montgomery, and Marc Cohen spoke, along with AM who even managed to shadow demo an uke otoshi that demonstrated, hey, she's one tough lady, and gee, her knee is coming along - something everybody knew, but it's nice to have that object lesson every once in a while. Half way through, people came in to make the announcement about Rusty Kanokogi. I'll do a blog entry about her later, but there were some Rusty stories as we all tried to take in the news. The implications of her loss won't be felt until we can digest the idea that she's gone.

BOD elect members took questions from the peanut gallery, which included yours truly. The overall message of the BOD elect members is exactly what we heard during the campaign: judo needs to be inclusive, we need to actually do things, and modify things, and make them work. Asked about the USA Judo/USJA tensions, the perspective became apparent - USJA is interested in grassroots judo - creating good people, good communities and lastly, good athletes. In other words, the emphasis is not on elite athletes, but what's been happening at least a little since AM took the presidency.

Me? I found out something really cool. When you're trying to start a club, the last thing you want to do is spend a mess of money you don't have incorporating and becoming a 501©(3) non-profit entity so that you can obtain funds from grants and whatnot to get things like tatami. The choice, before this conversation, to me, has been - do you spend the money and take the 501©(3) non profit status to be eligible for grants and whatnot, or do you muddle through, spending money on what you can when you can before you decide whether you need to be a non profit and a corporation. Mostly, it doesn't make sense to spend thousands and have the correlative paperwork headache on the idea that you can be eligible for money, that whole bird in the hand v. 2 in the bush, perspective. Anyway, for those of you running clubs wishing you could try to access money from your local gaming commission or a grant from your local Wal-Mart, you don't have to become a non profit and you can still be eligible. Yes, that's right folks, you can have McDonald's or granny Smith for that matter, make a tax deductible donation to the USJA for the purpose of purchasing tatami or whatever for your new dojo. The USJA will then make those funds available to you. Cool! Now, we can get donations and still have them be tax deductible without paperwork hassel and financial expenditure of becoming a non-profit. So, your New Dojo creates a New Tatami fund, solicits targeted donations from local businesses or people, they get the tax write off, you get the funds. Talk with USJA if you're interested in this.

Oh, a word of warning to all the complainers out there; be ready to put your time and energy where your mouth is. The new BOD is looking to get help from anybody interested in helping - whatever your talent is, they'll find a use for you. So, don't b!tch if you don't want to be a part of the remedy. (and as somebody pointed out to me - don't answer the phone if AM is on the other end, unless you have plenty of time to dedicate to some aspect of the USJA and judo). Personally, I like this. This means that more voices are heard, management is spread out across the country, and, if you want a problem addressed, you can be a part of addressing that problem. Pretty cool.

So, if you've read this far, let's get to the good stuff, the pictures. As the person with the camera, you won't pictures of me sporting my new pants, but hopefully these will do:

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ah, it must be a meeting - he's got coffee

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oh, AM, I hope you repeat this as you cross the country. I think the more judoka who hear this, and can ask questions, the greater the pool of judoka willing to help, and the more connected we all will feel. Personally, while the workout was nice, especially for the recalcitrant me, the really good vibes came from the give and take of the town meeting - both you all talking and answering questions, and from the rest of us, sticking around and being encouraged to ask the questions we needed to ask. Kudos to all for participating. The atmosphere of interest and change is a good thing, especially when it comes from the area judoka as well as the BOD elect.

3 Comments On This Entry

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23 November 2009 - 05:29 PM
Nice one! Glad you managed to find some pants in the end…
Now, it might be the right time for you to consider using the official-Kôdôkan-approved-japanese-method of folding your gi.
see here an example:

It is neat, save space in your bag… and ensures pants, jacket AND belt. ;wry)


24 November 2009 - 03:38 AM

I loved reading your blog. Thanks for the great summary and for coming down. :wub:

The woman you worked with in newaza is Pam Hinkle. She started judo in CT with Lenny LeBlanc, then spend several years training with John Anderson in Baltimore (hence the killer newaza skills). She is ~50 now, but when she was younger, she competed at the national level. She never won the Nationals, but she placed for about 10 years!

We hope you visit us regularly,
Joan & Bill


27 October 2011 - 04:32 AM
after this weeks lesson am wondering if there are any "approved" braces I can wear with mine :unsure: Got a lesson in how to "adjust" myself correctly so all good :) Great read Stacey
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