This is an excerpt taken from “Moderately Satisfied Our Sensei: Don Werner”, a biography on the judo coach Don Werner written by world champion Nicola Fairbrother and Karen Roberts. It talks about Don’s philosophy to training and the value of uchikomi.
There were three driving forces to Don’s philosophy; perseverance, discipline and determination and session after session Don’s psychology slipped in like osmosis.
Don’s number one requirement was “the will to persevere with training, never miss a training session unless it’s unavoidable.”
He used to say things like:
You will never get back that missed uchi-komi. Ever.
“By training on your bad days you are lifting your lowest levels,” he’d say. “You plateau, then you improve, you go up and down, then you plateau again, and then you improve. If you do not train through the plateau you will not improve.”
There are no short cuts. There just appears there are at times. So don’t bother looking.
“Win or lose, the most important session is the Tuesday after a tournament. By Thursday you will have forgotten your mistakes, the rawness will have gone.”
The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Don loved a talented judoka, but he preferred a hard working one any day of the week. Win all the tournaments you like, but if you weren’t there Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday completing the whole session, you wouldn’t qualify for that Elite Badge. Talent only takes anyone so far. In time even the most skilful become ordinary, overtaken by the grafters.
“A word of warning. Some of you think training is not important. I do not want to burst your bubble but you do not achieve this standard on your own.”
The trick is to work out what your particular strengths are and to make the most of them.
“A natural ability to perform technique is handy, but over the years I have had many judoka without this advantage climb to the top.”
“It is very difficult to reach a high level. But remember if you let it slide, the mental effort required to regain that level is daunting. That’s why very few can make what is called a come back.”
You must learn to accept your losses gracefully and your wins gratefully.
Don Werner was the Pinewood Judo Club sensei. He was an exceptional judo coach and his approach to training produced 256 National Champions, 4 Olympians and 3 World Champions.
I use much of what he taught me to form content for this website from ideas for the Kids Judo Online Dojo to these judo books.