The Story of the Judo Information Site
by Neil Ohlenkamp
A Japanese proverb says, "Bad and good are intertwined like rope." This is a story of how one's loss can turn into an advancement from which everyone can profit.
Believe it or not, there was a time when notes and references were kept on paper. When I learned judo in the 60's and 70's I was encouraged to write notes after each lesson. There were not many books on judo available, and when I was exposed to great teachers they always gave too much information for me to absorb at once. So I wrote it down. I drew pictures. I collected quotes. I made diagrams.
This was also before post-it notes, so I collected these judo lessons on scraps of paper which I kept in a large 3-ring binder. When I started teaching judo, I found these notes invaluable and I used them often. I created handouts for students by pasting and copying. I referred to lesson plans I had saved. I made long lists of exercises, drills, games, and other teaching devices that I would use. As I learned new things or had new insights I would add them to my binder, which grew to capacity.
Since I used these notes for classes, I lugged the binder around in my judo bag. One day I went to my car and it had been stolen. I lost my judogi, including my first black belt, but even more valuable was my binder. I was devastated. I only had a few copies of handouts, a few printed lesson plans, and what I could reconstruct from memory. I started over.
With my first computer a few years later, I was able to gather material much quicker and produce better handouts and booklets. I realized how valuable the computer was, and eventually created a new digital version of my 3-ring binder. It turns out that the new version was even better than the old one because it was easier to share. As my judo club grew, I shared the material with other club instructors and helped several new teachers get started.
Of course, the internet opened up even more possibilities. I immediately saw the potential for greater sharing of the resources I had collected, so I began studying web design. By 1995 I had converted much of the material into web pages and began sharing it with the world on the pioneering, and often copied, Judo Information Site. This led to gathering even more material from contributors all over the world. Gradually a wealth of information became available to help students, instructors, and anyone interested in learning about judo.
Suprisingly, it turns out that digital information freely shared with the world, is more long lasting than a 3-ring binder locked in my car. A stolen binder full of irreplaceable information, permanently influenced judo on the internet. The good is intertwined with the bad, gain comes from loss.
In the 10 years since the Judo Information Site was launched as the world's first comprehensive judo web page, it has grown exponentially. Built on the strength of reliable content, it has remained the largest and most popular judo site online. The Judo Information Site is constantly updated and now serves 175,000 visitors per month, while its sister site, The Judo Forum, receives 8,500 new messages each month that are viewed an average of 125,000 times each month.
You will find these sites at JudoInfo.com and JudoForum.com. But, keep in mind that knowledge about judo is very different from knowing judo. No matter how much time you spend, learning judo from the internet is not possible. So get back on the mats to learn the real lessons of judo, and remember the proverb "Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass."
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