Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ronda Knows, Fight Chix and Working things out

Celebrity has its costs and one of them is learning how many real creeps there are in the world. Just about every week, it seems, a new website pops up claiming to be "Ronda Rousey's official website" and selling merchandise with her name, autograph and/or picture.

In case you are wondering, here is her real website rondarousey.net .

One things that makes these people even bigger dirt bags is the fact that the only autographed stuff Ronda ever has for sale is auctioned off on ebay and the proceeds go to charity. Here are a few that benefited this year:

  • St. John the Baptist Church
  • Villanova Preparatory School
  • Ojai AYSO  
  • Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
  • Seven Stars Foundation
  • Woodcraft Rangers (for Gompers Judo)
  • World Food Programme

Ronda's lawyer contacts these fake sites whenever they pop-up and sends them a cease-and-desist letter that basically says if you don't cut it out we will sue you.

Here is where the nice Fight Chix people came in, who are definitely not dirt bags but were selling a shirt that said Ronda Knows


They had started selling this a while ago and they intended it to be a way to promote Ronda and women's MMA in general. They also more than once sent gifts to Gompers Judo which they funded from the sale of the shirts and were MUCH appreciated. Each one even had a handwritten note of encouragement, from Elizabeth, one of the co-owners, which was really sweet.

In the meeting where trademark violations were discussed (yes, we actually have business meetings). Ronda said,

"Be sure you send those people a nice letter."

They did not get a nice letter. They got the standard one that says cut it out or we'll sue your sorry asses (but in legalese). So, Elizabeth called me up to find out what was going on.

In short, Ronda gets paid by companies to use her name and image. If other companies are using it for free, it is reasonable that her sponsors like Xyience or Hatashita Sports or other future sponsors would demand to know why THEY have to pay. Just trust me that there are very good reasons for trademark enforcement.

Which leaves Fight Chix with 17 shirts left in inventory that they are not allowed to sell and supposed to destroy. Elizabeth and I talk it over and come up with this idea - she will send the last remaining shirts to me, Ronda will sign them and we will sell them off and give the money to Gompers Judo and St. John's church.

I do have a question for you, oh blog reader.  Elizabeth and I were thinking that it is too bad the stuff at auction often goes for more than the average fan can afford. We thought maybe put the shirts up at a fixed price, like $100 and limit one per person. I don't know what a reasonable price would be but I know the regular UFC shirts are $30 and that doesn't go to a charity and they aren't autographed and there are more than 17 of them left for sale in the world.

Opinions on that? Should we sell them off to the highest bidder, since it's for charity, or just do a fixed price thing? Or do you have any other ideas?


Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm Rationally Mean

Last night, I saw this video where my lovely daughter, Ronda, told the media that I made her get on the mat and do push-ups 6 days after her knee surgery, which is true. She said that after her last fight, she had both knee surgery and stitches in her hand, so I came over to her house, told her that her stomach was fine and made her do her ab workout in front of me. That is also true. In fact, I came over a few days and did that and did the workout with her. Days when I was out of town or too busy, I got her two older sisters go over and do her ab workout with her.

You might think I'm irrationally mean to have no sympathy for someone who has stitches in TWO parts of her body, who just had surgery and just won a fight in 16 seconds.

Well, I might be mean but I'm not irrationally mean.

Here are a few things I've noticed over the years:
  • Elite athletes get accustomed to physical training and when they can't train, they get depressed. Being able to do even part of their regular workout, to break a sweat, makes them feel a little more their normal selves. I can guarantee you that Ronda felt better after she got out of bed and did her normal ab work out. I, on the other hand, did not, because I am old and my normal ab workout consists of sitting up and getting out of bed.
  • If you are not planning on retiring after an injury, then you need to get back in shape. The fewer muscles you let atrophy, the easier getting back into shape will be. If you exercise any muscles that are not injured, you may even gain strength in those areas. At worst, you will have less of a hole to climb out of than if you had spent your recovery period sitting on the couch eating ice cream. The sooner you start working out, the better off you will be. If you have a body part that is injured, it only makes sense to work on that during physical therapy and work whatever else you can the rest of the time.
  • Athletes who are in a sport that requires weight cutting never like cutting weight because no sane person likes cutting weight. When they are injured, it is very tempting to use that as an excuse to eat bon bons and sit on the couch, because everyone would like that lifestyle if it had no consequences, and hey, I'm injured. But guess what, it does have consequences because now you have 10 pounds more to cut and you are recovering from a knee injury so you shouldn't be running it off. 
  • Injuries can lead to a vicious circle where the athlete does not train, is depressed, overeats, is depressed about being overweight and out-of-shape, so lays in bed and overeats more. 
  • Sometimes, athletes get so frustrated that they are losing muscle mass and gaining weight that they start working out too soon, causing re-injury and the whole cycle starts over.
  • An injury can be an excuse, "I can't work out because my knee is hurt."

Just in life in general, I've noticed people are often looking for an excuse not to win. It's hard to train. It's hard to run a business. It's hard to write a book. It's hard to raise a family. I can't because --

Just stop it!

I think it's best to live life without excuses, to focus on what you can do instead of what you can't. I apply that to everything. I was writing a paper for a software conference and there was an update to the software. When I looked in the documentation for my problem it said, "see usage guide" and when I looked at the link for usage guide it said, "coming soon". Now, if I could see into the future, I don't know what I'd be doing but I wouldn't be writing programs for statistical analysis, I'm pretty sure.

I pouted for about two seconds, and then I decided to write this post instead. You're welcome.

Speaking of books, Jim Pedro, Sr. & I wrote one on Winning on the Ground. You should buy it because it has good stuff in it about winning. On the ground.

Or, you can get our game, Spirit Lake, which teaches math and lets you shoot buffalo that go "Moo" (maturity is overrated).

We've had our next game, Fish Lake, in beta for a while. It should be ready for commercial release in a few weeks. I knew you were just dying to know what was going on in my life and why I haven't been blogging so much. Now you know.

P. S.  I have also noticed that the more successful people get, the more everyone else around them is inclined to tell them what they want to hear, "You're injured. You don't need to work out. You deserve to sit on the couch eating chocolate covered strawberries and playing Pokemon all day."

I have tried telling Ronda that those people are NOT her friends, that at best they are polite stalkers, but she will find out I'm right. Just like that one time I told her that she would be better off if she traded in that boyfriend for a monkey. She ended up wishing she had a monkey.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy Birthday to me - and then this happened

Today is my 56th birthday and we had plans to have the whole family go to Jiraffe's, a very nice French restaurant in Santa Monica, reservations, dressing for dinner and the whole nine yards.

I left at 2:20 to go pick up the lovely Julia De Mars at prep school 90 miles away. It took me about 2 1/2 hours in traffic and just as I turned off to the entrance to her school I got TWO flat tires.

I should point out that beautiful as the campus is, it is smack in the middle of nowhere. No tow trucks. No mechanics. No rental cars. The only good point is that I am literally in front of the entrance, so I can walk to her dorm and tell her the bad news.

So ... an hour later AAA manages to get a tow truck up there and drive us 17 miles to Ventura. Obviously, dinner reservations in Santa Monica are cancelled.

While standing by the road in the cold, I call Ronda who says,

"I'm on it."

I believe she also sang some things about saving the day but I was not in the best mood.

The very nice tow truck driver drops us in Ventura where all of the auto repair and rental car places are closed, but I leave my keys in the morning pick up slot, to have my car fixed in the morning.


We walk to Starbucks where my perfect Julia studies while I FINALLY get a nice latte. Shortly after, Ronda walks in, having driven like a bat out of hell from Venice.

Walking down the street looking for a place to eat dinner, since there is not a snowball's chance in hell of us making it to Santa Monica in time, we run into someone who says he is one of Ronda's fans, right in front of a terrific restaurant we'd been meaning to try (Watermark, in case you want to know).

We go up for dinner and this gentleman has paid for our drinks in advance. (Recommend the cucumber martinis, big time.)

The waitress, Casey, mentions that Victor Ortiz (world boxing champion and also in Expendables 3) is from Ventura and this is one of his favorite places. Ronda calls and invites Victor to have dinner with us but, ironically, it turns out he is on his way to meet someone in LA at that exact moment.

We had a great dinner  - filet mignon, cheesecake stuffed chocolate covered strawberries, the whole nine yards. When we ask for the bill, she tells us that Victor Ortiz has called her and said don't you dare charge them a thing, as soon as I get back in town, I will come pay the bill.

 So, my birthday which began with two flat tires 90 miles from home was rescued by a dinner with two lovely daughters at a nice restaurant paid for by a sweetheart boxer.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jesse Jones - Semper Fi

I knew Jesse Jones for more than half of my life. We met when I was 23 years old and just moved to San Diego. He refereed my matches, coached my competitors and 25 years later when my children were competing, he was refereeing their matches and running national championships in which they competed.

He was the tournament director for the first junior nationals Ronda ever won - she was 12 years old.

If you never knew Jesse, you missed out. He was a gentleman, a marine, a successful businessman and loved his family. He was the kind of guy you'd like on your team and as a next door neighbor.

We people use the term, "Pillar of the Community", I think of Jesse, particularly when it comes to the judo community. Here is just a little bit to give you an idea of the kind of man and judoka he was.

For the past 45 years, Jesse Jones has:
  •  Served in various roles/officer for the Pacific Southwest Judo Association, a Yudanshakai under United States Judo Federation.
  • Served as Director of Operations for United States Judo, Inc. (USA Judo) from 1992 to 1996.
  • For the past twenty-five years he served as the commissioner of judo for the California State Games.  It is to be noted, that starting in 2015, the judo portion of the California States will be named the Jesse Jones Memorial Tournament.  In the words of Ms. Sandi Hill, Director of the California State Game “He is one person that we will never forget!”
He served in various roles in the following major judo events in the San Diego area:
1987 - Technical Official, International Military Sports Council (CISM)
            1987 – Technical Official, World Police-Fireman Games
            1990 – Tournament director for USA Judo Senior National
            2004 – Co-Tournament director of USA Judo Senior National
            Hosted several USJA Junior Nationals several times starting in 1987
1996 - Technical Officer at the 1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta
            1991 – Chief Scorer for the 1991 US Olympic Festival (Judo) held in Los Angeles, CA.

            Taught judo, under the club name of UNIDOS, at Naval Air Station, North Island, San Diego, CA; Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA; Clairemont Boys Club, San Diego and many other locations.

            Participated in the 1968 All-Marine Judo Championships

Below, courtesy of Jerry Hays, are some words about his passing from judoka around the United States.

From Rene Zeelenberg, Ex USAF Judo Coach

Thanks for letting us know.  Many never met Jesse and I really don't know him that well but he was a fellow judoka.  I wish his family well, plz pass on our condolences from the Alamo Judo Family.

From Dr. Jack and Judy Hegenauer

  Thanks for notifying us about Jesse.  I’m really sorry about that.  Jesse was a fine man, and a tireless worker. 

From James Bregman, Bronze Medal in 1964 Olympic, Washington, DC

Sad to hear this news.  He made a major and prolonged contribution to American Judo.


From Judo Gregg

  He was the one and only one that helped me get my Dojo started.  He set up the business deal for me on my first purchase of tatami mats too.   Great guy.   A real Sensei.

From George Membrilla

First, we have lost a very important man in the sport of American Judo.
I send my condolence and prayers to his family.
May Jesse rest in peace.

From:  Robinson Family, Penascola, FL
++++++++++++++++++++++++

So sorry to hear of Jesse's passing. The ranks are thinning. God bless you all.

Last, but not least, from his fellow Marine

From E L Beshimentob and Maisha Mayfield (North Carolina)

Please convey our condolences directly to Jesse Jones' Family from The Mayfields. He is already missed.

Semper Fi

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I Hate Fake People: Part 1

I just got back from a week in Kauai, so you'd think I'd be in a good mood - and I am, in general.

I didn't particularly want to go on vacation. I LIKE working all of the time, and I did work about half the time on vacation. As you can see, Kauai is beautiful. I went swimming two or three times a day, plus spent time with my husband and lovely youngest daughter, so that was good.

Still, there were a couple of things that irritated me a bit when I got home. One was for the umpteenth time someone telling me they wanted to help out Gompers Judo kids and then not following through and doing anything.

It's bad to stereotype, I know, but the fact is, I can't stand most people in the entertainment industry. It's their fucking JOB to pretend.

If it was 100% up to me, I wouldn't let them ever come to Gompers Middle School again. There have been so many film crews and photographers through there, all because Ronda started the program. So, now, when they want to do some show on her they show up and all say the same insincere bullshit,

"Oh, this is so great what you are doing here. We want to help."

And we never hear from them again.

That's probably why when Ronda came out to teach class a couple of months ago she refused to tell anyone in the media in advance and told people who found out about it they were NOT welcome. She said she wanted the kids to know she came for them and not a photo opp.

In five years, I will list the people who have helped out Gompers (and thank you a million)

  • Sean Davila who lent us mats for THREE YEARS.
  • Gary Butts who gave us mats and a crash pad.
  • My sister and my mom who bought more mats and another crash pad.
  • Jesse Moya from moya brand who gave the kids judo gis - and sent them a box of jackets and t-shirts for Christmas presents.
  • Elizabeth, from Fight Chix who sent the kids t-shirts and personal notes of encouragement. 
  • The wonderful people at Welcome Mat Judo (Kenny Brink and company), who gave us t-shirts, bought dinner and showed hospitality in a hundred other ways large and small when we went to Kansas City.
  • Jay from Venice Judo (my old club) who bought cases of water for the kids.
  • Aimee from Xyience who sent t-shirts and energy drinks
  • The equally wonderful people at Guerreros Judo Club who invited us to their practices, tournaments and picnic.
  • Two people who follow me on twitter who donated money to help send the kids to Kansas City (CustomNinja and NateSmith)
  • Jose Gonzalez, Jimmy Sanchez, Will Beane and Ronda, all of whom taught for free for years.
  • Dave Overbury at Ogden Judo who invited us to practices and tournaments at his club.

Here is the interesting thing - NONE of these people got anything out of this. They didn't get photo opportunities, footage they used in TV shows for which they made a lot of money, nothing. This has led me to the not particularly original conclusion that there are givers and takers in this world.

The reason I say I would not like any more media at the Gompers practices is because I don't think it's good for the kids to be exposed to that kind of bullshit. They have enough experiences already with people claiming to care and disappearing in three or six months when a better job opportunity comes through or the situation just becomes too difficult for them. We don't need to add any more to it.

At first, I thought it was a good thing that media came in and said something good about the school and the neighborhood for a change.

Now, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When I was younger, we used to call people from the universities and non-profits "poverty pimps". They would come into the neighborhood for a week or a month and then write some grant and get money to talk about their experiences or some bullshit.

Years ago, the Director of Special Education at Turtle Mountain told researchers they couldn't do studies on the reservation on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome any more. I asked her why and she said,

"What good are they? They come out here, do their studies, write up some papers so they can get tenure and what about us? We are no more ahead of where we were before but now we're depressed because we know how bad the problem is."

It reminds me of a comment Ronda made when someone asked her about her experiences in Hollywood,

"Everyone is really nice, but, who knows? They wouldn't be very good actors if they couldn't convincingly act like they like you."

That is not the life for me. One of the Ron-tourage (our family's name for the people who have now appeared out of the woodwork and claim to be "family" to Ronda) said to me,

"Dr. De Mars, I don't think you like me."

To which I replied,

"You're right. I don't."


Friday, August 1, 2014

My House is Dirty but my Conscience is Clean

Now that all of my kids are doing well, I get a lot of people asking me how I managed to have four children all turn out to be high-achieving, well-adjusted people.



There are a few answers to that. One is purely by the grace of God, and I mean that. None of my children are schizophrenic, autistic or mentally handicapped. Those are cards that just get dealt and it so happened that none of them got dealt to me.

So far, we've hit the genetic lottery in this family.

A second answer is that success depends on when you measure it. There have been times during their teenage years when each one of my children appeared to be on the high road to hell.

When people ask that question, though, I'm pretty sure they want a concrete answer regarding something I did.

Priorities. 

My house is dirtier than it used to be because my grandchildren live close now and they come over and mess things up. When all of my children lived at home, it was far worse.

I looked at it this way: there were a finite number of hours in the day. It was important to me to have a career where I could both support my family in the style to which I wanted to be accustomed and to "add another grain of sand to the scientific beach". So, I worked.

I believe strongly in the Greek value of a strong mind in a strong body, so I pushed all of my children to participate in sports of some kind and to do well academically. Occasionally, they pushed back.

Taking children to judo tournaments, soccer practice, pole vault practice, SAT study classes, summer science camp, track camp, marine biology camp - all of that took time and cost money.

Paying for private elementary school, high school and college all cost money, which meant more work.

Driving kids to the school, the library, the beach, hiking trails in the mountains, friends' houses where they were (supposedly) studying, bassoon lessons, piano lessons, dance lessons, swim lessons, drum lessons, gymnastics lessons, judo lessons - all took time and most of it cost money.

Having cats, dogs, birds, frogs, guinea pigs and chinchillas takes time, money and effort.

I'm not sure how much of that my kids would remember if  they thought about their childhoods, because they took it all for granted.

"Oh, I just went to marine biology camp once."

"I didn't go to the most expensive private high school in Los Angeles."

Plenty of it - ballet lessons, mommy and me swim lessons, library story hour - happened when they were probably too young to remember.

The rest of it they took for granted because, hey, it was the only life they knew.

If there was something I did right (and so did my late husband, and my current husband), it was to put a priority on our children over stuff.

We still live in a townhouse in Santa Monica. We never moved to a big house in Malibu or bought a sports car. Instead, we put our money into private schools and lessons of every  type. Our children have traveled the world as a member of the Olympic team, an exchange student and just a very spoiled teenager. The one who did not travel very much ended up going to graduate school, so she also cost us quite a bit. When it came to decisions, we invested in our children's futures, not just our money but also our time.

So, if you came to my house when they were young, you probably thought it was a disaster. We did have a housekeeper, but it was an uphill battle for her with six of us running in, out and around the town. For years, we expected her to open the door on Monday morning, see the havoc that had been wreaked over the weekend and say, "Fuck it! I quit!" 

Fortunately, she never did.

Some people think that having a clean house is a matter of discipline. You make the children do the dishes, clean their rooms, sweep the kitchen - everyone has chores.

I had a different view. Everyone had responsibilities and theirs was to excel academically and get enough exercise to be healthy.

Jim Pedro, Sr. once said to me,

"I bet if you didn't go walking on the beach so often you'd have time to clean your house."

Exactly.



Monday, July 28, 2014

I've decided to look my age

Sometimes,  I watch these TV shows where I get interviewed and everyone else has had "work done". Their hair is dyed, their chins  -or  whatever - have been nipped and tucked by plastic surgeons. They are all made up.

Here is how my day starts whenever I am being filmed for anything:

  1. I take a shower and brush my teeth.
  2. I put on clothes that fit.
  3. If I remember, I brush my hair.
  4. I drink several cups of coffee.
  5. I sit down in my office and start working.
  6. People I have forgotten about show up at my door with lights, cameras, sound equipment.
I don't own any make up and I don't get my hair done all that often because I am usually too busy traveling to parts far and yonder demonstrating the educational games my company makes.  In fact, I told Ronda yesterday that I'm not doing any more of these interviews because it takes time away from my work and it's not as if she needs the help with publicity.

Briefly, I considered whether I should get make-up, a hair stylist. I found this picture recently of my grandmother. She didn't try to look like anything but she was. An old woman. There is nothing wrong with being who you are.

So, I decided that it is okay to be 55, almost 56, and look like it. There are some people who want to be known for the looks. I want to be known for my work.


=== Shameless commercial plug ===

Here are some examples by the way, the book on matwork I wrote with Jim Pedro, Sr. , Winning on the Ground.



Spirit Lake: The Game - an adventure game that teaches math and history. You can buy it for yourself or donate a copy to a student or school.