Some of the most rewarding experiences in my judo career is attending a clinic. I'm a bit of a judo nerd so I love getting autographs and having my picture taken with some legendary people. The clinicians can be a local judo head instructor or an up and coming cadet judoka or a 2x Olympic gold medalist. This past weekend, I got to meet Ayumi Tanimoto -- she was a force to be reckoned with when she was in her prime. She topped the Olympic podium twice making her one of the first people ever to win back to back gold medals at the Olympics. She is on my short list of favorite judo players of all time. I brought my children up to meet her, and although they've met Olympians before, my son really has started to come out of his shell. He's made many friends on the tatami and the Komatsu Cup (the tournament this past weekend) was his first team tournament -- he was in the unfortunate place of being the kid on the team where his outcome decided whether his team advanced to third place.... he lost and he was crushed. The next day at the clinic, my son was a changed boy... taking his practice seriously and trying to get better. We also brought up one of our judo friends with us. She is 6yrs old and has just promoted to yellow belt. She started judo off as the shyest kid -- not participating, standing in the corner, and just quietly observing. Slowly, she started to at least walk down the mat while the other kids did their rolls. Then eventually she was asking if she was doing it right. She became a chatterbox, and super confident in all her classes. This was her first time in a huge judo class -- but she wanted to meet an Olympian! She did all the exercises, despite being in a 90 degree room. She tried the techniques (uchimata) and some newaza. She even randori'd with Ms. Tanimoto and her kohei (her mentee), Ms. Ishikawa. She even went up to them and had them sign her belt as well as have a picture with both of them. I texted the pictures to her mother, and she couldn't believe that her daughter was posing with two people she had just met. That is what judo has done for her -- transformed her into a confident, young lady.