This past weekend, the family and I hopped on a plane and flew to Washington DC to attend a clinic by Neil Adams. He is a 9th degree black belt, two time Olympic silver medalist, world champion and 5x European world champion. And since retiring from competition, his voice can be heard on thousands of commentary tracks during any major judo event. He is one of the nicest and most sincere people on the planet. He naturally talks up a storm and his depth of knowledge on the sport is second to none. I've met him a few times before and he actually remembered me this time! He thanked me for traveling such a distance and was very ecstatic to be on the mat with my kids. My two kids loved him --- he was patient and made sure that they did everything correctly before moving on. He even did a few rounds of randori with them. At the end, he did a Q&A session and my daughter asked him what it felt like to be an author (he's written about 8 books) . I'm sure it was a question he was never asked before but in the end, he said that he felt very privileged to be an authore. After bowing out, the kids brought up some books for him to sign and he got down to their level and said that he was very honored that they had come such a long way to see him and he hoped to see them again on the mat. The kids left smiling. I feel that the most important part of judo is learning from the best, but also being inspired to be better. Neil Adams sure did that for these kids. I've met many Olympians and World Champions, and the ones that take the time to speak with the kids and to show them understanding and listening skills makes all the difference in the world. Someone can have the greatest uchimata in the world, but if they don't inspire the next generation, then their talent is lost to the next generation.
I also met up with a Kokushi Midwest Judo alumni -- Nathan Whitney. It was good to see him. I knew him from white belt and got him to his brown. Since graduating from the UofI, he's moved to DC and it was fun to share the mat with him.