I hope you are having a wonderful day.
I, quite honestly, am having a rough time and I’m not sure why.

One of my judo students had her last practice in the dojo last night before leaving for college today.  She’s headed off to school on a wrestling scholarship and I couldn’t be more proud.

She walked into Tampa Florida Judo almost 18 months ago with zero wrestling and/or judo experience and in a few months she will wrestle at the collegiate level after placing 3rd in the girl’s division of the Florida State High School Wrestling Championships earlier this year.

She utilized her judo and was known as a big thrower because of her big koshi guruma (which is known as a “head and arm” throw in the wrestling community).  And she has a lot of “heart” on the mat.

As a coach of coaches and a mentor to professional judo instructors, I always tell my clients that I love my students. And that is the truth. I ABSOLUTELY love the athletes that I coach.  If you are around me or in the dojo you will hear me tell students and parents often,  “I love you.”   It’s just the way that I was raised and it is just what I believe. I believe in love. I believe in being a tough coach. I also believe in asking for more from my athletes, at times, than they feel like they can give. But they give it and get it done because they understand and know that I love them.  And, in practice, as crazy as I may seem, the parents KNOW that I genuinely love their children.  And I do.

I love them so much that my heart hurts at times, watching them go through some of the grueling practices that are necessary for their personal development and growth.  I have said it before and I will say it again… there are many times when I sit outside in the parking lot in my car and I cry. I love the students on that mat so much that it makes my heart overflow at times.  I want to see all of them excel and do well in life, NOT JUST ON THE MAT.

I say often in my dojo, “The Judo Is Not Enough. If You Come In Here And Only Get Judo, then I have failed you.”  And that’s the truth.

The people who grace our mats, as martial arts instructors, come to us for personal development through the arts. They come for personal enhancement, not for a choke, armbars, throws and grips. Hell, they can get that anywhere. What they get from you is YOU and all that YOU provide. And it is important to know that YOU provide and do give them the best that you have to offer.

This was one of the major reasons why I wrote the book, “The Grassroots Judo Coach’s 10 Commandments: The Essential Informational and Educational Tips For Grassroots Judo Coaching Success” because it is my job and the job of other coaches to ensure that the lessons for life are being instructed as well as the techniques.  

And this is why I am hurting to bad today.

It’s because, I feel like one of my own children is going off to college.  This weekend I went to Christina’s home and I sat with her parents and grandparents and we talked about the pitfalls of being a student-athlete. Then I called 5 of my friends who are university professors and they gave her a piece of advice about school and how she can “hit the ground running” so to speak.

Then I called my client, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans and asked him to speak with her about wrestling in college and he was so gracious to do so and didn’t rush, but took his time and talked to her and made her feel comfortable.

Then I spoke with the parents about her major and we looked at the layout of the domicile setting and talked about the things necessary for room and then… we cried.  LOL.

And then she came to judo practice last night and when practice ended all the parents in the club came on to the mat and gave her some words of encouragement and advice. And then we prayed for her and then….. we cried. LOL.

Christina’s father expressed his gratitude for all the help that my wife and I provided and the environment of the dojo. It was an awesome night.

And then Christina handed me a card that I did not read until I locked up and got into my car.

Here’s what the card read:

Dear Coach Ferguson, I just wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done for me. You always do everything you can for me and words can’t explain how much I appreciate it. Walking into judo is one of the best things that has happened to me. I gained a lot more than I though I would in there. A whole lot of life lessons and most importantly a family that I will never lose. You have been like a second dad to me and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to leave without you with me. I wish I could stay, but I know I have to leave and  make something of myself and make you proud. I hope to visit as much as possible.


Very rarely do I have breakdowns but this broke me down.  I just began thanking God for the revelation that I am, indeed, walking in my purpose and doing what I was called to do which is teach and coach.  Sometimes as willing vessels we still need confirmation that we are doing what we are supposed to in order to stay encouraged. Because — just because you are purposed and called to do a thing does not mean that the things that you are supposed to do are EASY!!   The harvest is still plenty and the laborers are still too few in number.

And that is why I am writing this post and why I wrote the book about grassroots judo coaching.  It is because, we need more laborers. We need more judo, brazilian jiujitsu and wrestling coaches out there. We need more people to get into the game of coaching. We need more parents to volunteer for the high school teams, to get on the mat and to join the booster clubs.  Because we all have a role and responsibility in the growth and education of the youth and sports, especially combative sports, are a great way to aid in the development of OUR children.

Thank you so much for reading my post and I hope you found it encouraging and I also encourage you to pick up my book which is available on Amazon, “The Grassroots Judo Coach’s 10 Commandments: The Essential Informational and Educational Tips For Grassroots Judo Coaching Success”

And of course it is available on Kindle and Audible and in paperback as well. 🙂

Blessings from here to there,

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson