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Interview: Daniel Camarillo

Today I am pleased to present an interview that I recently did with Dan Camarillo, awesome Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor and and 20+ year judo veteran. Dan has a lot to say in this interview about teaching kids judo, the roles of parent vs. coach vs. referee, and avoiding injury in martial arts. Enjoy...
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PATRICK PARKER: I interviewed your brother, Dave Camarillo, a few months ago and learned a LOT about the relationship between judo and jiu-jitsu. I wouldn't want to pit brother against brother, but honestly, brothers hardly ever agree 100% on anything, so was there anything Dave said in that interview that surprised you or that you think about differently?.
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DANIEL CAMARILLO: My brother and I have the same views when it comes to Judo, JiuJitsu, MMA or any other Martial Arts. I read David’s interview and did not read anything I would disagree on. We both had our problems from our last instructor, but that alone is not what made us believe in free training.
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Our father always brought in new instructors or even entire teams from Japan to help us out. We even traveled to Fresno and sometimes as far as San Jose to get the best training. I spent a couple of my summers in Japan instead of goofing off between school breaks. When we did start JiuJitsu all that changed and we never left our academy until certain events opened our eyes again. Now I tell all my students that, “I don’t know everything and the best way to become a top competitor is to visit other schools and learn what you can.”
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PATRICK: How did your dad manage to send you to Japan or to bring in teams of players to give you new training partners and greater experience? Sounds expensive!
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DANIEL: It is very expensive. My brother and I have traveled just about our whole lives. When someone talks about a place in the US, I can usually say I have been there. Although, most of the time it was not for site seeing, it was to compete, and when the competition was over, it was time to go back home. My father owns his own insurance company and does very well. My mother works for Gallo right now, but has always had a good job. Together they have always had enough to send us where ever we needed to be for training and competition experience.
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I always say we have been very fortunate to be able to do so. There are athletes out there that do not have that luxury to travel and compete like we did. Judo has always been at the bottom in the US for funding competitors. If it was football or baseball, they would get the funding they need. They get scholarships for college, and the Judo athletes are just as good of an athlete as any of the sports out there.
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PATRICK: You guys got started early in life doing judo with your dad. I'm in a similar situation, teaching my sons (currently ages 7, 5, and 4) kiddie judo. The 7- and 5-year olds are really starting to take off in their practice after about a year of training and they are a joy to watch. Do you have any advice on teaching kids from your own experiences? What would you do the same or different from how your dad taught you guys?
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DANIEL: When I was younger, I did not understand why my father pushed me so much. I did quit several times. Now that I am older, I am very thankful for what my father pushed me through. I look back and wish I would have realized this sooner, because I would have trained even harder. Teaching a young child the importance to train is the hardest part. But if you can figure that one out, please let me know. :-)
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I am actually expecting a child and I will encourage them to learn. If they become good at it, I will most likely push them, but as long as they have the knowledge I am ok with that.
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As for teaching kids. I think the most important is to make sure they are enjoying it. Once they hit a little more of a mature age, then you can start to push them and see how they take it. It also depends on how far they want to go in that sport, if they don’t have some drive, it will never work.
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I want to add this. There is a huge difference in being pushed by your coach than your father. Most people will rebel if its from their father than their coach. I would advise to only push so much and let the coach do most of it. If the parents encourage more than push, I think you will get a better result. My father was both, so I think that also had to do with me always wanting to quit. My father had a very hard task, because David and I would try to get out of practice a lot. But like I said, in the end I am very thankful for everything my parents did.
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PATRICK: There is a perpetual debate in judo circles as to whether competition is good or bad for kids? What have you seen as the plusses and minusses of coming up from an early age with your dad explicitly wanting y'all to be champion competitors.
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DANIEL: I think this question could be for any sport. Not everyone is able to pick up on a sport and if that kid is not able to, then don’t push them to become a champion. It does not mean they cant train or compete. But when you expect too much from someone and they can not deliver, it can drive them away, from not only the sport, but who ever is pushing them. A fellow training partner a long while ago was pushed. When he left the house to compete, his father would tell him not to call if he did not win. I think that is a terrible way to treat your kid. That person quit Judo a long time before I ever did, even though he was good. You should always encourage them.
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I have always thought the best time to start someone is at a young age. The more time you spend in a sport, the more you will learn. Competition is another word for experience, the more you compete, the more experience you will have. Starting a kid to compete at a young age is not bad.
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PATRICK: How do you see the martial arts – especially judo and juijitsu – growing and changing?
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DANIEL: Judo has fallen. There was a point in time for 10 years straight, when my brother and I would compete almost every single Sunday in Judo. We lived in Bakersfield at the time and would travel all over California. But if you look for Judo tournaments now, you will be lucky to find one competition every other month. I have also noticed the level of the competition in the US has dropped, and all this started when the UFC started.
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UFC blew up JiuJitsu, and now there is a JiuJitsu competition just about every weekend in California. It would be nice if Judo would pick back up. JiuJitsu is not complete without Judo, those sports need each other. Combining Judo and Jiujitsu is what made my brother and I successful in competition.
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PATRICK: Most everybody who expresses an opinion on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo says that judo guys should learn some groundwork from the BJJ guys and the BJJ guys should learn some throws from the judo guys. What specific skills or techniques in particular do you think each art can offer the other?
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DANIEL: This is a very good question. Both sports have something to offer, at the same time they have moves that won’t work in the other sport. For instance: In Judo, you can end a match in seconds by throwing your opponent on his back with a perfect throw. But in JiuJitsu, you can jump to guard. You can not do that in Judo or the match will be over when you hit the ground. As for JiuJitsu, If you don’t execute a throw like seoinage correctly, you can get choked out.
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So I don’t use all my Judo throws in JiuJitsu. Although I do use seoinage, I just make sure its fast and accurate. I try to stick with a lot of leg techniques like foot sweeps. I love uchimata and my uchimata switch. Uchimata is probably one of the best you can use because of the way your opponents land can open an opportunity for an armlock, or even taking their back.
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Jiujitsu has really fine tuned my submissions. I have always been good at armlocks, but now I completely understand the details of them and have even created different ways of executing them. My chokes have always been week, but it still has helped out by doing double attacks for an armlock. As for the sweeps and reversals, I have gotten a lot better since I started JiuJitsu.
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So both sports helps out each other and I believe is a must.
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PATRICK: Both judo and juijitsu are rough sports. Which do you think is more likely to injure the participants? What kinds of injuries have you seen in your career?
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DANIEL: Like my brother said in his interview. There is nothing harder than Judo. There was a thread on a JiuJitsu forum that talked about this exact question. I responded by saying Judo is the roughest Martial Arts there is due to how hard the training is and how explosive the throws are. Not only that, the twisting your body takes. Some of the people who responded did not agree. Well, I have trained at some of the hardest Judo and JiuJitsu schools, and still say Judo is the roughest! Let me put it this way, try getting thrown about 40 times a night for a week by top Judo Competitors while training like a top wrestling school. JiuJitsu has very few throws and most school do not even focus on those throws properly. Yes, the JiuJitsu training can be rough and you can get your arm popped a few times, but its still not close to Judo.
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In Judo I have had my shoulder just about dislocated. I have had my knee pop three times, and all those times I could not walk for about a month. I have been arm locked from a standing position where my opponent landed on my arm extended with his full weight. I was out for two months without even being able to move it. A lot of the top players have had either Shoulder Surgery or Knee Surgery from Judo. I have had Shoulder surgery and its all because of one throw, seoinage.
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In JiuJitsu, I have had my arm popped and my knee. Most of my jiujitsu injuries are from submissions, ankle knee and arm. Nothing near as bad as landing on my shoulder with someone on your back.
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I have broken toes and finger in both sports.
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PATRICK: Talking about injury in these sports, the judo guys outlawed chokes and armbars below about teenage but the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guys seem to be able to have pre-teens compete safely with these elements allowed. What's going on here? Are chokes and joint manipulations safe for kids or not?
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DANIEL: Now we are getting into reffing. In Judo a ref does not touch the players at all. They wear suits and are very organized. When someone is tapping, they yell “Ippon” and the match is over. They expect the players to stop and go back to their places and they award the win. You can not do this with kids. Assuming a kid knows when to tap is not being safe. You have no idea what that kid is being taught as far as attitude and knowing when to give up. Will they change their way? Probably not, its been this way for a long time and its been safe.
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In JiuJitsu, the refs interact. They get on top of the action, when they are not on their cell phones, and if they see a submission they grab you to let you know the match is over. So when it comes to pre-teens, they even stop the match without a tap. If the kid is already in a full armlock, most of the time they stop that match right away and award the other kid the win. To me, this is saying two things. One, the ref is being very safe and protecting the kid. Two, its also saying that maybe the kid does not know when to tap and might hurt himself. Meaning it is unsafe.
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I will teach my kids armlocks and chokes right away. I will even allow them to compete with submissions. But I will be a parent and teach them to give up when they know they are finished. I can understand being in the Nationals or World Championships and not wanting to tap. But any normal tournament and not tapping is taking away your training days.
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PATRICK: Thank you so much for your time and for agreeing to do this interview with me. I've really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it, and I know my readers will too.
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DANIEL: Thank you very much for wanting to interview me. I wish the best for your kids, keep them training and hopefully they will understand the how fortunate they are to be learning Judo and JiuJitsu.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview. Can't wait for Dave's second book to come out.

    ReplyDelete