Below is an open letter from Brian Picklo which can be found on Brian Picklo’s website –> http://www.BrianPicklo.us
Thank You To All
For Your Support
First, I would like to thank everyone who has had a hand in this amazing journey. Mike Darter is a friend and a saint. He has been the silent support and an unbelievable help in this quest to make the Olympic Team. He ran the “Behind the Scenes” back home and was always ready for a workout. Mike’s support was indispensable. All my training partners who continually pushed me to be stronger, faster and better. I could not have done any of this without them. Travis Serna, Scott Blankenship, Bill Patten, Clint and Kyle Dake, David Fukuda, Matt Conrad, Mike Darter, and Rafael Lovato. Aside from the judo and ju jitsu workouts, a few of us would meet at Mustang High School, on Sundays after Church, and do our “Junk Yard Workouts”. We flipped tractor tires, flipped telephone poles, ran stadiums and hit the sledge hammer until we couldn’t grip it anymore. You all pushed me, and I am better for it. I especially loved those workouts, mostly because they were so dang hard, and we pushed each other past what we thought we could do. That environment was one where champions are forged.
Rhadi Ferguson is an amazing coach, strategist, and tactician. I spent the last month training exclusively with Rhadi. I first met Rhadi in 2002 at the US Nationals in Cleveland. I had a poor showing, and placed 5th. During that competition, I injured my back. I had a herniated disk in my lumbar spine. I quit judo. At least I thought I quit judo. I had some epidurals, and came back to the sport that I had fallen in love with two years later. I returned, and had quite a bit of success from 2004 to 2007. I won the World Police and Fire Games in Judo and Wrestling. I got to represent the USA in the Pan Am Cup in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
Through that time, I battled with injuries and time conflicts. By this time, I was a father of three, and a full time police officer. Again, I had to take time off from judo for a back injury. Through all of this, I was a good “fighter”, but I wasn’t a good judo player. I relied on my wrestling too much, and missed some of the finer details of judo. This kept me in the middle of the pack. I maintained a national ranking, but I was always just a little shy of being the top competitor. In 2008 at the New York Open, I once again had the opportunity to meet with Rhadi. He gave me some sound advice, and helped me to realize my potential as an Olympic contender. I went to the US Nationals in the 100 kg weight class at the advice of Rhadi.
He Took His Clothes
Off For Me…
I had not competed in this weight all year. I had to place in the top three in the US, or there was no chance for me to make the Olympic Trials. I lost my first match. Thrown for a full point. It was a long row to hoe. Rhadi was there. Again he offered encouragement and advice. He apparently saw something in me that the rest of the judo community did not. After all, we were both former college wrestlers. He was able to use his wrestling skill, and took it all the way to the Olympics. I battled back through the loser’s bracket, and made it to the bronze medal match. Rhadi helped me prepare for my final match. He stripped off his collared shirt and borrowed a judo gi. We fought grips, and had a light randori. I was impressed that this guy, this Olympian, whom I had only briefly met on two prior occasions, cared enough about me, and my hopes and dreams to offer himself up as a workout partner. He provided me with a very brief game plan. It paid off. I won the match by Ippon. I was in the Olympic Trials.
While we were warming up, for the bronze medal match, I couldn’t help but notice that Rhadi utterly owned me. He got his grip, and pretty much could do what ever he wanted. I was fighting with two hands tied behind my back. At least, that is what it felt like. I knew that I needed a lot of help in the coming months if I was going to have any chance at all at the Trials. Rhadi told me that I needed to come and train with him. I knew he was right.
I took time off of work, and went to train with the “Judo Crusader”. I hoped that under his guidance, I would be able to unlock my wrestling skill. In my mind, I was always the best athlete on the judo mat, I just lacked experience. My time with Rhadi was a crash course in experience. I had miraculously timed my visit with Rhadi while the Pan Am’s were going on in Miami. The first night in Florida, I got to train with the Cuban National Team, and the two time Olympian from Argentina at 100 kg. It was eye opening. The Argentinean told Rhadi, that I was very strong, but from my wrist to my finger tips… “Muerto”. This means “dead” in Spanish. This confirmed what I already knew. My grips sucked. That is all Rhadi and I worked on. Grips, Grips, Grips… He also began to implement a system of gripping. Again this was foreign to me. Though I competed at the highest level in wrestling, I did not have a “system”.
This system began to take a lot of anxiety away. http://www.rhadi.com/judo_success/index.html
It also opened up my wrestling to be used in Judo. This was huge. I felt like a brand new fighter. I was. I could now do the stuff that brought me success in wrestling, in judo. This was too easy. Does it really work this well? I was a little skeptical. Again, by God’s intervention and providence, I was able to compete in the Pan Am Team Tournament. It worked. I was able to throw Leo Leite, a two time Pan Am Champ for Ippon. I also threw the 100 kg player from Dominican Republic for Ippon. Alright, now I know that I am in contention for the Olympic Team.
I went home and continued to train. As soon as I could, I returned to Boca Raton, Rhadi’s home. Again, I had to take time off of work and leave my family. I am so blessed that I have the support of my wife and children. I knew it hurt them to see me leave again. It hurt me just as much. There is nothing on this earth more important to me than my family.
I could not have done any of this without their support. I missed my oldest son, Cameron’s first indoor soccer game. He is becoming quite a soccer stud. Cameron also had a solo to sing in our church’s spring musical performance. He is usually very shy. I know that this was a huge deal for him. I hated being away. I tried to talk to my wife and kids every night. My daughter told me how much she missed me, and would ask “when are you coming home”? All I could say was “soon”. While at Rhadi’s, we usually worked into the morning hours.
Uchikomi At 2:00am?
Is This Guy Mad!?!?!
The first night I returned to Boca, I did Uchi Komi’s until after 2:00 am. Rhadi had the coach from Puerto Rico, Angelo Ruiz, come and help train me. I won’t forget what he said, “If you want to be a champion, you don’t have time to sleep”. I knew I had a great deal to get accomplished in a very short time. He was right. We made the most of all the time we had. If we weren’t in the gym, we were watching film on the guys I might fight. If I wasn’t watching that, I was watching the previous Olympic, and World films. It helped. The “step over” counter to Volmer’s Uchi Mata, that I did in my first match at the Trials, was one that I picked up while watching videos, and eating eggs and grits in Rhadi’s living room. This was a trial by fire. I had no time to waste. I had to learn things quickly. I did.
Rhadi had me do scouting reports and S.W.O.T analysis http://www.rhadi.com/goldmettle/index.html. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. We stayed up so late one night, scouting Volmer, that Rhadi would fall asleep in mid sentence, and then wake up to finish the sentence. We had our game plan. All the work had been done. I was ready for the Trials. I was never nervous, just anxious to do it, and see it through to the end. My conditioning was great. Rhadi is an outstanding strength and conditioning coach. I have never felt more prepared. I think that is why I had such a low level of anxiety. I knew that the only thing between me and the Olympics was 25 to 30 minutes. Five or six, five minute matches. I had done a ton of mental preparation.
I had convinced myself that I had nothing to lose. I was enjoying the journey. Some say it is about what happens in the end that matters, I say it is about what happens on the way there, that matters. I loved the journey. I loved who I was on this journey with. I had put a lot of trust and faith into Rhadi, and likewise, he put a lot of trust and faith in me. I had begun this quest with one goal in mind, that through all of this, God will be glorified somehow. Rhadi is a Christian, and so am I. We both had faith that this was to be bigger that either one of us. I don’t believe in accidents, and I don’t believe in coincidence. I still feel that there is a blessing in this. I know that through my journey, and struggles God will be glorified. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”. I had hoped not to learn any life lessons at the Trials, but I know that this test of faith has to strengthen me in the long run.
06/13/08 10:00 am
I KNEW I WAS READY
I was bout number twelve. This was my very first Olympic Trials, but it felt like home. It was awesome to have the wrestling in the same venue. It brought me back to a time and place when I was unstoppable. Some of you know my story, others do not. At Michigan State, I went from an unrecruited walk-on, to a two time All-American, and Big Ten Champion in wrestling. I felt that way again. I felt that this is my time, this is my opportunity to make history. I did… Almost.
I was the eight seed. The lowest seed in the trials. I had the number one seed in the first round. I knew that it was a miss match, for him. I was ready for war. I was not the normal number eight seed who goes out there, and is just happy to be at the Olympic Trials. I had sacrificed, I had bled, and I had cried real tears. I felt entitled. Nobody knew the hours that I had put in, nobody knew the sacrifice of time I had made, nobody knew the psychological, and emotional investments I had made. Nobody but a select few. Those that had been beside me from the beginning. I felt I owed it to them. They sacrificed too. Many times, more than I knew.
As I was back stage, in the little stand-by area, I was brought to tears. I held them back, for the most part, but all of a sudden, it hit me, the enormity of this quest. The payment for sacrifice was that feeling I had back stage. I felt a huge rush of emotion. It was pretty much, all good, but I guess when the body is overloaded with emotion, it just cries. I felt powerful. I felt overwhelmed, but in a good way, I felt that this was a defining moment. It was.
I rode that wave all the way through the Trials Tournament. Through out the day, I had beaten a former Olympian, a two time World Team Member, and another former World Team Member. I was none of those things. I am just a cop from Oklahoma, who loves to compete. I did feel unstoppable. I went undefeated through the Trials Tournament. After I won my finals match, I didn’t have much time to recover before I had to fight Volmer, the number one seed, again. Since he was the number one ranked player, Volmer got the opportunity to fight me best of three matches. I guess I had gotten a little drained from fighting all those matches, while Volmer got to relax and plan his strategy against me.
Volmar Came Out
With A Different
The first match in the best of three went to Volmer. I have to give him credit, he came out with a new game plan, and it threw me off. He beat me by a penalty point. He never threw me for a score. The next match I threw him in overtime for the win. It was now tied one match to one. The next match would decide the Olympian. We were scoreless during regulation time, and went into overtime. I don’t remember how much time had passed, but I recall attacking him a lot, and him not attacking at all. Finally he stepped in for an attack. It was weak. He never threatened to throw me in any of the four matches we fought. I countered. As he tried to take me forward, I stepped around, and changed the direction of the throw, taking him backward. It was a throw that I was very comfortable with. I had used it many times in the past. In fact, it was just a natural reaction. I don’t even remember thinking about countering him, I just went for it. We both landed on our sides. I was a little more on my back, that him, but that is the nature of this throw. It was my throw however. Like a sacrifice throw, such as tomoe nage, the back of the thrower hits the mat, but since he initiated the move is scored against the throwee. Volmer even landed first. I have still photos of this… My score, I make the Olympic Team, end of story.
Not so fast. The referees on the mat cannot decide who to award the throw to. They confer, and watch a replay. They award it to Volmer. Dreams smashed. At this point, I am ill. I know who threw, the crowd seems to know who threw. I am sure Volmer knows who threw. We try to have the referees review the tape. All the photographers, offer up their still photos as evidence. The digital cameras, with their little screens in back, show frame by frame in a convincing manner that I was the thrower, and Volmer was the throwee. All of this for naught. There is a rule in place that says, once the referees leave the mat, the decision is final. Funny though, how do you keep a ref on the mat to field your protest. You don’t. You can’t. That is just the way it is.
I had been implored to take my case to arbitration, and fight the ruling on the mat. Can’t be done. There is another rule that says that a “field of play” call can not be overturned in arbitration regardless of how bad a call is. That is the nature of the game. There are gonna be some bad calls. You just gotta live with that sad reality. Especially sad for me, since it affects my status as an Olympian. In order to get a case overturned, I need to show some sort of fraud. I don’t think there was anything sinister at work, I just think they made a bad call. A court case could cost anywhere from 25-50 thousand dollars. Ouch. My family has already sacrificed so much for me to chase this crazy dream. I wouldn’t dare place an huge financial burden on them as well.
As of right now, I am the Olympic Alternate. Should anything happen to Volmer, I would be able to step in and fill that spot. It has always been my dream to be an Olympian. Through all of this, I still love Judo. I am as patriotic as it gets, and I would love to represent this country in what ever way I can. My family has said “I don’t care what the referees said, you are my Olympian”. For whoever reads this, I hope you will think of me as “your Olympian” as well.
2008 Olympian (well almost)
Here’s the Match
that was in Question
on the match
You can go here –> http://judoforum.com/index.php?showtopic=27184
You can also go here –> http://thejudopodcast.com/?p=160
I would like to thank Brian Picklo for his kind words and for being a gentleman of faith and honor. It has been a pleasure to coach him and befriend him. I was really looking for an opportunity to provide someone like him with the information that I have in my head. A lot of people think that being good is about having the best techniques ever. I’ve won many matches in my career and people attribute it to strength, power, athleticism, but never intelligence, intellect, better strategy and better preparation.
I always felt disrespected by that. I’m sure glad that Brian put himself under my tutelage to provide me with an opportunity to show the world that there’s more to Judo than osoto, uchimata and a jujigatame roll. For all intents and purposes, Brian won the Olympic Trials last weekend in Vegas and I’m super proud of him. He showed the world and USA Judo that he is one of the top competitors in his weight class. He never won a National Championship and won the mini tournament, beat 2 World Team Members and fought the number one player in a 2 out of 3 that was as controversial as it gets.
Brian was at my home when I was finishing the final touches on the Beyond The Rings DVD that I’m doing with Taraje. He had the opportunity to watch it and all he could say was, “That’s the truth”.
MANY OF YOU HAVE NO IDEA about the sacrifice that it takes to make an Olympic Team so what Taraje and I want to do is allow you to peel the curtain back and get a sneak peek behind the scenes so you can see exactly why Brian and his family are hurting, why my family is happy and sad at the same time and why my wife feels super drained as she had to watch my son in the stands during the Olympic Trials when he had a fever with a temperature that was volleying between 102 and 104.
The Olympic experience is HARD ON EVERYBODY. –> http://www.BeyondTheRings.com Make sure you are registered for the release on the 24th of June.
P.S. Make sure you are prepared for Beyond The Rings on the 24th of June. It will be phenomenal and less than 20 bucks and the shipping will be F.R.E.E.! http://www.BeyondTheRings.com