This past weekend, I successfully tested for my brown belt (Sankyu) in Judo. I had started Judo in college (last century) and for over 15 years couldn’t find the willpower to get back in to the sport. Then Kayla Harrison won gold in the 2012 Olympics. Something about an American finally winning Judo gold gave me the motivation I needed to find Sensai Barnett at the Jiu Jitsu Institute in downtown Chicago. Searching the internet for judo clubs in Chicago, you’ll find the current web page is optimized for the Mosaic browser — (note: a new website is in the works) — but perhaps the club’s web presence is an allegory for the style of training one will receive: traditional.
I entered JJI as Gokyu (Orange belt) which essentially meant that I knew how to take my falls. And take my falls I did. One of the first Judoka I met was Roneye, who took great pleasure in slamming my butt, and over the years we’ve become good friends. There he is choking out Joe, who took the last beer following my test.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m leaving Chicago to start a new position at SUNY Brockport. While I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue judo in Brockport, I am going to miss my Chicago buddies. I have grown to rely upon their passion for judo, commitment to improving themselves and respect for Kano’s Judo ideals. (Although to be honest, if we were to truly abide by that maximum efficiency/minimal effort concept, I wouldn’t be as exhausted after our Saturday workouts.)
I couldn’t leave my Judo family without giving them something to remember me by. When we weren’t talking about how Teddy Riner was dominating the sport, I’d have to share what my latest maker project was; so I designed a plaque for the dojo.
Its design is a mix of elements from our team patch, some self defense promotional materials, and to add a touch of geekiness, a quote from JFK – translated into Japanese – that embodies both Judo principles and the maker spirit.
To to all of my JJI friends and teachers, Sankyu very much for your companionship. I know I deserve Roneye’s special takedown because of that pun. I’ll miss you guys.