Posts Tagged ‘Judo’

Above: What Judo can be!

1980

Warren in 1980

Some of you may be aware that I am currently in the final stages of being graded to my black belt in judo.  I first started judo several decades (!) ago when I was 10 years old, and then I had to stop at a blue belt level once I entered university.  I was never that enthused about judo when I was younger so when I had the time after I finished school I went onto other things and left judo behind.  Fast forward 30 years and my then 12-year old daughter started taking it, and surprisingly enough she started doing so well in competitions that it inspired me to get back on the road to getting my black belt.  I should mention that I’ll be 55 at the end of the month so it’s never too late to accomplish something!

The first step was to get my brown belt so I started attending the adult classes and slowly, ever so slowly, dusted off the techniques and began to get my timing back.  I was promoted to brown belt within 3 months of my return and then the official clock started on the path to a black belt.  In judo there are very specific requirements as a brown belt in order to be graded to black.  You need a total of 120 points, accumulated through a combination of competitions, time in training, attendance at seminars, volunteering at tournaments, etc.  For older judokas such as myself, you aren’t required to compete and you can gain 30 points per year just by attending regular classes. However, I wanted to speed up the process so I trained to be a referee and began reffing at tournaments several times a year.  The points gained by being a referee probably knocked off at least a year from just attending classes to gain points.  Also, I wanted to give back to the competition community since I fought in tournaments when I was younger.  Although refereeing can be very stressful, it can also be quite enjoyable.  The highlight of my career to date was when I reffed at the BC Winter Games this past February.

Once a brown belt accumulates enough points then there’s one more hoop to jump through before being graded, and that’s having to attend a 10 week kata clinic where you learn 9 specific throwing techniques.  Although it’s not mandatory to attend, it’s highly recommended and serves to make grading that much easier.  You also need your club’s sensei to write the grading board a recommendation letter on your behalf, so if you pull off the attitude that you won’t be attending the clinic then you likely won’t get your recommendation.  So not wanting to leave anything to chance, I signed up.

The kata clinic is held in Steveston every Monday night from 8:45 to 10:15 PM.  I live in Burnaby close to New West, so Steveston is not close and it takes me about 40 min to get there and back.  Plus, it’s at a time when it’s prime time for kicking back and winding down for the day.  Needless to say, I find it a struggle to get my butt to the class.  The clinic started in September, will end in November, and I have 3 more classes to go.  Learning kata isn’t difficult because it’s just a prescribed set of moves, like choreographed dancing, however, if you’ve never done it before then it can be very confusing.  While you’re trying to remember exactly how to pull properly for the throw, you forget that your foot needs to be planted and pivoting instead of moving.  And since there are kata competitions, it’s very important to get it right because it’s well known how good the kata can actually look.  However, the reality is that, like many things in life, it just comes down to practice, practice, practice.  The instructors know the moves like the back of their hands and have been doing the kata for literally decades, so it’s easy for them to demonstrate it.  However, for newbies like myself, we’re doing well if we can replicate the moves without looking like complete idiots.  Learning the kata will also improve my general judo as well, since I’m now being shown more accurately what makes the throws effective.

If all goes according to plan, I will finish the kata clinic on November 5th and be graded

2018

Warren today

to shodan (black belt) on November 18th.  It will have then been a 3 year long journey from my brown belt, and a 45 year journey since I first started judo, and it will be very rewarding once I can put it on for the first time.  And as proud as I should be, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that my 16-year old daughter got her brown belt in only 3 years and is already on her own journey to get her black belt.  Kids!

Advertisements

Refereeing: A commentary

Posted: December 14, 2017 by Warren Chow in Competition
Tags: , ,

161203-15.jpg

In addition to training in Krav Maga, I am involved in the judo community. For instance, I am a referee for various judo tournaments that are held in the province each year, and I have refereed for matches ranging from white belts to black belts.  In my competition days as a teenager I always took the referee for granted and didn’t appreciate the value that they brought to the match, other than to award points based on actions that the competitors would successfully execute.  However, as I evolved from being a competitor to an adult recreational practitioner, I became interested in becoming a referee and giving back to the community.  I’m unsure about other martial arts, but being a judo referee is an unpaid, volunteer position and, in fact, often involves being hundreds of dollars out of pocket having to travel to the various tournament locations.  So, “giving back” means more than just donating your time.  However, I enjoy refereeing and consider the expenses a cost of having a hobby.  Whether it is judo, or any other sport that requires referees, the role is vital because it allows the athlete to compete to their utmost degree and being in a safe, controlled environment, while being monitored by an objective 3rd party.

When I first started refereeing I was very nervous. Although I was already familiar with the point system and the various calls that the referee would make during the match, and I had taken the two-day seminar that went into much more detail on the duties of the referee before, during, and after the match, I still wasn’t prepared for being out there on the mat trying my best to make the right calls at the right times.  In fact, the first tournament I refereed at was a simple, low stake, “inter-club tournament” for juniors, but I was very nervous and was stalling as long as I could until my daughter threatened to call me out and embarrass me in front of everyone unless I got my butt out there on the mat “right now!”.  I did not have fun that day, but I also knew that it was the first time I refereed matches in real-time, with real winners and losers, and that the experience would (or should) only get better from that day forward.

161203-14.jpgThe referee is responsible for much more than is evident. In judo, the referee ensures that the mat area is clean of debris before the match, the competitors have regulation gis that fit properly, and follow the proper protocols for bowing and being prepared to fight.  During the match the referee controls the flow of the engagement by awarding points or penalties appropriately and pausing the match at the necessary times.  After the fight is over, the proper winner must be announced, and the protocols followed for disengaging from the match.  The top three priorities for a referee are ensuring the match is conducted in a safe manner to prevent injuries, being objective and fair towards both competitors, and keeping the flow of the match moving along.  As with anything with rules, the application of the rules becomes more of an art than a science.

In the referee seminar, one of the points that the instructor stressed was that, in the end, the right person needs to be declared the winner. Anything else is a lower priority.  This may seem obvious, but as the competitors are fighting, time is ticking, and points or penalties are being awarded left and right, and it can be confusing for the scorekeepers to keep up.  Although it is rare, there has been more than one occasion in which a coach on the sidelines is yelling to have the score changed because there was some mix-up, and they are right to be upset.  In the junior matches the stakes are not very high since they are regarded as developmental tournaments and learning opportunities.  However, in the more senior matches it is vital that the correct scoring is applied as the outcome can directly impact and influence the athletes’ candidacy for moving on to higher level tournaments.  Or, in the case of the annual Canadian Judo Nationals, can determine who gets to stand on top of the podium and be declared “The Best in Canada”.  As the instructor constantly repeated, any call can be overruled and corrected before the fight is officially over and the winner is declared.  And with that in mind, it made my learning curve for refereeing much less stressful.

As I’m progressing through my refereeing career it’s becoming easier and easier. With each tournament I attend, I learn a bit more and since I’m less nervous, I can focus more on smoothing out my rough edges and improve on making better judgements.  In the beginning I was stressed because, as the referee, you’re out there on the mat along with both of the competitors, so it’s easy to be self-conscious.  However, as my daughter continued to remind me, “Nobody’s looking at you, they’re watching the athletes.  They don’t care about the ref!”.  The more experience you gain as a referee allows you to progress through the various levels, and you can then be a referee at tournaments in other provinces, or at the national level.  Of course, if one had started refereeing early enough, you can gain enough experience to referee at international competitions in other countries, up to and including the Olympics.  However, for myself I’m content with staying at the provincial level for now, but who knows what will happen in the future.

In most sports there are various roles available in which a person can participate, whether it’s as an athlete, a coach, or a referee. Of course, as one gets older it becomes more difficult to be a competitor so the natural progression from there is to be a coach or a referee, if the sport requires one.  As you progress through your sporting career I hope that you remain involved even after you can no longer compete, since the experience and knowledge that you’ve gained would be invaluable input for the next generation of athletes.  Let them learn from your experience and give back to the community that helped form you to be the person you are today.  Since I find it exciting to watch competitive judo, refereeing gives me the opportunity to stay involved in the matches at an intimate level.  Also, I get the best seat in the house!

Every once in a while I see some “Krav Maga practitioners” post videos about Kung Fu, Systema or MMA, and then mock these systems about how they do not work on the street or their drills are ridiculous. The worst is when someone is trying to tell their experience of encountering real life dangers and how their experience shows these other systems do not work. These kinds of actions are both alarming and sad. It is alarming because these so called Krav Maga practitioners are investing too much of their ego in the system in which they train. In this case Krav Maga. There should be no room for ego in fighting. It is sad because they forget the essence of Krav Maga – always learn from others.

First of all, never judge other systems by merely watching videos. The videos do not show the full picture – Youtube is a double edged sword. It shows the surface information but it does not show the detailed technique, the fine touches, the pressures and psychological states of the users. Those are the key points and true essence of a system. Judging others with so little information is not a sign of intelligence or a sound tactical choice.

Here is my story. I had always been skeptical on the practical usage of a soft style martial art like Tai Chi until I met an MMA sparring partner of mine in Taiwan. Mr. Wong is both a Wing Chung and Tai Chi master. We trained together in a local MMA dojo called Evolution Combat Club. Many of the toughest MMA fighters came from this gym. Mr. Wong had competed in three pro-MMA fights when we met each other. Although I had a lack of striking skills back then, coming from a Judo background, I was confident in my grappling ability. I handled myself well against other students at the club until Mr. Wong and I sparred. Every single time we got into the clinch position I would end up on the ground without knowing what happened. The next thing I would get was a nice ground and pound MMA beat down. I was truly puzzled because I had dealt with Sambo, Judo and Wrestling fighters and there was no way in hell someone could take me down without even knowing what had happened. Mr. Wong explained to me that he was using Tai Chi techniques. This was my experience with Chinese Kung Fu and no video research in the world could tell me how Tai Chi works.

Secondly, we have to consider the historical and cultural reference of the system when we encounter it. Videos that spark the most controversy are mostly related to knife defense techniques. On and on I have heard people mock other style’s knife defense techniques. We have to put these systems in historical context. Many of these systems come from a period of time when battles were waged with long and deadly swords and knives. I do not think a small knife would cause much panic in people back in those times. In addition, some of these techniques were based upon sword or knife dueling, not against a knife attack, and we see how some of these old systems influence Krav Maga. Mocking the older systems is like mocking one’s own heritage. (1)

EskrimadorsCulturally, it is vital to understand that unlike North America, most cultures and countries retain their bladed culture of the past and knife fighting on the street is not that uncommon, even today. In fact, in the famed documentary Escrimadors , it says that the reason Escrima was not as popular and well spread as it should be, until recently, is because most Escrima masters killed each other in duels in the 70s. (2)

In today’s battles, famed Gurkha soldiers still carry their kukri into battle and used it on many occasions; sometimes, even use it to behead their enemies. (3) Now when we put both history and culture into context we might understand why certain systems do the defense the way they do. In that period of time or that region, edged weapon attacks were more common and more socially acceptable than in North America. People’s reactions are certainly different from those of North Americans. I often tell my students that Krav Maga is a system born out of a post-bladed culture and that it is fantastic for dealing with strong and brutal attacks, but not so much against complex knife attacks. Personally, no Krav Maga instructor has shown me a way of dealing against long edged weapons with which I would trust my life. In fact, only one advice was ever given about dealing against long edged weapons.

In some places dueling with knife is still part of culture

Finally, Israeli mentality – we can solve all problems. Jonathan Fader is another lead instructor and ex-IDF soldier from UTKM and we had a discussion on why some Krav Maga instructors constantly produce new ways to solve far-fetched scenarios. We think it is because the pressure of living up to the reputation of being the most innovative nation on Earth makes them believe they can solve any problem. While I was with certain organizations in the past, we were told that as an instructor we should always have an answer for students. Why do we need to have an answer for every situation and problem? The last time I checked, being a Krav Maga instructor does not equate to me being a prophet. For those who have competed in the past, we often find that a fight does not goes step 1 and step 2 but is fluid and dynamic, as a fight has a life of its own and you can rarely predict its outcome. Sometimes you end up in a position you never thought was possible. I often tell my students, here are the Krav Maga principles and techniques and the movement now is to FIGHT. Your body will tell you what needs to be done as time progresses.

In conclusion, we should always learn from others. For those who know the meaning of the original Krav Maga logo (designed by Imi) there is a round circle. It is meant to incorporate new techniques, information, research, etc. For those who are not familiar with Krav Maga history, Krav Maga is a hybrid system that takes the best parts of other systems and incorporates them. Imi himself was an accomplished boxer, wrestler, and gymnast and had trained in many other martial arts and probably British Army hand to hand combat methods. Whenever we watch a video on anything, we do not have the full perspective of the full picture. Perhaps the techniques or training methods do not look practical, however, it does not mean that they will not work once it is put into real life. Who are we to be the judge of a system based on a 2 minute video clip?

KMW-koof-mem-blk_2

At the same time, I will occasionally see other systems mocking people who practice Krav Maga and ridicule how Krav Maga does not work, etc. In essence, that does not bother me. “ Deeds not words “ I often tell students with a background in other martial arts or systems. In sparring, do whatever you want to do (within the limits of safety), use what you have learned in the past or use Krav Maga techniques – you are the only one who can say what works for you and what does not work for you. After all, my job is to arrange others to beat the snot out of you so you can find out as how I learned it in the past. Now that’s Krav Maga!

 Reference

1. http://krav-maga.com/blog/how-a-krav-maga-technique-is-changed-and-modified/

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vez6y08rB8

3. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2049987/Gurkha-beheaded-Taliban-soldier-Afghanistan-battle-cleared-return-duty.html

 

Written by : Borhan Jiang

Edited by: Warren C, Josh Hensman

Never Give Up

After several years on hiatus from training in judo, I recently decided to start training again.  If you’re interested, the full background on my decision can be found here.  An update to that story is that on June 1st I was promoted from a blue belt to a brown belt, so the end goal of one day earning my black belt is slowly becoming a reality.

The last 3 months has passed fairly quickly and I’m surprised at how fast I was able to progress to a brown belt.  Is the judo club I attend then just a belt factory?  No, it isn’t.   I was already close to getting my brown belt years ago but never graded for it before I stopped training, so essentially I just needed to get my timing and speed back up to par and dust off some of the techniques.  I’m still not where I want to be, but in the instructors’ eyes I must be good enough to rate my brown belt.

It was not easy to get back into judo.  It is a very physical sport that requires you to get thrown a lot, and when you’re doing randori (sparring) your partner is providing full resistance, and so the techniques you execute have to be proficient enough to catch them off guard.  Not an easy thing to do when they’re trying to do the same thing to you.  Many nights I didn’t feel like going to class but I knew that if I allowed myself not to, it was a slippery slope and there would be nothing to prevent me from not attending the next class, and the one following that.  So I went, and afterwards I would feel very good about myself not just physically but also mentally.

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with training.  I know some people love it and that’s all they want to spend their spare time doing.  Not me.  I work full-time, have the regular demands put on me from my wife and two young girls, and train in Krav Maga twice a week.  Throw in the judo classes (no pun intended) and my week is pretty well full up and there’s not much time to relax.  Then it’s just rinse-repeat the cycle each week, and maybe every so often a holiday breaks up the pattern.  So while I know that staying in shape is important and healthy, most nights when I get home from work I just want to kick back for the evening and relax watching TV or reading.  That’s when it’s most difficult to get myself up off the couch and go to the dojo, or to Krav Maga class on a Sunday afternoon.  However, forcing yourself to do something when it’s the most mentally difficult is what will define you as someone who is determined and perseveres, as opposed to someone who doesn’t succeed at something and thinks the world is against them.

Jimmy Pedro is an American  judo competitor and coach, 3 time World medalist and 2 time Olympic bronze medalist.  One of his famous quotes is “Every champion wants to quit… At 19, I lost at the Kano Cup, went 0-2. I remember sitting on the steps of the Budokan, thinking to myself: I hate this sport, I just want to quit, this stinks.  People see champions as winners, but they don’t see those dark days, the days when they struggled or they lost or they failed or the day in training when they got their butt whooped or those tournaments where they fought miserably. We all go through it. Nobody goes undefeated.”  So if even a world class champion can get discouraged in trying to attain a goal, then it’s completely understandable that for us common folk it can be even harder.

jimmyolympic

Before my daughter Christine joined judo it was inconceivable to me that I would re-join judo and continue progressing towards a black belt.  It was absolutely out of the question, especially given my age (51).  But now that I’ve been training for a few months and have my brown belt, it’s not only conceivable but also inevitable given I put in enough time.  And while I’m happy that I got my brown belt I now think that it’s “no big deal”.  My point is that from the outside it can seem like a real achievement to somebody looking in, because if they were in the same position I was in, they would probably think “I could never do it”, but being on the inside it’s truly not a big deal.  Now multiply that by 100 fold throughout a person’s lifetime where many people face major challenges, but put their heads down and grind through it anyway, and soon you have a huge gap between the people who have achieved things throughout their life (and think it’s no big deal) and those who feel they could never do it and think they’ll never amount to much (but only because they’ve never tried).  “Fear” is a great inhibitor and it gets less and less scary the more you do things out of your comfort zone and more and more scary to those who give up even before they try, just because they think they can’t do it.  Challenges are incremental and are less intimidating when you take them small bites at a time.

If you have doubts about whether you can do something, then the greatest mistake is that you don’t try anyway.  Yes, you have to weigh the pros/cons, benefits/risks, etc., but if it’s only fear holding you back then that’s the perfect opportunity to face it and know that you’ve tried your very best.  In the end, trying something and failing at it is better than not trying at all.  In my case if, for some reason, I don’t earn my black belt in judo then I won’t have any regrets because I’m now much further ahead than I thought I would ever be.  So think about something that you’ve wanted to do but have just been held back because of fear, acknowledge it, and then go ahead and do it anyway.  In the end, you’ll be proud of yourself, the next challenge will come along, and you’ll overcome that as well.

And if you ever feel like quitting, think about another one of Jimmy Pedro’s quotes:  “I’ve never been broken in a judo match. I’ve never quit. I’ve fought some guys who were tough as nails. I’ve had to fight for my life. But I’ve never backed down. I might’ve been beaten, but I went out fighting.”

Warrens Brown Bet Cert

By: Warren Chow

In addition to Krav Maga I now train in judo.  Truth be told, I first started training in judo in my youth and reached blue belt level before I took a hiatus for years.  A couple of months ago I decided to start training again with the objective of one day earning my brown belt, then eventually my black belt.  I attend at least two 1.5 hr classes a week and slowly I’ve been getting my speed and timing back up to par, and have been scraping the rust off my techniques.  After being away from judo for so long it’s interesting to get back into it and see how the body holds up, because my mind knows what it wants to do, but the body doesn’t want to cooperate.  All in good time.

The dojo I train at is at a community center so the training is less intense than at a dedicated judo club, and this suits me just fine because I’m not looking to enter any tournaments for the foreseeable future.  Not many of the other people who train there are competitive, and in general it’s a good group of people.  However, there’s one person in specific who’s worth mentioning because lessons can be learned from his actions.  He is a green belt, early 20s, and average height and weight for a Caucasian, although he weighs about 35 lbs more than me.

Judo Randori

The other week I was doing randori (judo sparring) with him and it became clear that my technique was better than his.  I’m more controlled and fluid as opposed to his judo being tainted by the assumption that being younger and stronger equates to domination over his opponent.  The judo rules have changed over the years and one can no longer grab the leg of the opponent, because it was being noticed that many judokas with a wrestling background would immediately dive in for a leg takedown and the fight would be over.  So the international judo federation decided that instead of adapting to this move, they would just ban it outright.  Not that I agree with this approach but I don’t sit on that panel.

While we were doing randori his leg came up and I inadvertently grabbed it, because back in my judo youth days I could do that and habits are hard to break.  It was an instinctive reaction but as soon as I grabbed it, I knew it was no longer allowed so I began to release it.  He, however, immediately shouted out “Hey, that’s not allowed!”.  I apologized and said I realized that and it came out of habit, but inside I was thinking that he was too quick to pull the foul card.  Alternatively, he could have used it as an opportunity to test his judo techniques to see if he could counter it and then tell me about the rule change afterwards.

Another time we did randori I was able to trip him up several times and performed a sloppy throw on him, but in his mind he wanted to dominate me.  After all, I’m much older and much lighter than him.  However, when he tried a throw my experience took over and I was able to shift my weight enough to make him collapse on his stomach, with me landing on his back.  I started to throw an arm around his neck to apply a rear naked choke but stopped because we were only doing stand-up randori.  There were a couple of students sitting on the side watching us and they complimented my counter.  For some reason this made the guy angry, and after we got up to start again he completely lost control and charged at me. He had completely forgotten his technique and was just trying to overpower me with his strength and energy, but in judo that doesn’t work.  I defended against his aggression and after he saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere he settled down, to which I then said with a slight smile, “What was that?”.  I talked with my daughter about him because he helps teach the kids class, and she says he’s very annoying.  He will strut around the room watching the kids and then when he tries to show them what they’re doing wrong, he’ll get confused and then ask the instructor to come over and clarify the move.

In my opinion, this person is not a martial artist, and I highly doubt he would be able to protect himself in a real-life fighting scenario.  In the first instance, I performed an action (grabbing his leg) that not only went against his expectations, but also against his ability to defend against it.  Yes, I was not supposed to do that and I was in the process of letting his leg go, but his only defense against it was to protest.  In the street you can’t say “That’s not fair.”  You deal with it first, then you put the pieces together after.  In the second instance, he clearly lost control.  By doing so, his technique fell by the wayside and he became clouded by his anger and frustration.  In the street, losing your cool will get you killed.  And his attitude in teaching my daughter’s class demonstrates to me his overconfidence and arrogance in his technical knowledge which, again, can have disastrous consequences on the street.  I’m sure he loves judo and that’s why he was frustrated that his skill, when put to the test against someone who, in his mind he should dominate, failed miserably.  However, he should use his learnings to decide if he wants to be a judoka, or an effective martial artist who can adapt to the unexpected and survive on the street if the situation arose.

Ask yourself this: Do you want to survive on the street?  Then expect the unexpected and learn to adapt.

Written by: Warren Chow

When I was 9 years old my father had enrolled me in judo.  In the beginning I had no idea what I was doing, but as I grew through my teen years I began winning tournaments and represented our zone in my weight division for the 1980 BC Winter Games.  While I progressed to a respectable blue belt level, I never achieved my black belt.  I wanted to continue training through university as my older brother had done, but the program I was studying demanded too much of my time for anything left over to go to judo.  That’s when my judo career ended.  Through my 20s and 30s, my focus became career, marriage, and kids.  I was still interested in judo, and martial arts in general, but life just took over and my priorities changed, so I relegated myself to being a sideline spectator and not really being involved myself.  Yes, I could have gone back to judo but I just didn’t want it that much, and besides, there were other martial arts to learn.  It was a case of “Been there, done that”.

I started training in Krav Maga in my late 40s and, while I wish I could have started earlier, I know that it just would not have been possible.  Vancouver did not have, in my opinion, a school with qualified instructors until Urban Tactics came along.  When they mentioned that they were thinking of starting a kids class and asked whether or not my then-11-year old daughter Christine would be interested, I immediately signed her up.  Much to my pleasant surprise, Christine really enjoys the classes and, just as importantly, she’s good at it.  She’s now been taking it for two years and she can execute one hell of a groin kick!  One day she asked me, “I know we’re never supposed to go to the ground, but if I do I still want to know what to do, so can I also take judo?”.  I said of course she could, but I made it clear that I wasn’t asking her to, and I didn’t want her to take it just because I did when I was younger. She signed up at the end of March 2014 and she has done amazingly well in just one year.  She has already competed in several tournaments, won fights in mere seconds, and has placed first more than once.  She received her orange belt in January, and while I don’t remember how long it took me to get my orange belt in judo, I do know that it was longer than 9 months.  I’m fully involved and have a vested interest in seeing her do well, so I watch all her classes and take her to as many tournaments as she wants.  I support her, but I don’t push her, and she does have other interests as well like piano, baking, and reading.  However, judo seems to have gotten into her blood.

140302-22

Then something strange happened.  A funny thing about life is that it’s unpredictable and things creep up on you without you even realizing it.  When we went to the tournaments I met people whom I first met 35 years ago when I was taking judo as a teenager, and they were either still competing themselves, or their children were.  I re-connected with my old instructors, and I began to know who today’s top judokas are.  So while I thought I was being a good father by encouraging Christine to do well in judo and getting her integrated into the judo community, it turned out that in turn she had inadvertently re-ignited my interest in judo which I thought had long been extinguished.  It dawned on me that by supporting Christine to take judo and wanting to inspire her to do well, the opposite was also happening.  I realized that I was receiving inspiration from her to start re-training in judo and continue progressing.  The question then formed in my head of whether or not I could train again and eventually earn my black belt.  At first the idea seemed ridiculous because I’m now 51 years old.  However, after discussions with Christine’s instructors and being told that it’s very possible for me to pick up where I left off 30 years ago, the more the idea has become feasible and not just a pipe dream.  When I discussed the possibility with Christine, she wisely said “This window won’t be open forever.  Take advantage of it while you can.”.

Ippon 1

I thought about it and became excited by the idea, so I bought a new gi, dusted off my old blue belt, and will join the adult class which follows Christine’s class.  If all goes well, in one year I hope to receive my brown belt, and then I will begin the journey towards my black belt.  It will not be easy and at this time I don’t even know if I can manage the logistics of juggling my full-time job along with time spent with the family, in addition to the hours of time it will require me to dedicate to the training, and continue to take Krav Maga.  No doubt there will be challenges.  However, I do know that if I start to feel like I’m too old for this and begin to get discouraged, just as I support Christine in her judo path, I know she will support and continue to inspire me to reach my goal.

Inspiration can take many forms.  People can be inspired by watching others do impossible feats, and it spurs them to also do their best in their challenges, whether it’s losing weight, playing an instrument, getting better at a sport, or just becoming a better person.  I believe that most people do not push themselves enough to reach their potential, and all it takes is the right combination of opportunity and inspiration to motivate someone to achieve their goal.  In my case, the opportunity has presented itself and the inspiration was always in front of me in the form of Christine.  I just didn’t see it until recently.

Written by: Warren Chow