Monday, 23 April 2007

First kick at a martial art

Here's the deep background: When I was 12 or so, my two brothers signed up for Judo lessons. Since I was the eldest and for 11 years and 5 months (yes, I was counting) the only girl, I decided that there was only one thing to do, for my own protection: I signed up too. Our sensei was Mr. Egermeyer, an American hairdresser with a black belt who looked like a Fat Buddha. He only played with brown and black belts because less-skilled judokas might hurt him (at least, that was my theory). We also had a teacher from Hungary - Gabor Kovacz. I had such a crush on him. He was a hairdresser too - somehow, in Westchester, NY, there was a beauty salon whose staff did hair by day and hit the futons in their spare time! I eventually dropped out, but when the same Judo team gave a demonstration at my high school, they invited me to join in. I demonstrated my favourite move - a "rear sacrifice throw" called tomoe nage, which involved dropping on my back, aiming a kick at my opponent's abdomen and flipping him over my head. Afterwards, the teacher I'd flipped (this one was French) whispered: "Too close to the groin!"
In the interests of full disclosure - and even deeper background - I was born with a disability that affects my coordination. It isn't too noticeable until I try playing sports. I can adjust for it when bowling but I'm hopeless at tennis. High school basketball was impossible. Once, at UNIS, a gym teacher actually asked me if I knew I should aim for the hoop! But Judo I could do - at least, I never kicked too far below the belt.

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