Thursday, 26 April 2007

Judo at UNIS

Fast-forward to 1973/74, when I went to the United Nations International School (UNIS) in NYC to get an International Baccalaureate. I had decided to take the two-year course in one, as I had already graduated from high school and needed the IB to get into a British university. There were cultural requirements as well as academic ones, and Judo was among my options (the others I chose were playing double bass in the chamber music ensemble and orchestra). That's how I met Sonny Lwin (shown performing a flying kick in the photo). A former Buddhist monk and a grandson of U Thant, he also had a couple of black belts and the humility, good nature, cheerful disposition and patience to work with rank beginners like me. (Yes, I had taken Judo years before, but I had to start all over again and barely made it to an orange belt before crashing out in a competition with an injured knee - but more on that later.) Sadly, Sonny died recently, after battling demons that not even a black belt is equipped to vanquish. [Next installment: How I became a casualty of the Cold War]

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