Investing in Loss
December 14, 2020
We had a nice young lady join our youth classes. So, if you see a bright eyed, spunky 11-year-old young lady, say hello.
So, it is the day after Kyu tests and funny, but I am in pain. Up in front near the Kamaza, something hidden under a large garbage bag. I unveil……the Wheel of Ukemi. Historically (and somewhat hysterically), for my class before tests, the students testing pick a technique out of a hat from all the techniques on all the test, 2nd to 5th kyu. They take the roll of teacher, throw me 4 times (yes, I have the “honor” of the dedicated uke for the class) and we practice that for 5 minutes. It is a way to relax and have fun. No instruction, just fun and me getting slammed a lot. I can be a very generous idiot. Thank god for Advil.
We had a group of 14 testing, from 10 to, well, much older. The dojo was a hum of excitement and we were well prepared. The Doug-A-Lator 5000s were humming. Hand sanitizer stations set up all around. The sprayer filled with disinfectant for the mat. A batch of holiday masks available at the front desk.
The tests were great. I had a surprise up my sleeve (more than the Wheel of Ukemi you say, YES). Sharon Dominguez came to help proctor the exam and show her support for our Jr Deshi testing. Everyone passed. The highlights were too many to mention but after the dust settled I elected to award Shanaia and Naelys (BTW, they were each other uke’s on their test) 1st kyu, skipping 2nd kyu.
I want to congratulate:
5th Kyu – Bill, DJ, Eva, Melissa, and Shariff
4th Kyu – Mariella, Michele, Sergio, and Sophia
3rd Kyu – Vanessa
2nd Kyu – Harold, Jeff
1st Kyu – Naelys, Shanaia
Aikido Moment of the Day
For those of you who take my aikido classes, they are never just a technique class. There is always something to challenging me that we are working on. From all the attacks being on the wrong side from normal or spinning on foot to throw. But I had one of those days at work and was not interested in thinking. I wanted to move (I love aikido. Can’t get that satisfaction in a TCC class. Well you can but you need a brick wall). So, I did a warmup with morotetori and just kept going. All the way to koshi (it would not be one of my classes without a koshi.) Ahhhhhh. Have I mentioned I love aikido!
Investing in Loss
I was not sure how to sum this discussion into a couple of paragraphs, so I elected to tell a personal story. When I was a teen, I was in great shape. Working on my TKD black belt and a competitive gymnast training 6 days a week. I also had a big paddleball ‘jones’. I loved to play and was one of the best players in my local park in Sheepshead Bay. But the top players were in the Coney Island park. I would ride my 5-speed bicycle (yup, banana seat) to Coney Island and get my butt handed to me. Those guys were in their 60’s and put me to shame. So, I gave up playing in my local park and just went to Coney Island. I lost every game. I mean I did not just loss, I looked like a beginner. They wore me ragged. I looked like I should be in a Gatorade commercial. But I kept going. I year later I came close. A few months later, I won a game in Coney Island. By the end of my second year, I could hold my own. I was never the best, but I won my share against the old guys.
If I stayed in Sheepshead Bay, I would have stayed the best there but not have gotten better. By only playing against people better than I, I got better. I needed to spend almost 2 years always losing to be better.
To get better, you need to focus on what you cannot do. Investing in Loss. Find the guy you cannot throw; find the guy you can’t push and loss. Over and over again. That is how you improve. So, if you are the best in the world, what do you do? You are probably not reading my letters!
--Sensei Jay Tall
“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”