Sunday, April 26, 2009

Leif at Judo - Fort Shafter, Hawaii - June 30, 1984 - Age 9

Leif first started judo at Fort Shafter, Hawaii when we were living in Honolulu. He loved it! His sensei, Curtis, was terrific with the boys. Leif stayed with judo from the summer of 1984 to the summer of 1990, in Hawaii and Illinois, until we moved to Puerto Rico where he didn't have the same opportunities. He earned his black belt in Illinois at the age of 14.

This photo was taken in a tent at Fort Shafter when they were having a competition. I have a lot of photos of Leif in action but I don't know whether the other boys in the photos would want them posted. I don't even know their names.

Part of this competition that really impressed Leif (and me) was the demonstration put on by some visiting senseis. One was a woman, not a very big one, who managed to lift Curtis (who was hefty) over her head and carry him around.

I always felt bad that Leif didn't continue with judo. He was very good at it and he enjoyed it. When we moved from Puerto Rico to Manhattan, Kansas, there was an active judo group at the university that Leif could have worked with. However, after two years without any practice, he felt self conscious about showing up with a black belt, thinking his skills were not at that level any longer. He could have gone and started back at a lower rank, but he didn't feel quite right about that, either. Ironically, the sensei at Kansas State University was the same one that I took judo from when I was thirteen and fourteen years old, but I never had the guts to compete and earn any rank.

Leif really needed to have some physical activity but he hadn't cultivated anything he enjoyed that he could do throughout his life, except judo, and that he had given up. I think he would have progressed in rank and been a fine teacher if he had gone back to it in 1992 or later.

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