Almost a lifetime ago when I was 12 years old I wanted to learn judo. There was a well a established judo club in the city I lived in and quite soon I was attending my first lesson in my white judogi uniform and white belt.
I was part of an intake group, we were all novices so we all knew an equal amount of nothing about judo. It was fun and noisy, I was six foot tall at the age of 12, the tallest in the class, so I was alway used as the example by the adult black belt judo teacher who would show the rest of the class a technique. That got a bit tiresome! I’d became covered in bruises, but I was learning from the punishment. I could feel how the teacher used his hips and shifted his weight to throw me.
By the end of the year, I knew I was at the top of this intake class and to verify this I was awarded 2 red bands to sew onto my belt, it wasn’t a ‘dan’ ranking, that would have been a yellow belt, but it was a recognition that meant a lot to me as a boy. Then came the summer break, there was an opportunity to attend a summer workshop, but my parents although supportive had other plans during this time and it just wasn’t going to happen.
In the autumn, the class resumed and I was keen to get back to it. But there had been a curious shift in skill sets during this short period of time and a rather chubby boy that I used to be able to throw around like a rag doll had miraculously become ‘the boss’, he had also earnt a yellow belt and he was now the teacher’s example and favourite student.