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White Light


Editor’s Note: Not only is she a
talented Judo practitioner and exceptional athlete, she
is also a creative writer. In closing this section of the
EBJI Year-in-Review, we hope that each and every one of
you find some moment of inspiration from this writing, as
well as all the articles in this publication. Thanks for

Once in a great while we experience a
moment of inspiration, where time slows down, where each
moment becomes only a still picture and our emotions take
over. We call these moments white light.

I left home to visit the birth place of
judo. Upon arrival, I knew I was different. I couldn’t
speak their language. And they could not help but notice
my Caucasian features. I was quite a bit taller than
everyone else. But my room was comfortable, a little
smaller than I’m accustomed. It was going to be my room
for two months. The first night I slept a deep sleep. The
travel by plane, bus, and foot, had taken what little
energy I had possessed. Early in the morning, I was
awoken by the first light. From my bed, I could see it
through the window. It wasn’t just any light. I can’t
even say it was the sun. It was the snow, brighter than I’d
ever seen. The snow covered the entire expanse between
mine and the next building. From somewhere within the
snow, I saw them come. I may have closed my eyes for a
moment, but they were there. I knew who they were. They
were the judo team, running in the morning light and snow.

Yeah, I know what you mean. I love the
undisturbed calm of the morning. The light is just

It was a tough training camp. My
roommates were still asleep and the morning was just
coming up. I could not sleep anymore. I found no sense in
just laying in bed. Maybe I was just looking for a
reprieve from the close quarters and snoring. The dojo.
Downstairs. Its so early. No one will be there. A little
stretch, a little meditation. No better place for me to
be. The hallway was deserted. The stairs were cold. I
imagined saying good morning to the breakfast chef, but
even he was still asleep. From a distance I could see the
sun casting an orange hue through the open door. I knew
that color. The color cast by the morning sun shining
through the rice paper screens. The light drew me to its
warmth and serenity. To my pleasure, there was sensei,
alone and running in full judo gi in the morning light. I
quietly watched for a while. I could feel the suns warmth
on my face and smile. It was wonderful to see someone
else bathed in warmth. His gi still shown flowing white
through the glowing morning amber as I returned to my

I think I’ve felt that. But it wasn’t

In Havana where a majority of the
people are poor, I was on top. A visiting athlete in the
high rise hotel. All the other building of the city were
below my room. Not because my hotel was so high. But
because all the other buildings were in ruin and
unrepaired. I could see the facades, outlined by the sea
and shadowed by the setting sun. I felt the light rose
from the horizon. Everything glowed red. Then orange.
Then pink. In the distance, some people emerged on to a
rooftop. I could only see figures and movement. They were
judoka wearing only the jacket. Enthralled, I studied
their movement. Clearly a repetition of the thousands of
uchikomis my body had made. In a city were children had
no shoes and sometimes no judo gis, they practiced the
same rituals of heart and mind as I did. The colors of
the night sky kaleidoscoped behind them, until the light
was no more. But their motions did not cease. I could
still see the white light of their gis surrounded by

I know that feeling.

Seoinage has always been my favorite
technique. Senior Nationals 1992. I was having the
tournament of my life. There were so many people in the
division. The battle gave me shivers of excitement. One
match, two matches, then three and my opponents all fell.
For the fourth match there "he" was. After a
quick glance into my heart and soul, I knew that
preparation and hard work had brought me to this point.
His grip was tight on my sleeve. I fell for yuko. Only
determination made me rise. The battle continued into the
fourth minute. And then it happened. My feet began to
glide and my body was loose. The crowd disappeared and
time too was no more. I could see his feet off the mat,
not one but two. I glanced at his face halloed in the
fluorescent gym light. My heart soared. The finish was
clean and strong. Ippon! I showed no emotion, only
returned to my line. The award was made. I presented my
great opponent with my most humble bow.

These moments of inspiration brought to
you by Judo and East Bay Judo Institute!!