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Memories of Nate Cutler


Memories of Nate Cutler

By Ken Kokka

I have known Nate Cutler long enough that I’m not sure
when we first met – some time in the early 1980s. I was
still in high school. Nate referred to himself as "the
old man" – usually as in, "Don’t let this old
man beat you." Nate would prod, poke, tease and
provoke me during workouts (I’m positive that Nate saved
his beard stubble just for Saturday morning practices; it
became his signature "secret weapon of last resort")
– all to challenge me to work harder, to do better, to
not quit. I have to admit: It’s hard to quit when your
partner, a guy who’s old enough to be your father (sorry,
Nate – I couldn’t resist), won’t give up.

In truth, although we kidded Nate constantly about his
"advanced" age, his youthfulness was a source
of wonder and amazement to me. I delighted in quizzing
new students about Nate’s age. They invariably guessed
that Nate was 7 to 10 years younger than his
chronological age – a testament not only to Nate’s
physical fitness but also his vitality and vigor. Nate’s
age was determined not by years but by his youthful
spirit. He was never bound by the confines of "acting
his age." He trekked to Tibet and India for a
spiritual pilgrimage at an age when most folks are
settling comfortably into middle age. He raised three
children while completing his doctoral
thesis in religious studies, and working, and
participating in numerous community, social and cultural
groups. Through it all, Nate found the time to work out
and teach at the dojo, every Monday and Saturday, like
clockwork. I don’t quite know how he managed it all.

Nate led his life with an intense devotion to the people
and activities that brought joy and meaning to his life.
Nate loved doing Judo with us. He loved the sweat,
sacrifice, and hard work that Judo entails. Judo brought
us together in ways that none of us can adequately
express in words. I stated above that Nate "found"
the time each week for Judo, but that is not quite
accurate. Nate chose to give his time to Judo and to our
dojo, and he did so with an open heart and mind. In so
doing, Nate exemplified the two mottoes of Judo: Sei
Ryoku Zen Yo ("to put our best efforts into
everything") and Ji Ta Kyo Ei ("benefit from
living with others harmoniously"). I am a better
person for having known Nate. I miss him every practice.

Nowadays, I’m the old man in the dojo (in fact, I’m just
about Nate’s age when we first met). I’m the one doing
the prodding and pushing in class. Who knows? Maybe I’ll
even start growing a beards once a week, around Thursday
or so. I think Nate would appreciate that.

One Response so far.

  1. Nate worked for a man that I despised, however that never got in the way of our mutual friendship. He was certainly the nicest of all of the photographer’s covering Hollywood. I knew him from his first day “on the street”, he was a lovely many and very special person.
    Murray Garrett