The Martial Arts--My Personal Experiences:

by mplo
(USA)

My interest in martial arts began when I first began living away from home in the late-1970's at the Cambridge, MA YWCA., while I was in college.

At the suggestion of my mom, I began taking a YWCA course in Jiu-Jitsu, taught by a French-Basque instructor, who turned out to be a wonderful teacher, mentor for me and extraordinarily interesting person. I discovered that I really liked Jiu-Jitsu and Judo and stuck with it, much to the surprise of my mom.

All through the late 1970's through the mid-1980's, he taught in our area, and I learned lots. I even took one private lesson a week with him, which also helped make me more proficient in Jiu-Jitsu, especially my kicks. Although I loved all the aspects of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, I especially loved the kicks.

My instructor had also been in the French Resistance, when he'd saved Jews by hiding them in his house, at risk to his life. He was a tough taskmaster, a decorated WWII Veteran, who'd learned Judo in France, and Jiu-Jitsu while in the Army, so he had his own special method of teaching. He'd raised all 7 or 8 kids up on the stuff, and they all learned how to fight and defend themselves rather well, when it was necessary. At the time, Boston's South End was a rather rough area, where fighting for survival was a way of life. In the mid-1980's, however, the Sensei sold his house, and eventually moved out of the area entirely.

Determined to learn, I plugged along, and accomplished a great deal, especially since my instructor was a teacher who made me want to learn. I became a real regular in his class, and, despite the unpredictability of our MBTA (the Mass. Bay Transit Authority), I'd go two nights a week, and for private lessons on Saturday mornings. Those days were grand. I made some cool friends, and I even invited him and some other students over to my apartment in Cambridge for dinner occasionally.

After my Sensei sold his Boston house, I managed to have an occasional lesson or two with him in private, but after awhile, that dwindled, and he moved out of the area.



I had no martial arts training and classes for a number of years after that, but then I began to think that I might like to try Tae Kwon Do. I called up several places in my area, and even tried one TKD dojang out, but the prices were too prohibitive, and the classes way too big.

One Sunday afternoon, however, at a Harvard Square Octoberfest, a TKD club in Cambridge's Central Square was having a demonstration. At one of the instructor's suggestion, I decided to try it out and had fun. It wasn't until a year or two afterwards that I decided to make a go of it and give the club a try. I went there one Wednesday night, took a trial class, enjoyed it, and signed up. With the exception of the last six weeks, when I had to temporarily drop out of the club due to having a minor surgical procedure for :"trigger finger" on my right hand (I'm right-handed, too..ugh!), I have been coming two nights per week regularly.

The rates are not only quite reasonable, but the place is quite laid back, and the instructors are willing to give individual help as necessary. I'm glad I joined this club and resumed the martial arts. Since I'm a great deal older than I was when I took Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, going back to those two arts would definitely be out of the question for me, and so would hard sparring, but that's okay. Now that I'm back in the class after six weeks, I'm starting back slowly, but glad to be back, nonetheless.

As someone with some unusual interests ( I'm a silversmith, a bicyclist, a walker, an exotic bird owner, and a huge, huge fan of the film West Side Story!), I also enjoy the martial arts thoroughly.

Linda's reply:
Great story of finding you're way back! Your Sensie sounds like a man of incredible character that probably touched a lot of students' lives for the better. He'd be happy to know you are back on the path. Hope your finger gets better and thanks for sharing.

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