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From the vault

Can't seem to find any pictures of me doing karate at the moment. 

This is the essay I wrote for my promotion to second-degree black belt in 2014. 


Around 15 years ago, my youngest sister was visiting from Minnesota. One evening I met up with her and a friend while they were having drinks in the East Village. "Have a  beer," Varda said. "We want to ask you something."

"Just ask me," I said.

She and Todd looked at each other.

"No, have a beer first."

"Just ask me."

She gave in (she's younger!): "Do you want to climb the Brooklyn Bridge?"

I had no idea what she was talking about, so she explained that we would be walking up a cable to the top of one of the two big towers that anchor the bridge. Todd, an architect, added that climbing bridges was his hobby, and he'd climbed dozens in New York and around the country.

I glanced down and saw that he was wearing dress shoes, not hiking boots. If this could be done in leather soles, how dangerous could it be? "Sure," I said.

Great! they said.

"I'll have that beer now."


I had never thought much about balance, never been interested in all that work-life stuff people used to talk about, never thought it had anything to do with me. If I'd thought about it at all, I would have said balance was boring: that it meant getting up at the same time every day, to a day that was the same length as the night and the same temperature, and making sure you had enough cauliflower in your diet.

I also didn't know balance had anything to do with karate.  Read More 

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YAI has moved. Here we are in our big new digs, with our biggest class in a while, as 2 of our students who took a semester off to do golf are back, and someone else switched over from the Tuesday class. The best hour of my week is the time I spend with these students. They have so many challenges, intellectual & physical, & they work so hard. It's an honor—& fun!—to spend time with them. 

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Fight fight fight

Every once in a while, I am struck by the joy of kumite, the fighting part of karate. I'm not particularly good at it: I'm not quick, I can't really kick, I only have a couple of moves, I don't bother with defense. My only advantage is that I'm fearless—I'll fight anyone & figure  Read More 
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Beach training!

Yesterday was my dojo's beach training day. We black belts arrive at Far Rockaway around 4 a.m., meditate while the sun rises, then do exercises on the sand & in the water. It's really fun except when you're waking up in the middle of the night, oh, & when you are so blind-sleepy that you trip & spill a whole cup of tea & mash up your shoulder.

A day later, I'm still not totally awake, but it was fun to come home all sandy & take a nap.  Read More 
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Beach training

Seagull in the Rockaways, leaving beach training.
Even though I don't think I much like the beach—all that sand & sunburn getting all over me—I had FUN at this annual event of my karate dojo. The black belts arrive at 4 a.m. and are meditating as the sun comes up. (Some people saw a shooting star.)

Then we do our material along the shore. One kyoshi looked at me: "You're not wet enough."

And then I was.

I came home with achy calves from trying not to fall over as the ground gave way to the waves but loved it (maybe simply because I have soft contact lenses now, so I could see & didn't worry that I would lose my hard ones).  Read More 
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Nothing like taking a karate class to streamline my mind. Having been away, discouraged by the cold weather, injured slightly but enough to avoid fighting—all of that sapped me, made me feel decrepit. But a good general class yesterday & fight class today, & I feel terrific. Even tho I got knocked on my ass—literally—by a  Read More 
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The second degree

Even though there seemed to be more people taking photographs than fighting this morning, I've yet to see one of me. However, even without documentary evidence, I can say that I completed my month(s)-long promotion to nidan (second-degree black belt) this morning. Tired, wired, amazed, grateful, humbled. So much love, so much fun.
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