• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

A Blackbelt in Being You


Years ago, I was in a blackbelt seminar. The senior instructor came to the mat and said good morning. We bowed.


And then he said, “Everybody does Judo different.”


We all stared at him. What?!?


If there’s one thing that we are proud of in Judo, it’s that unlike many forms of martial arts, we only have one system and we all do the same thing the same way.


He said it again. “Everybody does Judo different.” We stood there with perplexed looks on our faces.


After a few seconds, we could practically see a lightbulb go off over his head.


He said, “No, no, no. Every body. Every BODY!”


Ah! Each person’s body does Judo differently.


Yes! And this is true for all martial arts.


I want to play in a place where people say, “You are the master of you. You get a blackbelt in being you.”

I can’t help but think of, Varda Frankel, Z”L, who got her blackbelt in karate at the age of 79. She could spend an hour in the kiba dachi position with everyone else. Her stance wasn’t as low as other people’s. But she wasn’t going to give in or give up.


As she got older, her ability to remember the kata wasn’t as sharp.


Did this mean she was never going to get a blackbelt? Absolutely not.


Varda was a master of Varda.


I don’t want to play in a place where people like Varda aren’t measured by who they are, what they’ve done, and the place to which they’ve taken their martial arts.


I want to play in a place where people say, “You are the master of you. You get a blackbelt in being you.”


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