Saturday, May 1, 2021

Hooray Hooray the First of May!

 Outdoor judo starts today!

Today was the return of my Saturday morning coaching gig.  In an ordinary year, this program runs from October to March, and takes place indoors- the model of the program being that the children would participate in school athletics in the Spring and Summer.  With social distancing guidelines still in place, we have adapted to the new conditions, and will be running an outdoor program throughout May and June, a semester of eight weeks rather than our traditional ten.

Judo being a contact sport, we haven't really been able to conduct complete classes in which the kids can compete with each other.  Today, we just went over the steps necessary for the throws ippon seoi nage, tai otoshi (my personal favorite), and o soto gari.  We were practicing in a gorgeous locale on the shore of Long Island Sound, and while the scenery was beautiful, when we started it was windy and a bit chilly for early May.

Of course the highlight of the morning was seeing everyone- administrators, coaches, parents, and kids.  We all compared vaccination notes, most of us have received the requisite number of shots (we're not getting any older), and we look forward to a day when we can return to our usual digs,  On a sad note, I learned that Roberto Rulli, loving father, doting grandfather, skilled judoka, brilliant mentor, and good friend, passed away at the age of eighty in Florence, Italy.  He was a kind man, but one who knew more than a few tricks to use on opponents.  Condolences to his loved ones.

After the program ended, a restorative lunch with friends at the venerable Mister Taco in New Rochelle was in order.  Some guacamole, a couple of tacos, and a glass of horchata were accompanied by a lively discussion of the infamous North Avenue bars, which from the late seventies to the mid nineties were positively overrun by underage drinkings (uh, I'm not admitting to anything).  Yes, until the mid nineties, when there was a drunk driving incident which claimed the life of a teenager, the neighborhood was pretty much a destination for free-range high schoolers looking to get loaded.  Thankfully, the county social scene shifted to my neighborhood, where the taverns are more professionally operated, at the time, leaving the former party district of North Avenue open to development by immigrant business owners from Mexico and Jamaica.  It was a hell of a nostalgia trip, with tales of debauchery in dives with fetid accommodations... quite the contrast to the morning's wholesome outdoor activity.  I think next week, I'll introduce my friends to the varied restaurants on New Rochelle's busy Main Street... there's a really good Peruvian place among the quality Mexican restaurants.

It's good to have this part of my routine return, even though it's not exactly what it was in the Before Times.  Someday, we'll be able to really play our sport (my great and good friend Gentle Jimmy G made it clear to me that he's looking forward to beating me up), someday soon.  In the meantime, we make do with imparting the bare fundamentals and figuring out how to teach under very limiting circumstances.

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