Along the Gentle Path

Black Belt Magazine Photo

by Matthew Farah, 3rd Degree Black Belt

I am a boy small in frame.
I rush at my father, voice raised in mock battle cry.
My father smiles “Come on buddy!” he playfully goads.

I leap at him and latch on to his waist straining with all my imagined might,
I grunt and growl yet my attempts are but in vain as my father scoops me up, without a strain.

“Head Buster!” he calls out spinning around as I cackle and yell.
He deposits me on the couch laughing as I continue to enjoy my dizzy spell.
“I win!” he declares in mock pride as I spring up and ready myself for another ride.
I run at him once again ever determined to win.

I am older now, a man in stature.
My gaze fixes on my adversary ahead, my heart hammering in my chest.
We exchange bows and stand but a couple yards apart, the tatami warm to my bare feet.

It is the warmth of previous bouts, victory and defeat resonate.
“Hajime!” the referee signals the bout to begin, my opponent and I lock arms and the struggle begins.

We twist, pull, push and sweep but neither yields any ground.
Arms fail, shouts are given, and the feet dance to dangerous rhythms.
“Come on buddy!” shouts the voice from above as my muscles burn and strain.
Suddenly an opening is made, yet one that does not register with my conscious brain.

My body slides and my leg extends, we pummel to floor and the match is at its end.

“Ippon!” cries the referee, who awards me with the victory.

The bout is mine yet still I recall those first steps along the gentle path.

More About Matt...

Matt with Sensei Gary in a Black Belt Magazine Self-Defense Video & Self-Defense Article

Matt currently runs Strong Roots Judo at the Cypress Park Community Center in Fontana