I’ve had a story to write for a while, but haven’t taken the time to put it down. Here it is:
Recently, my judo club hosted the Lebanese men’s Judo team for a week. Basically, we trained every night with some very high level players. I’m told that that the open randori (free-play) night that I missed was something to behold, with some of the better New Englanders coming out to try their game.
Among the Lebanese was Rudy Hachache, who represented Lebanon in the 2008 Olympics. He walks around at about 270 or 280 pounds. Big guy, but light on his feet.
The first night that I trained with these guys, my coach told us to split up “heavyweights on that side, lights on that side.” I figured that with a 270lb Olympian in the room, I was probably a lightweight. I was almost safe when I found myself being yelled at: “Dwan! What are you doing? You’re a heavyweight! Get over there!”
I slunk over, glaring at my friend Wally, who is *exactly* my weight, but had the presence of mind to hide behind someone while he sandbagged. My walk was interrupted by the interval timer, indicating the start of the first round.
I looked up and saw that Rudy and I were the only ones on the heavyweight mat.
“H’okay,” says I. Let’s get this done.
I’ve never had so much “nothing” for three straight minutes in my whole life.
The best analogy I can find is this: Imagine that you’re in the ocean up to about your shoulders. You’re bobbing around, having a good time – but sometimes a wave comes, knocks you over, and puts you on the beach. The first few times, you imagine that there’s something you could do to prevent being knocked over and put on the beach … but there’s not. This was sort of like that. I never even felt him move before I was thrown. Again and again, I would be in the air thinking – “woah, that was smooth.” The best I could do was to recognize the techniques – by name – with which he owned me. I want to be clear, this wasn’t a strength thing. I don’t know that he used his strength the whole evening. He was quicker than me, lighter on his feet than me, technically superior to me, and oh-by-the-way 100 pounds heavier and in better shape than me.
So yeah, that’s probably about as close as I’ll come to the olympics.
For the record, he also threw my coach, though I like to think that he had to work harder at it.