Our Monday nights have been a little weaker, only handful of students show up, but I have been doing my best to make the most of it. I've been getting a lot of Nage-No-Kata practice in, and learning a lot by teaching some of the beginners that show up.
Because all of the Jewish Holidays are on Sunday this year, my son has missed a lot of time at the kids' class. Thankfully he is back now, but because of logistics, I myself have been missing my time on the mat with him. I enjoy watching him learn and helping out him and his friends.
Of course, this is all anticlimactic, except for one of the most important and sad events in my Judo career - Sensei Jesse Wang - one of the senior black belts in our club, passed away last Wednesday. Jesse was 4 days shy of his 83rd birthday, and wonderful teacher and friend in our club. Up until he became ill earlier this year, he'd show up at practice 3x a week. Even though his body might not have been able to do as much as it used to, his mind never lost a beat. Whenever anyone would ask him a question about a technique, it was never a yes or no answer - he would observe, and then begin to point out 8 different things you could do to improve your technique - be it in Randori, Uchikomi, or Kata.
Last year, I told Sensei that I wanted to learn to referee (a bit unusual for someone not quite a black belt). So he hooked me up with Jesse. At our club tournament last December, I stepped on the mat in socks for the first time. I was very nervous, but I was relieved to know that I had Jesse in the corner if I needed him. A minute or two into the match, one of the players threw the other, I look at the result and stuck my hand straight out to the side to signal - Wa-Zari, but of course, Jesse immediately waved it off, and called it Ippon. Then, after the match, he pulled me aside to explain why it was an ippon. Yes, he called off my very first Judo Refereeing call, but true to his nature, he made it a teaching moment.
The club tournament will be upon us shortly, and I will referee that one as well. I need to step up my ref knowledge a bit, because no matter how good his replacement is, I know that Jesse is not in the corner to back me up.