“Many times I overhear comments about why we constantly go over the same move in class. I thought this story from our old Dojo newsletter might shed some light on why does Sensei make us do the same move over and over. I also asked that question in the beginning of my studies. It is reprinted with permission from Sensei Mel Reyes”
Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your greatest strength. Take, for example, the story of a 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. “Sensei”, the boy finally said, “shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” “This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know, the sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be over-matched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. “No”, the sensei insisted, “Let him continue.” Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his moved to pin him. The boy won the match and the tournament. He was champion. On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind. “Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?” the boy asked. “You won for two reasons,” the sensei answered. First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo, and second, the only known defense for the move is for your opponent to grasp your left arm.
“The boys biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.