One of the greatest compliments that I get from my readers is that they think, based on my descriptions of combat, that I am a trained martial artist. I’ve heard this multiple times. I always kind of chuckle when I’m asked what style I studied.
The truth is that the extent of my martial arts training was a half-semester taekwondo class as a P.E. credit in college. That and a Tae-Bo video.
My books were never intended to be a treatise on the martial arts. The ADVENTURE CHRONICLES is my tribute to 80s martial arts movies. My interest in the martial arts influenced these books, for sure. But only from an academic level . . . not a practical one.
Fast forward to now. I’m about to begin Judo lessons.
I stumbled across Namido St. Louis by accident when one of my friends, Chad Daugherty, posted on Facebook that his friend needed to raise money to buy new mats for his Judo school. This was July 3. I went to the friend’s page—one Samuel “Shmuly” Pilkinton—and added him as a friend, as well. I then sent him a message asking him how much lessons were.
To my shock, he told me that they were free. Even the belt tests are free. All we had to buy was the gi. And an athletic cup. The lessons are a ministry and meet twice a week at the Sanctuary, a Pentecostal church in Hazelwood, MO.
Initially, this was just for my stepson. I’ve been going to the lessons simply to take Jayson. He’s really enjoyed the training and has already earned his yellow belt. I struck up a friendship with the coach, who prefers to be called Shmuly, due to being an ethnic Jew who has become a Christian. That’s the Jewish way of saying Samuel. He’s a kind man and he, being Pentecostal (and, incidentally, Arminian) puts in some good-natured ribbing against Calvinism in class often, just to make me feel like part of the group.
A few weeks ago, the oldest student in the class, Drew, told me that he had initially taken his kids and just watched. Then, because he was starting to feel the “pains of aging,” he started doing the non-Judo exercises. Finally, he joined the class, too. Now, he also is a yellow belt. I found myself intrigued, as I’m older than Drew by a few years and haven’t really started feeling these pains of age of which he was speaking. What I do have is Type 2 Diabetes and a weight problem.
My doctor has put my wife and me on a low-carb, high fat diet. This has worked extremely well for her, as she has lost over seventy pounds. I have lost some weight but it’s coming off at a much slower rate. I’m only down about twenty pounds. So I’ve decided to join the class.
It’s been a process of preparation for me. First of all, they do many exercises that scare me. I haven’t done a push-up in twenty years. Sit-ups have never been something that I’ve been particularly good at doing and a boy who just took his orange belt test had to answer the academic questions while standing on his head. Shmuly suggested that I begin walking and doing push-ups. The former is something that is not too bad. We live on a block that is on an incline. To walk around the block, I have to ascend a rather steep hill that shoots my heart rate through the roof. For the push-ups, I’ve started with the ones where I pivot on my knees, rather than my feet. They almost seem too easy, though, so I’m going to have to bite the bullet and just force myself to do some of the traditional ones . . . at least as many as I can.
My cousin bought me my gi as an early Christmas present. I got a size seven, which wasn’t the largest one that they had, but it’s pretty darned big. The jacket almost seems too big. The pants, however, are not big enough. I can’t even bring the ties together in the front and there is NO WAY that I could fit a cup in there.
So I’ve bought a pair of black sweatpants to wear until I’ve lost enough weight to fit into the proper pants. I okayed this with Shmuly first, of course. I’m waiting for my wife to order my cup from Amazon, as no store in this are carries one that’s big enough for me. In the waist.
To lost weight, I’m going to try something that I saw on a YouTube video. I’m going to have two boiled eggs and a slice of cheese for breakfast, a piece of fruit or a simple protein for lunch, and a sensible dinner. I’ll do this for a week and measure to see if it really helps. I’ve heard people swear by it.
So, to begin with, I am 42-years-old, weigh 291 pounds, and have a 48-inch waist. I had blood work done on Tuesday and the doctor told me that, unless my A1C is really high, he is going to wean me off of Metformin. If it was high, they were supposed to call me by Friday. They did not, so maybe that’s a good sign there. Let’s see how this goes as I join a Judo class as the oldest student.