Home > Judo, Life, philosophy > Am I a robot?

Am I a robot?

About a week ago, my cousin, who is getting married this winter called me up to chit chat. A little bit into the conversation he asked me, “So are you coming to the wedding?” I paused. I thought this might be a trick question because he and his girlfriend asked me to be a bridesmaid. I responded, “Uh, yes?” My cousin said, “You know you’re in the wedding, right?” I said, “Well, yeah. So I have to come.” My cousin, ever the wise one, replied, “Well, you know there is such a thing as free will.” Oh, right. Thanks, Coz.

Whether it was his intention or not, my cousin’s endearing remark led me to think incessantly about how often I exercise free will. For example, a couple of weeks ago I did something I hadn’t done in well over a year: I went out with a friend and got drunk. I don’t do this often for a number of reasons that are boring. You’d think that the depressing, stressful nature of grad school would lead me to seek hedonistic activities more often than I do, but for some reason I waited until school was out to have that kind of a night. Anyway, my alarm went off the next morning to remind me to go to judo practice. My waking thought was, “I am too old to do shots.” I felt a little like a shriveled mummy due to dehydration and my head hurt. A coin toss was probably going to decide whether or not I was going to vomit. I said to myself, “I’m not going to practice. I really don’t see how I could make it through.” I resolved to go back to sleep.

In my next conscious moment, I found that I had packed up my gear, slapped on a pair of sunglasses, and was already half way to the train station. Hmmm.

Also, each judo practice, our instructor gives us anywhere from 10-20 minutes to get with a partner and work on our favorite technique.  I take this time to work on tai otoshi. Tai otoshi is “my throw”. When I was a kid, I loved ipon seoi nagi, followed closely by osoto gari, for the smash factor. Because of some recent injuries which makes it painful to execute tai otoshi, I’ve been working more on osoto and  started rekindling my relationship with seoi nage. Now that I’ve stepped away from it, I ask myself, “Is tai otoshi my favorite technique?”

See, I started practicing tai otoshi a year and a half ago. Before I started training regularly with the Philadelphia Judo Club, I spent about two months working with a coach for visually impaired athletes, whom my dad assisted previously. His class was all novices, white and yellow belts, so it was a good place to re-wet my judo feet. At the time, this coach was working with a girl who was about my height and weight. He wanted her to be on the national team for visually impaired athletes. Her main competition was a girl whose go-to throw was tai otoshi. So while he thought the technique would be good for someone my size, he also thought he could teach his student how to defend and counter tai otoshi. So I started learning and practicing tai otoshi. When I started working with the PJC and it came time to work on our favorite techniques, my partner asked, “So, is there anything you’re working on now?” I said, “Well, I’ve been practicing tai otoshi.” My partner replied, “Oh, there are a few black belts here who are really good a tai otoshi so they can help you.” And they have. A lot. But I can’t say with confidence that I love tai otoshi. I think it just might be the technique that I’ve put the most effort into. After a year and half of work, I can’t see turning back now.

So what am I doing with all my free will anyway?

Categories: Judo, Life, philosophy
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