The One-Armed Judo Champion

There is a story floating around that is fairly common in martial arts schools as a motivation to do your best, despite the apparent odds.  The story is probably apocryphal (though I don't know for sure) and takes on many forms.  (In my former karate days, I heard it as a teenage girl who won a regional or national competition rather than a 10-year old boy.)  This is the most coherent telling of the story I found online, so I'll reprint it here.  (It uses British spellings, so don't get worked up over c's in place of s's.)

Sometimes your biggest weakness can become your biggest strength. Take, for example, the story of one 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car 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 easily 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 now in the finals.

This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. 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 move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the 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?"

"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 defence for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm."

The boy's biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.

I have spent a fair amount of time this week going through the UT-UCLA game, taking notes on each play and trying to figure out what happened (kinda similar to MGOBlog's Upon Further Review, but not nearly as formal).  We've all heard (and said) things about the playcalls, the coverage, the pass rush, Crompton's throws, the fumble, etc., but I wanted to set that aside, let the footage speak for itself, and see what I could see.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to get my summary posted today.  Monday, I will post my summary, along with my raw notes , of the debacle in the Rose Bowl.  The story of the One-Armed Judo Champion is not a perfect analog, but it is frightening in its similarities.  How concerned should we be?  Once I get the write-up finished, I'll let you know.

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