Old age and wisdom…

will overcome youth and skill. That was a favorite saying of the father of one of my best friends, who is very appropriately nicknamed Sly. After re-reading my last post, it occurred to me that another reason why challenging a man on the far side of the half-century does not seem unfair to me is that my sensei just turned 50 this year. He may not have the 17-inch biceps he had when I first met him, but I have no doubt that he can still wipe up the floor with me.

I remember the following exchange very clearly:

Sensei: You are fast. Faster than almost anyone I have ever seen.

Me: Then how come you always get in before I can?

Sensei: (smiles broadly) Because I know what you are going to do before you do it.

The ironic thing about this conversation was that he was paying this backhanded compliment while at the same time extending a hand to help me up from the floor after having dropped me with a rear-hand strike to the solar plexus. He was, and is, a deadly fighter. I once watched him absolutely destroy the 10th-ranked point fighter in the country – he could have easily been a champion if he did not disdain point fighting as a perversion of the art. His teaching was distinctive enough that when a friend and I visited another dojo while he was gone for a time, the instructor, a well-known Tang Soo Do champion, asked us if we were his students after only two rounds of sparring.