While growing up in Secaucus, New Jersey, I started collecting stamps as a project for a Boy Scouts badge when I was eight. My Czechoslovakian grandmother and French father were good sources for foreign stamps. Dad worked in the restaurant business in New York City and had access to lots of customers from all over the world. When I moved to France at age ten, my stamp collecting took off like a rocket.
I’ve known this for many years, but it really hit me hard during the Winter Nationals Coach Education Course as I watched coaches running through Kelly’s Capers: we lack a basic understanding of tai sabaki (body movement) and the ability to perform it fluidly. When I say we, I mean coaches. Since coaches are supposed to be role models for their students, this presents a problem that needs to be addressed. If coaches can’t do proper tai sabaki or have no knowledge of it, how are their students supposed to learn these skills?
Several days after the conclusion of the Tokyo Grand Slam, I travelled with my host, Dr. Hiroshi Takei, his wife, my Japanese wife, and our daughter to Kuji in Iwate prefecture. Kuji is the birthplace of Kyuzo Mifune, the legendary 10th dan, and 1981 world champion Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki. It’s also home to the memorial museum and gymnasium dedicated to Mifune, who is referred to as Mifune Judan.