Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    The fun part about having almost four decades in the martial arts is having the perspective and know-how to actually codify a school. It's scary as heck, since you are by definition a sort of heretic, but there is also this feeling of continuity, because martial arts have been growing and shifting to meet the needs of its students since forever. Back when I was a young black belt, there was no way I could have predicted I would ever be anything other than a traditionalist. My coaches always called my judo "textbook." In fact, my throws were filmed a few times for educational judo videos. Still, there is no room for me within the traditions I learned. There is no place for a trans female judo player in the existing culture--you can legislate rules, but I know all about what can happen between the lines and behind the scenes.
    So I'm going forward. If pursuing martial arts is difficult for me, an ex-national champion and university coach, it must be darned near impossible for a beginner, a queer youth who wants to learn to be strong and fight, but has no guide. So, instead of looking to the people who rejected me, I will dedicate my future teaching and training to those in front of me, who I can help, not in spite of who I am, but exactly because of it.