Sunday, November 18, 2007

Farewell Sensei

Given a choice many summers ago between Japanese Karate Association and Fine Arts Men Sphinx Karate Club, is there a choice for a would-be writer? Also FAMSKC has cool posters of all those Shaolin fists, blocks, stances and kicks. So there we were, with my neighbour Cristilin, facing Col. Manny De Leon teaching us the proper stances. There is something wrong with him, the way we pictured the fearsome sifus of those Chinese martial arts movies. He was patient, winsome and dashing. Cristilin and me became masters of the kata in birthday parties and a few times, I used my karate skills even a masterful chop that rendered my playmate unconscious. And then his father would go to our house wanting to see me and I would be hiding under the bed listening to the crybaby, his father and my father who never confronted me later. That happened many times (when I hit an "enemy" with a slingshot right on the forehead, for example) that I began to fear the fathers more than the sons. Why is it when I got hurt, I was even afraid to go home and bear the nagging of my mother and instead hie off to my best friend? Anyway, dear Sensei. After four years I left his fold but I still keep my little notebook of his lessons. The last time I really got to him was when Nestor Fernandez from the U.S., one of the masters of martial arts there, came home and we had lunch together. He has retired as a police officer but still was this gentle and smiling sensei. He died last November 12. Maybe someday like Peter Bacho I will write a long essay about my Martial Arts Years but not now. Right now, I will keep my pain private. As Willi would say again and again, here goes Mr. Flagellant.

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