New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Karate and Spaghetti

Today is Sunday, January 30, 2005. It's 12:15 p.m. Jenn is reading The New York Times and I'm here at the computer writing a blog update. The temperature outside is 33F/1C. I took a walk to the store to buy the paper and it felt rather pleasant outside. The Iraqi elections are over.

Yesterday I went to the dojo for kumite class at 4:00 p.m. It was a great class because the group that showed up were mostly people I'm friends with, at least the black belt contingent. There was also a good showing from the Japanese contingent. It's not surprising that our very traditional karate school attracts Japanese people who live in New York.

This might sound odd, but fighting your friends is the best, at least when you're trying to learn and get better. Since I'm a regular in the Saturday fight group I've gotten to know the fighters that show up every time and we've improved our fighting as a group. As soon as we're matched up we're ready to fight, there's not much time spent "feeling out" your opponent. We're familiar with each other's fighting styles and techniques.

Of course you have to deal with surprise attacks and things you hadn't bargained on, but the beauty of fighting your friends, particularly someone you're evenly matched with, is that you don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings. You and your opponent are both there for a good fight. It's a perfect example of being very much "in the moment." If you let your mind wander in the middle of a fight, think about paying your bills or something, you will be brought back to reality in a hurry.

And you're doing your opponent a favor by fighting hard. That's what you're there for. We always thank each other after a good match and have a jovial, informal post-fight analysis in the locker room.

Our instructor, a Japanese guy named Senpai Honma (Senpai is his title, Honma is his name), runs the class very well and keeps everybody in control. He often reminds us "I want you to fight hard, but we don't hate each other."

So yesterday's fight class was great, and I walked out of the dojo tingling from adrenaline and endorphins. I took the subway home and Jenn came home shortly after. She had been to the hair salon in Brooklyn Heights and her hair looked very nice. We hung out bit and then at 8:30 p.m. met our friends Jen and Steve and their Australian-Israeli friend Arieh (sp?) at a local Williamsburg "red sauce restaurant" called Bamonte's.

Bamonte's is everything it should be, which is why it has endured for over a century (it opened in 1900). It's a real Brooklyn Italian restaurant, with red decor and big hanging chandeliers and surly career waiters. We enjoyed spaghetti with meatballs, red wine, garlic cauliflower, broccoli raabe, potatoes, bread, and salads. The atmosphere was loud and boisterous. We had a swell time. After dinner we all came to our place for tea and a discussion of the sins of the Catholic church.

Today we have big plans to clean the house and solve all the world's problems, but you know how hard it is to actually clean the house.

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