Here are a couple of light hearted stories that happened to me. Two separate thrilling events happened that undoubtedly saved two young boy’s lives.
The first lucky-to-be-alive-today soul was a soccer player on a team I was coaching more than 10 years ago. This 8 year old was scrimmaging on the field and I was chasing him. He was dribbling the ball a few feet in front of me while running at full speed down toward the net. Without any warning signs, he stumbled and fell down right in front of me. I weighed more than 400 pounds back then. Momentum being what it is, I was not going to be able to stop on a dime. I instinctively did a forward roll over the boy and ended with a tenkan. I remember hearing gasps from the parents looking on from the sideline. I wonder how well that young man runs today.
A couple years before the soccer incident, another life was saved due to my aikido skills (ha ha). I went to Okemo mountain on a ski weekend. I had never been skiing before. The weather was fantastic. I am told that the skiing conditions were perfect. The snow was powdery. The sky was as blue as it gets. But then so was my skin. It was cold, damn cold, and I really did not see that the snow was any different than the stuff that I shoveled off the driveway back home. Anyway…
I went through the obligatory beginners class instruction on the bunny slope. Skiing was easy and fun. Riiiiight! Filled with confidence I went up on a full sized novice slope. While riding the lift my left ski fell off and was dangling by some strap. Getting off of the lift was not pretty. I should have taken that as an omen. Boot and ski quickly were reattached and I started down the mountain. Things were going well. Left turn, swoosh, right turn, swoosh, a little more speed, a little more speed, perhaps a little too much speed for the moment when…this kid, probably around 11 years old screamed by me, and did some fancy stopping move. Oh no!
This crazy pre-adolescent was frozen in place in front of me. There was no time to stop. He was staring at me. Terror filled his face but he did not move an inch. So….Step Tenkan. I had no idea that was possible on skis and it was not something that I analyzed as a planned move. My body just moved instinctively. In a flash I was on the opposite of him about 5 feet away. I had come to a complete stop. I stayed there a few seconds just watching the fear shake out of his body. Not a scratch. Wow! Tenkan saved his life; no doubt in my mind. I cautiously got to the base of the slope and took off the rented skis and never went up on a lift again.
There was also the time where my elderly neighbor’s son came charging at me screaming about some unknown issue. He had been drinking for a while and was not in control of his emotions at all. His reasoning was even more impaired than his emotions. He too is alive today because of my Aikido practice. But that’s another story of a different type.