Martial Arts StoriesMartial Arts Stories:
The Year of the Gentle Willow
Copyright © Paul Turse 2004. All rights reserved.
It is the spring and the start of track season, and for Bobby, a long-awaited break from judo and beatings at the hands of Brad, the strongest and best junior brown belt in Seattle. Next to judo, track is Bobby’s best sport, and he is one of the top quarter milers in the middle school; and now, he will have one last chance to show his skill in the annual track meet before moving on to high school. He will also now have a chance to impress Regina, the prettiest cheerleader in the school, who, all year long, has had eyes only for Brad. Bobby also has a chance to get the lead in the spring dramatic production and to play opposite Regina. But just when it looks like Bobby will get his opportunity to star in the play and, perhaps, in Regina’s heart, Brad shows up to try out for the play and demonstrates histrionic skill.
To make matters worse, Brad decides to run track—the quarter mile, no less. In the first practice, Brad demonstrates near-record-breaking speed and the potential to beat Bobby. Bobby has all the necessary physical skills in both judo and track to beat Brad, but lacks the mental attributes to succeed, often allowing his temper to obstruct the flow of the ki.
Through the teachings of and the personal example set by Sensei Yanagi and the influence of the “mysterious new boy” next door, who wears a Raiders jersey and practices ballet, Bobby not only learns self-control but also discovers how to apply martial arts principles to track and to life in general.
The Year of the Gentle Willow demonstrates that victory does not always go to the strong but, more often as not, goes to the gentle.