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The World On Our Shoulders

Chief Instructor Kajana puts a lot on his students. It's why I wasn't surprised when, after finding out I had a separated shoulder one class, he yelled, in his unique, low, raspy voice, "Steve, on the mat."

I looked at him and rubbed my shoulder trying to garner sympathy. He didn't budge but his eyes shrugged--humorously.

Chief Instructor set up in his chair, "body throws."

I knew his response before I said it but I took my shot, "I got a separated shoulder."

His retort hit me as quick as his strikes, "Throw with one arm!"

I walked to the middle of the mat, rotating my shoulder like an old pitcher. My classmates circled me, waiting for his word to attack.

Chief Instructor issued the command, "get him!"

The first round, I had to fend off multiple attackers utilizing body throws only, often using one arm. I threw them through the doubt. I threw them through the pain.

The second round, I had to attack the Dan, Yakini Ceteways and was thrown several times. Each time I hit the mat, my notions of doubt and pain exited as forcefully as my breath.

Chief instructor knows his students can shoulder the weight of the world before we do. He knows it's not a matter of if we can, but if we believe we can.

Afterwards, as I kneeled on the edge of the mat, rubbing my aching ligament, I resolved to believe in my ability to shoulder whatever comes my way as much as Chief Instructor does.

Boukman Byrd

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