Periscope Depth

hold your blindfolds down

Saturday was the black belt test at my dojo for Senseis Danio and Dennis, promoting to fourth-degree black belts. Nick, the master sensei at our school, has never promoted someone as high as fourth-degree before (he’s a fifth-degree, but his brother administered that test, with O’Sensei Joe Puleio supervising). The senseis demonstrated while blindfolded, with one arm immobilized, against three-person simultaneous rushes: a wide variety of material. Danio and Dennis are two of the kinder people you’d ever buy a pint for outside of the dojo, but they carry death in both hands.

I brought my camera with me, as I often do to these tests, and snapped a few pictures from the back row. I didn’t take as many pictures as I have in the past, however. The effort of framing a shot and fiddling with exposure settings takes too much concentration. I lose all appreciation for the fluidity and intensity of the technique. At the same time, if I don’t document what happens in some way – whether by photo or by writing about it – I won’t remember it. I don’t have Proust’s gift for details. That’s why so much of this blog is devoted to picayune recollections of What I Ate This Weekend; I’d never remember otherwise.

Better photographers than I were present, so I might be better off cozying up to them for pictures. One of the newer yellow belts had a sophisticated looking lens and snapped shots from several different angles. Another student (also a newer one) had a GoPro HERO, a video camera the size of a box of matches that can shoot 720p at 60 frames per second. It’s meant to be mounted onto a frame: the edge of a surfboard, the side of a ski-helmet, the edge of a car. Sam was filming by hand, however, crouching near the mat to catch Danio and Dennis executing reverse shiho nage throws. I thought about what it’d look like to strap the camera to a headband and attack someone.