It is the spring and the start of track season in Bobby's city, located in Washington State and Seahawks territory, and for him, a long-awaited break from judo and the beatings at the hands of Brad, the strongest and best junior brown belt in his dojo. Next to judo, track is Bobby's best sport, and he is one of the top quarter milers in his 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 Vicky, his secret crush and 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 Vicky. But just when it looks like Bobby will get his opportunity to star in the play and, perhaps, in Vicky's heart, Brad shows up to try out for the play, demonstrating histrionic skill and the potential to win the lead. To make matters worse, Brad decides to run track—the quarter mile, no less. In his first practice session, Brad shows that he has the potential to outdo Bobby in the city track meet. Bobby has all the necessary physical skills in both judo and track to beat his rival, but he lacks the mental attributes to succeed, often allowing his temper to obstruct the flow of the ki and to block his harmony with natural laws of nature. Bobby's inability to understand the "gentle way" of judo is hindering his success both in his athletic life and social life. However, through the teaching of and the personal example set by Sensei Yanagi and the influence of the strange new kid next door, who wears a Raiders jacket and cap and practices ballet, Bobby learns self-control, finds that outward appearances are not always valid, and discovers how to apply martial arts principles to track and to life. 'The Year of the Gentle Willow" will demonstrate that one need not always search for success or victory, for, if one is in harmony with nature, those goals may find the seeker; and it will also demonstrate that, ultimately, victory does not always go to the strong but, more often as not, goes to the gentle. E-mail Paul Turse: email@example.com. Visit Web site: http://paulturse.weebly.com.
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Paul Turse earned an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University, and majored in theatre arts. His doctoral dissertation, Shakespeare: Kabuki-style, compared the theatres of Shakespeare and Japan and provided staging tips for academic productions designed to theatrically enhance Shakespearean plays by use of Kabuki staging techniques. He began his judo training while serving his country as a member of the Armed Forces when stationed in Japan. A seventh degree black belt in judo and a sixth degree black belt in jujitsu, he has been practicing and teaching martial arts for more than 50 years. His most notable teaching experience was at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, where he was also employed as an English instructor for 25 years. Although emphasizing character development rather than competition, he did enter the United States Senior National Judo Championship (Masters Division), placing third in the 1981 event.
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