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Master Byung Dae Suh

My second judo instructor was Mr. Suh, a 6th degree, and recent South Korean immigrant, who taught judo in the gym at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois. What I remember most about him was his arms, which could slide like snakes around your neck, and then instantly turn rock hard and choke you out in a second.

He had a wry sense of humor. If you showed pain, he would sit in front of you with a concerned look and ask “You gonna cry?” Sometimes Suh would get me an arm lock that caused me to tap out. Suh would say "too soon" and keep the lock applied. I would keep tapping until he thought I had learned to accept pain; then he would release the lock.

We had a married couple in the class. The husband was big and strong and the wife was small and fragile. Suh would play with the man and throw him all around the mat. Spectators would yell and clap in awe. Then Suh would play with the wife and let her throw him around. You could hear the spectators talking about how the small woman was whipping the master who had just whipped the big guy.

One night I was in playing judo with Suh and just happened to lift my foot as he performed a foot sweep. This caused his sweep to miss and caused him to slip and fall. Seeing me apparently throw the master, the spectator’s began to cheer. I motioned for them to stop but it was too late. For the next five minutes, the Master Suh tossed me around using every throw in the book. If I did not get up quickly enough, he pulled me up and then threw me again.

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