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“Attack!” he shouts. “Attack!”

Instantly, three people spring into action and are coming at me full on, determined to take me down. It’s their job, after all.

These three have volunteered to be my ukes (pronounced “oo-kays” ― my attackers) during my aikido black belt test. All I have to do is stay calm, centred, and focused, yet highly alert. All they have to do is be fully committed to attack. And it’s clear that they are. In seconds I forget all about my part of the equation, because I’m out of breath and pinned beneath three ukes. Mercifully, the instructor calls them off.

I have the shortest of moments to catch my breath before, yet again, I bow to my attackers. It’s their signal to advance.

This time, I’m more prepared. I’m on the offensive now. Rather than wait for what I know is coming, I move toward my first attacker and handle him successfully. And then the second. And then the third. And again. And again. And again. Their ...

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September 16, 2020

Every time I take off my mask upon walking out of a store...

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