Kohbukan Sisu Judo & Jiu Jitsu - In Memoriam

Norbert Masa     April 5, 1984 - February 10, 2006

Eulogy done at Guelph, Ontario — Saturday, February 18, 2006

“Hello everyone, my name is Wayland Pulkkinen and I was Norbert’s judo instructor.

We are here to remember our colleague, teammate and friend, Norbert Masa. 

I thought I would like to start by sharing with you how Norbert first arrived into our group. 

Norbert first came into our judo club last September, with his father, Zoltan.  Neither had much experience with judo before, and neither were really quite sure what they were about to embark on.  I listened to their questions and did my best to explain the various merits of judo.  Some of these included working to physical exhaustion, having your fingers and other joints extended beyond their normal range, throwing someone as fast and as hard as you can to the mat, locking, choking and holding someone down until they surrender.  To someone new to judo, these events often deter them from joining, but not Norbert Masa.  Even after my explanation of the “wonders of judo”, he was still keen to join in.  And join he did.

Norbert progressed quickly in his study of judo.  He was never afraid to accept challenges, or to work very hard.  He took many bumps and bruises, and was awarded his first grade in November.  Norbert was very adept at linking moves and techniques.  He was able to successfully put these into play during his practices matches.  He never turned down an opportunity to practice with a partner, and was always willing to train.   In fact, Norbert turned out to be the secret ingredient to many victories in our hand ball game during our warm ups.  He would often take an unassuming position near the net, and when the time was right, he could successfully out move the goaltender and score a goal.  Norbert definitely was a team player.

When Norbert was awarded his yellow belt, the whole class erupted into applause.  This alone was a statement by his teammates of their acknowledgment of his hard work and quick success in his studies of judo.  Norbert was truly accepted and embraced by all those from the judo club.  This was evident both on and off the mat.

In judo, we are often learn the best lessons from our senseis (a Japanese term for instructor or teacher) and our peers off the mat.  I would like to share with you what Norbert taught myself and our club.

Norbert faced many struggles in his life.  Instead of surrendering to them, he sought to overcome them.  His quietness was deafened by his true spirit of perseverance.  His presence in our community reminded us all of how each individual is valued, and how each person contributes to the greater good of the group.  I would like to share with you a quote someone forwarded me that best represents this:

“When all members of a community contribute in positive ways, the result is that the many work for the one. Interest in the community allows individuals to accomplish great deeds.  Yet to have a thriving community, all people must play out their supporting roles much like a family unit. While there must be leaders to organize the community, there must be members of the community that respond to their leaders directions for progress. The family is a microcosm of the community and individual endeavors, if aligned to meet the needs of all, greatly benefit all of the community”. 

Norbert’s presence and time within our club clearly demonstrated this. 

It is ironic that for someone who most often chose to be isolated from a group, he did exactly the opposite in his presence.  You see, Norbert actually formed the group in many facets.  He solidified friendships, and reminded us of the importance of individual acceptance and the benefit of extending ourselves in choosing to grow with someone, rather than apart from someone. 

Norbert Masa was a true champion.  His ability to overcome adversity in life was only overshadowed by his perseverance in accepting his challenges without complaint.  A true champion is one who tastes victory at the small battles, and chooses to fight another day.  Norbert did this with integrity, honour and wisdom.

We thank you Norbert for all you have taught us.  We thank you for teaching us this valuable life lesson.  We are truly enriched by your presence, and your lessons and memory will never be forgotten.”