I met Professor Jane Carr in 1997.
I was allowed to train with her by my sensei. He told me to call her and ask for permission to come to class as I was a new green belt. I was traveling to Redding as a salesperson for fire protection materials and wanted somewhere to train. I arrived late afternoon and called the RJA and left a message as class was later that evening. Prof. retuned my call and said I was more than welcome to come and join in.
When I came through the door the first thing I noticed was how big the mat was. There was enough room to roll and fall anywhere you wanted. Over the course of the years of my travels there I did. I met her students. Black belts Scott and Peter, and also Randy and Phil. Professor Scott Redden is only 1 of 2 DZR people I have met on jobsites doing their job while I did mine. I also met Professor Fuchs and Professor Merrill through her and my visits to RJA. Cool right?
When Prof. stepped on the mat her presence was profound indeed. We did Yawara and Nage that first night. After class we talked about my sensei and myself. She always made me feel at home there after that class. This was the start of my longtime correspondences with her. We talked about massage and I went to her and her daughter for that. She had me over to her house one day and she worked on me. That really made my sensei jealous as he had never been there. I liked that.
I continued going to Redding once a month off and on for as many years as I could while my job sent me that way. I even did a freestyle tournament in 1999 and finished 3 rd place. I was not able to receive trophies as my sensei did not allow us to. She had snow globes made and told me it would be fine if I received that. She also told me if my sensei had a problem with that to call her. He never did.
The thing I will always hold dear to my heart is the love she shared with all her students and even some for her non students. She was the essence of Aloha…it was all around her and her students. I was having trouble getting past my green belt rank. I told her how hard my sensei was on me and how frustrated I was. She looked me in the eye and said, “Jeff if you can stick it out and endure his teaching style then you will surely learn some magic along the way.” From the time I met her she regarded me as a friend and someone she wanted to check in with and find out if everything was okay. She guided me at times I needed guiding. Always with a kind and understanding heart. I am glad I listened.
One night at class she told a story about Professor Estes and carrying a mat to the gym as they waited. How he was whistling and carrying the mat as the doors seem to open on their own without him touching them. All the fond memories of hot summer nights listening to Hootie and Blues Travelers going down 5 or 99 on the way home. She came to our school with Professor Hager one time for AJJF black belt exams. She was herself gracious, kind and strong. She was always available by email or phone.
I went to Redding in July 2021 to visit, we talked on the new mat (she was so proud of it) and I met Mister her companion. I last touched her on the mat doing Kappo and had conversations with her at the 2021 Brown Belt camp in Chico. I am glad I made an effort to go and see her then. I will not forget that day. She will be missed but never forgotten by those of us whom she touched in many ways. Let us all keep her spirit alive by sharing stories and her name. I loved her as a person and a teacher. She will always be with me in my heart and mind.
Aloha Prof. we will see you again someday.