Monday, July 11, 2005

3000 yen well spent

Well, it’s been more than a week since I last typed anything for this blog, but I should think the reason might be apparent. It’s the new computer. And more than that, the ipod that came shortly after. Having now gotten pretty much all of my music and all of the Old Testament onto it, and having gotten myself organized in other ways, I can resume my normal routine.

The biggest event that needs to be typed about would without question be last week’s judo test. That would be July third. This was my second attempt at the second level black belt. I kinda hoped that I would be able to fight other black belts who were going for level two so that it could be a little easier maybe, and I could have rests between fights rather than having to drop three guys in a row.

As I sat watching the white belts, I thought to myself that this time, were I to have to fight a bunch of brand new shodan then I could do it. But then more and more of these massive high school guys kept coming in and changing into judo-gi bound with black belts. When I say massive I mean that they were all pretty tall for Japanese, all at about my chin in hight, and probably all of them weighed more than me, given the mountains of muscle attached to their frames. There were 6 of them.

So that made seven of us taking the test altogether (Tom was surfing). Five probably would have been enough for the judges to make us all fight eachother. Goodbye easy pass. These guys were MEGA intimidating. Not only were they massive, they were also so so SO fast! Watching them warm up did not inspire confidence on my part. I decided that if I could take one point from the six of them, I would feel accomplished.

So the long and short of it was that we did all 21 fights in 20 minutes or less. Take into account that Judo fights can last to like four minutes, and you see that these were FAST. We were assigned numbers. Number one (Nakaoka) dropped his opponent on his first move. Then it was 3 vs 4, 5 vs 6, and then 7 vs 1. I was number seven. He dropped me on his first move too. He even did the move that tall people have the easiest time avoiding: the uchi-mata. Usually I can just step over the leg, but he held me in place and just kept turning. It was as they say, “A to-iu ma,” or “Quick as you can say ah.” Because he did that so fast, they made him fight again right away, and he won that one in like four moves (instead of just one with me). It was crazy. They were all so big and so fast and they knew their moves oh so well. I guess that’s what happens when you train right from elementary school. They all took a lot of points from eachother, and the fights went so fast. Once or twice I didn’t know what move I was thrown with. At all. In two of the fights I felt like I stood a chance: fighting a superior player, but if things worked out and I was fast enough at the right time, I could take a point. Or said another way, if I could fight them innumerable times, I would win once in a blue. Not so with everyone.

Have you ever played chess against someone who can see two or three moves ahead of where you can? This is what these fights felt like. If I moved for one strike, it was like they could feel what to counter it with, and then what I could counter that with and then how they would finish me from there. From their grips on my collar I could actually feel them reading my motions. Kind of unnerving. You’ll never throw well unless you commit yourself, and it’s unnerving to commit when you know that the opponent knows precisely how to move around you. But neither can you wait. Defense wins few points. So you have nothing but to try and try as fast as you can.

Anyway, my last fight was with the second largest of the six, but I was desperate. And it was the very last fight of the black belt competitions. This was my very last chance for a point, and the second lowest odds of getting it. If I had held anything back earlier, now I could not afford that. I tried an inner leg reaping, an outer reaping and turned around to try a body drop, somewhat despairing inwardly at how little he moved with my best efforts. And he hit the ground! Out of the sheer kindness of his heart, or perhaps pity for me being the only one to not pass (everyone else had their requisite three points) he let himself be thrown when I applied a reasonable throw. I realized this in an instant, and recovering from my shock, said “Arigato” just a litte quiet so the judge wouldn’t hear. He smiled and nodded. Nice.

So I walked away with one more point, and it turns out they had given me two for the last test, but they told me I needed three more for the belt. One of the judges came up to talk to me afterwards and told me he’s sure I’ll get it next time. This time, he informed me, was unusual. All the other six were guys who regularly win the heavyweight division highschool competitions. One of them, Number One, is the prefectural champion. Let me tell you, it showed. So really, there was no reason for me to stand a chance. But what a great experience. After that, there was a university champion and another guy who were both going for their fourth level black belts. They were made to face off against the new second levels. The champ declined to play. It was quite shocking how that light framed university student easily threw them around, smiled the whole time, and didn’t look especially tired afterwards. Small light guy, not the type you would even really notice walking around downtown, but his form was fantastic. And of course he was faster than I could follow. If I was in this to be the best, I would have quit that day. It has been reinforced for me that no matter what, I am really just in this for fun and fitness, and everything else is just bonus. It’s good to be schooled, to be put in your place from time to time.

1 Comments:

At 6:23 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really shows that you have that computer at home. Not only have your posts dwindled in frequency, but they have also dublded in size!

 

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