One of the reasons why I decided to study Japanese was because I took up karate.
It all started when my brothers started doing karate in my old primary school. In order to progress further up the belts you have to train more, so they started going to class on Saturdays. At that time I was in secondary school, and I remember someone asking me why I wasn’t doing karate since both my brothers were practising it. So I went to a class at around the age of 13 just to try it out, and I’ve been doing it ever since then – which is about 7/8 years now.
I’ve always thought it would be cool if I could go to a dojo in Japan to practise, which is a reason why I took up Japanese so that I would be able to understand the commands etc.
My current belt is brown belt with two stripes and I’m working towards my next belt, which is black belt. I could’ve taken my black belt earlier on this year before coming to Japan but I couldn’t go to training as I was working on the weekends to save up for my year abroad. Truthfully, there was no doubt that I could have taken the exam if I had made time, but I didn’t want to train half-heartedly since I had my part time job and year abroad meetings- if I was going to take the grading I wanted to do it properly.
But, as if by some sort of miracle, I’ve been given the chance to have a go at taking my black belt grading here in Japan!
Fumiyo, who runs the tearoom where I work, also does karate with her son. By coincidence, the karate they do is also the same style (Shitō-ryū )that I’ve been doing back home in London!! It really is a sign.
The dojo is right next to my favourite supermarket near Kokubunji and it’s only 10mins away by bicycle. The karate teacher is a man in his 60s/70s and he is absolutely amazing. He’s been doing karate for so long and you can tell because his black belt is almost white from being so worn out, and it’s literally hanging together by a couple of threads. His wife is also a black belt and she often comes to the tearoom to speak English with me! She likes doing Shodo (Japanese calligraphy) and she wrote this script for me, wishing me well and luck for my karate!
I’ve been to 3 karate classes so far and they’ve been pretty fun. Some of the moves are slightly different so I’ve been trying to adjust my style accordingly, but it’s more or less the same as what I’ve been doing so far. I’m the only girl there (i.e. only female person under 40years old…) but I don’t really mind.
The teacher’s wife commented on my posture and my attention to detail and said that my teachers back home must be very good. If you’re reading this, THANK YOU Sensei Alex and Sensei Bolton!! My teachers back home are incredible and I’ve learnt a lot from them – Thank you for everything!
Word has it that I’ll be able to take my grading here, so fingers crossed!!