Saturday, 26 April 2014

Eat, train and don't sleep as much

So this week really pushed me physically and I'm quite sore. It always seems to be this way but it's no problem. I've had tons of fun this week and I've definitely perked up now that I am back into the sports. My last report may have seemed a bit down but that was because I was so tired and I was up late. I have adjusted my sleeping patterns and all is well again!

On Tuesday I woke up with the plan to not sleep in first period. I had a small nap on the train but managed to make it through the whole day without sleeping! I was pretty pleased. School was good and I was looking forward to a day full of things to do. I made huge progress on my speech and learnt a fair bit of Japanese at the same time. It was a good day!
Lunch is always the best
I was all excited to go to kendo but that night I was pretty shocked at what I saw.

My school's kendo team is very strong, they are very successful in tournaments and it's easy to see why because they train so hard. The club is very strict and they even train during the weekends and holidays. I don't make it to the weekend trainings because I'm a bit soft.

Anyway, they were doing these drills the other night and I wasn't able to participate because I don't know how the routine goes and it was all too fast for me to do it and learn as it goes on. So I'm watching everyone give 100% and it was awesome to see. 

Kendo relies a lot on the voice so during these routines everyone is screaming their lungs out and stomping about. The noise is incredible. I was standing in awe when I saw one guy slip over.

He landed on his front and I thought: "Woops, he'll be straight back up." Instead, he had a small spastic fit on the floor. We pulled him away from all the stomping feet. (We being the people who were watching, of course no body stopped training.) This poor guy couldn't stand on his own and he could barely communicate because he was absolutely buggered.

But when we stood him up and asked if he was ok, he literally ran back to his partner and got back to training. I was in a small state of shock. He had literally fallen down and had an actual fit just seconds before but now he was back, screaming and what not.

I was scared, surprised and inspired, all the same time. 

That night I had to leave early because of karate training. So I took off my armour and changed back to my school uniform and ran to the train. From the next station I had a good half hour's walk to the dojo.

I was as keen as for training. It was an awesome session that I got a few bruises from. Lots of sweat and plenty of adrenaline.

Tons of writing so here is a photo to break it up
The view from my classroom
 Wednesday wasn't so great. I woke up and was feeling horrible so I took a day off. I stayed in bed and just rested. I felt fully rejuvenated at the end of the day and I also got some speech practice in. I feel I needed the rest and it did me well. Other than that it was a pretty uneventful day.

Thursday was tough. I woke up before my alarm but instead of lying around waiting, I thought I would get up slightly earlier than usual. I went downstairs and opened the door the living room and my host Mum looked at me, really confused. She asked what I was doing and I became just as confused. I was in morning mode so I was in no mind to contemplate why I was here. It's morning, of course I'm here, why wouldn't I be?

Turns out it was five in the morning. I simply turned around and went back to bed. I don't know how all this happened but I was well confused.

I didn't sleep during class and I even managed to stay awake on the train. This is progress! School was good, I learnt some more Japanese and once again I had a big night of kendo and karate. Today I would be going to a different dojo of a different style. At that BBQ I was at, the Sensei of this dojo challenged me.

(He actually just invited me, but he did say "Lets fight!" So it's cooler to say that he challenged me. Here I am, going around Japan, challenging dojos. Living the dream!)

I went to kendo and thankfully nobody had any seizures. I left early and got on the train back home. Because I was going to a different dojo, I could wear my Kyokushin uniform instead of the Fudokai one that I'm borrowing. It was good to be able to wear it again and I couldn't stop smiling. I wasn't even nervous!

I was potentially about to have the snot beaten out of me but I was cool with that because I had my own gear on. I felt invincible!

I got to the dojo and as soon as I started fighting with the Sensei I miss timed a block and got a rather hard kick to the nuts. Not so invincible.

The night was awesome! The dojo was mainly kids so it was with the Sensei that I got to fight hard with. Him and I were having one last fight when he roll kicked me, that's basically like doing a flip with a kick attached on the end. I managed to dodge it but I felt a little bit out played.

I had to get him back! So as soon as we got back to fighting I spun around for the big spinning heel and planted it right on his cheek. It wasn't hard because that would be really dangerous but I stopped it on his face and we both just laughed. I don't know many other sports where you can literally aim kicks at each other's heads and then laugh about it. Karate is great!
It's just a small dojo, but there was plenty of spirit!
I was absolutely exhausted! I had more bruises and it was great! I had a feed and hit the pillow. I was shattered. 

Friday was also tough. My plans to not sleep were dashed by the previous day's excursions. I got to first period, fully believing I could make it without slipping into a daze. It turned out to be impossible, I was seeing double and was soon snoring. I woke myself up and got back to work, feeling a little bit more energized. 

Kendo that night would once again shock me. So they were doing that same routine and this other guy fell over. Once again on his front and just like Tuesday's guy, he too had a fit. It really looked scary. His partner flipped him over and literally dragged him to the side of the hall where he just stopped moving. He was lying there, not moving whatsoever, it was like he'd passed out or something. I wont lie, i actually felt like crying, I couldn't really comprehend what he was feeling.

But soon enough he jumped up, literally jumped. And he was back into the session. Wow. I carried on with my excersises that whilst tough, were not as hard as what the rest of them were doing. 

Training went until six and after that everyone just sat around, too tired to move. I managed to get a photo of my gear; I think it's pretty cool
The horizontal characters read: Mashita Seifu,which is the name of my school.
The vertical reads my name: Burenan. (Japanese spelling)
That night I had to get the train home, so I hung out with some mates until 7:43 pm, when the train leaves. I got home at around 8:20 and had dinner. I practiced my speech with my host sister and it went well. I'm cheating on this speech a wee bit. It's supposed to be five minutes long but I'm fleshing it out with a two minute video. Should be right.

I had planned to get up at 10:00 am on Saturday but I missed the mark and my host Dad came in to wake me up at about 10:15. Woops, I had to be at the doctors at around 11:30 so I had to rush through the morning routine. Wasn't so bad though.

I got to the doctors and it wasn't really what I was expecting. I was there to check up and see if I had glandular fever (My actual Mum had ordered me to go the doctors because of my sleepy state last week.) Anyway, we told my symptoms to the Doc and he told me to lye down on this bed. Nek minnit, there's a drip attached to my arm.
No worries
So they gave me a heap of drugs, I'm talking six pills per meal. They diagnosed nothing and here I am, drugged up and none the wiser. My hosts folks reckon that I only need to take one dose of these pills because they are apparently pretty useless. I'm not too bothered. 

I then went and got my hair cut. I don't have a photo to show but I will describe my new look as best as I can.

I look pretty similar, just with less hair.

^^ That's about as good as any photo.

The host Dad and I went out for lunch and I had kara-age. Fried chicken! It was delicious
Decent sized feed!
We then went sight seeing! Because I live deep in the country, there is all this beautiful scenery to explore and it really is amazing.
Gotta keep dogs on a lersh

One of four waterfalls in the area. Pretty beaut

There was this dodgy as cave. It looked quite deep

This tree was so green I couldn't believe it.
I came home and relaxed. I've done some more speech practice and had another good feed. It seems as though I've pulled both my left calf muscle and my right bicep. I think I over extended at Kendo but regardless, I'm as sore as. How does this keep happening?

I'm feeling tons better this week, last week I was a bit down and I think it was because I was inactive. Now that I'm back into the sports, I'm feeling a lot better. I have slight cold like symptoms and I'm pretty sore but in high spirits. 

I got a photo of my tournament certificate and trophy so give it a look, I'm pretty chuffed with it to be honest.
It roughly translates to:
Good effort on kicking ass!
So that's what's up so far. I have to give this speech tomorrow and I'm nervous as hell. I always look forward to speeches for that feeling of relief once it's done. 

That's all for now! Until next time!
I'm not the only one sleeping in class!

Monday, 21 April 2014

A tired week

Man I am buggered. I was writing last weeks blog at one in the morning so that sort of made the start of my week a bit sluggish. So I slept on the train to school and hobbled in to class where I slept at my desk for the first period.

I had a small bit of charge that lasted until about 5th period where I had to take another nap. I had a speech that needed writing but I thought that would have to wait until the next day. I foot was still busted from the tournament so I couldn't go to kendo which was a bit disappointing. I instead limped about with my friends and went to have a look at teh Kyudo dojo.

This was pretty cool. Aside from the fact that the dojo was like, 30 minutes away and I was traveling at a whole one limp per second.
Saw some pretty trees on the way there. The weather was mint
So we get to this dojo and like many times, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that Kyudo was the Japanese archery but I wasn't sure how it was done. We entered the dojo and it was awesome.
The shooting range

The bow is bigger at the top

It was pretty damn cool
After a bit of a nosey we walked back to the train station and went home. I was pretty tired so I didn't do much at all. I just sort of went into a coma state and slept. 

But I still woke up tired. Very tired. I soaked in the shower for a wee bit before getting to the train so I could sleep. I got to school and hit the books. With my head and went to sleep.

I feel like an old cell phone, constantly  needing charging or else I just shut down during the day. It's quite annoying. That day was a bit of nothing much. Lunch was good though!
You can see that I had already started eating the rice, but I thought I had best get a photo before it was all gone.
I limped past the kendo hall feeling guilty because I couldn't train. It made me feel a little bit down but I soon found friends to ride the train home with and all was well. I didn't get up to much that night. Just a bit more sleeping.

Thursday was a good day. School was just fine, I did my regular routine of sleeping in the first period and managed to be slightly productive throughout the rest of the day. I was pleased. After school I had about four hours to kill between school and karate. The night's karate was going to more of a hangout and recap of the tournament as opposed to an actual training so I was able to participate. But my leg was still a pain.

I was invited to the Rotary district governor's house because he lives nearby and his wife is my host Mum's best friend. So I went there and had a mean feed of home made yaki-soba.
You can't really get sick of this
I heard the words: "You can sleep if you want" so I did just that. I woke up a dribbling mess all ready for karate.

I got there and we all watched the videos from the tournament on a big screen tv. Then we just hung out and had a good time for a while before we had a small prize giving. Everyone got a participation certificate but us place getters got a really big and extravagant looking certificate. I don't have a picture now but I will get one up next week. It was a good night. 

I went back home to find a big bowl of cup ramen. (It's like 2 minute noodles but sooo much better.) My host brother had bought these for me and said they were the best. My host Mum warned me that they were quite spicy. I was feeling pretty cool because I had a big certificate. So I poured all of the spicy sauce into the noodles and quickly realised that this was gonna be quite hot.

So I scolded my tongue on the first bite which didn't do me any good. Soon enough I was sweating, my nose was running and my eyes watering. I had started eating so I couldn't stop. I had talked up my ability to eat spicy stuffs quite a lot so I definitely couldn't back out of this. They were delicious but every bite ripped up my throat. 

Of course I ate the whole lot and downed the stock. It was divine but painful. I then went to bed and slept. I get all this sleep throughout the day and then get a good amount at night but I still wake up as a zombie.

Surprise surprise. I was in no form to wake up at 6:00 am on Friday morning but there was school to go to and I'm not exempt from the rules. So I rolled out of bed and made my way downstairs. The train allowed me a small bit of respite before I had to go to class. 

I'd like to stay I studied hard and was attentive in class but nope. Sleep was too good. It's dangerous business though; I just about fell out of my seat which would have been a bit embarrassing. The day brought with it a bit more productivity and all was good. I got home with probably the lamest thing to look forward too. It was Friday which meant that tomorrow was Saturday.

And I could sleep! I could sleep in a bed! Not on a hard desk but on a soft mattress! Luxury! 

I slept until about 11:30 am when I had lunch. I had plans for the weekend and they promised to be quite fun. My karate Sensei was throwing a BBQ at his place on Sunday but some of us were invited to spend the night and have a small feast. 

I got to Sensei's house at about 3 o clock. Some other students and I cleaned up his house and helped prepare for the night. I was of course, only allowed to have one or two beers. So I enjoyed the ones I had.

I might have had a little bit more than the above mentioned one or two but that one be mentioned.
Most of the food was gone by the time I got a photo but I can promise that it was amazing
Plenty of food, many laughs and just a good time. My one or two beers had me quite sleepy so I literally just rolled over and slept on the floor. I woke up and the lights were out, a blanket over me and lots of snoring from everyone else who had gone to sleep. 

I woke up to the sound of talking and cooking. Must be about noon I thought with a heavy head. Nope, it's 7 am. What.
It was seven in the morning and I was in no state to do anything. I forced down breakfast which was quite nice but it wasn't really what I was looking for. No problem. We were soon outside preparing for the BBQ. 

The cool thing about being at a house full of karate people is that everyone loves fighting. The worst thing is that everyone loves fighting. I managed to bust up my hand again between play fighting and wood breaking. (We had to break up some kindling for the fire.)

Soon enough we were underway and the times were good.
Got some big fish

And some wee fish. (Called, Ayu)


Smelt amazing

Chef Sensei

Good times
The weather started to pack in though so that was the signal to call it a day. But what a day it was. I got to speak to a heap of people and learn a bit more Japanese so it was great. I got a ride home and was pretty exhausted. I slept before dinner and after which I went to bed because I just couldn't function. I had a good sleep though.

But then that thing came along and ruined my sleep. Oh, it was Monday. No worries, I get to do Kendo today so I was quite keen. I fell into a deep sleep on the train and would have missed my stop if it wasn't for my host sister. I was out to it.

I remembered about this speech I've got to have memorised by Saturday. Better start writing it. So I actually did some work today and by the time I got to Kendo I was a little bit tired. Training was tough but it was good to be back.

I feel like a bit of a bully though; There are a bunch of new kids who joined so there are a few new faces. Anyway, this one kid was really strong and gave me quite a fright when he really smashed me in the head. We were doing drills so I thought to myself: "I will get him back when it's my turn!" I was thinking it in a playful way but it seems as though I hit him too hard. 

I did, in truth use all my strength in bring the bamboo stick down on him. He didn't say anything but the look on his face said pain. Woops. I think we were friends by the end of the night so no worries.

At the end of class I was presented with a gift. Everyone at Kendo wears these belt like things. (Photo for reference)
The best example is the boy in the front right
On these belt like things, everyone has their name and school written on the front. It's actually like a big sock that you can take off the belt if you want to change them. I don't have my belt on in the above photo but when I do have it on, I'm the only one without my name on it.

I'm not too phased about it, being foreign and all but tonight my club gave me one. I will have to get a photo up of it some time but it essentially means that I am officially welcomed into the club. Everyone clapped for me and I was elated. I feel pretty damn cool.

I got home, had dinner and got stuck into the blog. I thought I better show you what I'm having for dinner on a regular basis because it's actually the best. 
Shrimps, fresh veggies, salad and a bowl of sushi. Everyday is something like this.
I love it
That's all I've got for now. I'm currently listening to music and looking forward to sleep. I still have half a speech to write and a fair bit of other paperwork to get through (Such a hard life----sarcasm) I've got it quite easy to be honest. I'm blessed, really. 

Cheers for reading! Until next time!
The book isn't even open. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Feeling almost on top of the world!

It was a week of severe nerves last week, speeches, tournaments and what not. I always get very very nervous before anything, be it speeches, meetings or tournaments and the like. So last week with its speech on Monday and then its tournament on Sunday had me worried sick, literally.

I got up on Monday under the impression that I had plenty of time to have a shower and a shave after I enjoyed breakfast. Well, I leisurely munched on this delicious cereal which was something like honey muesli after which I slowly sipped away at a coffee. My shower was great! I went up stairs, got half changed and was ready to go downstairs for a shave. So I had my tie hanging around my neck with a white shirt half buttoned up when I was told it was time to go. Woops. 

I managed to get properly dressed and shave at the same time. Amazing what time can do when it's not there.

The speech went fine and I was soon met with that awesome feeling of relief as I no longer had to remember anything and I could just turn into a bit of a zombie for the rest of the meeting. So that morning I was worried something wicked, seemingly about talking infront of people but that night I went to karaoke and sang infront of people. No problem!

Looks like I'm crying but I'm not, it's just sweat or something that's not tears...

I was a bit shy to sing at first but you gotta give it a go
It was great fun! I sang a few English songs and gave the Japanese ones a go. They didn't go so well but that doesn't even matter! I went with my older host sister and her husband who I get along with so well! A really great time!

Tuesday was back to school for another one of those ceremonies! When does it start for real?! Well, confusion aside, it was a good day. We all packed into the hall and watched the school brass band rock out and then we watched the new 1st years march in. They were small and they looked scared. I laughed because I remember what it's like to be the new, small kids in school. I think year 9 at TBHS is a bit rougher than here though.

So of course we had kendo training and it was great! Today we practiced some of the more traditional aspects of the martial art and had wooden katana instead of bamboo swords. (A katana is a samurai sword.) It was all slow paced and graceful and quite cool to watch. 

After a small time training we were called upon to help with the distribution of sports uniforms to the new kids. All these kids had their parents with them from the ceremony and we had to say welcome and congratulations for making it to high school and what not. I had a great time just saying "Konnichiwa" to everyone who was there. Sometimes we got to have small conversations with a few people.

I went home and relaxed, it was a good night! And finally, proper school the next day!

I got up early and had marmite on toast, downed a coffee and was ready to go to school. I think I slept a wee bit on the train. School was odd, everyone had tests to do so I didn't get up to much. But it was still good to see all my mates in class!

Kendo was set to finish at 5 and I was looking forward to a night of Hanami! (Flower watching.)

Training started and it was tough. We went through a bunch of drills and I was almost drowning in sweat. I checked the time; 4:58 pm. No signs of stopping. Hmmmmmmmmm.

Well 5:00 came and went and it turns out training finishes at 6. This poses a huge problem as I had to either catch the 5:23 train or the 7:43 train. We were planned to leave for Hanami at 8:00 and it takes about 40 minutes in the train to get home. Stress.

Well, a few phonecalls later and everything was sorted out. My host dad was in the area on his way home from work and I got a ride home. We had a bite to eat and then went out.

The cooler trees get lit up at night!

Truly amazing in person

I don't have words

A well placed body of water just made this magic
We all sat under these gazebos and ate Japanese festival food. I had a sip of some Japanese liqueur and definitely ate my fair share of whatever was infront of me. There were tons of people and I got to talk to heaps of em. The night had this carefree atmosphere and it was truly amazing. I had this feeling of happiness that I couldn't explain. I don't know why but I was just on top of the world. That liqueur must of been stronger than I thought.

Thursday had more of those tests. I ended up in the library all day with the American exchange student. We say we studied but we really got up to nothing much.
Studying hard
That night I went to Kendo and training was again, until 6. It turns out that we are stepping it up in terms of training nowadays. More sweat, more smacks in the head and a general a good time. Back home to relax. But it seems I'm starting to get nervous for this tournament that is way closer than I thought it was. Oh dear. 

I misread the tournament schedule and it turns out I'm not the biggest and heaviest guy in the division but rather I'm in the heaviest division. And it turns out I'm the smallest and youngest guy in it. The little bit of confidence I had was sapped pretty quick. 

Friday was pretty odd. I was really tired from the previous nights kendo and I slept a fair bit in class. But it wasn't until sixth period that something exciting happened. I was sitting at my desk which is right beside the sliding door. One that shakes all the time cos it sits on a shoddy set of wheels. So I'm sleeping away because it's maths period and of course I'm dreaming about the tournament on Sunday.

There I was, throwing punches, throwing kicks and all was good. I remember throwing this particularly snappy kick and next thing I know, I was back in the class room with a ringing in my ears and all eyes on me. I had kicked the door and it made quite the ruckus. Well I was pretty damn embarrassed so I put my head down and went back to "maths." 

Kendo was awesome that night. At about 5:30 we all slacked off (Sensei had gone somewhere.) So I taught my mates how to fight Kyokushin style! So we mucked about, fighting hand to hand, sword to sword and even sword verses fist and foot, it was a good laugh! I got home and experienced those nerves that were gradually growing.

I was told I could sleep in because all of my appointments were from the afternoon. So I had to make sure what time I was getting up, I was hoping for 11 and if not 10 but I was told that 8 or 9 should be good. "Sleep in." Can't argue though, especially when the usual is 6. 

So I had no real idea of what the day was going to bring except for the fact that I was going to stay at my previous host families house for the night because it would be easier to go to the tournament from there. We were also set to have some meeting in a nearby town called Takayama. 

It turns out I was being used. We got to Takayama and were all ready for the lunch meeting when I thought I should ask about why I was here. Quote (It was even said in English.) "The Takayama club isn't sure if they want to host students yet so we will show them you and persuade them." 

Cool. I wasn't even bothered, I was getting a free feed! We talked with these unsure host families to be over a western meal and it went well! I talked a bit and smiled a lot and enjoyed the food. It was a bit inappropriate to take a photo so I can't show you what we ate. Sorry, will have to get some more food photos later.

After our espionage, we went to this French cafe! 
So then we walked around this art gallery looking at old French things. My previous host Mum, Rieko had been beaten up by her Labrador in the morning and it was around about now that her knee started to play up. So I ended up pushing her about in a wheel chair through the gallery!
It was a really nice complex

With a choice view!
No photos in the gallery though
So we went home and I got to walk the dogs again, I have missed this!
Miss these two

The old trail is even more beaut than it was before!
We went out for dinner that night and I couldn't eat too much, I was pretty nervous. The big day was tomorrow. I had decided to not worry so much but rather look forward to it! In my head I was excited but my body was nervous.

I went to bed at 10 for a 4:40 am wake up.

The tournament was in Nakatsugawa and it was the Gifu-Ken championship. There were 1235 competitors and they were going to be fighting on 11 mats at a time. That it is quite the contrast to what I'm used to. I'm used to one or two mats. 11 mats and 1235 competitors is insane. 

I had a small feed and it was all go. My mate, Fuyuki and I drove to the arena and had a good time singing in the car. He's that guy that smashed me in the guts the other week. He would be fighting in a division below me. We arrived and got all ready for the weigh in and doctor's check. I weighed in at 76.8 kg and 174.3 cm tall. The smallest in my group. 

I managed to spot my first opponent and holy shit he was a giant. He was so much bigger than me that Fuyuki simply said. "Bad luck."

That's pretty grim.
Just awesome

So my division started at 11:35 so there was a good few hours to kill before anything happened. Time passed slowly but eventually Fuyuki and I started warming up. We ran laps around the outside of the arena until we were sweating and then we had some light rounds of sparring. I was shaking and I felt sick. I was about to get monstered by the giant.

He kept giving me these evil eyes and all I could think was that he wasn't just gonna fight me but he was gonna beat me up maliciously. This gave me a little bit of vigour and I worked myself into this mood. I wasn't gonna let this guy push me around. I was gonna smash him.

The adrenaline was starting to flow and it felt good. My fight came ever closer and the members from my dojo found me and cheered me on. They were all around the mat and they helped me find my way. 

We all bowed to the mats and got ready to be called on for the battle. My heart was going 100mph and this giant on the other side of the mat was looking as chill as. My name was called and it was time.

I bowed to the mat and took my position. As my bare feet met the familiar feel of the padded floor all of my nerves left and I was in limbo. I wasn't thinking words or pictures or anything. I was just there. 

We bowed and I stared him straight in the eyes. He was big. The judge said go and that was it.

I launched in with a front kick but it slipped to the side and his kick went straight up and caught me in the nuts. No time to think about pain, I was gone, all guns blazing and it was the best fun. I could feel the hits land on him and I could also feel the weight of his punches hit me. It is really the best feeling.

I landed a kick on his chin and we went back to the starting positions. A point was called and we were ready to go again. I jumped straight in with another high kick and landed. Once again we went back to the starting positions and got ready to go again for the last few seconds.

He came straight in with this heavy knee and I knew that if that landed I would be on the ground so I got quite the scare. But soon enough the fight was over and the flags went in my favour.

We shook hands and became instant friends! We talked a bit after the fight and had a good laugh. Karate is the best, you can literally smash each other on second and then laugh about it after. 

I was bouncing and ready for another fight, I had one more fight before the finals. I went through the same procedure, bowed to the mat and walked on, ready as ever. I stared my opponent in the eyes again, he was about the same height as me but a lot heavier. He was also a 3rd dan! 

We smashed into each other and the battle began, I pushed him back and lined up a high kick. My brain was still programmed to the taller guy in the previous fight and my kick went literally right over his head, brushing his head gear. I spun around and got back to hitting. I launched another high kick which was again a bit high and it cause my standing leg to give out. I slipped over in an embarrassing fall but I was right back up and itching to go.

I launched at him again and clipped him with a better aimed head kick but the ref didn't see it or something. Back to it then! I once again could feel the punches land and it was great. I put a foot past his nose and the ref put us back to the starting positions. I am a tad confused at the reffing here but that's no problem. 

I psyched my opponent with twinkle fingers. I wiggled my fingers as I slowly walked in to distract him and then gave him a solid kick to the leg. He probably didn't even notice the jazz hands but I felt pretty clever.

I pushed him into the corner and started loading up the big hits. The ref called time and we stopped fighting. The flags once again went in my favour and I was on top of the world. Yet again we shook hands and became mates! We talked after the fight and then I was prepped for the final....

In three hours time.

I had a small bite to eat and frowned as the adrenaline left my body and the aches and pains came. My right hand was swelling up and so was my right foot. My left shin felt smashed and I was actually buggered. This isn't too good.

Finally we started warming up again but the nerves had come back. Everyone had said "watch out, he's strong" about my opponent and it definitely got to me. We started running laps again and did some more light sparring. I was ready but my hand was hurting horribly and my foot was a bit of a problem. 

It hurt to make my hand a fist and that fist just so happened to be my primary weapon. Shit.

Back to the mats. Fuyuki had made it to the final as well. His fight was first and then it was mine. He literally kicked the head gear off of his opponents head; it was the coolest thing I saw all day.

He won and I stood up and moved to the edge of the mat. I bowed and walked on. I had my position and so did the other fella. Nothing in my head except that fighting state of mind. We faced off and I winked at him. Just to see if I could get a reaction.

Well I got a good kick to the hip and that hurts me still as I write this.

We battered against each other and all I could feel were these big impacts to my sides. He had some very powerful kicks. But his stance was wide so I kicked his inner thigh and got the desired result. He was thrown off balance and I layed into him some more. He threw some kicks as he moved backwards and must of tripped because he fell down and I nipped the top of his head on the way down with a kick.

The ref stopped the fight and said something to me. I had not a clue what he said but I did hear "kick" and "watch out" so I just nodded. 

Back to it and I kept receiving these kicks. I tried my best to drill him and get some kicks in but his defence denied my attempts to catch him in the ribs with my legs. We moved into the centre and I tried to throw up and axe kick (it goes up in an arc and then straight down.)

He pushed it back and it couldn't have set me up better for a back kick. I the force from his block to start my spin around and I threw my leg up with the heel aimed at his head. My aim was true and it clopped him right in the jaw. 

I got this feeling of elation, "I've got him!!" It pushed his head over and I was well pleased. I heard my supporters cheer and I really thought I had it. But the ref didn't call anything. 


Back to it! I was exhausted and I could feel my limbs turning to lead and it was not a good feeling. His kicks persisted and I knew deep down that he had it. The fight ended and we walked back to our spots.

I accidentally bumped into him hard enough to make it seem as though it was on purpose. He turned around and looked me in the eyes and I gave him a cheesy grin. He gave one back and I knew that it wasn't really too bad that I was gonna lose. 

It was the best fun. The flags went in his favour and I could see elation in his face. We shook hands and chatted for quite a while after the match. He was a real good guy and we were instant friends. I was pleased but ever so slightly disappointed. 

My hand was literally throbbing, my foot was making me limp and it felt as though my hip and lower side had been repeatedly whacked with a cricket bat. It was a good day! 

We were ready to receive our rewards and they even had a podium!!

Fuyuki went up first, he got a gold trophy!
Awesome effort!
Next I got to go on the podium! I felt like a little kid, all excited and stuff.
Big smiles!

We did quite well!

This guy's 14 but he manages to kick me in the head and I can't even see it coming!
He's from my dojo and he actually inspires me, such spirit!

With Sensei, the end of the day
So Fuyuki and I got back in the car and got ice creams at the convenience store. Then we sang songs in the car all the way home! We were both buggered and bruised and ready for a good rest. 

I got home and showed my family the videos. I had dinner and collapsed onto the couch. Aw shit I'm exhausted. I was limping, my hand was purple and my body started to hurt.

It wouldn't hit me till the next day though.

Today I limped around school with just about every muscle aching. My foot had swollen so much that it didn't fit in my school slipper and my hand was actually a little better. The muscles on my fore arms burned whenever I moved my hands and my abdomen was smashed. I'm sitting here in bed now, at 1 am on Tuesday morning, still in pain.

But man it was fun. I am officially the 2nd in all of Gifu province! A foreigner! We reckon that the judge didn't call my head kick because I'm white and they can't have a foreigner win their tournament. 


That's all for now! Until next time!
Good mates!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A quietly exciting week

It seems that I always write my blog on a lazy day with nothing else to do but today is not so. Anyways, last blog was a lazy day and the whole week has been pretty chill up until now.

Tuesday started off a little bit busy as I had morning Kendo training. This is a bit of a double edged sword; Kendo is fun and all but I have to get up early (it's a tough life, I know) and jump between trains all so I can sit around for a good half an hour cos I'm early. But then it picks up! We put on our Kendo clothes which are always freezing cold with the previous training's sweat. If that isn't cool enough, we wear these big pants which are really wide, so our legs are well ventilated with the cold morning air. It's not all bad though, we soon gear up and get moving so we warm up pretty quick.

I had a bit of a dumb moment on Tuesday's training, we were doing this new routine, (it was new only to me, everyone else has already done it a good few hundred times) so I flinched and looked down at just the wrong time and received a pretty nice hit to the head. I thought about it for a wee while, the head gear we wear is pretty strong at the front, with its metal rim and mask. But the back is literally just soft material. Its like folding your shirt and wearing it on your head; it doesn't protect anything.

The bamboo swords we use are pretty hard, they are designed to be smashed against the metal of the helmet and the hardened material of the body armour with a fair bit of power. So when I put my head down and got smacked, it was like just standing there and letting the other guy have a free hit. You get this ringing in your ears and a ripper of a headache. It is not at all pleasant. All you can really do is swear a lot and not  do it next time. I did just that.

Training finished and I went home to relax. It was a nice day!

Wednesday was a bit confused. I stayed in bed until about lunch time because I was keen to catch up on some sleep but I was awoken with the offer to go out for lunch. I couldn't of gotten out of bed quicker! We went out and had udon, Japanese noodles. Delicious! Sorry, no photos because I was a disorganised mess jumping out of bed and into the car. No time for a camera, I was pretty pleased to have got pants on. After lunch it was back home for not much. I wrote a bit of a speech that is to delivered on Monday, I am still practicing it now.

Thursday was much the same, I didn't have Kendo so I dedicated some time to sleep. Then I hacked away at that speech for a wee while. But then it was time for karate! Oh how I was excited to get out and have a kick about after a day of nothing.

I did just that and whilst I didn't get beat up this week, I managed to make a pretty gruesome mess. You may remember from a while ago, my feet and their poor condition. They are still a bit dry and I thought all of the cuts had healed. Well I was wrong.

I was fighting away as you do, adrenaline pumping, not a single care in the world about the feeling in my big toe. Why would I even consider thinking about something so insignificant? The bout ended and I noticed a spot of blood on this fella's dogi. It turns out the wee cut on my big toe had opened. I took a moment to tape up my toe. I did a pretty shoddy job but I was too keen to get back in the fight. "She'll be fine." Yeah right.

After another 2 minutes of high energy, hard hitting fun, there was blood everywhere, it was a mess. This guy was just painted with my blood and the floor had got a good coating too. The taping was nowhere to be seen and my toe was dripping with dark red fluid. It was actually pretty grotesque.

We had to get on all fours with cloths and wipe down the whole dojo! What a fun night it was, definitely got the fight out of my system for the day.

I got to take some photos on Friday so the blog will brighten up in just a moment.

My host Dad and I went on a bit of a spontaneous outing. "Lets go shopping." He said. I was keen to get out and about so off we went. We went to a town called Kakamigahara, and did a bit of window shopping. Didn't actually buy anything but it was cool to be out. We had ramen for lunch and it was great.
Ramen, I don't even know what to say, I don't want to take away from the beauty of the meal
After lunch we went to look at Sakura, the cherry blossom trees that Japan is famous for. It was absolutely breathtaking, these trees blooming in the hundreds and thousands with petals blowing about in the wind like something out of a movie.
Just being around these trees makes you feel happy, it's quite nice

Once again, this happy feeling, it's surreal

Looking a bit dumb, will get the smile right in the next one!
Nah, botched that one up too. 

The word for bridge in Japanese is: Hashi
The word for chopsticks in Japanese is: Hashi

Can't see in photo but there are big carp swimming about in the water
 People participate in a thing called: "Hanami" when the flowers are blooming. Hanami literally translates to "Flower-looking" Which sounds like a walk through the gardens but it's a bit cooler than that. People sit down under the Sakura with family and friends and get drunk and eat food. Basically people just get together and enjoy happiness together. Awesome.
Photos can't really do justice; these flowers are just so nice

I didn't really need a hand with this photo...

Decent weather

The weather picked up

Such a fresh feeling; the sun, the breeze and nature
It was an awesome day, I just couldn't help but smile and I didn't really have a solid reason for it, it was just a good feeling. I finished writing my speech with the help of my family.

Saturday was a good day. I got to sleep in for a good while and I had a nice risotto for lunch/breakfast. I relaxed for a bit, read my speech a couple of times and got ready for the night's festivities. Every town has its on festival where they carry a shrine about on their shoulders.

I wasn't too sure of what to expect, I was however told to watch out for drunk old men giving out Sake and to try and avoid the drunks because fights are not unheard of. "Sounds exciting!" I thought. 

So there were actually quite a few shrines to carry around and it was pretty hectic. We grouped up and picked up these incredibly heavy wooden constructions with all sorts of decorations stuck to them and literally marched them through the streets. For every few metres we covered we would stop and do a full 360 and then get back to walking. It was highly inefficient but it was pretty fun. 

Whilst we were walking and carrying these things we were all chanting: "Oisa!" It was loud and every team was competing to be the loudest. There were big drums adding noise to the already overpowering atmosphere. At times I could literally feel the bass vibrate through the ground and make my feet feel weird. 

I thought that we were just marching about but the chaos stepped up when we got to an intersection big enough for all of the shrines to move about freely. Oh shit it was crazy. There was drums and cymbals crashing about whilst every team was screaming at the top their lungs and whats more, it turned into a ramming battle.

We would run about carrying this mammoth shrine and run into other teams. It wasn't safe at all but it was incredible. It was dark now but each shrine had a bunch of fairy lights on them and the street lights added to the festive feel. 

I couldn't take photos but luckily I had family who took photos for me!
Host sister, soon to be (host?) niece
Traditional festival wear

Hectic, smashing into each other

Massive and very heavy
I'm somewhere in the above team

Crazy, loud and great fun
Once again, I'm in with this crew

My mate from school, Taisei

It was so much different underneath the lights and  amongst the noise, an experience I will never forget
The night was not without its dangers though. Before the festivities I was almost force fed alcohol, but a stern "No thanks." averted that crisis. Later on in the night I was almost knocked over by a drunk old man who came in for a very forceful hug. I few loud words got rid of him though. None of these situations were really bad, just a bit uncomfortable. 

No problem though, back to the carrying. My shoulder was hurting like crazy and I could barely speak because I was so hoarse but we kept going. For three hours we moved about and shouted with this thing. I got home and iced my shoulder because it was bruised and I had karate the next day. I went to bed, ready for a 5:00 am wake up.

That sleep was far too short. I had breakfast in the car on the way to some other dojo that was far away from here. We got there and warmed up, ready for a hard session of sweat!

And it was just that! We worked hard in the heat and soon enough it was like I had just left a sauna. At the end of training I was swarmed by a bunch of kids who bombarded me with questions, as is expected when I'm the only foreigner amongst a good 40 people. 

I had to laugh though, everyone's belt has their name written on it except for mine because mines borrowed. Mine has some Japanese name on it and of course everyone can read that. Anyway, this kid comes up to me and says: "What's your real name?" with a suspicious tone and the expression to match. 

We went out for lunch after training to some Chinese place. It was run by Chinese people and once again, I had a bit of a chuckle at my Sensei's reaction to them. Normally when you go to a restaurant in Japan, they give you warm, damp towels for you to clean your hands with. Often they are given on a small plate but this lady had them in a plastic bag and literally up-ended the bag and dropped the towels on the table with no comment.

Sensei said something like "F***ing Chinese" and I just about choked on the water I was drinking. Lunch was great though, more noodles and rice. We returned home and here I am, writing my blog, practicing my speech and sharing my photos with my family.

I have to give the speech tomorrow (Monday) and I'm slightly nervous. Back to school on Tuesday and I will become a 2nd year high school student. (I'm repeating year 12) But that's just fine.

That's all for now, thanks for reading! Until next time!
Sana, too cute!