8/03/2008

Weekend highs and lows

Highs: I bumped into a former Japanese judo Olympic champion in the local supermarket. He was easy to spot, since he looked very Japanese, and was sporting a sweatsuit with the big letters 'J.U.D.O.' sewn on the back. I got very excited, and circled him a few times, wondering how I was going to approach him. Would I look really silly introducing myself if he really had nothing to do with Judo at all? Could I remember how to speak Japanese? Curiosity got the better of me, and so I took the gamble to ask him in Japanese if he was Japanese. To my relief, he was Japanese, and he was into Judo. He was out shopping with his son, apparently doing some training session in the UK. I was unable to understand quite what training link he was talking about, but his son did tell me that he was a former Judo Olympic champion. Whether that meant gold-medallist or something else, I was not sure, but I was very excited to meet him. He was a very small and aged figure, but if he was a former champion, he was surely among the best in his sport. I introduced myself and told him about my background in martial arts. I told him I had failed in karate, and tried to take up Judo in Hong Kong. I told him that my instructor had been a former Japanese Olympic champion, too. The problem was that I had forgotten that instructor's name, since it had been a big point in that Judo gym that we didn't ask direct, personal questions a la formal Japanese style. Likewise, I was so excited to meet this honorable Japanese Judo champion in the most ordinary of places, that I forgot to ask him for his name. Consequently, I am trying to go through the Wikipedia list of Olympic medallists in Judo to try and work out who he may be. He had to have been competing in the lightweight division, and it must have been more than 30 years since his competition, so could he have been Takehide Nakatani (1964) or could he have been Takao Kawaguchi (1972)??
[Today: I've also taken time to track down the name of my former Judo instructor, and he is Master Takeo Iwami, and as far as I can find, he isn't on any Olympians list at all...]
Lows: I got detained by police last night after going out for a run. I have been doing just a 1-2 kilometer run for the past six months, which admittedly isn't very far, but it is a big deal for me, as 1 year ago, I couldn't have achieved that. I got caught up in the path of a big festival happening in the city, and had to go around numerous roadblocks which was so frustrating, as my return should have taken just 5 minutes across a bridge, but instead turned into 1 hour of horrible crowd battling. I was getting increasingly bothered, since I was drenched in sweat and needed to get out of my dripping clothes asap. Anyway, in my running jacket, which coincidentally was bought in a 100-Yen shop in Japan, was enough to make me look terrorist-like enough to get stopped by police. I got body-searched before I got released, which has not been the first time. I was the only one of our group of a dozen people going through the gates of the Lindau rock festival in 1999 who got stopped and body searched - much to everyone else's amusement! Being kept hanging around in sweat-drenched clothes means that this morning I have woken up again with fever and sore throat. Needless to say, I will be turning to Ho Yan Hor herbal tea for relief and not to 20-year-old lemons or eel drink...
Lows and Highs: As compensation for the delayed return, I did manage to catch sight of some fantastic fireworks. I've only ever seen one firework display better than last night's, so it was really very good. If only the city governors could put as much money into support for underpriveleged people, that would be even better.
Highs: Ex-colleague Kevin is still walking across America. I wish he could put some tracker map on his website to show where exactly he is, but nonetheless it is fantastic to think he is doing this, and interesting to see his photos which remind us that there is more scenery in the US than just that shown in Hollywood movies. Along with reading Tournament of Shadows, The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia, which describes the early pioneers into Central Asia, it is all giving me itchy feet. However, for various reasons, I need to stay put.
Lows: I've informally calculated that I am covering the equivalent of a half marathon every day at work. If only I could have enough energy to put that amount of physical exertion in a martial arts gym, I would feel more rewarded...

1 comment:

Colin Wee said...

I wanted to tell you I've just listed The Taekwondo Diaries in a Promote Three Martial Arts Blogs Meme post. I like the conversational tone you've used on your blog, and some of your posts are really interesting. I hope to see more stuff appearing, even beyond the publishing of your book.

Best regards, Colin
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop