Thursday, 14 August 2014

Festivals, Fights and Farewells.

It's been a pretty busy week. It's been an incredibly busy week, I'm quite tired and I want to sleep, but there is just always something to do and it's awesome. 

We started with farewells last week. My previous host sister, Mayuko was finally going to start her exchange year in Aotearoa! It was a pretty spontaneous decision to go and say goodbye, I wanted to go and I had planned to go but time did that thing where it goes by without my noticing it. All of a sudden it was like, "Do you wanna go and say goodbye to Mayuko tomorrow? You'll have to get up at 4 am to catch the train." 

Well shit, 4 am? Why not? 

We got up real early and got all prepped to go. It's quite a big deal to go into town because of how far out in the country we are. 

We arrived at the train station where Mayu and I met up with Ayano and then got on our train. It was going well. Mayuko was supposed to be boarding at around 9:30-10:00. We had plenty of time. It was 8 am or something, no need to worry or panic or rush.

We got off the train and went to buy the tickets for the train to the airport. We were about an hour away from our destination. 

Turns out the train we want to ride is full. Can't buy a ticket. There are no other trains that are going straight to the airport either. Now we panicked. It was looking pretty grim.

We made some quick decisions and decided to just go in the general direction of the airport. 

We were running to catch trains, running off of those trains to catch the next ones and man, it was hectic. We weren't even sure if we could make it in time. I don't know how many trains we rode but we got to the airport with no time to spare. It was 9: 27.

We got off of our train and walked off the platform and then realised that we were late. So we ran through the airport looking for our mate. 

We made it, huffing and puffing, coated with sweat and making quite the scene. But we did it.

There were tears and it was quite emotional. Yukiko, my previous host Mum came up to me with tears in her eyes and said: "I understand how your Mum felt when she said goodbye." I gave her a hug and tried not to cry myself.
We got there!
Good luck to Mayuko! It should be a good time.
From there I was going to go and hang out in Nagoya. I split up from the girls and bought a red bull. I was already exhausted. I casually strolled through the airport enjoying the fact that I had time to kill. No need to run!

I bought a ticket and walked up to the train. I checked with the train man to make sure that this train was going to Nagoya. He said yes. Then he said it's leaving right now. Shit.

I had to run past the business class cars and literally jump into the cheap seats. I picked a random car and got on. I had a fair bit of momentum when I got in and I had to sort of stop and slide. I felt it looked quite cool. Especially as I spotted Mayu and Ayano right in front of me. I slid over to them and put my arm up against the wall and said "What's up?"

They weren't impressed at all but I felt cool. 

I got to Nagoya and spent the day with Jake, from Australia. He and I arrived in Japan at the same time and we're pretty good mates. We had Turkish kebabs for lunch; we always get kebabs and it is so good. We then played games in the arcade. It was a great day.

Except for the heat. I was sweating like anything and all we were doing was walking around. It's normally around 32 degress. Oh man.

I had to get back early because of karate training. It was a good session; Fuyuki and I were evenly matched today. He did hook me in the ribs pretty hard though. I can still feel it.

Well that was a massive day. Most of it was spent sitting in a train which isn't too fun but it can't be helped.

The next day was spent trying to study. I got up reasonably early and hit the books. I don't think I was very productive though. Everyone was out and about so I ended up watching a movie on my laptop. Now thinking about it, it was a bit of a waste of time. 

I didn't think about that then though and napped for the afternoon. It was a pretty good sleep. A well needed sleep.

Next was Thursday. It was gonna be either a festival or karate. I really want to go to the festival, but I also need to go to karate. Hmm. Why not both!?

So we did that.

The smell was amazing

Not as big as the Gero festival but still pretty cool.
I had to shoot off early because of karate but that wasn't too bad. It was a good session! Because of the festival there weren't so many people who turned up so Sensei made me run the class. I taught the kids how to use more of their body when they punch. It was a fun night.

After training the festival had finished but my host sister had bought me some food for dinner which was actually really nice. Both the food and the act.

Thursday wasn't massive but it was a bit tiring after the festival and karate. We still stayed up late, laughing into the night.

The next day was going to be another one of those free-time days. I tried to study again. Didn't get too far. I know I've got to try harder and all but it's just so easy to sleep. I think (hope) that when school starts back up again I'll find my drive again.

The weather wasn't so good today, there is another typhoon coming and it's wrecking havoc up and down Japan. Rivers are rising and making a good mess. The wind is doing damage here and there as well.

But regardless of the storm, people still want to go to festivals and so did we! I was sitting here in my room with my headphones in, trying to type up some stuff whilst listening to some music which was apparently too loud because my host sister managed to walk in and tap me on the shoulder without me noticing.

I got a huge fright! I just about screamed. She laughed and I was a bit embarrassed but no worries. We went to the festival and had an awesome time! We thought we wouldn't need an umbrella because the rain was starting to let up.

As soon as we got out of the car it started to spit again. We managed to borrow one though so it wasn't all bad. We saw a whole heap of friends and had a great time eating the festival foods and listening to those taiko drums. They really are so cool.

We met up with my foreign friends from that hostel I helped out at before. So here I was again, a kiwi, speaking Japanese to a group of French people. It was quite cool. And my host sister got all the looks as she walked around with a big group of foreigners; it was quite funny.

Kumi and I
The rain stopped for a wee bit

Good fun!
Eventually the rain came back and it got pretty heavy. I tried to be a gentleman and hold the umbrella over Kumi. I didn't really fit under the umbrella with her so I got soaked. Not a problem though, it wasn't very cold.

On the way home we stopped off at a convenience store and picked up some cup-ramen for supper. I bought two cups and then won another one through some raffle thing. I was only able to eat two though.

On Saturday I was going to stay over at Sensei's house before the tournament. I didn't do too much all day but eventually went over to Sensei's. We went out for dinner and had some really nice gyoza and ramen. I think I ate too much.
I had three plates of these gyoza, they were divine.
I could have kept on eating too

And ramen is just amazing. I love noodles!
We went back to Sensei's and had a beer. We toasted and he said "Tomorrow, we'll be champions!"

(The literal Japanese translation would be: "Tomorrow is do champion!")

I was pretty excited and extremely pumped. I wanted to fight now! There was no way I could lose! I just had so much energy and confidence. I don't even know where it came from.

I couldn't get much sleep and woke up frequently throughout the night. Then we got up at five and started the drive to the venue. Now I was pretty keen to going. I didn't want to wait another minute.

It was raining really heavy now so we hurried into the building where the tournament would take place. There were a lot of people. And a couple of guys who looked about my age. They were big. "I bet I'll be fighting them..."

And then the nerves came. Oh man. I wanted to vomit. I was so worried and I don't even know why.
Fuyuki wasn't phased at all. He slept for most of the morning!
We found the fight schedule and saw that Fuyuki's fights would be around 2 o clock and mine at around 3 o clock. Shit.

My fight was the last fight. That means a lot of waiting.

I met a whole heap of strong looking people who were all super friendly. Everyone wanted to talk to me because I was foreign and I made a bunch of friends. 
The place where it all happens

All the fighters lined up for the opening ceremony and some poor girl feinted causing a pretty embarrassing scene. 

I lined up in my division and met my opponents. There were only three of us in the group (High school boys over 70kg(the heaviest division)) but they were bigger than I was. Once again, I was the smallest in the group. My stomach was in knots!

I later found out that they were strong from people who had fought them before. Oh dear.

I went and sat in the stands to watch the fighting because I wouldn't need to be active for hours. While I was sitting there, some middle aged guy came up to me and we had a real good conversation. He was surprised by my Japanese and it took my mind off of the fights later.

Eventually Fuyuki's fights came around. I helped him warm up before he went on the mats and he was pretty keen to get going. He made it to the finals of his division but was just beaten by his opponent. It was a close fight. So he came 2nd place and got a huge trophy. 

I wanted one of these huge trophies as well. Better win it!

I was starting to get pumped. I wanted to fight. I was bubbling with energy and felt as ready as ever.

Because my fights were last, literally everyone was watching. There were so many people packed around the mat. I stood up as my name was called and felt the familiar feel of the mats as I walked on.

I was on home turf now. Whenever my feet touch those mats I know where I am and what I can do. I had a good feeling about this.

We had to wear these horrible head gears with a face mask on them. I didn't like it one bit.

I stepped onto the mat and made my presence known. I ran to my square with energy and let everyone know that I meant business. I wasn't just representing a club or a style but a country. Everyone would judge NZ by my performance so I had to look strong.

I hope I did.

I turned to my opponent and got ready to unleash. The ref said start and I opened with a front kick to the guts. From there I don't remember much.

I remember feeling my punches sink into his middle region as I threw them with all my power. It was a good feeling. I punched him off the mats at one point but I kept going, I almost pushed him into the crowd. 

I won that fight. And I was all keen to go again. My next fight (the final) was against this big guy, who was 14kg's heavier than me. Apparently he had a hard punch. 

Turns out he did. And a hard kick. He looked like the slow heavy type but he was fast. He pushed me all around the mats as I tried to gain some ground. I just couldn't. I was punching away when he smashed me around the head with a kick that I didn't see coming. Man it hurt.

I shook it off and went back to my business. My supporters were telling me to fight my fight, not his. It's actually really good advice that I wish I had more time to think on. Because whilst I tried to do it my way, this big guy was ripping me to pieces at his own pace. I was trying to match his pace and it was draining me.

I tried to knee him but he must have kicked out my other leg because I hit the deck. He kicked me straight in the face at one point. Woops.

He got me in the head one more time and it shook me pretty bad. I almost fell over but managed to keep most of my balance. He was pushing me all over the place and there was nothing I could do. I tried though, I really did. He was just too tough.

There's always someone bigger and tougher and there's nothing you can do about it. He won the fight and we shook hands. He was a good guy. We got along well after the match and had a good laugh together.
My first opponent on the left, the winner in the middle and then myself.
I tried to smile, I was too buggered though.

My smile's more like a snarl in this one
Too tired
From there, Fuyuki and I were all amped to go home and sleep. It was a big day. We drove back and that's what I did. I slept. I was smashed.

I'm disappointed I couldn't win but I'm not mad because I know that my opponent was stronger than me and that's that. I'll just have to train harder and get stronger myself. The next tournament is in November; plenty of time to get fit, right?

I busted up both of my thumbs in the fight and they swelled up pretty bad. Life is really difficult without thumbs. The damage wasn't so bad though as I can move them now. 

That's all I've got for now, sorry this is late again! I should probably write this when I've got nothing to do.

Until next time!
Just a few moments we were in it to smash each other

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