Today I attended my first class of Karate in Japan. I really like Karate, and to think that I would get to practice it where it started really excited me. The style they impart at the school is Chito Ryu, which so far is somewhat similar to the style I had practiced, Shito Ryu. I didn’t know what to expect besides a new experience.
I set off on my way to the school. Every day I find it easier to use the subway. I’m starting to be able to read the Kanji on the signs and to know which lines connect to which parts of the city. There are some things that really catch my attention about culture in the public transport. Some days ago, when I went to Mt. Takao, there was this couple on the train. Only single seats were available so the man sat, and the woman just stood in front of him, like this was the normal thing. A guy who was sitting next to the man was kind enough to lend his seat to the woman. I just found it interesting how they don’t really seem to have a culture of “woman first”, like in the majority of Mexico.
The kindness of the Japanese keeps impressing me. The other day in the subway, I left my seat so three girls could get to sit together. They all thanked me when I did that, and once more when they were leaving the train. The Japanese… they smile most of the time when you have doubts, when they thank you, and when they greet you. It feels quite comfortable, but it does get you thinking if what they do is truly heartfelt. I specially remember a scene in a movie I got to watch on the flight here, called “The Little House” (小さいおうち), where the wife get angry at his husband because of him not being able to attend to a show with her. The way they both said things; it was always with a kinds voice and, most of the time, a smile on their face (specially the wife). I guess I’ll found out the more I interact with them, but, for now, these ways really welcome people from the outside.
I reached the school. There, I was given two options: to go with the beginner students to practice the basics, or to go with the advanced students (mostly black belts) to practice combat. I said that I would be better practicing with the beginners as it was a different style and I hadn’t practiced for a while (besides, I’ve never been good at combat). There, the class was further divided into what you would call advanced beginners and beginners. I stayed with the beginners, and I’m glad that I did. The guys there had been practicing Karate Chito Ryu for around 10 years. That’s around 4 years more than me!
We practiced a Kata all class long. I think it was called Seinza. The moves and stances, although similar to Shito Ryu, were foreign to me. I’m having some trouble to get used to them. The guys there patiently showed me how to do things, and, nearing to the end of the class. The Sensei came to check our Kata. He said that I was doing it well. I knew that I still had lots of mistakes, but I’m glad that I could at least to well enough for the Sensei to say I wasn’t too bad. I’m excited to go to the next class. Martials arts are a great exercise, and I certainly need to lose some weight! Everyone here is so slim…
So, now, the day is coming to an end, and I have to plan what to do tomorrow. I want to go the Chinatown in Yokohama with my friend.