Monday, November 14, 2011

You Look Tired; Why Don't You Sit down?

My third partner for randori today seemed not to understand or, possibly, not to remember that I am blind. He grabbed me roughly by the sleeve to drag me across the room to an open space where we could fight. He attacked me very aggressively—which I enjoy—but when he threw me he would stand and wait, expecting me to somehow find him amongst the confusion of fighting pairs of judoka. In a word, he seemed reluctant to play me. As I stood up to continue our randori, the kid came in fast and immediately started fighting for a controlling grip on my sleeves. I pushed him backwards a few paces and, finally, caught him with kosotogari, putting my foot behind his leg as he stepped backwards and pushing him off balance. The kid toppled hard… right into a row of folding metal chairs.
The noise his fall made was nothing short of cacophonous and drew the eye of every person in the room. For someone who was already uninterested in fighting me, having a blind foreigner throw him into a row of seats was probably not his cup of green tea. AS he frog-marched me back across the room I really doubted I would have another chance to play judo… not just with him, but with anyone.

It has been too long since I last updated the blog. As this little glimpse into my Daly randori may indicate, however, I am still struggling to find acceptance in the men’s dojo. Every day I go to training, hoping to fight as much as possible. At the beginning of every round I walk into the center of the dojo and wait for a partner…. And, inevitably, the space around me fills up while I remain an isolated island. I realized last week that, on the few occasions that a Japanese Judoka comes to play with me, it is only because the sensei has pointed at the judoka and then at me, a silent order that he *must* play with me.
Though I appreciate the efforts that Koshino Sensei—the sensei in charge of the men’s dojo—is making, let me put the situation into perspective. People *only* play with me as they are obligated. When I walk to the center of the room and stand, hoping for a partner, people pass me by as though I were not even there. It is the most humiliating feeling, to know you will never be taken seriously no matter how hard you work or how skilled you might become. It is no wonder the Japanese have such a high suicide rate; no other culture I have ever before seen is as skilled as the Japanese at isolating and outcasting individuals. I am safe in the knowledge that, at the end of this program, I can return to my own country where I have friends and people respect the efforts I am making. Imagine what it must be like for Japanese who feel as I do… but have no home to return to.

When I train with the women, I am never short of partners. I realized last week, however, that one girl has been put in charge of doing drills and uchikomi with me. Perhaps my mistrust of Japanese people has infected me too deeply, but I can’t help but wonder…. Is this girl only working with me because she is obligated? Does she take me seriously, or is this an unpleasant chore that must be done? For the most part, the girls do treat me as an equal; but I must squish my pride down into a corner of my ego every time I play with the girls because the boys won’t accept me. I hold women’s judo in the highest regard and I do not mean this as a sign of disrespect, but I think most men would feel somewhat uncomfortable in a similar situation. But pride is something I’ve had kicked around quite a lot and I’m interested in learning Judo at any cost, so I’ll continue playing with the girls if that is what it will take.

I do not like to harp on the negative of Japan, especially in a blog such as this, but honesty is more important in this case and I have shown Japan every respect. I keep my sanity because I am surrounded by foreigners, sighted foreigners none the less, who are treated little better. I will try to continue this blog as before, focusing on aspects of learning judo, Aikido and whatever other martial art might come up. Every now and then, though, I must also update readers on the actual situation and experience I am living.

1 comment:

  1. I know it's Japan, but I thought even they'd be giving you some respect by now. That sucks dude. Not sure what can be done to fight pure Japanese stupidity.