Though my usual practice has been to take a moment to rub my groggy eyes before struggling to get out of bed, the instant the alarm clock went off this morning, I snapped wide awake, in full alert. And so, the battle begins
, I thought.
The pitter-patter chorusing through the bedside window filled me with dread. So that's how it's gonna be then, eh? As you probably already know, today marked the day of the entrance ceremony
for our school, meaning that almost all the incoming freshmen were going to gather in a single location: the hallowed halls of the Kanematsu Auditorium. While this sounds like a fabulous opportunity to recruit new members for our beloved judo club (as it does every year), the only problem is that all the other clubs are also thinking the same thing, which makes for a rather interesting twist on the classic prisoner's dilemma. In a nutshell, if you rush in and throw out all the stops in attracting the attention of the freshmen, all that happens is that every club ends up putting in more time and money to little effect; sit this event out though, and you miss out on the best chance on the calendar! A truly hideous catch-22, if you will. Upon detailed planning and careful consideration, the latter alternative was judged to be much too foolhardy to risk, and we agreed to take up the challenge of direct competition with all the clubs in town.
Pitter-patter. Rain (a real monkey wrench if there ever was one) and plans torn asunder (not).
Though all of us knew upon leaving our respective residences that the crazed scramble (not too unlike the grand melees that persisted throughout the period of warring states [sengoku-jidai]
) to catch hold of freshmen had just got that much more arduous, we threw aside our fears and marched on towards the battleground.
The initial battles were furious as we braved wildly swinging umbrellas, demoralizing disinterest and the thronging crowds to approach as many freshmen as we could. The start of the entrance ceremony itself furnished us some brief respite as we regrouped, polished our strategies further and repositioned our forces for the second firefight, newly reinforced by our ever-supportive coach
and seniors, Nakata-san
An hour of persuasive wrangling, shameless advertising and guerrilla ambushes later, we were pleasantly surprised with our spoils of war: 12 freshmen
, brimming with zeal, joined us for lunch at Gagetsu
, a premium Chinese restaurant in Kunitachi. Although 湯生-kun, 浅川-kun, 浅岡-kun, 尾高-kun
had to leave early because of prior commitments, the steadfast commitment by 青木-kun, 鈴木-kun, 萩-kun, 斎藤-kun, 三井-kun, 坂本-kun, 石田-kun
gave us the zeal to carry on in our push to increase the number of members in our club.
After a scrumptious lunch, we proceeded to the dojo with the remaining freshmen. Before training began, all we had to cling onto was the promise from our coach that training today would last about an hour or so, but boy were we in for a surprise! Instead of our usual warm-up exercises, coach implemented a couple of fresh ideas that tested not only our physical strength and stamina, but also our reaction time and other elements that are key to how we spar in the dojo. Amongst the club members and the freshmen, the single person with the most exceptional performance would be Shinohe-kun
, without a doubt. When commanded to respond in the opposite manner to the instruction given, he went on to act in a predictable, almost comedic manner.
After copious warm-up and technique drills, we moved on to sparring. What amazed us and shocked us simultaneously was the competitive, dynamic pace that the freshmen demonstrated throughout the six bouts of sparring. Thank you, juniors, for pouring out your hearts and souls into the practice today! We really appreciate your burning spirits and will be sure to put our 200% into making the club a more fun and dynamic place to be!