Having made a timely trip to the hairdresser yesterday after my morning of lessons as an ALT at Matsugaya Elementary School, I went to bed last night brimming with confidence that (having literally taken a load of my mind with a strategically calculated haircut) I would wake up refreshed, cool and all ready to take on the sweltering summer heat, come what may. Unsurprisingly (as many of us who have experienced the wrath of Moore’s Law
might have come to realize), I woke up with a start today, not knowing what to make of the beads of sweat that were rolling off my furrowed brows.
That initial confusion quickly turned into full-blown shock as a quick tap of my iPhone showed today’s highest temperature as 33 degrees Celsius – a new high, to be sure – meaning that it was going to be a sweaty, sticky day ahead.
In preparation for tonight’s 納会
(a dinner function marking the end of the summer training season and the start of the off-season), we met at the Judo club room early today at 12pm, before quickly moving off in waves to procure the necessary items for tonight. Having had scant opportunity to talk on a one-on-one basis with Suzuki-kun
thus far, with Lady Luck’s help today, the two of us wound up bonding over slicing mushrooms, tofu and other assorted ingredients gleefully with a quick succession of knife strokes while the rest went about tidying up the club room and other tasks.
Training began punctually at 3pm, and before we knew it, we were sweating it out on the tatami, burning through bottle after bottle of sports drinks as moisture leached out of our bodies almost as fast as we set about replenishing. The heat notwithstanding, shouts of encouragement ricocheted about the dojo as we cheered our fellow club members on during the preparatory exercises, as well as the sparring rounds. Nakata-sensei
touched on the finer points of using our bodies to the fullest to outmaneuver our opponents before going in for a lethal strike, and we practiced that using a modified training method that I am not at liberty to reveal here.
The heat gradually took its toll on our stamina, but the determination and grit on our faces was apparent to all. Newly minted senior-and-junior rivals, Takahashi-kun
, for example, pulled out all the stops, each reluctant to let the other gain even an inch of footing in a rousing sparring match. Towards the end of practice, Nose-sensei
gave us some much appreciated advice on streamlining and refining the lethality of our techniques, which our freshmen juniors, in particular, lapped up eagerly, demonstrating their voracious desire to learn more about the fantastic sport of Judo.Tazawa-kun and Ogawa-kun chatting affectionately about future events
At the dinner function after training, we took turns sharing our thoughts about the recently ended summer season and our hopes for the future, with the freshmen taking the stage first and us seniors speaking last. The recurring theme that echoed across all our speeches was the desire to tap on the potential that we hold as a club more, and give our all for the coming competitions and the training sessions in between, and our coaches, gracious and helpful as usual, dispensed immensely relevant advice to that end. With another four and a half months to go before our yearly milestone event in November, we will be sure to unleash every remaining ounce of energy and march on forward to a decisive showdown with our rivals – just you wait!