The alarm clock buzzed angrily at 05:30, as it had the whole week. Roused from his slumber, the human thermometer lazily sat up in bed and rubbed his groggy eyes. Conscious now that time was trickling away, he hastily washed up, changed out and got on his way.
The moment he stepped out of the house, the scorching cold slapped him like a brick in the face, and a new sensation – a sharp penetrating pain – crept up his gloved fingers. Silently, he counted: one, two, three, four. It had been zero painful fingers the whole week (when it had been an almost consistent zero degrees Celsius) but it was now four, which could only mean that it was minus four degrees, he reasoned.
A quick swipe and tap on the smartphone confirmed his conjecture. (No sweat.)
He was the human thermometer, after all. (Not to mention that it was freezing.)
The gratuitous hyperbole aside, the sub-zero excitement marked the perfect finish to our week of winter training (warm weather would have robbed us of what precious little bragging rights we had). Kaneko-san finished strong and showed his blazing dedication by coming down to support us yet again; inspired, we set out in full force and sped towards the Yaho Tenmangu Shrine, the increasingly inconsequential numbness in our fingers notwithstanding.
Upon our triumphant return from conquering the frigid running route to the shrine, we began our newaza training in earnest. Defrosting our chilly fingers using the fire in our hearts, we worked through the usual drills and promptly moved on to the sparring practice. Seeing the impassioned grit and rock-solid determination on the faces of our fellow club members gave us the energy boost we needed to fend off the stubborn cold, and we ended practice without a hitch.
As is tradition in our club, we rounded off the day with the sticky, sweet treat of oshiruko, casting aside our fatigue to raucously bond over the satisfying dessert.
A tradition to remember! (The grainy picture hardly does it justice.)
Maruyama eagerly poses for the camera while Vale marvels at the scrumptiousness of the oshiruko, mouth agape.
Remembering the sacred maxim – 精力善用 – we just couldn’t let those chunky calories we took in go to waste, so we promptly put the extra energy to good use by taking down the wooden nametags in the dojo for safekeeping. It was a momentous trip down the memory lane for us, staring wondrously at the sheer number of honored seniors who have trodden the same path before us. Winter training might have come to an end, but there’s a good year ahead of us, and we’ll be sure to live it to the fullest and do all of you proud!