We are all a product of our decisions… which is a really stupid way to start a blog and is, to my mind, such a hackney saying. In any case today was incredible. To the degree that I am now back in the apartment and shattered. Furthermore, despite its huge highlights brought many thoughts to the surface.
The morning session started off quietly, however as the first hour ticked by, we were joined by travellers from around the world… who all seemed to have that just landed blur about them… most were keen to get stuck in and work out the kinks.
The focus today was on kata along with Tensho for me… which basically meant a lot of chi-ishi and other lovely exercises 🙂
I walked back to the apartment and passed the guy who looks after all things to do with the block… he looked at the state of me, shook his head, said ‘Higaonna Sensei dojo?” and after the answer shook his head and walked into the office asking me to wait… he returned with an ice cold bottle of water… another lovely trait of the people here… just such amazing kindness!!
Lunch was merely a punctuation point on the way to the giant tug of war… yet should not be missed as it was awesome. So many people return from holiday complaining about the ‘bad’ food they have had and how they need to get their diet under control. Come to Okinawa… the food is the best in the world!
The estimated 30-40k attendance at the Tug of War is true!!! Every man and his dog were at this event! We picked a great vantage point and were able to see right into the main intersection for the ceremonies. Which, if you are still with me, is where the opening sentence of this blog becomes very relevant… I was mesmerised by everything… the attention to detail and the fact that some of the guys who were part of the event were clearly shattered because of their efforts! I had been aware of the the girl behind me for some time… she wasn’t quiet… the Mayor of Naha had just taken to the stage and then things that this girl was saying… crass is one word…
I thought… well if I don’t say something…who will, now, the other thing that was going through my head was…’don’t start a fight’…can you imagine the fallout… The narrative from my neighbour was unsuitable for public consumption and was directed squarely at the Mayor, who was doing an amazing job. So I made a decision, I turned, looked her squarely in the face and said as firmly as I could… ‘Show some respect, you are a guest here, respect your host at least… (and feeling a bit more confident I hadn’t been hit at this stage) and stop shouting”.
Now remarkably, she absolutely shut up, like completely… I was gobsmacked and all I could do was turn around.. in what I hoped was a confident and not at all surprised fashion!
The giant ropes start quite a bit away from each other and the first task of the crowd is to draw them together so the 3 tonne tree, yes tree, can be placed between them… this took much strength and adjustment but finally we were set off… now what I haven’t described is the melee that was involved… over 40k people were there and all sweating, muscles strained and a fair few very drunk…
The rope masters, standing on top of the rope had a rhythm to the way in which they used their whistle so as to to create waves of momentum to the effort… I could feel that we were making headway… small headway but headway to be sure… we started about a foot ahead of a traffic light and at the end we had drawn level at least…after about 10 minutes of pure effort, bodies slamming into each other, sweat shared and lots of shouting… we had won… celebration for the East!
I was on a high… a high that had less than an hour to get home, have a brief snooze and head to training… today being a festival day, it was Sensei Linda and Torben Sensei who took the training… my tired legs were overjoyed to hear from Sensei Torben that we were going to do more kicking… 🙂
You know when you have had a good day, there is a point where well, everyone involved just relaxes and the conversation just comes to a comfortable pause … that happened at dinner after all of this…