Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kombat Kulcha VII

When I began visiting my boxing school, the first thing that occurred to me (after I noticed how shabby the whole joint was) was that it was obviously superior to my gym in Australia in one essential aspect: the music. In Australia we had no music, or rock. Sometimes even the radio. Here in Matsue at the boxing gym my first efforts to fit in were conducted against a backdrop of 70s and 80s pop, which we all know is the music they play in Heaven. My first thoughts on this were that I should export this idea to the world, for example by impressing upon my teacher in Australia the importance of a change in background music.

Unfortunately I was wrong. It is possible to box to Greenday, Midnight Oil, the Angels, the Living End, interspersed with occasional moments of Sarah Mclaclan or Paris Hilton - standard fare for an Australian radio station - but it is quite another thing to box to a steady diet of 70s and 80s pop. How does one, for example, shadow box like a man when Abba`s Dancing Queen is playing in the background? I can tell you now, having done it, that it is difficult to avoid the odd flourish when such music is playing. Similarly, how does one spar to Like a Virgin (ferociously, if one keeps fixedly in mind Madonna`s latest incarnation as a raving lunatic).

Also, the club only had one cd, on repeat. Something had to be done. Given the rather primitive circumstances, the impending winter (it is still november and on the weekend it was 6 degrees at night), and the slight feeling of outsiderness I had at this gym, the something that had to be done was going to be drastic. Having ruled out rugby (I was going to try it, but they play on gravel) and soccer (same reason, bolstered by the certain knowledge that I would be made goalie on account of my vast height) left me only two options: badminton, which I am capable of doing, or finding a kickboxing club in another town. Since badminton has the two negative traits of a) leading to a series of posts entitled "badminton culture" and b) not being kickboxing, only the latter option remained viable.

Fortunately while searching for a kickboxing club in nearby Yonago I stumbled on one in Matsue! Oh happy day! Its location was buried in the fine print of the Yonago club, of which it is an outpost. I went to my second class of kickboxing last night, and am already vastly happier than I was at boxing. The reasons? The facilities are superior (it is in a real building); the people are friendly and welcoming (this must be a universal trait of kickboxers); the exercise is heaps more fun (what is the point of fighting if you can`t fight like a girl, and kick people?); and I am already part of the general exercise, not a little bit of an outsider. Also I have now been invited to go to the Yonago gym and a lift has been organised (it is not near a railway station).

Interestingly, the Yonago gym is mildly famous across Western Japan, presumably because it produces fighters. So I will be training in a place with a proper training regimen and some experienced students - even fighters - to get my skills back up to where they were when I left Australia. They really mean it at tourist information bureau when they describe Matsue as an "International City of Culture"!

Not to be outdone, however, my new kickboxing gym does have one interesting musical trait. When the class is finished we all have to rush out of the gym because the hall is closing. In order to signal that everything is definitely over, the gym plays "Auld Lang Syne" over the speaker system...


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