Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kano's rainbow nation - Part 3

I am constantly amazed at seeing this happen. The American who has may have a cultural mindset that he bow to no man is totally comfortable performing the rei to his sensei and other judoka. A Brit who suffered seeing his father being interned in a POW camp in Singapore in WW2 and vowed never to buy anything Japanese is now trying to pronounce words like Harai Goshi while trying to perform that exact technique

In my dojo, I am blessed by the multitude of nationalities that train there. And I have to admit for someone as cynical as I am, that I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I see Korean white belts eagerly learning from their Japanese sensei, a remarkable sight given the degree of traditional animosity between the two groups. An Iranian judoka gives his Japanese opponent a hug after an incredibly intense randori, that is his cultural sign of respect and affection. For the Japanese, where this display of physical contact is not the norm, accepts it good naturedly.

Even on a more personal front, it allows me, a very Westernised Malaysian chinese, to interact with my more traditional chinese speaking brethren in a way that is filled with bonhomie and fun, while in any other situation; the degree of uncomfortableness and unfamiliarity would give way to plentiful moments of awkward silence. It's where the different races in this country which sometimes clash over the smallest things, learn to give respect, tolerate and even appreciate each other.

Judo doesn't solve all the world's problems. Global warming won't be solved by getting everyone to do Judo. But on a micro scale, if Kano could have seen what it was going to do in terms of uniting at least a small group of rainbow coloured individuals in peace and harmony, at least for a short while, he'd be chuffed

Of that, I have no doubt

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