Marinade. Usually a term reserved for cooking. However, I look at this word differently. When you think about it, it’s actually a term to describe time. I may be wrong, but I never heard of a 30 second marinade, unless a vacuum is involved or something. Marination takes time.
I have been back from Japan for just about a month now and I have allowed the experience to soak in my mind. Thoughts have been broken down and new ideas have emerged. Staying true to the reason I started this blog, I look to write them down so that Future Andy can learn from and remember the past.
1. I’ve fallen in love with judo again.
You’d think that owning and operating a judo dojo and merging my life with Dojo Outfitters would prove my love for judo enough. I thought so too. But my relationship with judo has been a line graph of many ups and downs. Success, medals, trips, and friends. Injuries, both physical and mental, and the mileage on my body weighs me down more and more each year. I feel like an arthritic time bomb, I feel 40.
However, the good outweigh the bad, and this trip to Japan has injected me with a new found appreciation for what judo means to me. Perhaps it was just being back to Japan, the country where judo was created. Perhaps it was training with Budo University judoka, who cleaned my clock, but proved to me that my technique can still land true. Perhaps it was seeing my brother’s dedication to judo, moving to the country in April to pursue and advance his dream. Whatever it is, I feel like I have sunk to another depth of understanding.
I watch whole matches now, no longer fast forwarding just to see the quick ippon. I look for gripping patterns, I look for fatal mistakes, I look for displays of dominance, down to the way the judoka arrives to the tatami. The level of detail that has emerged before my eyes is sometimes overwhelming.
I do uchikomi again, not just to sharpen technique, but to simply just do judo. I feel like I’m 13 again, mentally, not physically.
2. Memories of Japanese culture.
The cleanliness of the county is beyond impressive. I spent many minutes walking around train stations searching for a place to throw away my Pocari Sweat bottle, only to have to carry it all the way home. No one litters.
Children playing at Shinjuku Station. Why did this strike me so deeply? The culture and society embraces the innocence and ALLOWS children to be able to do this seemingly simple task. I do not believe parents in Los Angeles or New York City would allow, or even WANT, their children to catch subways alone. It amazed me, but struck me with a tone of sadness. Sad because this sight is becoming rarer and rarer in the world we live in.
Full-sleeve tattoos will get you looks, but no conversations. People side eye and looked at my tattoos in awe, but once I made eye contact with them, they would look away. At first there was a charm to it, after a week it was exhausting. I get it, I’m tattooed, but I’m not from this country. I was only in the Yakuza for 7 years…
3. I’m fortunate. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by the people I am.
My girlfriend, Danielle, planned and executed the trip flawlessly. We never took a wrong train and we had a place to stay everywhere we went. Without her, my experience would have been incredibly dull and limited. I am glad she took me along her journey.
My brother, Louie. To see him finally execute on what he has been dreaming of for years instills in me a new definition of dedication. It’s not a vacation for him. It’s a grueling training schedule in a foreign country, adapting to a new culture with a new set of rules. Spending a day in his cleanly, organized dorm room and watching Bloodsport with him will be a memory I cherish forever.