It is the Friday before the Fighter’s Cup which is on Sunday. At rest I’ve mentally prepared myself but during last Saturday’s fights I lost confidence very quickly. The issue is stamina of which I have very little and it depletes quickly when fighting. It is at that point I feel like I’m going to die and just want it to end. I’ve never been mentally strong when it comes to stamina and having to keep going.
I fought a new Japanese student who seems like he has a lot of training somewhere else. He has a nice upper round house; I had no trouble blocking them but they did leave bruises on my forearms. I also hurt the knuckle on my left big toe and it was sore all week.
Coincidentally, Cobra Kai just came out on YouTube Red and I’ve been binge watching all evening. It really brings back some of the excitement about karate that I felt as a kid and got me briefly started in Taekwondo (post about that here). That is something I haven’t felt in such a long time. For me, karate is something I’ve always wanted to do and have enjoyed doing it but that youthful excitement has long been dormant.
Karate as it actually is, is very hard work, physically draining and there is a lot of pain. There are many times I do not want to go to class but I make myself go. Watching Cobra Kai on YouTube really enlivens the passion, the excitement and makes me feel pretty awesome since I actually do what I’m watching. I got so excited about this I even changed my Facebook profile cover to Cobra Kai! At 40 years old when life can seem monotonous, where that excitement from my youth is no longer felt, a series like Cobra Kai brings it right back. The passion to learn karate is the same I felt when I was just 10 years old and it is wonderful.
They’ve really done a masterful job with the series due to all the references from the ’80s movie, how they make my generation out to be pretty awesome in contrast to the gender neutral “sorry generation” of the Millennials and Generation Z and it makes me realize how quickly time passes. In one scene Sensei Lawrence makes fun of the music used for his student’s ringtone and says “put on some Guns and Roses.” Later the student comments about how great the rock music from the ’80s is! It is shocking to me to realize that I’m the same age as Sensei Lawrence and can relate to his character in terms of reminiscing about the ’80s.
In addition I love all the Japanese references. I have changed quite a bit since I was 10 years old and now not only speak Japanese but understand the culture. Like the passion for karate, seeing these Japanese references brings back my passion and excitement for Japan in general. Japan and its culture had become something I was used to and no longer caused excitement. Watching this series also brings that back. It is great to feel passionate about something again.
I’d like to write more about this but I’m feeling the urge to watch just one more episode before I go to bed.
May 5th 2018
I’m home with my youngest today and have a little more time to write more about this. I may repeat a lot because I didn’t think my writing was any good above.
I never watch TV and barely even pay attention to movies anymore. This is the first show that I’ve really watched in such a long time. Here are the reasons why:
At 40 years old I find that I’m not passionate about anything: this is to say that I don’t get excited about things the same way I did when I was a kid and teenager. In those days excitement just happened whether it was a new toy, game or in my teen years going to the high school football game with friends, looking forward to a date and so on. These days life it pretty monotonous and any excitement is greatly tempered by age and many experiences (nothing is new anymore).
Doing karate gave me something new to do and I was really motivated to learn it in the beginning. Then overtime it ceased being new and because the style I do is pretty hard it is more something I make myself do so I can get into better shape. I never felt that it was “awesome” or exciting, just something great to do and to learn with my son. Watching Cobra Kai makes karate seem awesome and changes my mindset about it. The fact that Kyokushin is hard makes me feel proud that we do the most difficult style. The drop out rate is pretty high but in persevering I feel good about myself.
When you’re a teenager we look for things to help shape our identities. It can be the type of music we listen to, the sports we play and the people we hang out with. At 40 years old the music we listen to doesn’t matter, most do not do sports and we hang out with our families. At this age it is usually the work one does that shapes an identity but for me work does not shape my identity. In fact I don’t think about identity much at all.
Watching Cobra Kai makes karate seem very cool. I also like being reminded of the “coolness” factor of the ’80s through what Sensei Lawrence says and does. It is nostalgia but brings “awesomeness” back to this generation with an ’80s flair. I love this and it makes me want to buy a jean jacket.
So as for identity, Cobra Kai makes me think karate is awesome and since I do karate I also feel awesome, although not even close to the same degree as I would if I were a teen. It makes me look forward to class and want to go fight. It awakens the feeling of passion which has been dead for so long. It brings back a sense of identity! Since karate is from Japan and Cobra Kai/Karate Kid have a lot of Japanese references it makes me feel proud that I speak Japanese and know the culture. I was very proud of this many years ago but then it just became something normal, something not to be very excited about. Since I both speak Japanese and do karate, Cobra Kai makes me feel rather awesome and I like that.
I absolutely loved the ’80s. Of course I didn’t realize it at the time but comparing our current time to that of the ’80s and having Sensei Lawrence portray those times in such an awesome light makes me feel very glad I actually experienced it. It was awesome in comparison to today’s generation. Driving around in a Firebird busting out ’80s rock such as Def Leppard and of course doing karate just seem so awesome. Feeling awesome just isn’t something one feels naturally these days. Perhaps it is because I’m 40 or perhaps the “awesomeness factor” just doesn’t exist in this generation.
I love the soundtrack to Cobra Kai and all the ’80s sounds, in fact I’m listening to it right now. Watching the show and listening to the music just makes me smile and feel good.
Japan and how I’ve changed:
The original Karate Kid made Japan seem so mysterious and cool. Of course I knew nothing about Japan when the original came out but now I do. Like karate the show enlivens my passion for Japan and it is amazing to think how much I’ve changed. I’m a completely different person now. As I mentioned above it has been a long time since knowing about Japan and speaking Japanese seemed like something special to me. Over time it just became a part of me without any “coolness” or “specialness” to it at all. Watching Cobra Kai reminds me of just how cool it is.
So I guess in summary, watching this show makes me think, “Hey, I do karate, I speak Japanese and this is totally awesome.” It awakens a passion and makes life fun and interesting again. The thing is the thought doesn’t linger and I need to listen to the soundtrack to keep the feelings alive.
Fighter’s Cup is tomorrow and my feelings about it were first anxiety, a little fear and something I just wanted to do and get over with. Watching Cobra Kai makes me actually look forward to it. However, I must remind myself that Cobra Kai is a show and the fights tomorrow are real. The karate looks so cool on the show but in real life it is just a bunch of beating on each other and *maybe* there will be a few cool kicks thrown in. Since our fights tomorrow will be recorded I want mine to look awesome but I don’t want to lose either. I’ll need to find my calm space, control my breathing but also be extremely aggressive. The temp of the fight will be set by my opponent and I wonder if he will just come at me very hard. If that is the case it will be difficult to get a lot of awesome kicks in. If he plays it safe then I’ll have the energy to throw a lot of kicks. As I mentioned above stamina is the key.
I’ll have to concentrate very hard to find that calm space. Right before the fight your adrenaline gets going and you get excited. This can cause the energy to drain very quickly.
Anyway, cool kicks or not I don’t plan on losing tomorrow. I just hope I can keep this confidence, keep my cool and have good fights.
Update – May 7th, Fighter’s Cup Result:
Well, talk about your anticlimax, I didn’t even fight because the other two in my group didn’t show up. I was ready, lined up with all the other groups but nobody in mine had showed yet even though they had paid. As the organizer came to me she gave me the option of going into the senior division which had six fighters or so or holding until the other person showed up.
Now when one thinks senior division one thinks it is usually easier but this was not the case. Everyone was tough in that division and there was even a fourth degree black belt from Japan! At that moment I decided to hold because I was sure the other people in my group would soon appear, I could give one match my all and was determined to win. If I chose senior there was the possibility I wouldn’t even win my first since I could probably be paired with that 4th degree black belt. Even if I did win the I might have to fight two more times to get first and given the rest is only 10 minutes or so and my stamina is bad I wasn’t confident I could win.
Things started very quickly and I didn’t realize how fast things would go and I would be immediately locked into my group. Well, the others didn’t show up and so I didn’t fight. Looking back I should have chosen to go into the senior division so I could at least fight but hindsight is always 20/20 I suppose. So today I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to fight and have nothing to show for the day but on the positive side I guess I did learn a lesson and that is to ensure I’m in a group that does actually have fighters present when the tournament starts. But I’ll be 41 next year so there will be no ambiguity on which division I should pick.
Perhaps I should try to get down to 165 so I could have a better chance at winning. In the heavy division most of the guys are much bigger and heavier than me and it would be hard to be able to kick them in the head. It is doubtful I could get down to 165 but I guess there is always a chance.
As for my son, he fought one match very hard and did a great job. He fought a kid two belts higher and it was one kick to his head that the judges were iffy about awarding a half point. It was awarded however and so he ended up losing a very tough fought match. He did cry afterwards and felt bad but did recover after a while and became happy that he got a medal. He was the youngest in that division so with more practice and growing up he’ll have a better shot next year.