Beating 'em Up and Breaking it Down

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June 9th 2011
Published: June 10th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

My latest pursuits are in the physical realm, and have transformed my uggh-the-week-is-only-half-over Wednesdays into super-awesome-four-hour-work-out Wednesdays. Yes, four hours of working out in one day, starting at 5:30 am. I don't recognize myself, either.

It all starts with a 45 minute bike ride to the farther of my two schools. Happily, this is just the right time for me to plow through morning excercises in the park (as an observer, not a participant). Many Japanese people, especially elderly Japanese people, enjoy waking up at dawn everyday to do taiso, an excercise involving matching track suits and piano music. I'm not trying to poke fun at the Japanese exercise regiment, but it does brighten my day to see everyone lined up in the park taiso-ing at six in the morning.

At seven, I'm in my high school's gym practicing Aikido, a Japanese martial art. It's similar to judo, which uses the opponents' strength and momentum against them with attack evasions, flips and joint locks, but unique in that the goal is to prevent injury to both the attacked and the attacker.

One of the English teachers practices as well, which means I get to flip her. Needless to say that is incredible. The experience is also great for bonding with my students, who I have yet to flip... but I can always hope for the opportunity.

After school, the exercising continues: for the past month and a half I've been taking a HOUSE dance class at a street dance studio called Bound Box. My friend and fluent Japanese speaker, Sarah, discovered this gem through a flyer, and we joined together.

My impressions: House is freaking hard! The style is similar to hip-hop with the quick footwork and floor work, but it's at bullet train speed to techno music. My pro break dancing friend from the states tells me Japan has "nasty" house dancers, and my teacher is apparently famous in Tokushima for winning contests and what not. The links at the end are to videos of his performances. He's pretty amazing.

Since we started the class, though, my friend switched to hip-hop and left me to fend for myself. So not only is this the most fun I've had dancing in a long time, it's also another chance for me to be the crazy foreigner - they enjoy it when I try to speak Japanese.

This video is much cooler but I can't tell which one is Itsuji


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