Last Sunday afternoon I was playing Dominos with Bryant, Eiji and Joselito after an excruciatingly filthy river clean up. Eiji mentioned that Japan was playing the United States in baseball that night and that it should be a good game. I agreed, but in the back of my mind I figured that the US would smoke Japan in a baseball game. After all, it is our sport and how many Japanese players are there in the MLB anyway? Five? Ten? One of the Dominicans observing the Domino game, or maybe it was Bryant, chimed in that the United States’ players can hit but the Japanese and Korean teams have something we lack called “Discipline.” Discipline, I have heard of that but I am not sure if I had experienced it first hand.
The next day we run into Eiji on his way to work, he informs me that Japan did the smoking of the United States by winning 9 to 5 to make its way to the championship game. I guess discipline beats big hitters. It turns out the championship was won by Korea; luckily there are no KOICA volunteers in Constanza to brag about it (Only Peace Corps and JICA).
Five days pass, Bryant goes home and I make my way to my first Karate lesson since 1st grade. I had been promising Eiji and Joselito that I would make my way to one of the practices because Eiji is the karate instructor and Joselito is the Kung Fu instructor. Bryant and I were going to go earlier in the week but the day we wanted to go it was rainy… and we were lazy i.e. lack of discipline.
I get there and immediately feel like the episode of The Office where you find out that Dwight is in the karate lessons and is 15 years older than any other participant. Feeling like Dwight from The Office sucks. Luckily, Joselito got there around when I did and he made a point of treating me like an adult. He had all the kids run two laps around the outside of the gym, which I was pretty excited about not doing, while we cleaned up and set up the karate mats. After the kids got back Joselito explained that we would practice Karate today and not Kung Fu because they had a tournament this weekend in La Vega and because Eiji couldn’t make it until later we were going to just warm up and go over the basics. Sounded good enough at first. Then I discovered that the “warm up” was more of a burn out for me. There was a lot of painful stretching and running in circles, not really my style. After about 45 minutes of warm up the lesson started, and it was actually a lot more fun than Aikido or Thai Chi ever were (maybe because it was taught by a Dominican and a Japanese guy instead of a dorky/hippy professor at U of O). There was a lot of blocking, kicking and punching, sort of like Street Fighter 2 in real life. By the end of the day I felt like I was ready to break a board with my head. I am pretty sore now from the karate kicks/chops and it made my hike up the lloma with Lobo less scenic and more agonizing than usual, but with a little discipline (and a signed permission slip from my parents) I might make it into the next tournament in La Vega.