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13 February 2013 @ 07:54 pm
Kazu wins  
I'm not sure why I'm remembering this story now, but I've been thinking about it for a bit, so I'll post it here and maybe some of you all will like it.

So in the children's eikaiwa at Chiyoda, there was the one kid. His name as you may have guessed from the subject line, was Kazuo, but everyone called him Kazu, though he started getting a bit annoyed about it towards the end, I think because he thought it sounded childish. Over the 2.5 years we taught him, he changed a lot, going from a wild kid with tons of energy who obviously hated being in class to a wild kid with tons of energy who tolerated being in class because he was taking kendō classes and was doing his best to live by his understanding of bushidō. Which was certainly really cute.

Anyway, like I said, he had tons of energy, and after he certain point, he decided that he had to beat me, so we started...well, I'd have to say "sparring" before class. It wasn't really wrestling, because he was definitely going for full-contact punches and kicks, but at the beginning he was 8, I think, and 11 when we left, so it's not like he had enough strength to really hurt me unless he got an extremely lucky hit in (which he never did). Obviously, he was maybe half my size and a third my weight, so I never responded in kind. I'd typically let him circle around, deflect his blows, occasionally grapple him or put him a hold and tickle him or flip him upside down, etc. And for his part, he seemed to accept that clearly I was huge compared to him, so I wasn't going to fight the same way he did.

Well, after a while, the whole thing kind of acquired its own momentum. He was obviously burning up some of the energy he started with in the daily sparring, and he became kind of obsessed with beating me. I'm not sure what he would count as beating, because even as he grew bigger he never even came close to being able to match my reach or heavier weight. He kind of got obsessed with it, though, and as we sparred, he'd repeatedly say to himself, 「負けんぞ!」 ("I won't lose!")

On the very last day of class, it was close to the Fourth of July, so softlykarou and I made sausages, hamburgers, etc., and we had a banquet, the students' parents brought a shaved ice maker, and we all sat around and ate and talked. Near the end, it kind of spilled outside, and we got to the point where I was chasing Kazu around with an icecube. Well, being a Japanese mountain town, there were bunches of small walls, paths between the rice fields, narrow alleys, and so on, and in this competition, the advantages were all reversed. I was faster than he was on the straightaways, but there basically were no straightaways so it didn't matter. He spent maybe 10 minutes dodging me and ducking around corners until he got out of my sight a moment too long and I lost him. On the way back, he stepped out of an alleyway into my path and saw me.

He looked at me warily, but I held up my hands to show they were empty.

"負けた," I said. I lost.

That's my main memory of him now--the grin he gave me when I said that. In the end, his perseverance did pay off.

Be well, Kazu. 最後に、絶対負けなかったよ。
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lady looks like a dudesodzilla on February 14th, 2013 04:40 am (UTC)
That is so incredibly sweet.
Genamoonwych on February 14th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
That is very cool.