African Karate Boys – Possibilities of the Universe
African Karate Boys Vol.3
I wrote about how Karate Boys started – and practiced – karate (see Vol.1 and Vol.2). This article introduces the culture shock I felt from conversations with them.
While you live in Japan, where 98% of the population are Japanese like you, you may have never thought about this topic, therefore, I would like to pick it up to share, and I wish for it to broaden your horizons.
FYI: Links to previous Karate Boy stories
・Vol.1. “Teach me Karate! – African Karate Boys”
In JP「空手を教えてください！ – アフリカの空手ボーイズ」
・Vol.2. “Karate Boys in Africa – Karate is for self-defense”
In JP 「アフリカの空手ボーイズ奮闘記 – Karate is for self-defense」
1. Racial Difference
In the African countries I visited, there were some people who looked enviously at non-black skinned people, such as white and yellow skin colors.
Maybe because those countries were colonized by the UK.
I heard of some local adult ladies saying “I want to marry a non-black, and have colored babies”.
When I was a teacher at primary and secondary school, I had many chances to talk with kids but never heard that from them.
People learn many new things, and in the meantime, they forget more important things.
Image: A young volleyball player with an Asian.
There was a boy among my karate students – the group known as Karate Boys. I will call him Karate Boy N in this article.
One day, during a break at practice he said, “I wish this color would have been different…”
I asked him, “what color?”
“My skin, sensei” he replied.
I felt my seikenzuki (a karate punch) connect with Karate Boy N, but with barely a visible blur of my fist, as quickly and gracefully as a gust of wind will whisk leaves from a branch.
However, he continued as if nothing happened to him.
“People have a negative image just because of this.”
He killed the damage by quickly turning his body.
This skill can be learnt only from the full contact sparring. And it will become a higher skill called “Sabaki” once it’s more developed and sophisticated. The pain makes sense in martial arts.
Until this moment, I didn’t know that one of the Karate Boys had a sense of inferiority based on the color of his skin. I felt a cold needle sting my heart from behind me.
99% of people in the village were black. There were only a Canadian nurse who would visit there sometimes, a Chinese contractor, and myself who were non-black.
Kids who never saw another race before even cried once they saw me in person. It was interesting for me.
I questioned him, “Where and who?”
“From **** village, and my name is N.”
He gave me his address and name. I thought he was discriminated against by someone, so I tried to find out who assaulted my dear student.
I was spontaneously angry and alone at that moment. There was no way to show mercy to racists, I felt.
However, the purity of the African Karate Boys has a power that can send me off into my dark side instantly.
Anne Frank said,
Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
There were many things to learn from them. I was the one who was taught, while I thought I was teaching them.
Next : Possibility of the Universe