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



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