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BM | 5th Mar 2008, 4:22 AM | 正剛館演義

This is Part 5 (Final) of Yoki sensei's USA adventure,  you can find Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 and Part 4 here.下面是楊紀先生的美國之行第五集(大結局)﹐第一集在此 第二集在此 第三集在此 第四集在此

Karate Tournament in USA in late 60s/early 70s 六、七十年代美國空手道比賽

1964 All American Karate-Do Championship

The All American Karate-Do Championship was going to be held in mid September in Chicago. One day, George asked me if I could participate in the tournament as a team captain to represent Mattson Dojo. I had accepted. Five team members, including myself, Walter, Tom, Charley and Jerry. I had immediately provided a special class for the tournament sparring. There was one thing I could not convince myself in this dojo and that was in regards to “Kiai”. Though I was totally entrusted but only for the tournament techniques. In other words, this dojo did not believe in “Kiai”. In George’s opinion, the “Kiai” was only for threatening the opponent. One night after the advanced class training we had a meeting to discuss the subject of the “Kiai”. George insisted the “Kiai” was just to disturb the opponents with a loud voice to create the mistakes of the opponents. Well, it is my opinion that if the opponent was overpowered by “Kiai” it was his fault as he was not trained enough but this would usually happen to beginners who were frightened with “Kiai”.

The “Kiai” in karate-do is not a simple matter, especially in Gojyu style as we concentrate on the breathing exercise as one of the main training methods. A few main Kata’s such as “Sanchin” and “Tensho” contain the methods not only with extreme tense and relaxation to build main muscles, but to develop the ability of concentration in a high tense condition. At a period with eighty percent of the breaths out and twenty percent of the breaths remain to tighten the whole body.

During the free sparring, we do not have sufficient time to breath in and out so slowly to use our lungs, thus the “Kiai” is to make those things possible in a second and to make the techniques more effective and be prepared for any return attack. Also, we must be aware of two types of “Kiai” “Yan” and “Yin” to be able to use depending on the occasion. What could I do when the master of the dojo instructed his theory to his students? I merely expressed that in my style we believe “Kiai” and the technique when combined together can create tremendous effects. The problem in this dojo was, the “Kiai” was still at the level of the throat and not from the “Tanden” just below the stomach to create the “Kiai”. It is such a big difference to shout in a tennis play to check the movements. Well, what else could I say? I could only prove in the class through the training. For the participants of the tournament, I had mainly instructed the distance with the opponent, steps to get in and the combination of the techniques in tournament sparring. However, it bothered me to try to improve them without “Kiai” philosophy. Later on in my own classes, quite a number of students started to copy my “Kiai”. I continued my own training early in the morning and late at night. This tournament would be with so many different styles of selected participants. I should be very well prepared.

“Pain”

What a big mistake I made! I had been training more than enough already everyday and night yet I thought I needed to improve my strength much more for the tournament. I found in the storage room in the back of the dojo, a hemp or a Hessian cloth bag that contained rice that I used to carry on my shoulders for sit up exercises, ten times each in the morning and at night. This bag weighed over one hundred and ten pounds/fifty kilograms. No one could copy this exercise not even Al with his big shoulders, as the strength did not come from the muscle. It was some days later during this exercise one morning I had heard a cracking sound in my neck. The next morning when I got out of the sleeping bag, I felt serious pain on my back. I moaned. I just couldn’t move my right arm a bit since then. I could bend my elbow but I had a languor listless feeling all day long on my shoulder. I couldn’t move my right arm to punch to block nor could I do anything else with it. The tournament was nearly a month away. For a few days, I thought this problem was due to my sleeping on a tatami mat. So I continued to teach my classes without using my right arm. I had to explain to each class, as students would copy my movements without using their right arms.

About a week later, I thought there could possibly be some kind of problem with one of my shoulder bones. George introduced me to a doctor who specialized in bone care. Al Ford accompanied me to the doctor who was located in the building next to the Waldorf restaurant. A few patients with injured arms and legs were waiting their turn to see the doctor. The doctor put my arm up and down, touched my shoulder, took a few minutes and he charged me $10. He said there was nothing wrong with the bone that it was a torn muscle on the right shoulder to the back and he referred me to a muscle doctor that he knew. I did not go, as I could not afford to pay. I was afraid that since a few minutes to touch cost $10, what would it cost for a treatment, as one treatment would not settle the problem. I just let it be as it was.

Bulldog, since he used to be a fighter, was good at taking care of muscle problems and he gave me a massage every weekend at his home using various kinds of medicines but unfortunately that did not work.

“To Chicago”

It was just two days before the tournament. The four of us - Walter, Tom, Jerry and I left Boston in Walter’s car to go to Chicago. George and Charley went there by airplane. We were supposed to meet at the hotel in Chicago. During our trip Walter and Tom would take turns driving.

Since I was saving money by not going to the barber my hairstyle was often even longer than the Beatles. The kids in Carmine’s neighborhood used to call me “Beatles” because of my hairstyle. I had a light gray jersey jacket with a hood on top and jeans, and I had dark tanned skin from going to the beach every weekend with "Bulldog" family. It was a long drive to Chicago, and was quite boring in the car except to sleep when we had nothing else to talk about. Walter always enjoyed making jokes a lot, so he suggested I pretend to be an American Indian. When I saw an American Indian on the streets in Boston, although I saw very few, it made a big change in my opinion of those Hollywood cowboy movies I saw in Japan.

Well, our car stopped at a rather big motel for lunch. There were other people who had been driving on long trips and they were talking over their lunch inside the restaurant. We took one of the center tables. I was already giving a blank gaze, staring at one point. I remember I used to belong to an acting club in my high school days and I always played the main character in the drama.

What would you like to have?” asked a cute blond waitress. After she took our orders from Walter she came back to the table and started to prepare the knives and forks. She must have been feeling strange with this dark skinned man with long hair who was just staring straight ahead without blinking. She then started to prepare my knife in front of me. Walter screamed “Oh No! Don’t give him a knife. When this Indian gets a knife he becomes violent and will want to cut off your hair.” The waitress was already shocked with Walter’s shouting and to think that an Indian may cut off her hair! I already had the knife tightly in my right hand looking at her beautiful blond hair as I was still staring straight ahead and I stood up. She just screamed and ran off and never came back to the table. My acting was so good the child at the next table started to cry. Walter had to go to the kitchen to explain the whole thing, as we needed to get our meal. He then came back with her. I thought he had already explained that it was just a bad joke, however his joke was still on. He introduced me. “This is “Little Rock. Actually he is a very gentle boy. He’s a good guy.” She was still shaking a little. I gave her a big smile and said. “Hi. I am Little Rock. My father Mountain Rock is the chief in the Utah reservation. These are my friends. I invited them for the annual festival. Would you like to join us?” I knew there was a big Indian reservation area in Utah from the priest of the Mormon Church in Kobe where I used to go every Sunday to have free English conversation classes. The four of us just couldn’t stop laughing until our stomachs hurt. Thereafter, I had to be “Yellow Stone,” “Cloud Moon,” or “Star Roof” at every restaurant we stopped. Finally, we arrived in smoggy Chicago.

" The Day "

We awoke at 6 a.m. All of us, except George, participated in warm up exercises for a half hour at a park near the hotel. Tom and Charley took turns giving me a massage on my shoulder the previous night, but unfortunately it didn’t work. I could not use my right arm. George suggested to me that I should give up this time. How could I? I could not abandon the Tournament just because I couldn't use my right arm. The whole body is supposed to be a weapon. I still have the use of my left arm, left leg, and moreover my most effective right kick. I wanted to give it a try to find out how good I could perform in this bad condition.

The tournament was held at a rather old but large gym not far from the center of the town. When we arrived at around nine o'clock, a few groups with Do-gi were here and there. This looked the same as one of the tournament mornings in Japan. It is likewise America as I found there was a large sign at the entrance gate that read, The World Karate-Do Championship instead of “America”.

As I understood, this Tournament had been held with the cooperation of a few associations of the dojo located in New York and Chicago. Among them was one who had quite a large organization in the middle parts of U.S.A. owned by the Master who had an episode whereby he called himself The Tenth-Dan Black Belt but later he graded himself down to the Eighth-grade due to such a critical attack from the other schools of Karate.

The size of the gym was just about the same as The Osaka Prefecture Gym and had sufficient space for the audience on the second floor all around. However, one big difference I found amazingly was that the main floor where the tournament was to be held was of concrete instead of a wooden floor. It is commonly understood that the tatami is for Judo and a wooden floor is used for Karate. The main floor was divided into four sections. Two courts on the right were for Black Belts and three courts on the left were for the lower. Anyway, we went to one of the management desks to register to participate. Originally, I understood that this tournament was the Group Tournament and I was supposed to be the captain of the team of five.

Though I hate to say it, it was good for me but we would be off the tournament at the first match if it were the group tournament. Approximately fifty participants each Black belts and the below grades were talking to each other while doing stretching exercises but trying to judge their opponents.

“Yoki, there they are.” George said as he pointed with his chin to the center corner. I had noticed them before I got into the gym. There were about ten black guys, and although there were many more black participants these particular guys were different looking. They all shaved their heads and had shiny rugged baldheads and black uniforms of do-gi. They looked more like “Ninja” to me than karate. I could tell who the captain was with the dauntless fearless face and blood-shot eyes. He reminded me of the Captain Buffalo of the movies. On the way to Chicago, Walter and Tom had already explained to me about them. This group was located in Harlem, New York, and training in karate was just one of the methods they used to attack and exterminate caucasians. I had read an article in the newspaper in Boston about them. There instructor who was teaching karate to them was unknown, however their training mainly consisted of sparring.

By this time, the audience had gotten quite full on the second floor, and individual matches of lower degree belts started. There were only a few participants of white belt but apart from the white belts they were so colorful with green, yellow and brown belts. Two sub-judges at the two corners sitting on the chair to judge and one main referee in the court. Same thing in Japan, below degree matches are with quite fancy and thrilling techniques such as flying kicks, a hand knife punch but not effective to get a point just like street fighting.

George was a little excited and with a high tone voice came to me and said, “Yoki, you are the first and with one of them.” I must have missed hearing the announcement. One of them was already waiting for me at the B-court with the referee. I knew already what to do for today to win to just finish as quickly as possible in a second. My right arm stayed at the side of my waist with my elbow bent as if this was the point get arm. Any quick move would let my right arm just slide down to let my opponent become aware my right arm was useless. Well, he was a wide figure, a rather roly-poly black guy, which is good for me with a wide target of his stomach. What a quick match! I stood at the defined white line and proceeded to bow. The referee announced "Hajime" and with my “Kiai”. Whoa! At the same time, my right kick got his stomach already. It took less than a second and I went back to the white line to hear the referee announce " I'ppooon! " The opponent and two other judges at the corner still could not believe that this game was over so quickly. I knew that the longer it took, they would find out about the problem I had with my right arm.

" Captain Buffalo "

George came to me after he had finished the sub-judge at the other court to inform me that both Charley and Jerry had already lost in the first match. Walter’s first match was just about to start at the court A. His opponent was the one in the group from Harlem who I presumed was their sub-captain. I could see his well-tightened muscles through the black uniform and his baldhead made him look quite fierce. The color of his skin was not so dark but quite similar to the color of mine. At the white starting line he stood there with a horrible look at his opponent. I had to accept the fact that this particular group was obviously using Karate as a way to settle their prejudices. Although I must admit they had excellent combat skills they would use any technique they could to harm or damage their opponent. Right after "Hajime!" I was amazed to find his stance was Goju-ryu. Although my first opponent was from that same group I did not give him time to get into his fighting position. The majority of other main styles in this tournament had been easy to identify, as their stances were horse stance, facing the opponent side ways. However, this guy had his left foot forward in a cat stance to a half leaning stance, and his right fist on his side chest, clearly aiming for the counter attack to his opponent’s face. Just as expected, before Walter's kick reached his opponent’s stomach, his straight punch burst on Walter's face at the same time.

In Mattson’s dojo, Walter was a man with the best sense in the free sparring, though his favorite stance was the side way horse stance, which is quite effective for defending but not so effective for attacking. Therefore, Walter did a good job. Perhaps he learned from my special class how to attack in the tournament; at least he did not wait to defend but attacked first. Although, Walter moved back slightly to get away from his opponent’s punch towards his face, however his opponent had no intention of stopping his punch a half inch away from his face first of all. If Walter did not have such a good sense in sparring, he could have gotten serious injuries to his face. The main referee stepped in between Walter and his opponent and pulled them apart and then started to discuss the incident with two other sub- judges. The referee gave a strong warning to the opponent, as the punch had been contacted purposely. Walter won the match as just before the time was up he got a half point with his kick, though his opponent did not agree and insulted the referee. He claimed that it was not even a half point.

The problem was after the match when we were already watching the match in the other court area. This guy came to us to offer Walter a challenge at the back of the building - with no rules. It was common sense that this would not be a fair tournament with them, as no rules would exist.

However, this particular group in this tournament was out of question. I started to worry that it could cause serious problems, as the karate techniques could really be the serious weapon unless we understood how to handle and control each other.

Tom unexpectedly lost his first match and since I was in the second match myself and finished with right kick just like that. So, I missed the opportunity to watch his. Though, he admitted his failure, but he regretted so badly as he could tell he was far superior to his opponent. It seemed that the tournament had been proceeding quickly though quite a number of participants had been registered.

Among us all, the group that stood out the most, especially the captain " buffalo " with his sharp techniques. I felt a kind of weird witched power on his right straight punch to his opponent’s face. Three out of five of the group was already out of the match due to going against the rules of contact. It is strictly prohibited to make contact in the karate-do tournament, however a punch or kick to the opponent’s stomach would seldom cause any visible damage since there is usually no bleeding. So some people just concentrate on the middle area attack other than the upper face area. Right from the start, this group aimed only at the opponent’s face to make contact, but actually, they just beat up with full blows. Thus, each of them got out of the match as their actions were against rules. It was obvious that they did not care, though, because their movements were performed, as they originally desired.

But this “Captain Buffalo”, with his sharp techniques, stance after punch and kicks and his “Kiai”, best of all his right counter punch, was far superior than his opponent which made the referee call “I'ppooon” he even made contact a bit. Also, his front kick was so strong to spring up to his opponent’s blocks. As far as the free sparring of combat was concerned, I admired and admit that there should come something before the theory. And if I may compare with my style Seigokan-Goju style in sparring, this “Captain Buffalo” was one of us. The only problem was, what if someone who didn’t know how to use it kept an excellent sword or gun?

I did not want the audience to watch “Captain Buffalo’s” third match. The white opponent was just about his size 6 ft high. Also, because he made it to the third match, his skills should have been excellent, too. He must have observed “Captain Buffalo” carefully already, so he didn’t get in easy to avoid counter attack on his face. “Captain Buffalo” never started to attack, as he wanted to finish with a counter attack. Just before the time was up, “Captain Buffalo” moved in “Kiai” with his right straight kick thrown to his opponent’s stomach, and the white guy was good enough to block with his left arm smashed down, and gave a right middle punch to “Captain Buffalo”. Everyone, including the audience, could see the white guy got his point, but on the contrary he was the one on the floor with such a miserable injury. Buffalo, as he allowed his opponent to block his kick, put all his weight on two fingers of his right hand and stubbed directly into the opponent's two eyes. On the floor, covering his eyes with both hands, he was just thrashing about in horrible pain. The techniques using a hand knife, or fingers exist in Kata and pre-arranged sparring, and in ancient times to fight against a sword.

The referee and judges for a moment were absent minded before declaring “Captain Buffalo” lost due to going against the rules. “Captain Buffalo” got so mad at the referee for his judgement he started yelling at him. The white guy had a doctor and his karate partners around him as he was still on the floor moaning badly. The audience on the second floor started “booing” and “Captain Buffalo” shouted back at them. Everyone started tapping on the floor and some started throwing their chairs down in to the court. Security had to be called in to try to stop all the commotion. The other guys in his group tried to calm him down and finally took “Captain Buffalo” out of the court. After a while, “Captain Buffalo’s” opponent came back to the court with bandages rolled all over his face and had the announcement of his win. It seemed his right eye was not seriously injured, as he was able to see through the gap in the bandage. However, he did abandon his next match. I was supposed to be his opponent during his next match, so if he lost by any means, I would be the one with “Captain Buffalo.”

" 5.4' Against 6.9' "

The fourth match for those who had survived started in the afternoon. We talked while we ate some breads and milk that Jerry brought from somewhere. Of course, the main topic was naturally focused on that particular group from Harlem. We all came to agree that learning or instructing Karate-do without the correct manner and respectful spirit was just the same as giving sharp edged tools to a mad man. Training under the tutelage of a good school and the discipline of a qualified instructor is indispensable. Otherwise the karate-do itself would lose its reputation.

The best eight of the participants were called out to check the names at the register desk, the first thing in the afternoon. I could feel those individuals who remained through the afternoon tournament had some kind of calm heroic attitude. My man, my dear opponent of the first match in the afternoon! He had a reason to be so remarkable from the others. He was such a tall guy. I understood already that I must compete with tall American guys such as 6 ft of Al Ford’s height or a little taller. But this guy was huge! He was extraordinarily tall, and had a very well balanced figure considering his height. He was well muscled but not at all stiff like those who train by lifting weights. He had ideal sloped shoulders suitable for any martial arts. We faced each other as we heard the announcement of the opponent for the next match. He looked down at me and I looked up to him to greet then I looked straight back and I saw his black belt, which was at my eye level. I noticed on his black belt very clearly the gold embroidery in Japanese Kanji “Goju-Ryu Karate-Do”, and his name in Katakana on the other end of his belt. He said he had trained in Japan. If my memory is correct, he had trained at somewhere nearby Gifu-Prefecture, which is a little north from mid-Japan. Obviously he was not one of Seigo-kan as I would have known him, but he was from the same style of Goju-school. He held a second-degree black belt; and I was a first-degree. I had some sort of funny feeling that came over me at that moment.

The afternoon tournament started 2 PM. The audience’s joy and cheer for good technical competition kept very quiet and at certain scenes of each opponent’s tactics they would make loud cheering for a good point. This good strained tenseness in the atmosphere was broken suddenly when we faced each other in the court. Every one in the audience made such a big loud blizzard of laughter came from the second floor. I didn’t blame them at all--5.4 ft against 6.9 ft. The top of my head was exactly at his diaphragm level. My eyes when I looked straight ahead were at his belt level. I acknoweldged this atmosphere as ridicule on me but it increased my combat spirits. I must win not for Seigo-kan, not for Japan Karate-do but for myself to prove that karate-do has nothing to do with the height nor does it have anything to do with the size difference.

I had been concerned with the height of the opponent in order to estimate the distance. Naturally I had a disadvantage in the reach. Usually in my daily life, I would do shadow sparring with anybody even when I would be walking on the street. This was one of my exercises so that I would be able to judge and estimate the distance from their height to try the best I could anytime should I encounter a confrontation.

The referee gave us a warning looking up and down not to make any contact such as the terrible incident that happened earlier in the day. Perhaps then, some useless thoughts came into my mind that he was of the same style of a school and he was a senior in degree, so I should perform a clear match at least to the audiences, which made it too short to reach him. Or, was I a little disturbed from all the laughter?

It was apparent to me that he had trained in Japan when the referee announced " Hajime!” as other opponent’s made a step back with one leg from the starting line but he stepped right foot in forward from the starting line which made me step back three times because of the difference of the length. He chased me to the edge of the court so I had to make a circle to the side. After I made one circle in the court, I had no other choice except to do something to break this length disadvantage. When a “giant” threw his right punch with a right kick at the same time with “Kiai” a “little rat” dashed in with a right kick. Was it a big mistake to be a half inch short to avoid contact? I went into a perfect unconscious. I had to kick my face high to reach his stomach high. I missed the diaphragm, but I got the point. Afterwards, George told me that the referee raised his hand for a half point, when he tripped up my ankle. felt as if I fell down from the second floor on to the ground. The damage would not have been so bad if I had been able to use my right arm to cover the floor.

My arm was loose and went down right to the concrete floor from my head up side down. I believe it was only a few seconds that I fainted when somebody picked me up, and I was wondering why so many people were around me. One person who was by me had a white cloth and I assumed he must be a doctor. He put his hand on my head and I saw some kind of sticky black blood on his hand. I woke up when he commented to the referee, “No way to continue.” I told the doctor in my mind “Bull Shit! I traveled more than ten thousand miles. Why should I stop?” I pushed them out of the court and told the referee that I was OK to continue. I heard the doctor say, “Not my fault.”

This time, the audience wasn’t laughing anymore; rather, they were giving big cheering claps. My opponent somehow did not see my eyes when we faced each other again. I then saw his size just the same as my size. My mind was perfectly blank at that time. As soon as the referee said, “Hajime!” he had to shout I'ppoooon!” at the same time. I doubt if anyone could have seen the speed I was able to get in. My opponent never imagined how quick my kick was even before he prepared his stance. But this time I was made contact right on his diaphragm. He put his hand on his stomach while he gave a moaning confounded face. The entire audience was full of thunderous cheers and claps. Tom allowed me to use his shoulder to lean on as I walked. I had to hurry to find out how seriously I had been injured on the head

I felt the swelling above my neck and it felt so heavy as if I had a bucket full of water on my head. Was it a waiting room? When I lay down on a wooden bench I finally felt a terrible pain on my forehead. Tom brought some ice, a few towels and a mirror. Luckily, I did not fall straight down to the floor but slightly sideways and the skin on my right cheek was torn off and there were small pieces of the concrete sand stuck in my face. I dared not to touch the crack between the borders to my forehead as I could tell my finger would just go in to the crack.

Since the beginning of this tournament, Tom completely changed his attitude towards me and he became so kind and friendly to me. He seemed to get rid of the bad feelings he had for me. He repeatedly told me that he admired my fighting spirits. I kept cooling my head with the ice until the bleeding stopped. Walter was with me the entire time until the next match. A person in charge of the tournament procedures came to inform me about the next match. George tried to encourage me, and pointed with his chin to the trophy set up at the center of the main court. That trophy was as tall as me.I didn’t know if this match was the fourth or the semi-final?

" A Cat vs. a Tiger "

The sun started to set already and the concrete floor reflected the sunlight through the windows and so many fluorescent lights in the ceiling made the dull color of the full audience on the second floor - some are even on the first floor standing. I look up to the second floor – kid’s and women’s voices made the hall alive. Most were probably cheering the “the short guy” from the previous match that morning.

I did not like the referee from the morning. He was an Asian, Philippines Thailand. His judging gesture was just like a traffic controller. He was now explaining the rules to my opponent with large gestures. My opponent was about 5.5 ft – he didn’t look so tall anymore after that “Giant” from earlier in the morning though he was quite sturdy to the side. He had black hair, same as mine, and was oriental looking (perhaps a Hawaiian American).

The audience was perfectly quiet. We both bowed calmly and I noticed his starting distance was quite far yet fully guarded. I had concentrated too much on that group, but meantime I must have been observed quite a bit, also. I could not get in, as the distance was too wide a part. I let him try to step into my right kick distance, but amazingly he was so fast he ran straight back out of the court. Not only was he fast, but he also did not lose his stance a bit. In the sparring, one of the main things is to maintain the hip-waist level to keep at exactly the same level during our movements so that one can always block or give a counter attack even when moving backwards. Well, his stance was perfect to step back so fast but fully guarded. I missed noticing this guy earlier in the morning because of “Buffalo”, but I believe this guy must have been watching me so carefully in the morning. All I could do was to attempt to have him attack me so I could give him a counter kick. But he just didn’t move a bit to come in to me. It would be so easy, if I were he, to finish this “little short guy” with one kick.

I started to get closer to him inch by inch so that he could not run away. I had to find out what his favorite technique was to attack me. He, with his side horse stance, kept his distance from my step. I got bored for a second when, his waist made a big round for a left roundhouse kick, and I stepped in to block, but this faint kick was to step in with a loud sound on the floor into the leaning stance, the right straight punch into my face. I had returned my right leg roundhouse kick as I got away from his punch, but he blocked my kick on my shank bone. My shank bone was hard as steel, no doubt he must have felt it. Three minutes had already passed. It seemed much longer, though as most of the time we were just gazing at each other. The judgement was a draw and we were allowed to have a one-minute extension match.

Well, I had no choice. A cat chased a tiger at “Hajime!” A tiger so quickly ran backwards, but this time I caught him just at the edge of the corner line. My right kick with full “Kiai” got his stomach with the full strength of my weight. GEE! He knew me too well. He put his horse stance way down, put my right kick with both of his arms crossed on my leg to push down. felt as my nail touched his do-gi. He already had found my right arm was unusable. I could have given him a straight right punch directly on his face when he used both arms to block. However, my right arm was just hanging straight down. I wanted to cry but I just had to jump back from his return attack. Regrettably it was too late that my left arm and legs were not good enough to get a point as my left leg was to step in and my left arm was for block and a faint attack. The one minute extension was over and although it was superior it was not good enough even for a half point. The audience gave such thunderous shouts to every little move of this small cat.

When the third extension started, we both were at the center of the court. He then gave a left roundhouse kick to my face on the right forehead, and I felt a slight wind at my hair. The judge had no more patience with the situation and he called a half point to him. Should I have made a claim? I didn't as it took over five minutes and I couldn't get a point. It was my entire fault due to my lack of skills. With this sudden end, the audience had been in silence for a while then gradually started to clap hands and stood up for both fighters.

George, Walter, Tom, and Charley came over to me. They almost tossed me up in the air. I just didn't understand as I lost a match. George was so delighted and asked, “Yoki, do you know who that was? Do you know Yoki?” He repeatedly asked me with excitement. I asked, “Who?” George proceeded to say, “Mike Stone. He is Mike Stone. He was the champion last year, and also a champion in the L. A. Tournament the other day. You did so well with your right arm problem, Yoki. This would give my dojo a very good reputation.

It was just like the final game was over. When I looked at two other guys still remaining in the tournament. One had an injured leg and the other person, I could tell, was already exhausted which meant I could win that trophy if …..

Mike Stone came over to me and said, “You are the toughest I've ever met in my Karate life, if I miss that block!” He showed me that his arm that was all swollen and covered with black and blue marks. It was some time before I ever forgot about that dream of mine to win that trophy.

Yoki, the Magician

After the Tournament in Chicago, I thought of going back to Japan. However, since I would have to wait until the next semester at my college, I decided to stay longer.For a while George had been paying me US$40.00 per week since I started to take a class to teach a mixture of Goju and Uechi style, otherwise I would have had to leave Boston after three months. He then decreased his pay to me down to US$5.00 per week since the summer started because many students went away for summer vacation.

Since I was short of finances, I started to work at a German restaurant near the dojo after 5 pm to wash dishes. I could only work a few days a week, which was not enough to survive, though I started to cook for myself in the dojo and I stopped eating out. I found that chicken was very inexpensive at the supermarket, so I would buy some and boil it with lettuce, carrots, potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. I would also buy minute rice in a small box and I would put some in a coffee cup with boiled water and wait for one minute.I used to have the same thing, one meal a day. I started to lose weight very quickly due to not eating properly or sufficiently and found that my strength was weakening. Marty who was green belt, age about thirty asked me one day, “Yoki, are you interested in becoming a magician?”He was a bachelor and used to be a magician at one of the nightclubs. His plan at the time was to get a black belt in Karate and open up his own dojo. He announced his plan to everybody in the dojo. Everyone, including myself, doubted that he could get a black belt in ten years time. However, he just didn’t care, as his dream was so definite. Well, I had to start to make some money for my return trip, so I took his advice.

One Saturday night after our work out, he took me to a nice large hotel in Boston. I had on a suit and tie and felt so uncomfortable at that time. We waited at the bar of the hotel. At that time Marty was collecting unemployment insurance, and he needed some income for the upcoming Christmas holiday. Marty was in love with Merry, who was George's secretary. She was eighteen years old, cute, and idle of the dojo. She was just like that song, “A girl from panama”. She had recently immigrated from Panama. He told me that he had taken her to the movies a few times and that soon he intended on asking her to marry him. As he spoke of Merry his eyes were burning hot through his thick glasses. I wished him success although he was middle aged and had a rather fat stomach along with the age difference.

Marty’s burning hot eyes suddenly changed to serious and he stood up. A guy introduced himself. “ I am Dante.”He appeared to be a little under forty years old and was wearing a gorgeous black shining tuxedo with a wide red leather belt. He was nothing but a magician and he must be in show business in this hotel, I presumed. He was known as a conjuror and not a magician to perform blowing fire from his mouth or using a sword to beneath a girl’s neck to lift her into the air in a big show. Those were such exciting acts to watch when I was a kid but knowing such ridiculous easy tricks ruined my interest. We went to his room to be tested to become a magician. Another fellow, about age sixty, was in the room calmly watching us. Marty had no problem, as it was his profession. Mr. Dante showed me a few tricks that I have seen on television, such as putting rings through each other, or making small balls appear and disappear. Then he told me to consider the three of them as the clients and perform the tricks. These three clients could do these tricks with their eyes shut, but I had never touched any of these magician tools. Well, Mr. Dante gave me the toolbox containing about twenty different magic tools and said, “Practice by tomorrow morning.” Yes, it was the Christmas season but wasn’t this a bit too easy to choose a person to be in charge? Although I had a job already, this would give me over $100 per week plus bonuses depending on how good I could sell. I needed the money in order to get back to Japan.

Marty and I hurried back to his apartment. He rented this apartment with another man and as soon as we walked in, the smell of “bachelor pad” filled the air. We cleaned up all the messy clothes and magazines to make enough space to practice on the floor. We toasted with beer and some peanuts that we had purchased on the way back to his apartment. Marty then took out about ten items from the box and showed me the tricks a few times. He copied exactly as I usually said in the dojo. “Keep practicing. That's all you can do.” He yawned once and began to snore on the floor. covered him up with a blanket and started to practice at 2 AM. Well, I found that the tricks were not too difficult once I learned them, but I was supposed to perform in front of the public as a professional beginning at 10 AM at the department store. I kept practicing alone with murmured English until the morning. Marty kept snoring and was sleeping so comfortably.

When I was a sophomore in my college I took an exam test to become a guide for tourists in Kyoto city for the upcoming spring season. Most of my college classmates wished for this particular job, as the hourly pay was so good. Besides, you can learn English and if lucky can travel many places with clients. So the test competition was very keen. Over forty applicants in a big bus started a tour in Kyoto city to visit shrines and temples. Each one of us by turn would go up front by the driver to demonstrate our imitation of a guide. The examiner was sitting in the front seat. The majority of applicants were fourth grade in college or were professional guides who could speak fluent English. When it was my turn, I was not yet good in speaking English at all, but as usual, I just didn't care when I had to perform something. After about ten minutes of the guide speech, which I practiced and memorized, the examiner, Mr. Ogawa of Fujita Travel Company, asked me in English, "Are you Chinese?” “Yes, my parents are from Taiwan, but I was born in Japan." At present, I am learning Chinese as a second foreign language.” Most people in Japan would notice that my name YOKI in kanji as most probably Chinese.

My Chinese speaking was perfectly no good then, but he said, “Will you speak in Chinese for a few minutes now?” Sure, I though, how could I miss this chance?“ My name is Yang Chi Shying Ming. My father is Chinese. I was born in Japan. My age is 19 years old.” I said in Chinese. I just don't remember what I said for the next few minutes. To prove no one there understood any Chinese, I passed the test and I got the job. A few days later, I received a call from the tourist company to meet a client at a hotel in Kyoto to guide them to the Shrines and temples in Kyoto-City for a full day tour in speaking Chinese starting at 10 AM.

I immediately went to meet one of my father’s friends who is a professor in Chinese language at Kobe University of Foreign Studies. Incidentally, this is the University I could not take an exam as my high school teacher told me they had mathematics in the subject, so I took an exam of Koto University of Foreign Studies which took two hours one way every day. This university had nothing to do with The Kyoto University.) Besides, it was quite new after it became a four-year university, so the students were very eager to learn something before graduation, as we all knew we could not get a job merely from the name of the college back then. Now this school has quite a good reputation. One of the reasons for their good reputation is that those who graduated from this college did quite well in society. I asked this professor to write down all the necessary things that I might encounter on a full page such as “We take a taxi now. Now we go to eat,”and so on. I then started to memorize and remember by the morning. No matter what language I had to learn by the following morning, I would have learned, whether it was one of the African languages or what.

Next morning, I had a good sleep on the train during the trip from Kobe to Kyoto. The only problem was, I went to the wrong hotel. I went to The Kyoto Hotel instead of The Miyako Hotel. Luckily, at 9:30, the boss of the tourist company located me. He immediately put me into a cab to The Miyako Hotel. Approximately forty elderly couples were waiting for me in the lobby of the hotel. I introduced myself in Chinese as I had practiced and repeated one hundred times the previous night. The boss of the company left, as he had to meet other clients. These clients happened to be from Hong Kong and spoke English well, so I showed them both English and Chinese leaflets during the guide. They seemed to have spoken very highly of me, so I kept getting jobs but as an English guide. Since then I told myself to be careful in the future as Confucius said, “Knowing means; to tell you know, and not to tell you don't know.”

Again, I am repeating this same thing in a foreign country.

I must fall asleep. Marty woke me up at eight o'clock. We then went to the dojo to pick up my Kimono and a Japanese fan. After we had breakfast on the way, we arrived at the biggest department store in town at 9:30. We had to go to the eighth floor where there were books, stationery shops and our shop in the toys corner. I used to have a part time job at a department store in Kobe during the summer vacation so I was used to the atmosphere. As this starting day was a Sunday many families came. An oriental magician wearing the Kimono and carried a fan started. The items were for Christmas presents and sold for $10 and contained 10 sets of tricks, or you could pay $20 dollars for 20 sets. When Marty demonstrated, I would do the packing and put ribbons on the red boxes and when I demonstrated then Marty would do the packing. We sold 10 sets of the large items, and 15 sets of the small, which was not so bad for the first day. I demonstrated as I practiced about 10 tricks. By the time the crowds came around, I would show them one or two tricks with secrets to show how easy the tricks were to do - but I never exposed the main tricks. A few of them were quite nice and even I knew the tricks.

Every morning there were four school-aged kids who would stay for a few hours and would stand right in the front of the line. They kept seriously watching every trick I did. After about a week they started to talk too much saying things like, "I know this trick. The cup has a double base inside.” And so on. I told them to go away and come back with their mother to buy. They never listened to me so I had to show them a better trick to get rid of them with a deal not to bother my work if they couldn't guess this particular trick. I borrowed a fifty-cent coin from one of the kids. I marked the coin with him and hid it in my kimono sleeve for a second. When I put my hand out I had a small box and gave it to a boy who lent me a coin to open the box. This small box was tied up strongly with a string. When he untied it, there appeared another box tied the same way. On the third box he found a small cloth bag, which was also closed tightly. He found his coin with the exact same mark and they kept their promise and never came back. This trick took quite a bit of time to prepare so I could do only a few times a day. I could make some money to go back to Japan.

The autumn in Boston with leaves on the trees changing into red, yellow and brown -- soon after dance and fall and cover the streets with withered leaves informing that the severe winter season is there.

People started to walk fast - busy to prepare for Christmas just like before New Year's holiday season in Japan. One evening, George invited me to his home for dinner after quite sometime in his sports car enjoying the suburbs. He asked, “Yoki, are you interested in opening up a dojo in New York?”

Permanent Residence

Three days after I have arrived in Boston at “Mattson Academy of Karate” I went into George's office in the evening after class. I said with a serious face, “Mr. Mattson, I need to talk to you.” George stood up from his chair and saw my serious expression. I said, “I am not a Japanese. I am a Chinese.” He did not change his face a bit but just kept listening as I continued, “but I was born in Japan.” I came to realize in America, everyone except Native American Indians is the same. Either his or her parent’s are immigrants or born in America is an American. “My father came to Japan from Taiwan. I was born in Japan. I hold a Taiwan Passport.” He changed his face a little, gave a puzzling look, as he just did not understand why I was saying this. “So, you were born in Japan. Why are you not a Japanese?” Well, that's the point, but he did not care at all what I was saying. I didn't care at all either. I just wanted to make sure in case he introduced me officially to a newspaper or some publisher. I wanted to be introduced correctly that I am from Japan, not that I am a Japanese.

But there was one thing I had to keep in my mind all the time whenever I went abroad. I would lose my permanent residence of Japan unless I returned to Japan once a year after departure. No allowances would be made, not even a one-day delay after departure. It is a very simple question to ask any American what they would say if their nationality was inherited from their parents or ancestor's nationality. What if you had no right to vote when you were eighteen years old even if you were born in America and had paid taxes for years up to the age? What if you were not allowed to obtain life insurance for yourself? (Up until about ten years ago, it was like that for the Koreans and Chinese living in Japan) What if you were unable to choose a profession of your choice to become a police officer, a teacher or any other public-service occupation?

Japan occupied Korea and Taiwan over 50 years before the Second World War. Over 200,000 Koreans were forced to go to Japan for labor purposes. Presently, there are over 500,000 Koreans and about 50,000 Chinese living in Japan with the above situations, without the minimum of human rights. Black Americans had same disaster in history, but later were able to receive their basic human rights.

One thing I found and admired about Americans -- they are quite honest and straight forward in displaying what they believe, what they like or what they don't like. So you could quite often tell who was prejudiced, who you should stay away from, and so on. Well, in Japan, you would never know if someone was prejudiced or not until certain moments. Thus, until then you may think there is no prejudice in Japan as people are always smiling and very friendly. When it comes to marriage or getting jobs, it is the day you meet a totally different race. Now, in Japan at year 2001 there is the political argument whether or not they should allow those foreigners including Koreans and Chinese living and paying taxes for over fifty years, the right to vote in the district of the country to choose the governor

When it comes to this basic right of a human being, most of the Japanese people do not care at all. They just don't know, nor do they have any knowledge of or they try to close their eyes until his or her child wants to marry a black, a Korean or a Chinese person. Those Koreans living in Japan are fighting more than the Chinese for their basic rights as Chinese are more concerned about money as they have their own China town community that has allowed them to survive by cooking. After the Second World War the Japanese government ordered the Koreans and Chinese to use two Kanji alphabets on their family names as Japanese so that they can hide their roots, still so many Koreans hide their heritage.

When I was age twenty-seven, it was the first time I had visited Taiwan with my Taiwan passport and I had to go through Custom’s at the airport of Taipei. This guy at Custom’s was yelling at me so loudly as I did not speak any Chinese but had their passport. At my age 24, when I was in Hong Kong, I went to Mong Kok whereby there usually were no Japanese around there to buy some tools. A woman at the shop was yelling at me in Cantonese, though I did not understand any Cantonese but I aware that she was asking, “Why don't you speak with your own language?” Well, I do look Taiwanese and also Cantonese because of my original blood, but I also look like Japanese when I am in Japan.

Can judge and feel from both sides.” One good thing about being born in my situation is that I can feel and judge from both ends.

When I was of middle school age I had a teacher who was seventh-degree black belt in Kendo. (The way of a Japanese sword fitting.) He used to teach Japanese and some Chinese grammar. He was a captain or lieutenant in the Japanese Army during the war. Well, one day he came into the classroom in the school with his Japanese soldier sword that he used during the war. He showed it to all of the students in the class and passed it around to each student. While the sword was being passed around he explained how brave he was to cut so many Chinese with this sword. He also stated how he would cut those from the back when they tried to run away. When the sword finally got to me, I could see the blood rust that still remained on the sword, which he must have purposely maintained for his good memories without shaving to take off the rust marks from the dried blood.

I remember feeling so much pain, deep pain within my heart. That was only fifteen years after the war. If he did this now he would have been laid off from teaching the very next day, I hope. The hero could just be a murderer if you could look at it from the other side.

Well, my life throughout my past, not even a minute this nationality identity issue remained since my childhood, yet my cosmopolitan philosophy had been established. Thus, I had no problem to mingle with any kind of people, or with any race or nationality wherever I went in my Karate-Do or in my business history. Yet, I have never discussed this matter in Japan with nobody even with my intimate friends, as I knew in Japan people would usually just ignore and avoid the issue in their daily life, as it is not their problem at all.

Between the ages of twenty-six to twenty-nine I had worked at one of the trading company’s in Osaka. One day, Japan admitted the Mainland China as a China and cut off relations with Taiwan officially so as many other countries did then. This resulted in my Taiwan passport to become of no use. I was considered as “Non-nationality.” Once I went abroad on a business trip without a passport. I held only a piece of a small identity paper that stated, “The person who holds this paper is of non-nationality.” First of all, to get a visa to go any country took at least a few months, then at the airport of any country I had to go to the special room to have a check up for a few hours before I received permission to enter the country. For this reason I resigned from this trading company in Osaka.

I had applied for a Japanese nationality nearly fifteen years already. It used to be (perhaps it is still so now) almost impossible even for those Koreans and Chinese who were born in Japan. There were such a tremendous amount of papers and documents that I had to issue to the Immigration of Japanese government. During that period of applying, a single mistake such as one against car parking would have been considered not worthwhile for a change to the Japanese nationality. So, during those fifteen years especially, I lived even cleaner than the highest priest or a monk of any religion you could think of. I dared never to think of using any political way to get in between other people who were in line waiting for the same result.

Well, after my marriage, when my son was about to be born, I then had no choice. I mentioned my problem to Master Seigo Tada. He told me he would choose and speak to one politician although he could think of at least a couple to solve the problem. He also told me that I should have told him earlier. Well, I hated to get in the line of people who are suffering with same problem, so I did not mention it to him earlier. I just never wanted my son to be born with no nationality. Is it a coincidence that I got the permission to get the Japanese nationality just one week after I asked Mr. Seigo.

" Prejudice "

Are the Japanese prejudiced? Yes and No. I have never been beaten up, nor insulted to my face because of my Chinese blood. Arnold Toynbee, the philosopher said, “Sometimes there are things that suffer more mentally than physically.” Being ignorant sometimes suffer more. So the way I have chosen to live to survive was to admit this was just a disadvantage that I had to carry. A handy-cap like many other people carry. I just didn't want to be a failure to complain all the time with my destiny but to change my fortune. I used to hate to study, so when an employment exam if more or less the same ability on the paper tests, naturally they would choose their own people. In Japan, even if you get a Japanese nationality you must carry the same issue for many points unless you can hide it completely somehow. So if any obvious difference such as the facial characteristics or skin color were still the same. So, what’s the big deal as this sort of thing happens everywhere ; even much worse in other countries. But, what about my son who is suffering just now and he must carry throughout all his life just like I did because of this Chinese name. To me it was such an experience I had to be in so many different jobs. You name it, I did. But is my son strong enough for this?

When George asked me if I would open up the Dojo in New York. I may teach Goju Style. The first thing that came to my mind was this “Permanent Residence”. It was not that easy to decide as many things were left in Japan. I lost my mother when I was three years old and my father just a half year before I left for Boston. I was the only boy in my family - perhaps I should help my sisters before they get married, etc.

George was satisfied with my results in the tournament he dropped by New York on the way back from Chicago and already found the place where to open up the dojo. He told me he would apply to the immigration to change the visa to get the permanent residence. However I was not satisfied with the results in the tournament and I wanted to continue my Karate training in Japan. Moreover, I thought I should finish my college, as I only had one more year left. I could re-consider coming back after I graduate from college. Plus, I thought my Karate-Do was not good enough to open up a Dojo. Among all these facts, it was not that easy to abandon the permanent stay in Japan. I politely refused George’s offer to consider the matter after my graduation from college.

" Reminiscences, Memories "

If the right kick to Mike Stone was with 80% or 70% of strength, not 100%, I could have gotten a half point with my left punch to get that trophy. This regret remained for a while even after I retuned to Japan. Yet, it could have been such a meaningless shallow trip and stay in America if I went only to learn a language. However, because of Karate-Do in-between, I could mingle with people. I had a tremendous amount of kindness, which I could never return. It was time by now I should realize what I could do at least to oversea Karate-Do body. As far as learning English--I had learned the main thing was what was there in the language for. Not what if you could speak or not. Incidentally, I could be able to debate in English, not just have a daily conversation without knowing just naturally without study, though I still cannot read a newspaper due to lack of the vocabularies I know as it takes too long to read with the dictionary.

When I went back to the Karate-Do club after I returned to college, the new captain and main students were controlling the club, so I tried not to interfere. My training was not as diligent as before. After my return to Japan, Charles Earl and Mike visited me in Japan. Later, George came with one of his friend’s. I was with them for about a week to guide them around. I introduced them to Mr.Seigo Tada. George had a chance to see the tournament in Seigo-Kan.

In those days, my college Karate-Do club captain and a sub-captain were excellent in the tournament and George seemed to write them a letter. To bad I don't know the details.

After I graduated from college it was very hard to find a job, as I expected it would be. Also, the correspondence between George somehow was not so smooth to continue. I travelled Japan doing so many different kinds of jobs with Karate-Gi -- visiting other Dojos for about six months. I even lived in the mountain for a month to train to be ready whenever I have a chance.

Finally, after I came back to Kobe, I started to work at one of the small trading company’ s for the importing of mainly bananas from Taiwan, introduced by a relative. Soon after that I opened up Kobe Dojo of Seigo-kan at one of the best athletic gymnasiums. I had nearly fifty students soon after I set up.

The daily work at this trading company was boring and I didn’t enjoy my job there. It was shortly afterwards that I received information from Mr. Chuki Mitsuhashi, who was one of my best friend’s from college and was the captain in the Judo-club. He had gone to work for the Cathy Pacific Airline after graduating from college. He informed me that somebody who owned a gym in Hong Kong was looking for a Karate-do instructor who could instruct in English.

Well, who else but YOKI !