I mentioned before that my host dad is a black belt in Judo, and one time he took me and my housemate to his dojo to teach us some moves (which turned out to be pretty painful). Our host dad practices Judo every weekend, and last weekend the Judo club had a BBQ at an obstacle course, and our host dad invited us.
We left early in the morning and met up with one of our host family’s old homestay students, which was kind of funny. We all went to the obstacle course/bbq pit with my host dad and one of our little sisters. We met up with the whole Judo club at the obstacle course. Many of the men’s wives and children had also come, so it was a really big group. Many of the Judo students are also young boys, so there were a bunch of them running around making a ruckus. But they were so cute! Once we entered the park, we saw that it was a huge course with 50 different stations. Each station was it’s own obstacle made mostly out of wood and ropes. Usually the point was to climb over, through, or under something and then move on to the next obstacle. There were kids running around everywhere, and my host sister, the old homestay student, and I realized we were just a tad too old and too big for this course. Still, our host father and our little sister insisted we do every obstacle. Our host dad was usually just watching and taking embarrassing photos of us, but occasionally he would join in the obstacle, too. It was so embarrassing, but a lot of fun at the same time.
One section of the course was on a small pond and all the obstacles were over the water. For one of the challenges, you had to get in a barrel and pull yourself across the pond with a rope. As we were waiting our turn to do this, we watched kid after kid get into the barrels and get off balance, causing water to fill the barrel until it sinked and the kids got soaked. This was not looking good, as we were even bigger than the kids. There wasn’t much hope that we would stay dry. On top of that, all of the parents were watching the kids on the sides, and it was obvious they would pay special attention to the foreigners trying to do the challenge. Luckily, I made it across the pond completely dry. My host sister was not so lucky, but she made quite a show for everyone watching. Everyone was yelling and laughing as we watched her tragically fall into the pond and crawl out soaking wet. Our host dad took video, as well (and showed our host mom at home later).
After a few hours of the course, we made it to the BBQ area. There, the whole team sat around a grill and a few of the men grilled meat and yaki-soba. The center of the circle was the head of the dojo, and ojiisan (old man) that had been practicing judo for decades. He was really funny and told interesting stories about the dojo. Further into the BBQ, he was pretty drunk on sake, and kept spilling the food everywhere as he was making it, which caused everyone to fall into fits of laughter. Towards the end, everyone went around the circle and made a short speech, including me and my housemate. We didn’t know what to say about Judo at all! So we just said (in Japanese), “Judo is fun, but hard. Thanks for today!”