Playing the locals at their own game
Former Timaru Boys' High School student Brennan Galpin is on a year-long Rotary Youth Exchange in Gero-shi, Japan.
Once again, I have been super busy lately, often having no time to think, and it's great.
I got to enter in the provincial karate tournament and it was awesome.
The tournament encompassed the entire province and in total there were more than 1200 competitors. I was blown away by the number of people there.
I was going to be fighting in the youth boys' division. This was for guys from about 16-19. It was split into weight divisions because obviously a wee 16-year-old shouldn't be fighting a big 19-year-old.
I'm a bit heavier than average for my age here in Japan so I was put into the heaviest group.
I fully misunderstood for quite some time and I felt really strong knowing that I was the biggest and heaviest in my group. That was incorrect.
Turns out I was literally the smallest and youngest. Woops.
I was incredibly nervous on the day of the tournament, especially after I found my first opponent was 11cm taller than me and he was definitely a fair bit heavier too.
It was so grim looking that my mate had gone from saying: "You can totally win this," to: "That's bad luck".
It wasn't looking good but I wasn't going to let that stop me. We stared each other down from across the mats, I was a bit worried but I couldn't show it.
Our fight started and I went at him with all I had. And I won!
I ended up winning my next fight too which put me in pretty high spirits. I had all this adrenaline and it was amazing.
Unfortunately, the final was three hours later.
This meant all adrenaline went away and it turns out I had busted up my hand and foot. Those happen to be the main weapons in karate and it made my last fight quite difficult.
I didn't come away with the win this time but it was close. I made tons of friends, received a heap of bruises and won a pretty sweet trophy.
I am second in all of Gifu prefecture which is pretty cool. I was the only foreigner there, and attracted a lot of attention.
The Timaru Herald