Playing the locals at their own game

03:03, May 09 2014
brennan galpin
TROPHY FIGHT: Brennan Galpin shows off his second place trophy alongside the boy who beat him at the Gifu prefecture provincial karate tournament.

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