Grandfather Masui Taneda left Kochi, Japan, in search of the American dream. He traveled to Hawaii in 1905 and worked there for 6 months. Canada was next on his adventure. Arriving in 1906 at the age of 16, he worked logging in the Vancouver area and gradually made his way to the Okanagan. The Okanagan valley brought opportunities of working in the ranching and fruit industry. Grandfather Taneda returned to Japan and brought back with him a bride. Michie Matsuura had no idea what she was getting herself into. Her father was a University Professor and the family was fairly affluent. Westbank would resemble nothing like her home in Sendai. The kimonos were put away and the struggle with clearing rocks in the field began. Vegetables were grown until the fruit trees could provide a viable crop.
Stanley Etsuo Taneda was born in Westbank. My father was the second son and third child of four. Kazui was the oldest son followed by sister Ki and baby sister Bessie. Children were like having extra hands on an orchard and everyone worked. Dad eventually took over the family orchard where I was an extra set of hands. Our home was 80 feet from my grandparent’s house and together we worked 35 acres of orchard land. As a baby I was taken to work and slept under a tree or played inside an apple bin.
As a youngster I would run everywhere. Walking felt like I was wasting time. The irrigation system in our orchard consisted of aluminum pipes that were moved through the rows of fruit trees twice a day. There were 6 sets of lines that took between 15 minutes to one hour to change. Each line would have 15 to 40 pipes and each pipe was 20 or 30 feet long. At 10 years old I would change all 6 lines on my own. After finishing one set of lines I would run back to the beginning of the line to turn the tap on full and then run to the next set that needed changing. When I was finished changing all the lines, it was a race to where the family was working or to get home for lunch or supper. Gumboots are not exactly the best running gear and sometimes my socks were sopping wet. Shoes were not bought to fit back then, they were supposed to last a few years or shared. When you are young the hills appear steeper and much longer. The burning muscles from running were a challenge but my mind was the same as it is now. Somehow at a young age, I thought that you only get one chance at this moment. My mind would set goals and it always told my body to do more. “You have to go full blast to the rock. Now that you have made it to the rock, get to the next tree. Don’t stop till you get to the top of the hill. Run till you touch the next tap. If you stop it will become a habit, a weakness.”
Everyday I teach several karate classes but my own fitness takes a back seat to teaching others. My personal conditioning is done with the class warm ups and repetition of techniques but I don’t run on a regular basis. What I do on a regular basis is run on my birthday. Each year at this time we camp at our favorite lake. There is a 4-kilometer trail around the lake that greets me every year. I may not have run in months but the lake expects my best and I do not leave anything in the tank. The times are put in a journal and it is a reflection on my age. My recent times are better than previous years but in the back of my head, I know that they could be even better if I trained properly. Cheryl reminds me of this every year. She says “spitting blood after you run is not normal. It would be much better to build up your strength then go all out. And it doesn’t have to be a race every time.” I agree logically, but I tell her “ It is not a race. It is a test.”
My little boy’s voice is saying, “get to the rock, get to Canada, create something incredible”. You have one chance at this moment.