My mother’s parents came to Canada in 1929 to minister for the Japanese United Church. Grandfather Jun Kabayama started by building up a congregation in Ocean Falls. Then in 1942 the war broke out and the family was taken to the intern camps as wartime enemies at Hastings Park. Later that year the family was relocated to Raymond, Alberta and then moved to Lethbridge, Alberta. In 1952 they were transferred to the Japanese United Church in Kelowna, BC.
Florence Kaori Kabayama was the fourth of five daughters. There were also three brothers, two of them older and one younger. This big family was run with a strict hand. I heard stories of my Grandfather blowing a whistle and all eight children lining up for morning inspection. Grandfather Kabayama had a Samurai background. He held a 4th degree Black belt in judo and a 2nd degree Black belt in kendo. Around 1953 Grandfather Kabayama started the Kelowna judo club where my father Stan, trained up to his green belt.
As you cross the bridge and entered Kelowna from the Westside, the Japanese United Church was one of the first buildings. It was a big structure and provided living quarters for the Minister’s family. The vast open areas were connected by a maze of long hallways. A little boy’s imagination could make this place quite spooky.
Grandpa Kabayama was doing something in the church kitchen. I snuck down a set of stairs to see what it was. He was focused on a shiny piece of metal that he stroked with a cloth. While cleaning the family sword, he appeared not to notice me. The blade was held with a concern and respect that I had never seen before. His concentration seemed absorbed on only one thing.
Watching from a few steps above him, I began to relax in the safety of my stealth. In a blink the sword cut the air and was poised above my head. Nearly as quickly my feet hit two steps higher without my conscious effort. Funny how fast that scared turns to action. If the flash of the sword was lightning, the deadly scream that chased me down the hall was the thunder and the rumbling afterwards was his cackling laughter.
This was my first recollection of intended deception. Pretending not to notice. Setting a trap by focusing on another activity or appearing not to be aware of the obvious.
The lessons I learned that day at 3 and a half years old.
- Someone’s actions and someone’s intent may differ
- Be alert and ready even with a Christian Minister who is your beloved grandfather
- I am not as sneaky as I think I am
- My sick sense of humor is probably genetic
It may be easy to fool a young child but an intense experience at an early age can lead to a life of heightened awareness. This lesson stays with me daily. I’m sure that it has given me a hypersensitivity to what is going on behind what is going on. To listen past the words, hear the tonalities and watch the subtle changes of body language. At times I have hidden behind a curtain of not noticing.
In sparring an unthreatening look has convinced many opponents to drop their guard to the Trojan horse. Sleeping an opponent is like sharing a yawn. Subconsciously the yawn is emulated by the opponent, which then gives an opening for the attack. Your body must look unprepared but inside the engine ready to go. It is very important to watch your opponent to see if their body has followed the yawn.
Sleeping can be combined with patterning and a pattern interrupt. This strategy is where a physical pattern creates a mental pattern for your opponent. A sequence is offered to program the expectations of your opponent. The pattern interrupt allows you to take advantage of the preconceived expectations you have embedded. The opponent’s response to the change will be delayed because their mind fulfills the sequence. Recognizing the subtle body signals is important to success. The physical tells will let you know if their mind is ready to defend and if you’re patterning has been effective.
You must work honestly to build your skills for kumite [sparring] but deception is a big part of the game. Knowing your strengths and your weaknesses are as important as exposing your opponent’s weaknesses and letting them think they can rely on their strengths. A hand may be dealt but played in many ways. Do not expose your laughter too soon.