Michelle Lee: Kickboxing Classes

      For my CIP I did kickboxing at a small training studio near my apartment. Every week, I would either work 1-on-1 with the trainer, or work with a partner to complete a workout. When I first contacted the studio, I introduced myself as an abroad student and was surprised to find out that the one of the trainers had traveled to America in the past and the other had just started self-learning English. During my first lesson, the trainer Takahashi-san, would explain the moves in Japanese first, and I would translate it to English for him. This exchange continued through each lesson, and I found that because every word was matched to a movement, it was easier to follow along.

      Some weeks, I was also able to work with a new partner depending on if schedules lined up, and Takahashi-san would always be kind enough to introduce me as an abroad student for me. I was very happy how kind each of my partners were and they would always ask a lot of questions about America, or my reasons for coming abroad, and we would be able to carry these conversations through class. One class in particular that was memorable was during a partner exercise, where we played a game called “shiritori”. This made me feel, again, so welcomed and I found it funny how we would try to just think of words together instead of competing against each other.

      After being able to work in pairs for a couple weeks, I noticed that a lot of the time, I would be asked to compare Japan to an American lifestyle. I would usually compare the cleanliness of Japan compared to America, as well as how Japanese public transit has been a much better experience. But sometimes we would even talk about the how different American culture is in terms of manners. I was shocked to hear that one of my partners said she might actually prefer a more “straightforward” American approach, than a typical Japanese response. She explained that sometimes she found it hard, even as a native speaker, to have a meaningful conversation when a lot of the times people will only agree with what she says to be polite. This was definitely very interesting and put things into perspective for me as well.

      Overall, I think that through this CIP I was able to practice having a lot of casual conversations and being able to exchange information, whether it be thoughts and opinions, or plain vocabulary. Using the fact that I was an abroad student to my advantage, I was able to ask a lot of questions that I was curious about or raise conversations that might be interesting to hear about, and because everyone was so friendly and understanding, it worked towards my advantage. I found it to be a great way to meet new people and talk about a variety of topics, and get some good exercise, and I will definitely miss the this studio and everyone I met going there!

6 thoughts on “Michelle Lee: Kickboxing Classes

  1. Wow I can’t even imagine sweet Mi-chan throwing kicks! No wonder your Japanese is good though, if you had to practice all that translation! It’s also really interesting that you talked about the difference in lifestyle in Japan compared to America, I found that in my experience that many people didn’t touch that topic too much, and I was usually afraid of offending people to even try. I definitely agree with that person though; although I love Japan a lot, sometimes the roundabout way of speaking was super nerve wracking. Are you going to continue kickboxing ?

    • I never imagined I would be learning how to throw kicks too! Translating was hard sometimes, but when it comes to exercise there’s a lot of pointing and demonstration so they definitely helped me catch on to things! Hopefully I’ll be able to try kickboxing again in the states, it was a great way to get exercise while still being able to meet new people~

  2. It sounds like you had an amazing learning experience as well as having the opportunity to get more insight into Japanese culture! It sounds like the perfect opportunity to not only get exercise, but also practice Japanese and meet new people. Now that you’ve tried kickboxing in Japan, do you think you are going to continue it in the states? Also, the part you mentioned about having meaningful conversations is very interesting to me. I have heard some other Japanese people say the same thing, which is definitely a cultural difference. I’m glad that you had a great experience!

    • It was really great! Needed to get that exercise in after eating so much good food every week… Hopefully I’ll be able to pick it up again in the future~

  3. Hi Michelle,

    I thought your CIP seemed really cool!
    I wanted to join the weightlifting circle at Doshisha when I first got here but actually the gym closed down!
    I think its funny that you actually heard from Japanese people preferring an “American response” because I actually heard that a lot too from my Japanese friends.

    I joined a gym in Japan and was really blown away by how clean and quiet everything was there too. I was curious if you noticed any difference in fitness culture there? Meaning the way people worked out there compared to the states, or even dressed or acted?

    • Thanks! It was such a great experience! My classes were in more of a little workout studio more-so than a gym, but I feel like the people were so much more welcoming! Going to the gym in America is usually a bit intimidating to me because it feels like everyone knows exactly what to do, but having an instructor and a classmate was a lot more encouraging and comfortable in my opinion! Hopefully after all this I’ll feel less intimidated at gyms here though!