My Cip activity was the Doushisha Boxing Club. It met every day except Thursday and Sunday and I would typically go two to three of those days per week. An average day would have around 10 members show up to warm up, light spar, free activity/mit work/running, then wrap up for around one and a half hours total. I have made friends with around five members but am amicable with all of them; this has manifested itself outside of the club as I got food with various members several times already.
As for cultural learnings, I am forced to speak Japanese in order to communicate with everybody there except one. This means I quickly picked up certain language idiosyncrasies that I had not seen outside the club. The manner in which they greet and say goodbye to one another as well as bow out at the end I picked up on quickly to be respectful and fit in. A lot of the boxing members were very interested in American culture but the concept of that culture manifested itself differently depending on who I talked to. For example, the captain really liked American fashion and would often wear older denim with huge flashy belts which he saw as inspired from an American style. I was kind of doing the opposite by trying to make my own style with what I saw around me in Japanese fashion so when he complemented me for my American style, it was somewhat strange at first; from these encounters with the captain, I realized a lot of what people considered cultural identifiers (e.g., clothing) are not in fact the pieces of clothing by themselves, but also who is seen showcasing those identifiers and how they go about doing so. The same could be seen in the club’s fascination with American rap music. Some members of the club called me over when rapper Takeoff died recently to ask me about it; this and asking me which “zone” of Chicago I was from were questions I found kind of funny, but at the same time were indicative of a phenomena present in the States but not quite as visible. That being an interest in some form of cultural association through representation; in this case the association with being tough or a killer and rap music the people in the club can’t even understand the content of the song. That just by knowing the association, the song instills some form of feeling that helps them perform better.
Finally, the club helped a lot for my language learning. Not only did having to use Japanese at all to communicate force me to improve, but the getting out of my comfort zone helped in other aspects of language learning as well such as talking to strangers and having more things I can talk about. I Had a lot of fun in this club and am so glad I had the opportunity to learn together with such nice people.