Thursday, December 20, 2007

The very first intern speaks about his experiences!

Hanging out in a karaoke bar with Kakiya Sensei from Seiritsu Gakuen High School in Tokyo.
Mark Taylor, the first intern from Aug 2005 to Aug 2006, kindly answered our questions about his experiences in Japan. After really giving it his all for one year and building up many different opportunities in the internship, Mark returned to Canada where he took over as head instructor of the Simon Fraser University Karate Club in Burnaby, British Columbia (part of the Greater Vancouver area).

1. Just to be aware of who you are, where do you live now, and what is your rank & style in karate? What do you do (work/student)?

I’m a 25 year old Canadian both living and working in Vancouver, training in Wado-Ryu Karate (official Canada Wadokai CZWKA member).

2. To see how your understanding of Japan grew/changed, to start, what was you image of Japan when you were a kid?

As a child l lived in Richmond and so knew little of Japan or its people.

3. When did you start karate? What got you started?

I was introduced to Karate by a friend who was taking classes. My friend quit his training and I continued 5 years and running.

4. When was the first time you met and spoke with a Japanese person?

Prior to my trip I spent some time volunteering to teach English to newly arriving Japanese people in Vancouver.

5. When did you think you wanted to travel to Japan?

Actually, I tried not to think about anything really. I wanted to not have any preconceptions about what to expect or experience.

6. How did you find out about the Shiramizu internship?

Sensei Richard introduced me to the internship.

7. What was your idea about the internship before you arrived?

I thought that it was an excellent opportunity to really experience the heart of Japan and to learn karate from the cradle so to speak. I thought it was a great way to truly immerse myself into the culture and its way of thinking.

8. How was your first 1 week?

A little dizzy actually. They drive on the left hand side of the road and the driver is on the right side of the car. I almost got hit a few times. In London you can still read the signs, in Japan not so much, but you work it out soon enough.

9. What was your most enjoyable event/moment of your internship?

The last three months were the most enjoyable. The swing of things, the people, the language (kind of) are together and so many things are happening that you can enjoy. For me, it was the successful completion of my Shodan test while surrounded by those that had helped me for a year to achieve it.

10. What was the most difficult?

Going to Japan you expect culture shock, but I think it hit me more then I expected. The first three months were by far the hardest, but then something just changes and then it’s smooth sailing.

11. When you were leaving, what were your thoughts, was the internship worth it?

Absolutely worth it!

12. Do you have any interest to come back to Japan?

As soon as possible.

13. Any comments you would like to add for those considering the internship the future?

Take lots of pictures!

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