bring foreign flavour
By Jordan Bell
|DON'T PISS OFF
THESE GUYS AND GALS. The Western Mustangs and Tokyo Nodai University
wrestlers put on a pretty face for this team picture.
In a time of impending
war, the governments of the world could learn something from the Western
Mustangs and Tokyo Nodai University wrestling teams.
Nine wrestlers and numerous coaches from Japan's Nodai University converged
on Western's campus for two practices in Alumni Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The visit is part of an exchange co-ordinated by Mustangs coach Ray Takahashi
and Nodai coach Yasumitsu Toba.
"We met 20 years ago when I was training in Japan," Takahashi
said. "He's been here before with a couple wrestlers and I was there
about two years ago. [The exchange] is a dual competition and cultural
experience it's a win-win all around."
Instead of putting the Japanese wrestlers up in hotels, Takahashi had
them stay in the homes of various members of the Mustangs. Takahashi,
a former Olympian, said the experience just wouldn't be the same without
the close connection.
"It's an important experience for them," Takahashi said. "They
get to see what it's like to live as a Western student."
Takahashi added the Japanese are very adept at the Greco-Roman style of
wrestling, a discipline that is completely focused on the upper body,
prohibiting leg use.
Mustangs wrestler Seth Ross, who defeated Shohei Otomo 13-2 and lost to
Tomohiko Miyachi 6-5 in exhibition matches Tuesday, said the Japanese
wrestlers are extremely proficient at throws and their balance is tremendous.
Ross is housing Hayato Ikeda, and said the communication between the two
has been frustrating at times, but the bare necessities have been covered.
"We've learned the Japanese swear words," Ross said with a laugh.
Jokes aside, Ross explained the true meaning of the exchange and what
it brings to both parties involved. "I'm amazed every year at how
sport can transcend language and cultural barriers. It's great to see
other people experience our culture for the first time."
However, Takahashi, who has experienced cultural differences firsthand,
said the Japanese and North American approach to sport and life are polar
opposites. The Japanese structure is rigid and disciplined, whereas the
North American structure is more lenient and casual, he explained.
When asked which approach is best, Takahashi said it's impossible to compare.
"I would love to be able to implement some of their methods here,
but it just wouldn't work. These athletes have been brought up very differently,
so I don't think one system is best."
Ikeda, who spoke to The Gazette through an interpreter, said
he thoroughly enjoyed Takahashi's coaching because he makes the experience
The Nodai squad, Takahashi and Mustangs wrestlers Sarah Gil and Al Birmingham
departed yesterday for the 2003 Junior National Wrestling Championships
in Fredericton, N.B.