Nov 15, 2006

Knife Fights and Motorbikes

"Do you like martial arts?"
Well, yeah. I took fencing and Aikido in college, and thoroughly enjoy hitting people with swords. Though in this case it turned out to be knives, but those are cool, too. Mr Ecaudor it, turns out, is a total martial arts geek, and is constantly on the lookout for other guys to train with. There's another guy that he normally fights with (whom I met at the gaijin bar a while back) but he'd stepped on a nail, and was unable to join up. So, last night we went out to the darkened courtyard of Okayama Castle, and I learned all about Indonesian knife fighting.
It's a lot of fun, and both similar and different from fencing and Aikido- it seemed to have the stabby/cutty feel of fencing and the dodgey/movey feel of Aikido. And some other stuff. I didn't get all of it.
Anyway, Mr. Ecaudor was teaching me all this the Huge Geek segment of my brain started firing off- "This is so cool," it said, "I'm in a castle courtyard by night doing martial arts! Squeee!" Yeah. Doing martial arts in a gym is fun, but doing it next to the giant stone foundations of a Japanese castle in the middle of the night? Pretty badass. In situations like this, one can't help but mentally edit themselves into old grainy Bruce Lee footage. "You must die! I alone am best!"
Ok, to be fair, Okayama Castle-pictured here- isn't really all that great. Like the rest of Okayama, it was bombed in WWII, and most of it was destroyed. Some of the foundations and walls are original, but for the most part it's mostly a museum that happens to look like a castle.
Of course, I learned that if I ever did get in an actual Indonesian knife fight, I'd probably be short a few feet of intestines, maybe a lung, and probably a spleen. Still fun, though.
After a while, we decided to ride out to the 24 hour cheap food mart to acquire provisions. In the parking lot, I saw probably the single most hilarious thing that I've seen here in Japan.
There were these two kids on a motorbike, revving their engine to all hell. It's the noise that I like to call the "I have a penis" noise, and these kids were screaming it all over the place at 12:30 A. M. They had black ski masks on, and were promptly followed by a cop car.
Now, the cop cars here aren't the boxy land boats of the U.S. Back in the states, those things are basically mobile gun-laden mini-tanks of speedy of intimidation. Japanese cop cars look more like go-carts. Or something out of Pixar's latest movie. They're all dimunitive and light and stuff. Kawaii!
So, these two kids are on this bike zooming in loops around the parking lot all the while making the "I have a penis" noise. They zig and zag around cars and shopping carts, between signs and lamposts, and through the various gates. In the meantime, this cop car is on their tail. Now, this light little cop car can angle really, really well. It was actually sort of impressive how manueverable this thing was. But, the kids had them beat for speed. The bike was way faster than the cop's go-cart could ever hope to go, and as soon as they pealed out of the parking lot (whilst flipping the cops the bird, mind you) they were gone, leaving the cops in the dust like chumps.
Apparently, this happens all the time here. A year ago, the cops killed some kids here when they pulled them off their bike, and as a result they're no longer allowed to actually pull them over. So, they just follow them and try to manuever them into roadblocks, which apparently never happens. Because of this, the kids just get on their bike more now.
So, especially in the summer, Okayama is aswarm with high school and college students who pull up black ski masks, hop on bikes, and piss off the cops. It's like they're a bunch of juvenile motor-ninjas, and the cops are extras from the Blues Brothers. It's a bad 80s movie come to life.


Joseph said...

Dude, if you don't come back from Japan with the ability to fly and balance on spindly stalks of bamboo, I will be sorely disappointed.

Your comments on Japanese police cars reminds me of their French equivalents, which are frequently these dinky minivan-like contraptions. It always made me feel like French criminals get picked up by the police, and then dropped off at the soccer game with a pat on their head and a bag of orange slices (and Caprisuns! Can't have a soccer game without Caprisun!).

And I'm glad you've finally admitted that Blues Brothers was a bad 80s movie (flame war!).

Jen said...

That's awesome!

Hey, did you feel that earthquake a few days ago?