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OJJ – March 21st

March 24, 2009


This past Saturday was a special gathering of OJJ. No sparring matches though, this one was something completely different.

It was a farewell party for two members of the world’s best Jiu-jitsu club. One of them was a purple belt from Hakapara who would be moving somewhere else in Japan. The other OJJ member was none other than my good friend, Matt, who would be leaving for home before the weather becomes dreadfully humid.

The night started off at a typical Izakaiya bar near Hakata station called Harunoya – which means… I don’t know what it means.


Anyways the food was excellent, the drinks were bottomless and the company, excellent. And true to OJJ form, there were two school represented that night – Axis Fukuoka and Paraestra Hakata.

Eventually, we called Matt to the head of the table and gave him his surprised gifts. Tiny briefs with the words “united kingdom” printed on them, a slick sweater and probably the baddest looking custom gi this side of the Pacific. Matt was genuinely surprised. We were supposed to give it to him after the Newaza World tournament last weekend but sickness on an infectious level got in the way.




Lots of people were envious of those that got received a gi. Three other people got their own versions of the OJJ gi but not as specialized as Matt’s. Although everyone had “different” gi, they all had similarities. For one, it had on its left side lapel OJJ embroded, the “O” in red. It also sported kanji meaning “prototype zero” which hopefully means that they’ll be more versions of the gi in the future.

Afterwards we headed to the second hour party, a time honoured favourite – karaoke! We claimed two rooms, smashed two cups, and had two hours of jumping crazy singing fun.


We were loud at the Izakaiya. Really loud. The kind of loud that if you were in there at the same time you probably would have thought, “wow they’re having fun”. Unfortunately when we were told to please keep things quiet, we got even louder.

I was encouraged to give a speech by a few of the guys. They said that English was okay. So I stood up and gave a speech saying how if it wasn’t for Matt I would have not met up with everyone there. Everybody went “huh?” so I did my speech again in Japanese. They still went “huh?”



On the way to karaoke there was a group of young men and women walking down the street towards us. There were headed in the opposite direction and I immediately picked up bad vibes from them. Its been awhile since I’ve had the “red alert” signal go on, especially here in Japan. Its never really gone off since I first arrived in Japan, and the only other time I had a “red alert” was when I walked into a Yakuza bar by mistake.

The young men on the street last night were looking hard. Or trying their best to look hard and impress the young girls with them. One of them made no effort to hide the fact he blew smoke at our direction. I caught the tale end of it and tilted my head away. There were three other guys behind me in our party and they got mixed up with the street group, but were too busy enjoying themselves to really be threatening. I turned around, saw three of the young men – one of them the smoker – walking backwards, staring at our group.

I made sure they were looking right at my direction when I smiled and waved at them. They had no idea…


At karaoke, our room was the only room you could hear from the toilet.

If you really want to bond with your teammates from your academy or school… go to karaoke when they’re all drunk. Even if you don’t drink just go to watch and admire the strangeness that takes place.

Among all the things I wish I didn’t see that night but did, the funniest (or most distrubing) was definitely a guy singing a song called “Chocolate Disco” complete with cutesy dance moves.

Sigh… if there was only a video of this…



It was a crazy night that’s for sure. Not crazy as some of the nights I’ve had back home in Hawaii… thank goodness.

The OJJ party was a great sendoff for amazing friends. And I fear that it might not be the last farewell party as I’m sure there will be more to come.

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