Collected translations of Maaya Sakamoto news, essays, interviews, and articles


Maaya Sakamoto official site logo
Maaya Sakamoto's Official Site

The Road to Becoming a Martial Artist

Part 23 of 68 in a series:

Last Saturday was exhausting.

With a broadcast lineup of “PRIDE22” from 2:00 to 3:29, “Martial X Pancrasse SP” from 4:00 to 5:14, and “K-1 WORLD GP 2002” from 7:03 to 9:00, it was wall-to-wall combat sports all day. Naturally I set up every single one for recording before I left for work, and as soon as I got back I hit Play and enjoyed the day’s fantastic programming. The more I learn about it and watch it, the more I love this sport. Do you know what I mean?!?

I’m writing today for those who have yet to discover the allure of martial arts. Those of you who already follow the sport may find today’s entry not the least bit enlightening nor entertaining. On the scale of the world’s martial arts fans, I still rank on the low end—wobbly and shaky, like a newborn deer.

Those who aren’t familiar with this sport tend to see the outcome of the bout as most important. (I also thought so at one time. ) Of course every athlete fights to be called the best in the world, so in some respects it means nothing if you don’t win. But even the athletes who lose evoke my sincere applause when they stand up straight to their opponents. I’m inspired by those who don’t back down even when they’re at a clear disadvantage, and I’m constantly impressed by the masterful work of those who employ finesse and technique in their matches. That’s what attracts me. So if you don’t watch the fight and just focus on the “Who won, who lost” report in the next day’s sports paper, I don’t expect you’ll see the match’s value. Please keep this in mind.

All the while, because it’s shown before an audience, as a general rule it has to be entertainment. What it is that energizes the audience in the middle of an all-out fight? Probably the clash of spirits! Haha, I’m really getting into it now. It’s all about the spirits!!

For instance, no matter how strong, no athlete escapes his age, and eventually a new generation comes to replace the old. But the veteran fighter who, with his adamant pride and bountiful experience, resolutely opposes a freshly arrived youngster with an attitude of, “There’s no way I’m going to lose to this punk!” shows a manly steadfastness. When his opponent is extremely skilled or possesses a tenacious spirit, the two acknowledge each other through the fight, and the sight of them embracing or shaking hands at the end is beautiful. We find excitement in the performance and pronouncements that come from the fighters’ dedication to the audience. In the light of their sincere battling, we’re often forced to admit, “I’m such a timid person,” or wonder, “Am I really fighting for something?” This is what you feel at the very moment you catch a glimpse of this clash of spirits. Their fight unmistakably brings something to those who watch. But isn’t that the essence of entertainment?

In the end, while I of course don’t think I want to try it out myself, I still hold those who fight in the ring in great respect. And I don’t exaggerrate when I say that I’m learning a lot from them.

Besides, how many people are there who can declare outright in front of others, “I want to win,” or, “I guarantee I’ll win”? Don’t you think that somewhere deep inside everyone’s hearts lies a desire to win? Yet sometimes just saying so is embarrassing? Striving to take hold of one’s dreams is an unexpectedly difficult task.

That’s why true martial artists are so cool.


Part 23 of 68 in a series: