As I struggled to put punch combinations together, elbows tucked in, eyes wide open and keep myself defended at the same time, a Japanese man who asked me to call him “Tom” worked out with his trainer in the ring, blocking moves made by his partner, and managing to keep a keep a spring in his feet.
The fact that Tom is blind and cannot even see his potential adversary means that the courage level that he has is enormous. Each Saturday he is led into the gym by one of the trainers, hands on their shoulders in front of him as he makes his way across the room busy with classes.
Feeling for the ropes of the ring, he gets inside and goes through his warm up. What really impresses and inspires me is that in a room that many may feel could be full of out of control testosterone, there is such tenderness exhibited towards him.
There are guys there that you definitely would not want to cross in a bar, or even put the glimmer of a fight into their eyes, such is their speed and skill in the arts. The trainers work Tom gradually harder and harder, doing one exercise where he bounces across the ring to the ropes and back into the center, with Tom becoming more fast and fearless of the space with every repetition.
He spars with one of the trainers, their shadowing of each others moves punctured by loud shouts of joy as one or the other find a gap in the other’s defences and exploits it.
In the end, and hour and a half later, a smiling Tom is led out of the room again, and back to his existence in the every busy, never sleeping streets of Tokyo. Into a life that I could never imagine. It helps me try just a little bit harder each day, and admire how great a man’s courage can be.