Yui tossed her duffel bag onto one of the high chairs at the counter, the chair creaking under its weight. Miyo’s face mirrored the wince on Yui’s face as Yui pulled herself slowly up into the chair next to it.
“Hard training today?” Miyo asked as she reached for a tin that held a tea blend for soreness.
“It’s always hard training.”
The tight reply made Miyo pause in mid-reach. Yui elbow was propped onto the counter, chin in her palm, and her gaze fixed onto the bag beside her. Miyo wasn’t quite sure if it was affection or disdain in Yui’s eyes, hidden partially under her dark bangs. Miyo moved carefully, continuing to study Yui as she began preparing the tea. “Is it because another competition is coming up?”
Yui shrugged. Her expression was blank but her face seemed to sink even more into her palm. “If there is, I’m not going to make a fool of myself again.” She shook her head as her eyes grew distant. “I don’t know why I even went to the last one. It’s not like I’m trying to be a champion or something.”
Miyo frowned. The young woman seated in front of her was completely different from the carefree Yui she was used to seeing, who had shared cake with her, made her laugh when she first met the team. Yui had seemed to be a senior member, but perhaps she had been mistaken. “How long have you been training?” Miyo asked as she started heating the water.
“5 years. Probably doesn’t look like it huh?” Yui said with a bitter chuckle. “It all started while I was at the boarding school in North Point. My first-year roommate had wanted to try out the different sports clubs but she wanted someone to go with her. She finally settled on running, but I kept grappling because they had potlucks every month.”
Miyo laughed. “That’s a convincing reason to keep coming back.”
The beginning of a smile tugged at the edge of Yui’s mouth. “Yeah. But I don’t know now. This team … I love who I train with, don’t get me wrong. But between getting smashed everyday, having to watch what I eat, lugging this thing back and forth, it’s just not fun anymore.”
Miyo peered at the duffel bag. “What’s even in the bag?” Miyo asked. It was long enough to span three stools and seemed heavy enough to rival all of the teaware in the shop twice over.
Yui shrugged. “Just my gear.”
“But I thought you just need a gi for training.”
“That’s all I have. Look.” Yui unzipped part of the top flap. “See? Here’s my gi.” She blinked at what else was inside. “And some snacks of course. Oh, and this is left over from the competition.” She placed two unopened sport drinks on the counter, then tilted her head when she turned back to the bag.
“Huh, I forgot I had this,” Yui said as she pulled out a notebook. She frowned and opened the bag completely, finding a number of other snacks, clothes, and other training gear. “I guess there was more in here than I thought.”
Miyo tapped her chin as she thought. “This reminds me of what some of the instructors told me before I went on my pilgrimage. They recommended that after every test and before moving to the next island, to take stock of all the items you were carrying and the things you learned.”
She pulled the hot water from the stove and started pouring it into the tea pot to steep the tea. “The idea was that before you can move forward and improve, you first have to know where you are and what you have. So many specialists quit the pilgrimage out of frustration. They blame the tests when really, it was because they were picking up things they didn’t need and doing things that set them back.”
Yui was quiet as she considered Miyo’s words. It wasn’t until the tea had steeped and Yui had started sipping from her cup that she finally spoke again. “Do you have a pen?” she asked quietly. She took it from Miyo with a thoughtful expression and began to write in the notebook.
Week 1 Reflection
Techniques: Attacks from back – sleeve choke (?) and …
Notes: Maybe I should write out what we learned after class before signing on to play Overlook
Week 3 Reflection
Snacks eaten: 3 large bags of chips, 2 cups of instant noodles, 1 carton of cookies
Techniques from this week to continue: Armbar from the back, north-south transitions
Notes: I think I’m eating most late at night when I’m playing … But writing out the techniques after class helped a lot!
Week 5 Reflection
Days trained: Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri
Days cooked: Mon, Tues, Thurs
Weeks until next competition: 6
Notes: Huh the days I was able to cook were the days I didn’t play and went straight to sleep. Maybe that’s why I was able to get up early and had time to make lunch and stuff? That pasta turned out pretty good too, I should find some more recipes like that. I guess healthy food can be tasty 😛
Should I sign up for the competition?
Week 7 Reflection
Things to discuss with coach next week: Tightening the finish from the back, maintaining control after the sweep from deep half
Recipes to try: Grilled fish, mixed salad
Notes: I don’t know why I thought the bakery was going to be mad that I haven’t been coming. It was so nice that they gave me that healthy cookbook! So thankful for my team and my friends.
Week 9 Reflection
Days trained: Sun, Mon (x2), Wed, Thurs (x2), Fri
Weeks until competition: 2
Notes: I think the reason why I was getting smashed on Wed was because that was the one day I didn’t cook and I ate out. It didn’t even taste as a good as it used to.
Week 10 Reflection
Pounds to lose: 2
Notes: It feels strange not having to cut weight this time. For every other competition, the week before is the most torture, but this time I actually feel pretty good.
Week 11 Reflection
Medals: 1 – Gold