There are people who come into your life that leave a mark. It almost feels as if it was meant to be. One person that came into my life in the past year who had a huge impact, was Norihiro Yoshida.
‘Nori‘ was a light-weight full-contact fighter visiting Toronto from Japan. Here to learn English, but he couldn’t leave his training behind. After researching dojos in the area that would offer him the type of training he was use to in Japan, he found Contact Kicks Dojo. In Japan Nori studied Karate Syuwa Kaikan, which is derived of Kyokushin.
Nori was a great addition to the dojo. Aside from his amazing skill and hearing someone yell OSU! with a Japanese accent, he was also just an all-around great guy with a hilarious sense of humour. Nori is liked by all, and it wasn’t long before we became good friends.
Nori lived a long distance from his English school, and we decided that he would stay at my home, as it was very close to his school, and I could transport him to the dojo.
Since I had recently separated from my wife, it was nice to have someone else in the house to talk to and share laughs. And Nori knows how to laugh! Not to mention it was fun watching him get tipsy off one beer 🙂
Though there was a significant age gap, as Nori is only 22, a bound quickly developed. As the weeks and months passed Nori became like a little brother to me. We shared amazing conversation, talking about everything from karate to philosophy. Fed the poor together on Christmas-eve. He also introduced me to friends of his from so many varied cultures, so cultural cooking thursdays became a staple, with food being prepared by people from around the world.
This past week Nori returned home to Japan. It was an emotional send off. We promised each other to stay in touch, and I will visit with him and his family in September when I visit. He says he would like to return to Canada and Contact Kicks in a year or so, when he completes university. To study again under Fogarasi Sensei and fight in Canada and Europe. I truly hope this happens.
I learned some great lessons from Nori. His kicking was phenomenal, his timing, etc., but perhaps the greatest lesson I learnt was humility. For someone so young and with so much talent, Nori is nothing but respectful and humble.
Nori-san, I’ll see you when I see you. And as Sensei Fogarasi said, “Come back and become a world champion ! That is your destiny !”