Understanding Ichiro’s words through American master coaches lessons

My friend and I were having lunch on March 24th, and she showed me that the World Baseball Classic final game was being played in Los Angeles as we were having our lunch in Tokyo.  During my teenage years, with an American step-father who loved to watch sports on TV, our family watched some kind of sports match with him practically all day on Saturday and Sunday, and Monday evening in the US.  But sometime in my early twenties, watching sports match started to become painful to me, because I begun to feel sorry for the losers, felt like crying thinking of pain and dissapointment of losers.  As result, even my favorite team’s victory did not bring me happiness.   I stopped watching any sports match altogether.  So when we started to watch the WBC final between Korea and Japan teams, I begun to dread how I would feel at the end, especially since the stake was so high for both teams.  The pain would be excrutiating for the losing team.

But then something curious happened.  As the game progressed and the pressure mounted higher and higher, I started to think, glory from winning this particular match is only temporary for the winners, but the losers will have learned valuble lesson, will have passion in their heart to overcome the loss, and will have something to live for until they overcome this loss in some way.  All the words, the lessons I read about winning and losing, succeess and failure in John Wooden’s Wooden, George Leonard’s Mastery, was going through me.

Remembering about John Wooden and George Leonard’s words released me from the dread, and I was caught up in the excitement of the participating as an audience to witness the great match by great atheletes.  I continue to watch the WBC finals game in the train and at the end in Starbucks via digital broadcasting on my mobile phone.   At the climax scene of the top of 10th inning, two outs when Ichiro was at the bat, I felt tremendous joy and excitement for the possibilities of the both teams.  Temporary but rapturing happiness, satisfaction for the “winners”, passion, learning and growth along with sweeter win the nex time for the “losers”.

The match ended with Japan win.  The creation of the supreme excitement and joy were result of each member of both teams giving their all.  But I will remember it by Ichiro’s words at after the match interview.

About hitting the 2 run hit at the bottom of the 10th, two outs, two strikes, “…..  I have it [the ability].  At that moment, god descended on me.  I thought, all those people watching me.  All the people in Japan, everyone here at the stadium.  I imagined each one of their faces.  Letting it sink in.  Usually, that would not work.  But I wanted to do it for them, to put smile on their faces.”

I’ve heard these words through the filter of what I personally experienced participating as a competitor at tennis, volleyball match, horsbackriding shows, business presentations, and from what I learned from great atheletes in the past, from John Wooden and George Leonard.  “I have it”.  The confidence coming from being prepared, from knowing you did the best in practice and hard work.  “I wanted to do it for them, to put smile on their faces.”  How much more we can achieve by focusing on doing things for others, in pure giving sence.

What tremendous happiness to once again enjoy watching the competitive sports!  It’s about time, it’s been nearly 30 years!  But how amusing that being born, and living most of my life in Japan, the learnings about the values Japanese embrace commonly came from books written by a legendary American college basketball coach and an American Aikido master.

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