It seems the American Club is looking for an instructor to teach a Fighting Exercise class and asked Sensei to do it, but he can’t speak English.
(Really. Seriously. He can put a couple of words together, but most of what he says doesn’t make any sense. Of course, he doesn’t make much sense in Japanese either, but that’s another story.)
At this point, I could probably teach it, but I’m not licensed.
So Sensei asked Hama-chan to do it. He trained her and she’s licensed. Plus she used to live in Hong Kong so speaks a little English, but she doesn’t feel confident about teaching in English. That kind of class requires very specific vocabulary.
So during her class today, I was translating what she said in my head, and realized that I have never done any sort of exercise class in English and don’t know the names for some of the moves. I know some aerobics words because I used to have a couple of Jane Fonda exercise tapes, but there wasn’t much punching and kicking in those.
This situation reminds of me of when I was incarcerated in the hospital for three months for knee surgery. I learned all sorts of not-very-useful words, like IV drip, wheelchair and crutches. It’s fun to surprise people by knowing those words on the rare occasion they come up, but otherwise I don’t use them much.
This is not to say that my Japanese is fluent because it isn’t. My Japanese is very situation-specific. I know body parts, food and cooking words, exercise words, hospital words, work-related words. I can handle daily life pretty well, but drop me into an unfamiliar situation and I quickly get lost. When that happens, I either stare into space pretending to be deep in thought or put on a simpering smile and study my toes. Unfortunately, the former seems to have the effect of making me look snooty and the latter makes me look rather stoopid.
Ah, the joys of living in a second language.