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Legend of Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics: K. Oshita and H. Yumita

Here is a video I want you to watch before reading this article.
この記事を読む前に、見てもらいたいビデオがあります。



The gymnast is a living legend: Kyohei Oshita. He has all the elements men’s rhythmic gymnast is supposed to have: masculine, powerful, yet flexible and fluid movement, clean and high jumps, and dexterous handling of the apparatuses.

この伝説の選手の名は大舌恭平。彼は男子新体操選手に望まれるあらゆる要素を持っています。男性的で力強いのに、柔軟性があり、滑らかな動き。高くて美しいジャンプと、巧みな手具さばき。

Although his performance in this video seems flawless and effortless, he had struggled with injuries while he was at Aomori University, after winning the first place in Inter-High School Championship in 2006. It was not until 2010, his last year at university, that he finally won Inter-College Championship. Furthermore, his competitors were toughest ones ever: Masashi Kitamura and Tatsuya Tanimoto (both from Hanazono University). They were so talented that both of them subsequently joined renowned Cirque du Soleil (Kitamura still works for Cirque, in “Michael Jackson ONE”).

このビデオの中の彼の演技は完璧で難なくこなしているかに見えますが、彼は2006年に高校総体で優勝したのち、青森大学に入ってからは怪我に苦しみ、インカレでついに優勝したのは大学最後の年である2010年でした。さらに、彼のライバルは最強ともいえる北村将嗣谷本竜也でした(両名とも花園大学出身)。この二人は非常に優れた才能の持ち主であったため、のちにシルクドソレイユに加わることになります(北村は現在もシルクの「マイケルジャクソンONE」に出演中)。

[Kitamura]


[Tanimoto]


On the other hand, Oshita has chosen to become a member of BLUE TOKYO, a performance unit consisting of men’s rhythmic gymnasts. It would have been possible for him to join Cirque, but he didn’t. It is a great, great pleasure for fans in Japan, for we can still enjoy one of the best talents in MRG performing in front of our eyes.

一方、大舌は男子新体操選手たちで構成されるBLUE TOKYOのメンバーになることを選びました。彼はシルクに入ることも可能だったでしょうが、そうしませんでした。それは日本のファンにとって大きな大きな喜びでした。男子新体操界で最も偉大な才能を持つ一人が、今でも私たちの前で演じるのを見ることができるのですから。

Another legendary performer of MRG is Hayami Yumita. With his spark of genius, he succeeded in drawing tears from the eyes of audience by producing emotionally stirring performance. Again, like Oshita, he knew which music to choose and how to inspire audience as well as judges. However, in the video below, it might not have been his intention to cry at the end of his performance but he just couldn’t help it. He was thinking of his senior team mate, who couldn’t proceed to that national competition at his last year of his career as a gymnast. Actually, it was the team mate's costume that he was wearing. The audience might not have known it, but it is said that everyone there was so moved and carried away by his performance. Yumita is currently with Cirque, "Varekai".

もう一人、男子新体操界の伝説的な選手といえば弓田速未です。天才的なきらめきを持つ彼は、見る者の感情を揺さぶる演技で観客の涙を誘いました。大舌選手同様、彼もまた、どういった音楽を選ぶべきかを知っていたし、審判のみならず、観客を感動させる方法を知っていました。しかし、下のビデオの中で演技の最後に泣いたのは、彼が意図したことではなかったかもしれません。ですが、涙をこらえることができなかった。新体操選手として最後の年に全国大会に進めなかった先輩のことを考えていたからです。実は、彼が着ていた衣装はその先輩のものでした。観客はそのことを知らなかったかもしれませんが、会場にいた者はみな感動し、彼の世界に「連れていかれた*」ということです。弓田は現在、シルクの「Varekai」に出演中です。
(訳注:"be carried away"で「感動する」という意味になりますが、この時は文字通り、観客が弓田さんの世界に「連れて行かれた」ような状態だったと聞いています。)




(敬称略。英語で書く場合、どうしてもそうなってしまいますことをご了承ください。)
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Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics in Japan (Team Routine)

Men's Rhythmic Gymnastics -- although it originated in Japan and has more than 60 years history in this country, this unique, beautiful and thrilling sport is struggling to survive. Currently there are about 1,300 players involved in this sport. Compared to baseball or football, the number is extremely small. One of the reasons for its sluggish growth is that there is no world cup or Olympic games for MRG. There were some attempts trying to introduce MRG to countries outside Japan, but it may well be said that it is almost exclusively within Japan that we can see their performances in competitions or events.

One of the rare and valuable opportunities that people who live outside Japan can watch their performance is Gymnaestrada hosted by FIG (International Gymnastics Federation). In the following video, MRG team from Kokushikan University (Tokyo) amazed the audience at Gymnaestrada 2015 in Helsinki, Finland last week.




Here's another MRG performance from FIG 125th anniversary Gala in Geneva, 2006.



Amazingly, they were high school students of Aomori Yamada high school. Their coach, Mr. Sakae Arakawa, a leading figure in MRG in Japan wrote in his book that they had all recognized the possible impact of their performance on the future of MRG; it was a long-awaited opportunity to show officers or other athletes how marvelous MRG could be. If they could impress them, it would possibly mean that they took a further step toward spreading this sport across the globe. Under such pressure, they did show incredible artistry in movements called "toshu", and their flips in perfect synchronization with music were met with rapturous applause.

Among these boys is the future Cirque du Soleil performer, Naruhito Tonosaki. He is now on the road for "Varekai", where five MRG performers from different MRG team (Aomori Universitiy, Hanazono University, Kokushikan University) compose the "synchronized tumbling" act.



Another "must-see" masterpiece performed by high school students is this:



They were Ibara high school students in Okayama. Ibara has been one of the best high school teams for the past decade with its unbelievable flexibility, originality and creativity.

With the next inter-highschool and inter-college athletic competition coming in August, I have a lot more to report. Next article will cover individual performances -- a great showcase of wide variety of talents.

[Follow me on Twitter @ma2mo10at_n to keep informed of any updates.]
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