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Busy, modern-day Britain
is full of families struggling to find time for each other.
But could sharing a once in a lifetime experience
solve their problems?
Four families have travelled to Japan,
to immerse themselves in the ancient culture.
And learn karate.
A traditional martial art that teaches discipline and respect.
But, will the intense training regime bring them closer together?
This is one of the first things I've done with my dad.
-I love Dad, loads.
-He's everything you could want from a kid.
Or will the gruelling challenges force them further apart?
-You've got to communicate.
-I know, you always go on about it.
If she wants to be treated as a grown-up, she has to act like one.
Can this unique experience give them the fighting spirit they need
to earn a place at the World Karate Tournament?
Mikey will be very upset if we don't get through.
And improve their relationships.
This is going to be tough.
Four kids have come to Japan, each with one of their parents,
to learn the martial art, karate.
But why did they choose to make this epic 6,000-mile journey
to learn this ancient fighting discipline?
There's street dancer, Chloe, who reckons her mum needs to lighten up.
My mum is dull. She needs to chillax a little bit.
Skateboarder Mikey, who wants to spend time with his dad.
It'll be great to be together. Get to know more about each other.
I'm looking forward to spending loads of time with my dad.
Ballet dancer Jedd, who wants to prove to his dad,
that ballet dancing isn't just for girls.
I wouldn't class ballet as a sport. It's not that exerting.
We're spending three weeks together, me and my dad. I'll prove him wrong.
And artist Phoebe,
who wishes her dad would just grow up.
I'd find it hard to say who's the boss out of the two of us.
He is like one big kid.
It would be great if my dad came back more like an adult.
You were awesome!
Under the guidance of Grand Master Higaonna and his assistants,
the Senseis, Brent and Kuramoto,
the families are training hard to learn a routine in time
for the World karate Tournament.
Last time, the kids let down the Grand Master with their behaviour.
They took on their first opponent...
in the chicken dojo.
And the adults proved that they didn't have the X-factor.
But when it comes to karate, does Britain have talent?
The families are halfway through their time in Japan.
Brent tells the Grand Master how hard the group have been training.
To reward their commitment, they hatch a plan to give them a day off.
Or at least, that's what they're supposed to think...
At breakfast, Brent tells them the good news.
We're going on an adventure.
For two days.
You've got 10 minutes to go pack your bags.
Where are we going?
-Bring what you think you need.
Think quick, 10 minutes, off you go!
Pyjamas, Chloe. Need pyjamas.
-We've got to take your medicines.
-Shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops...
What facial stuff do you need?
They may have 10 minutes to pack,
but they are excited about getting a break from training.
I think this is a well-timed treat.
Because we've been... working very hard.
I don't really feel like doing any practice.
I feel like we just need a day to just chill out.
You kids need to run around and scream and have some fun.
The only one who wants to carry on training is Mikey.
Mikey's going through the kata with Brent.
Brent asked me how he's been practising.
He was practising on a bus, did a couple of moves yesterday.
He's seen the light by just doing the moves.
It's clicked for Mikey, what's it was all about.
Mikey has started to work hard on his karate,
but his dad is still struggling.
I think he's not trying 100%.
-Mikey hasn't won a single challenge yet.
Unless they improve the way they talk to each other...
We are awful communicators.
..they won't get anything out of their time together in Japan.
As they board the ferry to leave Okinawa,
the families have no idea where they are going.
Drowning dogs. Do the drowning dogs again.
And with no Senseis around, they slip into holiday mode.
The Grand Master is sending them to a tiny island called Ieshima,
27km north of Okinawa.
This Japanese island was the birthplace of an ancient king,
who's believed to have strength and fighting spirit by the bucket load.
These values are still celebrated on the island today.
Just because there's no karate, doesn't mean it's a day off.
The Grand Master sent them to learn what it really means
to have fighting spirit.
Brent has been told to let the group
fend for themselves for a day, to see how they get on.
They've got to get a bit more into the culture.
They're here so they should be trying to be part of that culture,
rather than force their culture onto everyone else.
It's sink or swim time for the families.
By helping the islanders prepare for their annual festival,
they'll have to get involved in the local culture.
Thank you, Japan!
With Brent gone, they begin to explore.
What they don't know, is that joining in with the festival will help their karate.
But at the moment, everything seems a bit confusing.
What are they trying to do?
Rope, rope building.
-That's a dragon, that is.
-A dragon? What for?
-Um, I don't know.
It's got to be a dragon.
They haven't got a clue what's going on.
So they try and get some answers...
What have you been making?
Is it tug-of-war?
It's a thing to do with karate, everyone on the street builds one.
It's two teams, and they fight against each other.
We think it's a dragon thingy.
There's definitely one in the other street.
It's got to be like a dragon thing.
It's a bit of a mystery, hard to work it out.
We've been here two hours, and no-one's worked out what's happening.
-OK, Paul, what's happening?
-Ain't got a clue! I'm none the wiser!
And finally, the penny drops.
Guys! It's a tug-of-war. They're making something for a tug-of-war.
Using her best Japanese, Sandra asks a local why they have a festival.
Why do you have a festival?
Uh, we...celebrate...the rice...
What happens after? What other celebrations do you have?
SHE SPEAKS JAPANESE
-Oh, sumo wrestling!
Yeah, sumo wrestling. Ooh, we are doing karate.
Sandra may be good at communicating with actions,
but her Japanese is no better than when she arrived in Kyoto.
-What's the word for "hello"?
My Japanese is terrible. They keep teaching me the same word
over and over again, and I keep forgetting.
The harvest festival happens once a year, with the north of the island
battling the south, in a giant tug-of-war.
The rope is made of rice straw.
It's a tradition that started over 400 years ago,
and was introduced by the ancient king.
So, it looks like the Grand Master's plan is starting to work,
as the group are drawn in to life on the island.
If you can't beat them, join them.
# Turning Japanese I think I'm turning Japanese
# I really think so Turning Japanese... #
Meeting visitors from the other side of the world
is an unusual event for the islanders too.
If you don't speak the language, the best way to communicate
is by smiling, laughing and dancing badly.
Oh, this is heavy!
# ...I really think so think so, think so, think so
# Turning Japanese I think I'm turning Japanese
# I really think so. #
Festival time approaches,
and Chloe and Jedd are getting into the party spirit.
I don't know, losing to a girl.
Oh, Daddy, honestly!
It's not any old girl, it's MY girl.
That was unfair...
She's taller! And stronger.
As the kids are busy showing off,
they have no idea what's happening behind them...
THEY SING IN JAPANESE
The north and south of the island advance towards each other.
And our families are stuck bang in the middle.
The festival happens every year, and is a time for everyone on the island
to get together, and join in the fun.
I've never seen anything like this in my life.
Surrounded by thousands of crazy Japanese festival goers,
this seems like as good a time as any to get involved.
And the crowd tries to lend them a helping hand.
Mark and Joe get sucked into the action,
and get a great view of a new sport.
Bare-chested men, wrestling on planks of wood, in mid-air.
Strength and fighting spirit are valued above everything else.
And the young men of the island must prove that they have what it takes.
They're so...so strong.
Makes us realise how far we've got to go in karate, to match that.
The families weren't expecting anything like this.
When we look at the karate master, we can see what raw power is.
But these guys, these guys are young and they've got raw power.
They may have had a day off from karate,
but they're getting a crash course in strength and fighting spirit.
It's time for the tug-of-war
as the north takes on the south of the island.
Inspired by the courage of the wrestlers,
our families get right in the action.
THEY SPEAK JAPANESE
The annual tradition of the giant tug-of-war used to be a royal event,
under the rule of the ancient king.
The giant rope is over 100m long,
and is made entirely of rice straw from the harvest.
Legend has it that whichever side wins will have good luck,
and a good harvest.
No-one knows who's won.
-Did we win?
-I don't know what happened.
I don't know if we won or not.
Although, just as the group discovered with karate,
it looks like winning isn't the most important thing.
-Oh, it was so fun!
-I know, oh...my hands are really hurting,
but I didn't want to stop, I wanted to carry on.
At the end it started going that way, and we were like, no!
-No! Come back this way!
-I was like, what is going on?!
Now it's time for the big event.
Sumo is Japan's national sport.
Top wrestlers are massive celebrities.
And by massive, I mean huge!
Being overweight can be a good thing in sumo,
with some wrestlers weighing in at up to 35 stone.
The rules are simple. If any part of your body
touches the ground, or you're pushed out of the ring, you lose.
Like karate, sumo demands strength, skill and technique.
A tug-of-war is one thing, going head-to-head in sumo
is entirely different.
And will require all the power and endurance they've gained
from their karate training so far.
Well, even sumo wrestlers have to start somewhere.
They look really small to be sumo wrestlers
They need to put on a few pounds.
Sumo is so popular in Japan, most children would rather be
a sumo wrestler than a footballer.
I don't know if I want to do it.
Having checked out the competition, Jedd steps into the ring.
Always the first to get involved, Jedd's out to prove to his dad
that there's more to him than just ballet.
Come on, JEDD!
With one point each, Jedd is in with a chance...
if he can remember to use his new karate stances.
But sadly, Jedd's sumo career is short-lived.
I'm proud of you! Done well.
-He done really well.
-Was it a draw, or did he win?
No, he just got the last point. But he must have been a foot bigger,
and about three stone heavier than you. You had fun though.
Hmm, really good fun.
I think he's proved that he's got a bit of a fighting spirit.
Don't cease to surprise me, really.
-Get you into boxing next, yeah?
Jedd came to Japan to show his dad that ballet wasn't a soft option.
Dad doesn't think you are sporty to dance, but I'll prove him wrong.
Having seen Jedd rise to every challenge so far,
Paul's seeing a different side to his son.
Anything he does, he puts everything into it.
-So I'm proud of him anyway, ain't I?
Now that his ballet-dancer son has had a go,
boxer Paul must prove he too can brave the sumo.
But who will take him on?
What? I've got to sumo him?!
-Let's have a sumo fight.
-Against each other? Don't mind that.
West Ham - Millwall.
-Bring it on.
-I was thinking exactly the same thing.
-Bring it on!
Now it's all about the dads and Paul seems to be the crowd's favourite.
I think Paul's going to win. I've a feeling.
Come on, Daddy. Woo! Dad!
Battling against Paul, Joe's competitive side comes out.
For a change, it looks like Joe is taking things seriously,
and it pays off.
That was scary. That was really scary.
I couldn't get my legs round you.
I dug my feet in the sand.
You were the crowd's favourite.
-I though the kids...
-I was pretty annoyed about that.
I was really proud of him when he won. I was so happy.
I was the only one who was screaming my head off. I was going crazy.
For most of this trip, Joe's treated everything as a bit of a joke.
But now his daughter has started to notice the difference.
I think Sensei has hardened up my dad because he was a bit of a softy,
but now I think he's better at upper body strength.
I think it's really helped him.
As the festival carries on into the early hours of the morning,
the group get ready for bed.
They'll need to get some rest before the challenge tomorrow morning,
but with the kids sharing a room together on this trip...
..sleep is the last thing on their minds.
I'm afraid if I shut my eyes, Jedd will annoy me.
I won't be able to get to sleep.
After their day off, it's back to business on Ieshima Island.
It's halfway through their time in Japan
and Brent is setting the group their hardest challenge yet.
This challenge will test strength, teamwork and tactics.
It's time for the sea kayak challenge.
In their family pairs, they must face the stormy seas.
Working together, they'll paddle out around the rock
and back to the beach.
The first pair back wins.
Mikey, so far, you haven't won a challenge,
-so how do you think you'll do?
-I don't like the ocean.
-You don't like the ocean?
-Me and my dad have almost been washed out.
-So you have a fear of the ocean?
-Yeah, if I'm on a small boat.
-So this challenge will be difficult for you?
But in karate, you must overcome your fears
with strength and discipline.
Karate means "open hand" and the masters pride themselves
on having the strongest hands in the world.
Shinjo Senseis have so much muscle, they are like solid rock.
Warning - do NOT try this at home.
Watch in slow motion
as Shinjo's fingers split a one inch-thick piece of wood into two.
As his hand makes contact,
it crumples into a powerful ball of muscle,
which cuts through the wood like an axe.
If he ever gives up the karate,
he could always find work as a lumberjack.
Joe and Phoebe are first in with their kayak.
Closely followed by Sandra and Chloe.
Jedd's dad is holding him up.
Mikey's fear of water gives him and Mark a slow start.
Joe and Phoebe are straight out in front
as they quickly find their rhythm.
With Joe and Phoebe,
Phoebe's definitely the leader of the pair,
Let's go right so we can get around it.
Joe's got a good fighting spirit.
Left, right, left...
Paul is definitely the leader, but Jedd's got fighting spirit too.
Jedd doesn't care about losing, he just wants to have a go.
Which is just as well because they've already fallen way behind.
Chloe and Sandra are competitive,
but I don't think they've learned to use this together yet.
There's a power struggle with the two. That will be their undoing.
Mikey and Mark seem to be struggling to get in synch.
They're both scared of the sea. This could be a disaster for them.
If Mikey doesn't win a challenge and keeps being let down by his dad,
things will get bad.
And worse than that, they're going the wrong way.
Dad, you're doing it out of time.
They'll have to start communicating to get back on course.
As they reach the halfway point,
Phoebe and Joe have a battle to stay ahead.
Joe will be on a high from last night's victory.
That might push them,
they'll come together and they could win this.
Left, right. Don't give up.
Phoebe spurs on her dad,
whilst Chloe is the driving force of their pair.
But it doesn't matter how much fighting spirit Jedd has,
as Paul has given up.
The girls find their stride
and use their strength to eat into Phoebe and Joe's lead.
Let's keep going. They're coming!
It's a race to the finish. Phoebe may be in the lead,
but Chloe's gaining fast.
Phoebe and Joe just hit the beach first.
But a determined Chloe tries to catch them up
leaving her exhausted mum trailing behind.
Mikey and Mark come a close third.
Paul and Jedd may be a little while longer.
You'll be OK. You're young.
Three hours' play time, then.
-Well done, Phoebs.
-She pulled me through.
I was exhausted at the end.
You told me not to panic.
Cos you started to go a bit faster and I told you to slow down.
You've got to keep that stroke steady.
-She made me do most of the rowing.
-We came second.
I thought we were going to come last.
-Are you pleased with that?
-Yeah, I'm pleased.
Look at Paul.
We didn't come last which is good. We came third.
Which is still rubbish, but...
You've got to concentrate on teamwork, co-ordination
and focusing to keep going.
It was very tiring and I'm not doing anything else
that involves exercise today.
While spending time on Ieshima Island,
something clicked for joker, Joe.
As Phoebe's dad, I felt responsible for doing the best I possibly could
to get Phoebe her first headband.
I still want to be a joker and a kid, but at the same time,
I want to be a dad too.
So how has the trip helped their relationships?
I have seen another side to her. A more fun...
A cooler side, like she's always laughing.
Now that we're at the halfway stage,
'I feel I'm more composed than at the beginning.
'Certainly more focused and best of all, we respect each other a lot more
'than at the beginning.'
He's getting upset about not winning anything.
'It's affecting my confidence now for him on the bonding front.'
Having had a break from karate training,
their thoughts return to the daunting task ahead,
their upcoming belt-grading.
I think I did OK with the karate,
but my dad looks like he's struggling a bit.
I'd have to agree with that, Mikey.
I'm struggling to remember all the moves.
Old dog, new tricks and all that. I just can't get it, to be honest.
I think I am the worst out of everyone.
I feel fitter in myself,
but it won't hurt to put a bit of pressure on for the last 10 days
and really go for it.
We're really determined to get to the World Championship of karate.
-Quite right, Mikey.
We'll both be there. Have faith. Have faith.
As they leave Ieshima Island,
the kids join in the traditional custom of throwing streamers
for the locals to catch.
As the streamers break,
it symbolises leaving a piece of themselves behind on the island.
Having found fighting spirit, they sail back to Okinawa,
knowing that their karate training is about to get serious.
TRANSLATION: If you train in karate really hard,
you should be able to focus on the task in front of you.
You should be able to ignore all the distractions around you.
Next time on Hai! Karate Journey To Japan,
the families receive their toughest lessons yet.
ALL: Woo! CHEERING
And in their next challenge, the pressure is on the parents
to punch their way to victory.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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