Interview: From bouncer to simultaneous interpreter Part 1

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Kaz Yokoyama is one of the shining lights of Japan’s English education world — a self-taught simultaneous interpreter, author and English teacher who has never studied abroad. As if that wasn’t intimidating enough, Yokoyama is also a martial arts expert. “I started Shorinji kempo when I was 6, judo in my early teens, and began teaching myself to speak English in my early 20s,” explains Yokoyama, who turns 44 this year. “These have always been my twin interests. I always had a burning desire to become fluent in English.” Yokoyama says the passion has been with him since childhood. “When I was 5 or 6 years old, I was watching TV, and saw this small, demure Japanese woman translating for an American guy. I was amazed. It was clearly an epiphany, though it took me until my 20s to act on it. I knew if I didn’t do something about English, I would regret it for the rest of my life.” Another pivotal experience for Yokoyama was working as a bouncer for an Osaka nightclub. “I was surrounded by people of different nationalities. There was usually some trouble and it was up to me to persuade the customers to keep the peace. It was a wonderful learning experience. The nightclub was the place where English and martial arts came together.” (Kaori Shoji) To be continued… This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

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