Daisuke Takahashi – The Way of Art
By Vladislav Luchianov
This unique skater has thousands of articles written about him. It is difficult to say whether my another Japanese essay will be worthy of your attention but I hope my thoughts will be interesting to you.
Also, I do not think it makes sense to enumerate here all the titles and victories of this famous figure skater, as most fans of figure skating very well knows them. But for formality I will list the most important of his achievements.
Daisuke Takahashi is the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, the 2010 World Champion, a two-time (2007, 2012) World silver medalist, a two-time (2008, 2011) Four Continents Champion, and a five-time (2006-2008, 2010, 2012) Japanese national champion.
He represented Japan at the 2006 Winter Olympics and at the 2010 Winter Olympics. His bronze medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics was the first Olympic medal for Japan in the men’s singles event.
Season 2011/12. At 2011 Skate Canada, Daisuke earned a score of 84.66 in the short program and 153.21 in the free skate to win the bronze medal with a combined score of 237.87. At the 2011 NHK Trophy, he earned a new personal best score of 90.43 to take the lead in the short program, with a 10.66 point lead over teammate Takahiko Kozuka. He won the gold medal with a combined total of 259.75 points and qualified for the Grand Prix Final. He finished second at the Final. At the Japanese Championships, Takahashi was first after the short program with a score of 96.05 and placed third in the free skate, scoring 158.38 points. With a total score of 254.60, he won his fifth national title, finishing ahead of Takahiko Kozuka and Yuzuru Hanyu, and was selected to compete at the 2012 World Championships, where he won the silver medal.
Daisuke Takahashi finished the season at the 2012 World Team Trophy setting new personal best scores in the SP (94 points), free skating (182.72 points), and overall (276.72 points), and finished first in the men’s event. His short program score set a new record in men’s single skating.
I often ask myself how some skaters attract just fantastic attention of fans around the world. Why do we want to watch again and again performances of some skaters? Why during the performance of some skaters we are completely forgetting about everything and just enjoying programs? I have not found an answer. I only have a few suppositions.
The career of Daisuke Takahashi can be described just in one word. Yes, do not be surprised. I think some fans now have angry questions such as: “In one word?! He won so much, he has many great performances, hundreds of thousands of fans and you want it all summed up in one word?!!” And I understand these people. They are absolutely right asking such questions!
But the thing is that one word is Japanese. Those who know even a little Japanese culture understand the course of my thoughts. Japanese characters are very different from many other phonetic and lexical structures of different languages. Each of them has a deep meaning. This is not just a sound or word in the traditional Western understanding of these things. This is the deepest meaning, which is an integral part of each Japanese character. In ancient times in Japan there was even an art form of writing hieroglyphics. People spent days, months or more just to achieve excellence in their writing.
As you can see, at the top of this paragraph I presented the character, which, in my opinion, is very suitable for the description of all art work (his skating is really can be considered as an art form) of Daisuke Takahashi. This character can be translated as the Way, in the deepest sense of this word.
Life can’t look like always direct and straight line and you can see it if you carefully look at the left side of that Japanese hieroglyph. Even more clearly you can see it if you remember your personal experiences. The way in figure skating was not always straight for Daisuke too. There were moments of glorious ups and painful downs. But even the failures are the part of the Way and without them it’s impossible to imagine Daisuke’s bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with which he entered into the history of his country.
Victories and defeats form a single whole, adding experience in life and in sports and build the character of a person. After that the skater achieves greater harmony in performances.
Performances of Daisuke can not be divided on just footwork, handwork, body movements, etc. Yes, technically it’s possible, but to understand all the beauty of his performances you have to perceive all the details in full. No, do not TRY to do it! It’s useless. You just have to watch and FEEL it. Feelings will come by itself and you are unlikely will not be able to accurately describe them. These incredible feelings are the result of Daisuke’s movement on his Way.
He never deviates from his own unique way. Even for the sake of the ever-changing requirements and trends in figure skating. He accepts them, but as a master he harmoniously integrates the necessary changes to programs and continues to conquer audiences around the world. No one knows exactly what kind of Way it is. You can’t know or understand it by your mind; you can only feel it by your heart and soul.
When Daisuke is on the ice, he is both focused and relaxed; concentrated on the main and at the same time draws attention to the details; immersed in what is happening, but not divorced from reality. It is a condition which described by the Eastern (Oriental) philosophers, when they say that man is on his Way without deviating from it. The Way when person is not only in harmony with himself, but when he passes this extraordinary feeling to the people around. This is the only Way to reach a full potential of a person. That’s what Daisuke creates on the ice.
His skating on the ice can be compared with Japanese calligraphy, where each image of a character brought to perfection; when every line has meaning, and when all connected lines form a stunning and very beautiful picture.
I was lucky to do an interview with Daisuke. In his every word I felt the idea, that figure skating is an art for him, it’s his Way. He continues to follow it in spite of failures, injuries and not always objective judging. He continues to do it, because he can‘t and want no to do it by some “another” way. Because any “another” way will not be his Way and he has always been, and I am sure will remain loyal only to his own road. A person should follow only his own way of life and not someone else’s desires. That is the only recipe to comprehend the all depth of the word the Way.