Fighting for Community

When you look at Guy Delumeau '03 - muscular and scarred - it's no surprise that he's a competitive mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. What is surprising is that he also owns and runs an English school in Tokyo.

Delumeau moved to Japan a year after graduating from Pacific University. He planned to stay two years before returning to Oregon or Hawai'i to teach Japanese and coach wrestling. Ten years later, Delumeau has no plans to leave it all behind.

Born in Guam and raised in Saipan until he was 4 and moved to Hawai'i, Delumeau says, "Culturally, I belong to all of these places and can call all of them home, but I identify the most strongly with Hawai'i."

His decision to attend Pacific University was twofold: wrestling and the small classes. He didn't want to just be another "number in a crowd," and Pacific didn't disappoint. In his freshmen year, he believed he would go into engineering or law, but as he neared the deadline to declare a major, he realized he enjoyed his Japanese and literature classes most.

"My main reason for majoring in Japanese was that (Naoya) Fujita Sensei was just the best, a great teacher and a great person. I felt that if I was going to spend four years studying, I'd spend it in his class," he said. "Even more than that though, I have some Japanese roots. My great-grandfather is from Okinawa ... so really my interest in Japan was an attempt at getting to know that part of my history. And my professors, Fujita and (Kazuko) Ikeda Sensei, helped to deepen that interest and encouraged me to learn more."

After graduating, Delumeau stuck around Forest Grove for a year, working at Neil Armstrong Middle School as a "something something educational assistant something." It was during that period that he transitioned from his more familiar wrestling and jiu-jitsu to MMA and "loved the whole experience."

He continued MMA in Japan, but not before settling down into his more academic passion.

"I was drawn to teaching English in the first place, because I found that my real interest was in youth education. I really enjoy working with kids, whether it be sports or teaching. Not to mention that as a foreigner in Japan, it's the most available line of work," he said. "A few years ago, I was lucky enough to find a small private school run by a group of really good people. When the former owner stepped away to focus on his main school, he offered me the one I own now. That's when the real work began!"

In December 2012, when Delumeau it took over, Clock Kids English - a school for younger children - was 10 years old and all but falling apart. He was determined to make it work, however, opting to do many of the renovations himself.

"We got a new bathroom, new wallpaper, equipment … and the list goes on. Revamped the curriculum - we teach all ages now. And basically brought the whole school into the 21st century. … Spent a couple of months passing out fliers around the nearest train stations and parks. Things went well, and we were able to grow from 40 students to just over 70 in a year's time, and the number it still growing."

The school's catchphrase is that it teaches "English for the whole family," and it emphasizes building the community.

Meanwhile, Delumeau stays part of another community in the MMA world.

"As an MMA fighter, the most interesting thing that I've learned is that the top fighters are the nicest, smartest and most humble people you will ever meet," he said. "The low-level fighters are often the ones with the biggest egos and most prone to violence rather than participating in MMA as a sport."

According to his online MMA profile, Delumeau is certainly considered in that top tier. He's won 18 fights and lost eight, with three draws.

"The most important thing I've learned is that nothing comes quickly or easily. Anything worthwhile takes time, dedication and a constant desire to get better."

That's been true throughout his life, especially when the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan left him jobless and considering a return to the United States. But he stuck it out and, a year later, got the school.

"I'd like to say thanks to all the staff and my professors at Pacific who were there during my time," Delumeau said. "I consider myself a late bloomer in a lot of ways and, although I may not have shown it while I was there, I did take a lot away from my classes and time at Pacific."

Saturday, March 15, 2014