Friday August 31, 2007
By YAM PHUI YEE
LOKE Yin Hoei calls 2007 the “long-awaited year”. As the country celebrates its 50th Merdeka in grand fashion, she will be celebrating her 20th birthday. It is a significant birthday, she says, because it's when she will step out of her teens.
“Of course I’m proud to tell people I’m a Merdeka baby, for it is easy for my friends to remember my birthday,” Yin Hoei says.
While she usually spends her birthday with a gathering of close friends and family at home, this year’s celebration is going to be more special.
“We will be having it in a shopping mall . It’s more special. Dad plans to take us for a steamboat meal,” said Hoei excitedly. “I’m happier this time, too, because I have a new baby brother.”
She reveals that she was supposed to be due Sept 1, but “came out earlier”.
“The best thing about it is that every year, my birthday is a public holiday and I get to go out with my friends.”
Unlike other types of martial arts, aikido is lesser known partly because there are no high-level tournaments involving the sport. Hence, making a living from teaching aikido is not easy.
Yin Hoei, however, is determined to stick to it because it is her passion. She has learned self-confidence, strength, alertness and awareness of herself and her surroundings, from her involvement in aikido.
She holds a Foundation in Business certificate, and is an assistant instructor at Yoshinkan Aikido Malaysia in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Her father, Sonny Loke, is the organisation’s chief instructor.
Hoei’s room is decorated with posters of her favourite anime characters. She’s not embarassed to reveal her keen interest in Japanese culture, partly due to her involvement in a Japanese martial arts. And she knows that she will someday inherit the aikido centre, and is working hard to develop her skills.
She plans to train further and pick up kendo, a different type of martial arts, at International Budo University, Japan.
Does she plan to return after that?
“I’ll always stay in Malaysia. I was born here and even though I will go overseas to further my studies, I’ll come back to serve the country. I hope I can help everyone by teaching aikido. I’m trying to give back to society,” Yin Hoei said.
Despite her fondness for Japanese culture, it doesn’t make her less Malaysian. For one, she will be celebrating Merdeka Day with pride today as the country has developed by leaps and bounds in the last 50 years. She believes that the diversity of the Malaysian people makes the nation beautiful.
“Unity is strength. That’s the slogan I always keep in mind.”
Her involvement in aikido has led her to meeting people from other nations and to tell them about Malaysia.
“Two years ago, we organised a festival and one of the guests was from Russia. He asked us why Malaysians can’t stop eating: breakfast-tea-lunch-tea-dinner-supper ... do we sleep? So we said: ‘Yes, we do sleep, but between meals,’” she said.
Being a fan of good food, Yin Hoei is glad she lives in a food heaven where food is available round-the-clock and her family can enjoy their favourite fruit, the durian.