Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi believes the power of music helps people through hard times and should be shared with the world as a positive energy source.
The women’s atomweight contender has loved music since early childhood, and that passion led her to start playing the shamisen – a traditional three-stringed Japanese instrument – five years ago.
However, the shamisen is a little too loud to practice in most Japanese apartments, so Yamaguchi found herself needing a new musical focus to help occupy her time during the recent COVID-19 lockdown in Tokyo.
“I was staying at home and got bored, so I was thinking about what to do,” she begins. “I play the shamisen, so I was looking for other instruments I could enjoy during lockdown. I saw a video [online] and the ukulele sounded very peaceful.”
Inspired by Dai Hirai, a Japanese singer-songwriter whose style is influenced by Hawaiian music, “V.V” chose the ukulele for its calming sound.
She ordered the small four-stringed instrument via the internet and began practicing as soon as it arrived at her apartment.
Due to the crossover from the shamisen, the Tokyo-based mixed martial arts veteran was able to pick it up rather quickly.
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In less than two weeks, she was sharing her lockdown ukulele positivity with the world on social media.
“It’s easy to play. If you remember a few chords, that’s enough to sing one song,” the 37-year-old explains.
“I like to play gospel music, and most of it is in English. I also try to play some Japanese songs.”
This is not the first time “V.V” has used the gift of music to contribute part of her heartfelt self to others.
In 2019, Yamaguchi joined a gospel choir to support her best friend, who was going through some very difficult times in her life.
“My friend was going through a lot of things, so I wanted to cheer her up. I said, ‘Let’s go and see if it’s fun, and if we like it, we can join,’” she recalls.
“It changed her a lot, and I wasn’t expecting so many other things there, like people from various jobs and backgrounds, so I learned a lot from them.”
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Me and my cat are singing this to all of you who’s trying to get through covid-19. Wherever you are, just remember that you’re are not alone???? who’s doin Way Maker challenge next? 世界中でコロナを乗り切ろうとしている仲間へ。どこにいても、一人じゃないってことを忘れないでっていう気持ちを茶々丸と一緒に唄いました????Way Makerは海外ではすごく親しまれている歌で私も大好きです。この曲、次、だれか歌って〜笑 YouTubeチャンネルは「Mei “V.V” Yamaguchi 」で検索！Check my YouTube at “Mei V.V Yamaguchi “!! #waymakerchallenge #waymaker #covid #コロナに負けない #cat #猫 #猫の音楽会 【猫の音楽会】Way Maker https://youtu.be/qtqPMdCYMXQ
Yamaguchi’s love for gospel music continues to seep through the songs she covers and posts online.
She recently uploaded her rendition of Sinach’s “Way Maker” on social media under the hashtag #waymakerchallenge.
“I knew the song already, and really liked it,” she explains.
“I saw some Brazilian fighters doing the challenge, although they weren’t using the ukulele. I really like the lyrics and the message – like, whatever happens, God is with you. It’s a really positive challenge, and I hope it spreads more.”
The Japanese star hopes people across the globe will follow suit and discover the charm of learning a musical instrument for themselves – especially during these extraordinary and unprecedented times.
“If you like music, it will make you happy, and it’s always good to learn new things,” she says. “It’s just a happy thing, and it’s fun!”
Also, “V.V” has some words of encouragement for her fellow ONE Championship athletes who are dealing with the current social distancing and lockdown orders in their respective countries.
“Stay positive, and believe that you will get in the cage again and give a great performance in front of the fans,” she says. “Those days will come back, so let’s all stay positive.”
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