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I'll play the hand I drew.
Robert Taylor in Waterloo Bridge
You can't handle the truth!
Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men
In Japanese culture there are many dualities. Omote and ura, front and back. Uchi and soto, inside and outside. Honne and tatemae, real and fašade.
When I first came to Japan I was not very impressed by this concept of honne and tatemae. Honne means true sound. So in human interaction it means the real intention or motive. Tatemae means before building and it is usually taken to mean a fašade. So this duality seemed to mean hiding your true feelings. And seemed sometimes to be dangerously close to deception.
Over the years as I came to understand Japan and Japanese culture - and Japanese martial arts - better I began to realize that tatemae did not have just the negative sense I had thought. Certainly it is sometimes negative and even many Japanese people only take the superficial meaning: the fašade meaning of fašade! Tatemae can mean the face of the building but it can also mean before building in the sense of time: the foundation.
The positive nuance of tatemae is not connected with romantic love - it is much more in the context of an overall view of society or community in Japan. But an easy way to explain it is with a romantic movie. For example in An Affair to Remember Terry McKay played by Deborah Kerr and Nicky Ferrante played by Cary Grant agree to meet at the top of the Empire State building. But on her way there Deborah Kerr
The typical noh mask is smaller than the face. They are usually shallow in construction and carved from hinoki wood. The masks are carved in such a manner that the expression of the face changes as the shadow and light change with the slightest movement of the head.
The Masks of Japan
Masks beneath masks until suddenly the bare bloodless skull.
We wear the mask that grins and lies
Paul Laurence Dunbar
There has been a strange thing happening in Japan in the last few weeks. It started on Christmas Day when ten new school backpacks were left at a children's home with a message that they were from Naoto Date. Naoto Date was a character in a popular manga called Tiger Mask. It was about a boy who becomes a professional wrestler who wears a tiger mask. He helps the children's home where he was brought up with anonymous presents from his fight prize money.
The anonymity of giving without wanting to be recognized or thanked struck a chord in Japan. Soon there were gifts being left all over the country with a message that they were from Tiger Mask or inspired by him. One man who was seen leaving a gift was even wearing a wrestler's tiger mask. People want to make a difference. Sometimes they just have to be given a hint.
In Japan it's the season for colds and flu and many people wear paper masks on the trains. There is even a new phenomenon of young people wearing masks all the time to help them feel more secure. A mask can hide identity or even
You can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you're down to your reflexes - that means your preparation. That's where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you're going to get found out now, under the bright lights.
I have nothing against sports; they train the body and develop stamina and endurance. But the spirit of competition and power that presides over them is not good. It reflects a distorted vision of life.
Taisen Deshimaru, The Zen Way to the Martial Arts
To fight yourself is the toughest fight. To overcome yourself is the greatest victory.
I never met anybody who wanted to win as badly as I did. I'd do anything I had to do to increase my advantage. Anybody who tried to block the pursuit of that advantage, I'd just push 'em out of the way. Didn't matter who they were, or what they were doing.
A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without one, you'll never be enough with one.
from Cool Runnings
This week Yuki Saito, the number one draft pick in Japanese professional baseball, started his first training camp. There were 200 reporters there. He's a very talented and promising young pitcher. He became famous at Koshien - the high school summer baseball tournament - in 2006 when he kept wiping his face with a blue handkerchief. He was given the nickname the handkerchief pri
Aikido moves towards the perfection of the world, the perfection of mankind and the perfection of all on behalf of world peace becoming one life. In other words, Aikido is training in attracting all to you. Instead of having enemies you absorb and harmonize them into your self.
O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba the founder of aikido
I believe that world peace and the welfare of humankind must be realized through the spirit that judo brings about.
When you practice judo, you must perfect yourself and contribute to society through this practice and you must emphasize the importance of this during your teaching to others.
Judo is not merely a martial art but rather the basic principle of human behaviour.
Jigoro Kano the founder of judo
Sometimes people ask if crosstraining will help their training. It is a personal choice and crosstraining is certainly not necessary. In Japanese there is a saying: nito o oumono wa itto o moezu 二兎を追う者は一兎をも得ず. If you chase two rabbits you might end up not catching even one. There is a danger in being a dilettante dan collector. On the other hand crosstraining can help you understand aikido more deeply and can even make your aikido better.
In a judo forum there was a thread about what judo could learn from aikido. It was meant mostly in an organizational sense. But I think it is a good question from any point of view. And it's a good question to ask in
Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away
Simon and Garfunkel
Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow): "I - I'm not - I'm not very good at - at, you know..."
James (John Hannah): "Constructing sentences?"
In Germany they say "Guten Rutsch!" or "Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!" - have a good slide into the new year. I like this image of sliding into something new.
In budo we use suri ashi - sliding our feet on the ground. The movement should always be free.
My first aikido teacher Kinjo Asoh Sensei did judo and some boxing when he was young. But maybe it was in speed ice skating that he first really learned to move his hips freely and how to use the power of his back pushing leg. One of the most important lessons for budo from ice skating was that if you turn your face in the direction you want to move your body will follow naturally.
At the end of the year in Japan it's time for osoji - the big, special cleaning. Then you can start the new year with a clean place and a fresh spirit and the year will bring luck. In Scotland they have the same custom. Many dojos do this end of year cleaning.
There are different ways to clean the dojo. A traditional way in Japan is to sweep the dojo with a broom and then wipe the floor with wet cloths. I was taught to clean two tatami mats together - moving my hand in a big arc by swinging my hips and then to change hands for each new set of two mats. In