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Last week in how to cross a bridge I wrote about janken: rock paper scissors. There was a comment about always making the same throw. In janken not martial arts. I'm not sure how that strategy would fit into game theory but the comment reminded me of this story from Zen and the Ways by Trevor Leggett. Trevor Leggett was an influential figure in British judo and Japanese studies. He had lived in Japan and India. He had studied judo, shogi, zen and yoga. He wrote many books about Eastern culture. I recommend very few books about martial arts but Zen and the Ways is a great book. Most aikido and martial arts books by westerners are superficial and worth reading perhaps once. Zen and the Ways is a book to keep for a lifetime and to return to often. The imaginative solution is a valuable lesson - especially for anyone who teaches.
A teacher has to find something which engages all the faculties of a pupil; through this he can pierce through to the depths. Consider this example: a young married couple were desperately poor, but by hard work and thrift, combined with some luck, they became suddenly well off and then rich. It became necessary now for the husband's business associates and friends to be entertained, but the young wife had such a habit of saving that she could not bring herself to spend, and things were always skimped. It began to be a disadvantage to them, because they were getting an unpleasant reputati
Give me today, for once, the worst throw of your dice, destiny. Today I transmute everything into gold.
Caesar: Alea iacta est inquit. - The die has been cast, said Caesar
Suetonius, Vita Divi Iuli
Don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.
Let's play rock paper scissors. Mail in your answers, and let's see who won.
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
The other day at a formal new year party everyone had to choose small gifts. In Japan if people have to choose about something between themselves they play rock paper scissors. In Japanese it is called jankenpon or jankenpoi or janken. It's used for everything. Who gets to choose the first piece of cake. Or who plays first in a game or a sport. Or who gets to cross a bridge first. Japanese people wonder how people in the west get along without it. Well we have games like odds or evens. Robin Hood and Little John decided who got to cross the bridge first by fighting with quarterstaves. A quarterstaff is a strong stick for fighting similar to a Japanese bo. Apparently boy scouts once learned how to use it! But deciding with janken is less painful.
When I first had to play janken many years ago I did the sign for paper like a karate chop. A tight tegatana or shuto uchi knifehand strike from aikido or karate. My fingers were close together. So people told me I had to relax. That sounded familiar. Everyone who does martial art
each man must realize
that it can all disappear very
the cat, the woman, the job,
the front tire
Charles Bukowski, Pull A String, A Puppet Moves
a clock stopped -
not the mantel's -
Geneva's farthest skill
can't put the puppet bowing
that just now dangled still
Emily Dickinson, A Clock Stopped
whatever men pursue
of pleasure, folly, war, or love,
This mimic-race brings all to view,
Alike they dress, they talk, they move
Jonathan Swift, The Puppet Show
I wish I could look inside your head
And read your thoughts
They're so instead, they're so instead
Here we go on again
The same old game...
I'm just like your puppet on a string
For in this game
You always win
Jasmin Tabatabai, Puppet from the movie Bandits
And when I am a puppet
And when I have no voice
I'm in your hands now
I am your puppet
Lisa Germano, Puppet
All you got to do
Is wiggle your little hand
I'm your puppet
James and Bobby Purify, I'm Your Puppet
In crow I talked about Detective Conan. It's a manga and animé series about a boy detective. It's very popular with children and people in their twenties. I only mentioned it in passing in my column Martial Arts in Manga and Animé because it is not directly about learning budo. But in fact several of the characters are accomplished martial artists. This comes into the story occasionally when someone has to use a martial arts technique for self-defen
Help! Disaster! Fire and Smoke!
Robin's trod on Batman's cloak.
Torn a rip right up the back…
He'll have to wear his anorak.
Kate Williams, Batman Comes Undone!
At the buffet at the station we can grab a bite to eat;
Because we're going spotting we'll need three Shredded Wheat;
Well, you've got to keep your strength up and keep yourself well fed
When you're spotting with the big boys down at Crewe South Shed.
Dave Roberts, Crewe South Shed
I am a nerd.
Some have called me
a word nerd.
Geeks are too chic.
You see 'em in the street
Pretending not to be pretty
I will now start the first Occult Club meeting. But I'm the only member. And I'm also the president.
Fuyuki Hinata, Keroro Gunso
Happy new year to everyone who reads my blog. Best wishes for happiness in your private lives and success in your professional and academic lives. For aikido and budo I wish you a deeper understanding than last year. Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei once told me that the most important thing was never to stand still. Don't get stuck doing things by rote so that you stagnate. Go in a spiral and always upwards. That applies to eveything not just martial arts. For the first post of the new year I want to write about otaku.
I went round a bend in a country road in Hakone near Mount Fuji once and was suddenly hit with the surreal sight of a group of middle-aged Japanese men dressed in fake American police uniforms ri