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Ah, the point of blogging about Mr. Ninja, which I forgot to write about last night (see previous post on blogging after gin), was that I think I felt aikido for maybe the first time last night.
A disclaimer: I'm not sure I know what it means to feel aikido, and maybe that's a totally mistaken concept anyhow. But I did feel something last night that I haven't felt before in the two months I've been training.
That is, Carter-sensei was able to change Mr. Ninja's nikajo (nikyo) technique from one that worked in a very sloppy and partial way through pain at the wrist to one that worked very effectively to drop me to my knees but with less pain at the wrist.
Carter-sensei frequently talks about making a connection from the joints of the hand to the knee joint, where the actual unbalancing occurs. Wrist-elbow-shoulder-hip-knee-boom-floor! Last night, I was able to feel this connection clearly. Interestingly, Mr. Ninja felt it, too. I could see it in his eyes when I stood up after the technique, and he said he felt like he had a lot more control that time. Yes, I can tell you he did, but, as I said, there was actually much less pain at the wrist.
Unfortunately, Mr. Ninja was only able to make this connection on one repetition out of maybe 20-25. The rest just involved wrist pain. Not so interesting.
On Sundays there is a training session at Shiramine-jinja and then one at Marutamachi. In today's afternoon class we had a visit from a ninja. Yes, you would think that if we had a visit from a ninja, we wouldn't know it. However, sometimes that black gi makes you stand out...
I should resist my temptation to treat ninjas with sarcasm. Perhaps someday it will earn me a deadly attack when I least expect it. But I am prejudiced. The only respectable thing I have ever seen on ninjutsu is Stephen Turnbull's book, which, as far as I'm concerned, says ninjas didn't exist. Before today, the only other ninja I ever met was an extremely out of shape man who visited my shotokan dojo back home to try kendo. He said he had been practicing ninjutsu for several years (where in rural upstate New York?), but his kendo suggested he had never held anything remotely like a bokken or other training tool.
Our visitor today put in a much better show than his fellow... clan member?... from upstate New York. Carter-sensei was actually able to correct his nikajo to the point that he could make it work quite well, after only 9 years (!) of ninja training and claiming that it was a beginner's technique in ninjutsu. I hope after 9 years of aikido I can make nikajo work without having sensei position my hands and body for me. You never know, though. Right now, everything feels impossible.
Mr. Ninja was a nice guy despite the high likelihood he is in a money-making scam. I wish him
For anyone interested in martial arts, there is no replacement for living in Japan.
This was impressed on me soon after arriving in Kyoto. I was minding my own business, riding my bike down the street and taking in the scenery like any tourist, when a middle-aged man on a bike passed me going the opposite direction and carrying an eight-foot-long thin purple clothe bag and a wooden quiver. Random encounter with kyudo-ka. Oh yeah, we've got that at home... not.
(That was just in the first couple days, though. Since living in Kyoto for a while and taking the rail systems, etc, it's become a not uncommon site to see adults or school children carrying some manner of traditional weapon.)
About a week and a half ago, I was doing laundry. Villa Bianca has a washing machine, but no dryer, and we haven't got enough room to hang everything. So sometimes you have to take the wash to the laundromat to get it dried.
The laundromat is only about a block away, so I popped in there around midnight. Sitting in the corner is a white guy with a little goatee. Normally, I keep to myself, but one thing I've learned since traveling in Asia is that the other people who don't fit the surroundings can be interesting and/or useful, so I tentatively introduced myself as a traveler visiting Kyoto for cultural studies. Yeah, I'm studying aikido. Have you heard of that? It's a martial art, you know, like karate, but a little different. We try not to hurt people.
In lieu of a system better than vBulletin (one that would allow me to put tags on my posts, for example), here are some of the archives divided up by category.
(Yes, I have too much time on hands right now, but The Course starts in two weeks, and then I won't have time for anything except training, work, and a bit o' sleep, so I don't feel guilty.)
I'll keep this post linked to from the title section of my blog (can't see that easily? that's because vBulletin could use a graphical update...), so the theoretical reader can peruse the archives more easily...
I've been working on that bottle of Beefeater today. There's a chain of liquor stores here in Kyoto called "Liquor Mountain," with a location on Imadegawa just a one-minute bike ride from Villa Bianca. (The name is actually "Liquor Mountain" in English--that's not a translation.) They're rather large with a warehouse vibe like Sam's Club in the USA, and they have the only drinkable tonic water I've found in Kyoto.
So, after morning training at Shiramine-jinja and afternoon training at Marutamachi, I was set for an afternoon of icing my knees, doing laundry and kicking back with G&Ts and Shifflett's Aikido Exercises, which my roommate has on his bookshelf.
But after only a few G&Ts, my mind was abuzz. Different alcohols affect me differently, and gin makes me feel very creative and talkative. Unfortunately, it also impairs my memory. I had a list of about 15 things I wanted to blog about today, but now that I'm at the computer, I can't remember what most of them were...
Anyhow, here I am at Healin' & Feelin' Good Time Cafe. This is currently my blogging/Internet location of choice. Villa Bianca doesn't have WiFi yet, so I have to go out to get plugged in.
There is a free computer in the lobby of the Karasuma Kyoto Hotel, but it is a 20-minute bike away. Free access is almost worth it, except I have laundry in the dryer at the
Mike Tyson at hombu dojo - in this YouTube video, you can see Mike Tyson and Don King's historic visit to the Yoshinkan hombu in Tokyo. Note Payet-sensei at 0:07, 1:13, and 9:42. Kihon dosa renzoku starts at 1:40 performed in part by Carter-sensei's friend Malik.
3 DVD set of the Yoshinkan syllabus with English narration:
Aikido, The Samurai Spirit - this is a really cheesy documentary; however, it has some nice video of the inside of the Yoshinkan hombu in Tokyo; and it features Yoshinkan as the signature aikido style, which is nice
Kyoto & Kansai
Kansai Scene Magazine: I don't read this regularly, but I found its classified section very helpful in looking for jobs; I have the impression it is a staple of expats in Kyoto and Osaka
Hostel Chiquito Mundo : the first place I stayed in Kyoto; if you're a budget traveler, this place and its older sister hostel, Hostel Mundo, are great choices, located near Nijojo castle in old Japanese homes, and with parties hosted by charming staff members at least 3 nights per wee
A reader (wow, I've got one!) notices that commenting is turned off on my blog. Really, I don't know if I will have enough time to write a blog, let alone reply to comments. And of course, there is comment moderation, too...
So I will try turning on commenting but resisting the urge to reply to comments. Please feel free to comment, but please do not expect me to write back. It's nothing personal, I just don't have time.
If you are Yoshinkan and/or know some of the people I reference in my blog, please do not take offense. And if you do, please do not expect me to engage with criticisms in writing in the blog comments or in the forums. Gomenasai!
Terms that might help explain what's going on in my blog posts...
arbeito: Japanese for "part-time job"
bento box: a small prepackaged meal available for sale in grocery and convenience stores; usually contains some protein, veggies, and rice, such as grilled fish, tofu, bean sprouts, and rice
-dori: Japanese for "street"; e.g., Marutamachi-dori is "Marutamachi Street"
hiragana: Japanese syllabary for native words, as opposed to katakana and romaji; "mi" in katakana = み
hyaku-en: 100 yen; technically, it should be written hyaku-yen, but it's pronounced hayku-en; 100 yen is worth about $1.05 according to Google, but I'm getting a rate of more like 90 yen to the US dollar; anyhow, it is easy to imagine that 100 yen = 1 dollar, and that is about how it's used here in Kyoto (e.g., there are hyaku-yen shops that are about equivalent to a dollar-store in the US)
Imadegawa: the closest main street to my apartment; currently, I am blogging from an Internet cafe on the southwest corner of Karasumaimadegawa, looking out a picture window over the grounds of the Imperial Palace; my apartment is about one-and-a-half blocks west
ippan: regular dojo training classes, as opposed to the special kenshusei classes
This is my first post, so it is something of a test-post. Writing on Wednesday, March 13, I am going to attempt to back-date this post to December of 2012 to see if backdating works.
The content here is simply that I am in the throws of a job search in order to find a job that will allow me to stay in Japan so I can complete the Kenshusei Course at the Mugenjuku Dojo in Kyoto.
I'm having a real time of it with plenty of places offering just a few hours per week of work without any Working Visa sponsorship. What I really need is a sponsor who will employ me about 25-30 hours per week. Anyone got any ideas?
I'm starting to get frustrated with the search and the other night went into Yamaya, an import store on Karasuma-dori, where I found Old Crow Kentucky bourbon and Beefeaters gin. I thought it was appropriate to buy both since I am staying with a Brit now. We have an English booze and an American booze for me to drown my sorrows in...
UPDATE: backdating does not work beyond January 1 of the current year.
UPDATE: backdating does not work at all!