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Old 12-13-2013, 08:06 AM   #10
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: Belts sticking out

Hold on -- voices are back.

It was probably a decade ago, but I had a booth at the San Francisco Token Kai (highly technical Japanese translation -- "big, honking Japanese Sword show filled with sword geeks"). I was standing there behind my table, bored out of my mind, and I notice a guy in a black gi, hakama and belt walking about. Um, okay, interesting. This is San Francisco so you do occasionally see an, um, unusual person, but why on earth was he in his magical martial arts power outfit in a hotel ballroom at a convention? I was pretty sure there were no power ranger exhibitions going on. He came by my table and looked at a few things. He recognized my name and we chatted. But I couldn't get my mind off his belt -- it was a black belt but it was covered with tiny colored stripes. I never got up the courage to ask about the belt (tied neatly outside his hakama -- which is rare but done sometimes in some arts BTW). Anyway, it was a bit hard to see over the rather profound overhang that was the future cause of his heart failure. As he walked off I realized he was wearing geta too... I was pondering his outfit and the rationale for wearing it at a sword show when two other guys walk up. Guy #1 had his gi on but closed in the Japanese "Time to Bury This Guy" style. Shoved through his obi was a tanto. He pulls it out to proudly show this piece of his handiwork. Now I'm usually the guy who will look, try to encourage, and make a few suggestions. Here I had no idea where to start. The term SLO came to mind (sword like object). So I suggested he continue clopping around (yup, geta too) and look at the, oh, thousands of mounts on the floor. As he talked away I realized he had a small bit of his hair tied up on top -- yes, a baby top-knot...

I later found out the first guy was in town for the sword show and was a "big-deal" sensei somewhere or another with lots of students. And he taught some art that combined Japanese arts, Korean Arts, Chinese Arts and American sensibilities. He was apparently a little sketchy with the folk who knew something about Japanese Arts as to exactly *which* arts he studied. Regardless, seemed like a nice guy. Interesting fashion sense.

These later guys who came by were students of a San Fran local guy who is rather infamous as being the only person ever banned from a sword show. He started as a Chinese guy (which apparently is what he is). Then he was a Ninja guy for a while when that was big in the 80's. After that he somehow obtained a nationality assignment operation and became Japanese. And now he's a Japanese sword "expert".

So yeah, a bit delusional. But I must admit that after watching these guys I realized that in this modern day and age, isn't it really just a question of degree? For all of us?

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