Monthly Archives: December 2015

Osame Keiko: Last practice of the year

2015 is almost over and what a year it has been.  To some, it was good and yet to others it was not so good.  Regardless, it is over.  As Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.  That it is why it is called the present.”  So true indeed.

Tonight we will train one last day before 2016.  Lets end 2015 on a good note and sweat it out together for tomorrow may never come.

Can you find the panda?

A martial artist’s vision is their greatest asset.  To be able to quickly visually discriminate between one thing or another could be the difference between life and death.

Below is a graphic that is taking the internet by storm.  The faster one can find the panda means that they have what Furuya Sensei used to call, “A discriminating eye.”

Here is how I suggest you do it.

1) Look away from the graphic for at least one minute.
2) Look at the graphic but let your eyes blur out the details by looking slightly above the picture for 10 seconds.
3) Then while your vision is blurred change your focus to the center and let your eyes sharpen.
4) You should be able to pick out the panda in just seconds without scanning the picture.















In a slightly modified way this assertion by Hemingway could easily be the tenets of budo.

Think before you act
Listen before you speak
Put in the work first
Wait before you criticize Forgive first and foremost
Try before you quit

Life might just be as easy as these six rules but like all things they are easier said than done.

Ip Man 3

For those of you who liked Ip Man and Ip Man 2 with Donnie Yen, you will be happy to know that the next sequel in the trilogy will be out in January.

Donnie Yen is one of the few actors who is actually a practicing martial artists.  He comes with quite a bit of provenance in that his mother is also the famous Tai-chi and internal martial arts teacher named Bow-sim Mark.

Furuya Sensei knew Donnie Yen and met him many times when was working at Inside Kung Fu Magazine.

Here is the trailer:

I put up a video from a Chinese site with some interesting footage of Donnie Yen and Mike Tyson, who is in the movie too where you can see just how good Tyson’s boxing still is today.  Unfortunately, the video was taken down by Youtube, but there was this scene where Donnie Yen is fighting Mike Tyson and Tyson almost takes his head off.  The look on Donnie Yen’s face was priceless.

This is actually true

A group of young kids came by the dojo the other day filming interviews with local Japanese Americans and asking them questions about not only Japanese culture but about their own philosophies.  One kid asked me, “What is the best martial art technique?”  To answer his question, I just ran into the hallway.  Everyone thought I was joking and laughed.

I was being funny, but it is actually quite true in any situation.  If you can get away without fighting, you win.  It is one’s ego that wants to fight or to win.  Training in the martial arts is not about fighting, it is about learning how not to fight.

Many times when we get into a situation, we allowed ourselves to get into that situation by action or choice.  For instance, you chose to walk down that dark alleyway or to go to that biker bar.  A martial artists win 100% of the fights they never get into.

The martial arts are designed to preserve life, not take it.  Sometimes running away is the best defense and sometimes you have to stay and fight, but knowing which is which is the key.

Like all techniques, one must know when to use it.


Can you wrap like the Japanese?

Gift giving is a big deal in Japan.  Japanese people always bring back some kind of gift for their friends and co-workers whenever they visit someplace other than where they live.  This gift is called an omiyage (お土産) pronounced oh-me-yah-geh.  In Japanese culture, relationships are very important.  The gift is not supposed to be ostentatious but rather something that one brings back that is reminiscent of one’s trip.  Usually, it is some local food that the place is known for called meibutsu or some people bring back some type of chotchkie. 

When one goes away, they leave others behind and this gift is supposed to say, “I value our relationship and think of you when I am away.”  Relationships in Japan have a interesting circle of debt (giri) and dependency (amae).  Giri and amae can be thought of as “I owe you and you depend on me.”  For instance, you bring back cookies for the office because those people covered for you while you were away.

Because the gifts are about relationships, the Japanese go to painstaking efforts in their presentation.  One way they to ensure the relationship’s importance is in the way the gift is wrapped.  As with all Japanese things, there is a special way to do it.  Whenever one buys a gift in Japan at a local food stand or a department store, it is wrapped but it is wrapped in a way so that the presentation doesn’t offend or embarrass anyone.

I love the way gifts are wrapped in Japan.  Every Christmas I try and wrap some of my gifts “Japanese style” but it never quite comes out the way they do it in Japan.  Here are some videos demonstrating this great wrapping  technique.



life isSo true indeed.  Substitute the word “life” for “training” and one has a road map for success.  We wish that as soon as we stepped on the mat our minds and bodies wouldn’t need any training.  Sadly, the truth is that success necessitates that we take to heart the good, preserve through the negative and, most of all, never stop trying.  Success is then not a destination, but a way of life.

Another great NHK documentary on Aikido

I came across another NHK program profiling Aikido and Hombu Dojo.  In this video one gets to see Hombu Dojo and what training is like there.  Doshu demonstrates some nice Aikido and one can see Waka-Sensei Mitsuteru Ueshiba taking his ukemi.  It might be interesting to someone who hasn’t been to Hombu Dojo to see the world headquarters of Aikido and how crowded the classes are too.

Be calm and have a serene mind


One must enter into each and every endeavor with a clear and calm mind.  This tranquil mindset is called meikyoushisui (明鏡止水) in Japanese which translates to “clear and serene.”  When we are agitated or upset that “forces” us out of balance and with out this balance there is no harmony.  Without harmony, there can be no Aikido.

Our art requires us to see the “bigger picture.”  With this expanded horizon we realize that our partner is in pain and thus is in need of compassion.  With harmony we are able to choose not to destroy them but to instead help them.

The first step within any confrontation is harmony.  First with yourself then with your partner.