martial arts

the meaning of "osu"; a Tom Petty mood

Posted on: Sun, 04/08/2007 - 09:10 By: Tom Swiss

On the meaning of "osu":

I do hear it occasionally, mostly from guys behind the bar or counter at the udon shop. Even as a toast, "cheers", "kampai".

Most interesting, though, was a scene on a TV show I saw my first week here. Before my cable got hooked up, all that was on TV was Japanese broadcast channels, and sometimes I'd watch, try to figure out what I could.

One show was some sort of medical drama, and part of the plot seemed to revolve around a young female doctor trying to deal with a difficult patient. In one scene, she'd apparently made up her mind to confront him or tell him something. And as she set off down the hall, she took a moment to gather her courage and determination, and said to herself, "osu!"

karate in Sakai; old farmhouses in Osaka

Posted on: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 22:44 By: Tom Swiss

Last night I had the pleasure of training at Senpai Kuwa's Kansai Seido Karate dojo in Sakai City. I am very grateful for the warm reception I received.

I can even now say that I've taught karate in Japan (bringing coal to Newcastle and selling iceboxes to Inuit are next on my list), as Kuwa Senpai handed me the reins for the second class. A few language difficulties, but Kuwa Senpai's English is excellent and he was able to translate for me. (It is interesting though that for some things I've learned a different Japanese, instead of "kiai-do!" as the instruction to do the next techniques with kiai, the famous martial arts shout, they used some te-form verb I didn't quite catch, "kiai-mumble-te kudasai" - probably more polite and grammatically correct.) Senpai and his family were kind enough to take me out for dinner afterward, and even scour the menu for something vegetarian for me. Much fun and I look forward to next week's keiko. (Though today, returning to training after a few weeks off, I can definitely feel it! But it's a "good pain".)

Today, slept in after staying up late trying to deal with an internet outage at home (complicated by not being there plus being about 13 hours ahead timewise). Beautiful day and I knew I had to do something outside, so I went to the Open Air Museum of Old Farmhouses, in Ryokuchi-koen.

Girl karate-kicks her way to freedom from kidnapper

Posted on: Fri, 01/26/2007 - 23:51 By: Tom Swiss

ABC News reports on a ten-year-old girl who put her martial arts training to good use when an abductor threw her into the trunk of his car:

When the kidnapper stopped for gas, Marissa, who takes martial arts classes, kicked her way out of the trunk. She then walked into the store and calmly told the clerk that she had just escaped.

Marissa's instincts were right on, some observers say. Putting up a fight can call attention to an abduction, and that can make the difference between getting away and getting killed.

karate kanji

Posted on: Thu, 01/11/2007 - 11:32 By: Tom Swiss

Posted to the Cyberdojo:

"Frank D. Williams, PhD" ( writes:

> The kanji for Karate uses to be written "China Hand" not empty hand
> until the late 1940's or early 1950's.

I just happened to be browsing through my copy of _Karate-do Nyumon_
the other day:

"1. Since there are no written records, it is not known for sure whether
the _kara_ in karate was originally written with the character ...
meaning `China' or the character ... meaning `empty'. During the time
when admiration for China and things Chinese was at its height in the
Ryuk[y]us, it was the custom to use the former character when referring to
things of fine quality, Influenced by this practice, in recent times
karate has begun to to be written with the character [China] to give it
a sense of class or elegance.

what does karate teach us?

Posted on: Sat, 12/09/2006 - 21:43 By: Tom Swiss

Posted to the CyberDojo:

"Daisy Heskett" (address elided) writes:

> Does karate "really" teach us not to fight? Is it more
> of a thing where a karate person knows the limitations
> of what they can do whereas a street fighter wants to know
> his? So the street fighter will be more willing to fight not
> knowing he can kick his butt kicked.

Hopefully a karate student has given a lot of thought about what's
worth fighting over, and has come to the conclusion that not many of
things that people fight about are worth it.

tension in qi gong

Posted on: Wed, 08/16/2006 - 18:16 By: Tom Swiss

Something I posted recently to the CyberDojo:

"Rusty McMains" (rmcmains@) writes:

> Muscle "tension" or dynamic tension as most people understand it should
> never been applied. This is not healthy and does not promote proper qigong.

I know very little about qi gong, but I've had the good fortune to have been exposed to a few very different styles.

There definitely is a style of qi gong exercise that uses a dynamic tension very similar to what I was taught for sanchin and tensho kata. Exercises like "Pulling Nine Oxen Backward" and "Pushing Eight Horses Forward" were taught to us by a tuina instructor, and had a very similar feel to our sanchin and tensho.

Being a gentle martial artist without being a "Pooh Bear"

Posted on: Sun, 07/02/2006 - 14:55 By: Tom Swiss

Post to the Sabaki list in response to "A School Full of Pooh Bears", an excerpt from John Gradens new book, The Truth About the Martial Arts Business

To paraphrase Tom Hanks in the movie A League of Their Own, there_s no crying as a black belt!

Shoot. Ok, then, where do I turn mine in? Hell, I've been known to cry at episodes of The Simpsons...

Its important to be OK with the fact that martial arts can't be all things to all people. The very term martial means military. Military relates to matters of war.

It's often a bad idea to try to define what something is, by going to word origins. "Tragedy" comes from roots meaning "goat song", after all. Some martial arts - karate, for example - were not created for the battlefield, but for personal self-defense or for civil law and order enforcement. But we still call them "martial" arts.

This doesn't mean each class is devoted to killing or war tactics; it means that our foundation is one of peace through superior firepower.

The problem, of course, is that superior firepower doesn't bring peace (as my country is demonstrating in Iraq for all to see).

Karate news

Posted on: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 19:40 By: Tom Swiss

Hello friends! As many of you know, for the past few months I've been training to test for my fourth degree black belt in karate.

I'm happy to say that last weekend, in an all-night test at the headquarters of the World Seido Karate Organization in New York, I completed that process and was promoted to yondan.

I want to thank all of you for your support over the years. Sometimes it all connects up in unexpected ways...a lesson on poetry pays off on the dojo floor; or some simple remark by a friend gives you the confidence you need to stick with it.

So thanks. (And I might actually have some free time now to get out and see some of you I haven't seen in a while! :-) )

(now, "Sensei Tom" to his students :-) )

note to Robin

Posted on: Mon, 02/20/2006 - 20:07 By: Tom Swiss

Sharing a note I sent to Robin:

Hi Robin!

I see you did the Kerouac re-tattoo - outstanding!

I've started my nihongo class at the community college (AACC)...visions of hiragana dancing in my head.

It's a little strange being in a class with everyone else so much younger...and then the dialogs in the textbook are all college-y, "What's your major?" (Senmon wa nan desu ka?) and "What year are you?" (Nannensei desu ka?) sort of stuff.

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