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4.07.2016 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
I still remember the moment, as a 6-year-old, when I first learned to read. After what seemed like forever of sounding out letters and syllables, the letters on the page suddenly became sound, and I recognized the sound as being a word I knew. I was completely thrilled, dumbfounded. I became the best reader in my class in a matter of weeks, devouring everything I could lay my chubby hands on. The teachers, wisely, just kept giving me books.
3.24.2016 – Lumièna
I’m Mitsue and my artist name is Lumièna.
I make amigurumi as an artist and also as an instructor, teaching people how to make amigurumi – Yes, amigurumi is a large part of my life.
Actually, when I look back on my childhood memories, making something by my hands has always been a large part of my life.
3.19.2016 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
Many years ago, we had a guest student – a young Japanese man who was visiting New York for the summer. He was a shodan in kendo, young, strong and full of energy. At the time, we were practicing some kendo from time to time, and he had decided to join us.
One night, the regular teacher did not show up, so I was, by default, the teacher for the evening. Since I did not feel at all qualified to lead a kendo workout, I volunteered a swordsmanship class instead. Even though he had never handled a sword or even a bokuto, with typical enthusiasm, our guest was happy to give it a try.
3.02.2016 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
As I noted in my earlier post, kumidachi (組太刀), paired sword kata, teach a number of concepts that can then be applied to solo practice. In addition, they are useful in illustrating some more tactical aspects of Japanese swordsmanship.
Most importantly, kumidachi kata teach space and timing. How far are you from your opponent? Can you reach her in one step? Two? Stepping forward or back? How fast is she moving? How large is her stride? Does she cut with full extension, or does she pull back somewhat?
2.15.2016 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
Traditional Japanese swordsmanship (iaido) consists solely of kata. As an art form that teaches people to draw and cut with a sword, as well as return it safely to its scabbard, solo practice is the safest way to learn, both for the student and the people around her. The different kata introduce theoretical situations – attacks from different angles, attacks by multiple opponents, and aggressive tactics for the swordsman should the need arise. By employing these theoretical scenarios, the iaidoka learns different techniques and timing.
1.26.2016 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
I just came back from some training in Japan. There is a lot to be said for being able to go there, to go to a “real” dojo, to take part in a practice in which you are not a teacher or even a senior student, but just an interested foreigner who rarely gets such an opportunity. In some ways, I am still processing the experience.
1.08.2016 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
As I explained in an earlier post, having a plan of defense/counter attack is an important part of the bunkai for many iaido kata. The iaidoka often waits patiently for the attacker to commit to a particular technique before reacting. The idea is that moving to counter too soon would cause the attacker to break off and try something else. This type of training induces a certain calmness of mind and sense of space and timing.
12.28.2015 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
A common way of looking at the idea of balance is the in-yo (or yin-yang) symbol. It looks like this: ☯. A circle: one part black, equal part white, and if you look closely, you can see a white dot on the black side, and a black dot on the white side. The whole is made up of the sum of its parts; and, if you take a spiritual point of view, the whole actually is greater than the sum of its parts. Yin and yang are always in contention, always shifting. In Taoism, one side defines the other, and the two qualities are always in flux. Ideally, people should contain a balance of both sides; seeking and trying to maintain that balance is presumably what we are all seeking (or should be seeking).
12.14.2015 – Rebecca Suzuki
Imagine this: you walk into a beautiful European church, and instead of the beautiful stained glass, you see bottles and bottles of what appear to be… liquor?! “Well that’s weird…” you mutter to yourself.
And this is essentially what happened to me when I first encountered the stacks of sake barrels commonly displayed outside Shinto shrines. I remember thinking: “Wow, Shinto gods must really like to drink! Well, at least they’re having a good time up there.”
12.09.2015 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
I have been in Japan for the past 10 days or so. During that time I have spent a week shepherding six budoka around the Kansai. Including my co-organizer, we had more than 100 combined years in various modern martial arts (e.g., karate, judo) and koryu Budo (iaido, jodo). For some people, it was their first trip to Japan; others had some previous experience traveling and training.
With all of that experience, you would think training in Japan would not be that difficult to adapt to, but you’d be wrong. […]
Japanese Cooking Blog with Asako Nonaka #14
12.04.2015 – Asako Nonaka
When you hear cake, chocolate and ice cream, how are you feeling? Many people might want to eat them. Once you have these kind of sweets, they make you feel happy. But sugar has been seen as a toxin these days to link to obesity, high and low blood sugar levels, heart disease, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis and emotional instability. Therefore some people never eat sugar but it is little difficult to live like them. How should we treat sugar? This time I will introduce how to treat a sugar craving.
11.30.2015 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
One of my jodo students, an older gentleman who previously did “hard” martial arts (i.e. karate or jujutsu, I am not sure which), has lately been quizzing me about how long I have been practicing. A couple of weeks ago, he said, “Wow, you’ve done this a lot. And for a long time.”
“I’m obsessed,” I responded, not entirely trying to be funny.
But I could have said the same thing about him, and about several other students. One teaches karate, which he has studied for over 20 years. […]
11.22.2015 – Rebecca Suzuki
I recently took a two-week trip to the city of Melbourne in Australia, and I didn’t think two weeks was long enough to start missing Japan, but I managed to prove myself wrong… So I compiled a list of things that I missed about Japan while I was away:
It’s a bit sad that this is the first thing that popped into my head while making this list, but I did honestly miss convenience stores or “combini” when I was away. […]
Japanese Cooking Blog with Asako Nonaka #13
11.16.2015 – Asako Nonaka
Last month, The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that processed meats such as bacon, sausage and ham cause cancer. Red meats including beef, lamb and pork are also expected to be listed as being “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
As long as we look at the title of the news, it looks like processed and red meats are always harmful. Reading the report carefully, you can understand it is not true. The important thing is to get the meaning right and reconsider the dietary habit including meats.
10.14.2015 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
Back in August, several of us decided to beat the NYC heat and travel up north and west to Wisconsin for the 2015 US Jodo Gasshuku. For three days (longer for some) we trained morning, afternoon and evening in jodo, kusarigama and bokuto kumidachi kata that make up the curriculum followed by the Nihon Jodokai. The instructors were the senior American students of the Jodokai and their senpai.
At one point during the jodo training, the teacher had us all perform kata and had us hold our poses from time to time while they inspected the line to look at our form.
Japanese Cooking Blog with Asako Nonaka #12
10.13.2015 – Asako Nonaka
We should have proper nutrition everyday. There are carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals and water. They help you make the cells and energy and prevent a number of health conditions like abnormally high or low blood pressure, anemia and life-style disease. A car requires gasoline to run. But if it’s low-grade fuel, the car will not run. Likewise, your body needs not foods which contain many additives, sugary soft drinks and snacks, but real good food.
10.06.2015 – Deborah Klens-Bigman
One of the unfortunate aspects of budo culture in the United States is the persistent assumption that studying martial arts should be a male-only endeavor. From time to time, when I perform demonstrations or teach a seminar, the question comes up: Are there restrictions on women training?
There are not. While in Japan men do tend to outnumber women in some of the types of budo I train in, the women are hardly invisible. While they may make up less than half, a group that is 40% women is not unusual. In fact, in certain genres, such as naginata-do, women outnumber men.