reload this

Got the gang together and saw Matrix: Reloaded and the Virgin Cinema in Roppongi Hills. Ah, caramel popcorn, TXH sound, huge screen, comfy and leg room, cup holders in the armrests, all reserved seats, and a great flick. Must have soundtrack. Must have DVD. Must see final in the trilogy asap!
After the movie Hiroko and I and Will and his girlie got some pizza and then some icecream at Hobsons at the Nishi Azabu corner. It was a pleasantly muggy evening, so Hiroko and I walked back home through Azabu.

chop chop

Went to iai in Motoyawata and did some cutting. Spent most of the time helping the other students cut -- some of them had never cut before, others had to work on their angle, hip use, etc. Got some cutting in myself and manage to nail 2 out of 3 horizontal cuts from a seated draw. Think I may have finally figured it out, but I still have much to work on. It's a fun group, so I'll probably be cutting with them at least once a month.

what's in a name?

I have been named. Niina-gosoke has given most of the instructors proper 'iai' names (his is of course Niina Gyokusui Toyoaki; no idea what his "real" name is.)
My name is Kuroda Renjosai Yonekuni

Kuroda is of course my last name ("Blackfield")
Ren is also my name, written as I tend to write it with the character 'hasu' (lotus flower, traditional Zen Buddhist symbolism, Buddha is often shown seated on a lotus blossom)
jo means 'to exceed', and sai means 'to purify mind and body', so Renjosai = "to exceed even the lotus in developing a pure mind and body"
Yone is the character 'bei' meaning rice, and kuni is the Japanese character 'hou' meaning country. In Japanese, America is written as 'rice country' (why they didn't use 'wheat country' is beyond me, but anyway the idea is 'rice' = 'food' = 'prosperity', America is the land of prosperity) So Yonekuni means 'he from America'
Regularly just Kuroda Renjosai is used, and since most folks just call me ren anyway, not much changes. But for official use (on certificates, etc.) the full name is used.
Now if I can convince my company to redo the Japanese on my business cards!

Practice was brutal, as always. Tanaka-sensei came again and after running through all 20 forms, we each worked on our own things, with Tanaka-sensei coming around and giving advice. Of course we all practiced the five forms we need for the upcoming competition end of June. I'm very nervous because I'm in the 4/5dan (highest) division, and besides squaring off against the best, that group includes my own instructor, Kanai-bashocho. I really want to do my best and see how far I can get, but do I beat my own instructor? Niina-gosoke always tell us "get better than your instructors! Your job as student is to excel past them!", but can I really beat her? I mean, first of all she's DAMN good, second of all she has the LaserEyeDeathBeam: one glance from her can freeze a raging bull in its tracks.

After the regular 2 hours, Niina-gosoke schooled us again in his Hour Of Pain. He showed us what the final diagonal cut of the first form shin is supposed to look like: the hands come out and down from overhead straight, just like with a typical straight down cut, but the wrists subtly angle the sword tip out so that the cut catches the opponent not straight in the forehead, but in the base of the neck and cuts down at a 30 degree angle through to under the ribs on the other side. The trick is you can't see that the cut is coming in diagonally. When the cut is down the hands are off to the side; that's the only indication that the cut was diagonal not straight. No telegraphing a diagonal cut by moving the hands to the side as the cut starts, or obviously opening the sword tip to the side to make the cutting angle. How the HELL do I do that?

cute must die

Small pets are all the rage these days in Tokyo. Miniature whatever dogs leashed on yarn, carried in the Gucci bag like any other accessory, dressed up with adorable outfits that match their human owner's leather goods. Even cats have cute outfits for dressing up.
I believe animals belong in the wild. Acceptably domesticated animals should provide humanity with milk and or meat. The entertainment value of animal companionship is, to me, quite low. Specifically for dogs though, I believe a dog only qualifies if it is capable of being horse-ridden by a 4-year old child. For that, the dog must be big. I mean BIG, like a chain for a leash big, knock down a full-grown man big, taller and faster than most bicycles big, fit a whole soccerball in the mouth big. And slobbery. Nothing like a big, slobbery dog sitting on the curb, watching passers-by and chomping on thigh bone. The only remotely acceptable accessory for said big dog is a bandana tied around the neck. That's it. No sailor outfit, no rain coat, no hat and sunglasses. It's a dog for goodness sakes.

big turnout

Had 11 students in class tonight. Misawa-kun showed up so I had him run the beginners through the first couple of forms while I worked with the others. We used wooden swords and played with some of the trickier forms, trying to figure out what the opponent is actually doing in order for you to move the way the kata dictates. Fun to almost clobber each other, and very helpful in visualizing the opponent.

sco/linux ?

For those who have a hard time understanding the sco/linux debacle of copyright hesaidshesaid, here's a helpful page that explains the issues in simple, clear terms: The Dukes of Hazzard.

donovan duo

Got an IM from Ann's cellphone in Seattle. Seems she's hanging with sister Courtney. They sent me a photo from their phone.

and I reciprocated

Technology is just neat.


Note Hugh's addition to the blogosphere: Beer and Sushi.

good for the economy

Hiroko and I did our part by spending lots of money today. First headed down to Shibuya and hit Loft, then Mujirushi Ryohin, popped into the Gap (enough with the Low Rise! Looks great on girls, but if I want to show my underwear I'll pull my own pants down to the middle of my ass, thank you very much), then Tokyu Hands were we loaded up on garden stuff for the Basil that is overtaking our measely balcony.
From there we grabbed the bus to Roppongi, hit the Starbucks for a bevvie (ice tazo chai latte w/Soy milk is our current drink of choice) and then indulged in two hours of stretching, massaging, kneading, twisting, and complete relaxation at Chai: Traditional Thai Massage.