Hiroko blogged about grandpa Minoru.

ginza sushi & shopping

NEC_0258, originally uploaded by renfield.

Hiroko and I checked out the sushi faire in Mitsukoshi and then walked down Chuo Dori for some shopping.
Hiroko got a new cellphone (finally) and they used this machine to punch holes in her old phone to guarantee her old data doesn't get stolen.
(Please note: there is a machine whose sole purpose is to punch holes in used cell phones.)
Then we went to Uniqlo and I took Elvis' advice and got me some toe socks.

new bmw: towed!

new bmw: towed!, originally uploaded by renfield.

frustation indeed

Elvis is hitting a rough patch, so I figured I'd throw in my two yen about The Big Questions: why do I train? what's the point? who are all these idiots? when does it get better? where am I going?
Don't want to belittle his struggles, as they are totally valid and, I believe, a good part of training. I been through them myself. Hit three major valleys of doom and gloom at 3rd, 4th, and 5th dan. (Probably in my fourth now at 6th dan, but I'm in denial.)
I don't like giving advice. Everyone has to figure out what's best for him. For good or bad, no one has the luxury of being a samurai anymore and therefore having the right (the duty) to dedicate one's life to the pursuit of the martial arts. We gotta pay the rent. We have jobs, families, lives. So the first issue comes down to time management. I came to Japan because I always wanted to come here and train. And once I got here, I decided I didn't want to do nothing BUT train. I met a brilliant woman and married her. I have a well-paying but massively time-consuming, challenging, and fascinating career in the finance industry. I like to do a couple of decidedly non-budo things. And therefore obviously I don't train as much as I could, and maybe I don't progress as much as I could, and I don't study as many different arts as maybe I could.
And I like it that way. I dropped kendo for aikido, started Mugairyu, dropped aikido and added various other weapons the Mugairyu, and when all is netted out, the sword is the thing for me.
We have several hundred members in our organization, and I would honestly say a mere handful of them are actually interested in training as seriously (or more) than I. If there are four of them out of 400, that's a pretty good percentage I think. Out of the hundreds of thousands of people who train in aikido all over the world, only a handful are dedicated and serious enough to go to Honbu in Shinjuku and train for reals. Elvis is one of them. More power to him. If he has to make a choice to spend less time in Mugai and more on aikido, it's not a bad choice, or a good choice. It's HIS choice, and by definition it is therefore the right choice.
Like Buddha said (okay rough paraphrase): doubt is good. And the only resolution for doubt is action.

you put your right elbow in...

Elbows. Gosoke always talks about sanken-no metsuke, the three points to watch: hand, elbow shoulder. Mainly, you watch the right hand if you want to know where the other dude's sword is going. And of course, if you want your sword to go where you need it to go, you have to pay attention to how you use (which generally means extend) your rist, elbow, and shoulder.
Today we focused on the right elbow. Alot of times the right elbow will be almost totally extended by the time the sword is drawn. This usually results in a locked elbow (sometimes even hyper-extended or tennis elbow) and a full arm swing from the shoulder. Lots of muscle, lots of rotation, not alot of forward momentum and minimal hip power, kind of like whipping the arm out after cocking and unwinding the hips.
Then again muscles on do work when contracting, not expanding, so in order to extend your elbow, you basically contract your tricep; not an impressively powerful way to generate cutting force. The key is, obviously, to extend wrist, elbow, and shoulder all at just the correct time, all moving together to channel the energy from the hips moving in, and don't forget the left hand pulling away and the right hand drives forward. Whole body has to move as one complete unit, all the bits doing their part in tune to all the other bits.