Monday, July 30, 2007

Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh passed away today. He is another person whom I've never met who has influenced me a great deal. I remember at the old dojo on 6th street we held Superbowl trainings the day of the last 2 fortyniner appearances in the '80's. The first was the last pro game Walsh coached and the second was his team winning a second straight Superbowl but with George Seifert as coach. After the training we watched the game and, thankfully in both cases, celebrated a victory.

For me he was an example of a paradigm shift. Before his tenure the 49ers were lovable losers. Either totally inept or successful yet unable to get past NFL powers like the Dallas Cowboys in the big game. "The Catch" Montana to Clark that got the 49ers to the big dance is still etched in my psyche as if it were yesterday. And we've never looked at the 49ers in the same way since.

Walsh was an example of a systems man where mind and body functioned as equal partners in a team fashion. In the extremely physical world of pro football Walsh introduced concepts of creativity and flow to the offensive side of the ball. But make no mistake: his teams were tough and it flowed from their coach. He insisted he learned a lot about life and football from boxing at San Jose State University.

In addition he was a great evaluator of talent. He not only produced a unique system of football, but he found the Montanas, Rices, Youngs and Lotts to make that system work. I think this is underappreciated these days. I was sad to hear about his battle with leukemia, but he certainly conducted himself with great courage and dignity. Even though I never met him, I will miss him.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Visit From Tojima Sensei

The Santa Cruz Summer Retreat was held this year at the Civic Auditorioum from July 11th thru July 15th.. I was privileged to co-teach with dear friends Mary Heiny sensei and Linda Holiday sensei and to be a part of what might have been Anno sensei's last visit to America. There was an incredible turn out for the event. On Saturday the 14th there was a series of public demonstrations, which included outside of those participating in the seminar demonstrations by Robert Frager sensei and Robert Nadeau sensei. Of course it was Frager sensei who started aikido in Santa Cruz in fall of 1969 at UC Santa Cruz. And Nadeau sensei was present at an aikido demonstration on campus that kicked off the whole tradition of Aikido in Santa Cruz. My very first class was the first aikido club class on campus taught by Robert Frager. My first exposure to aikido off campus was a field trip with Frager sensei to the original Aikido of Mt. View dojo on Castro St in December of 1969. That was my first class with Nadeau sensei. In June of 1970 I participated in a Summer Gasshuku that they both co-taught. So it was particularly moving to me to see them both together in Santa Cruz. Here is a certificate I received for completing the training at the gasshuku.

Anyway, here is a story of something that happened just before the demonstrations. Anno sensei and I were hanging out in the changing room for instructors. For me one of the most important and moving parts of the retreat was the chance to just hang out with this man. We both thought we heard someone knock to come in. I opened the door and there was no one there, not even anyone in the hallway. There was definitely an energy present that indicated that something was going on. I remarked to Anno sensei that maybe Tojima sensei was visiting. Of course Tojima sensei passed away in the mid-90's. He and Anno sensei were very close. I told Anno sensei that I felt Tojima sensei's presence at times. Anno sensei replied that after death some people become "kami-sama" and that this was very possible in Tojima sensei's case. So in this energy form it was very possible that he was visiting. Anno sensei indicated his incredible regard for Tojima sensei by saying that if anyone could have solved the riddle of Osensei's aikido it would have been Tojima sensei had he lived. It was a poignant moment.

Anno sensei did an incredible demonstration. Ben Shuts from Santa Cruz told me that he had never felt this fire energy from Anno sensei before and that it was scary. I had remarked that taking ukemi for him had its scary side. Even though Anno sensei has this energy in him independently, part of me feels that Tojima sensei's presence helped to bring it out all the more. Tojima sensei's qualities were this fire, which could be very scary, combined with an incredible and even outrageous sense of humor. He could be sudden and very explosive with both. I am including a video from youtube featuring Tojima sensei and me from 1973:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Dame Diana and Kate

Friday July 20th is the birthday of Dame Diana Rigg. I think of this date every year and it has grown upon me, even though I have never personally met her. I did see her in person once in the late '80's in San Francisco in "Love Letters" at the Curran Theater. Of course it is her role as Emma Peel in "The Avengers" that stands out to me. I sometimes wish she had been with the show another year or two, or that she had done more in films. The vast majority of her work has been on the stage and in England. So I haven't had the opportunity to catch it. Of course I have the complete Emma Peel mega set of dvds.
Next week on July26th is the birthday of another of my favorite actresses, Kate Beckinsale. They share in common that they are both British, auburn haired, tall, intelligent(Kate studied Russian and Russian Literature at Oxford). Astrologically they both have their Venus in the sign of Virgo, which conjuncts my Mars in that same sign. Of course Kate is in the Underworld films.

My wish for Diana is that there is love in her life and that she be in good health. For Kate I wish for an Underworld 3 and some good film roles. If I were casting another "Avengers" movie, I would put Kate in the role of Mrs. Peel.

I'm finally including for my blog the youtube video "Underworld Avengers". I thought it would be great fun to have them together in the same video. Again, Happy Birthday to my 2 favorite actresses:

Monday, July 09, 2007

In the previous blog entry I tried to show a Paris by Night video, but it was in a slide show dvd format that youtube would not accept. So I re-did the entire thing, returning it to the original video footage. It was taken on my camcorder during a car ride through Paris by our gracious hosts. I will try to get the other one on youtube, as it has its own quality. So it is presented at the bottom of this blog.

I will be at the Santa Cruz Retreat July11th thru July 15th. There will be no Saturday am adult class due to the fact that my usual coverage were all teachers who wanted to go to the retreat. Again, this might be Anno sensei's last trip outside Japan, so please make it if possible. The other classes will go on as usual, so please continue to support the dojo in my absence with your training.

It has been a busy couple of months for me with the Europe trip in May, the Menlo College Retreat in June, and now the Santa Cruz Retreat. It has been a great time to re-new old relationships as well as have new experiences. Things should settle into a more normal pattern after the coming retreat.

I can't remember if I congratulated the Warriors on being THE story of the NBA post-season with their thrilling upset of No. 1 seed Dallas. Hopefully they will continue to evolve and change without losing what was a unique and spirited style of team play.

And even though the Giants season has been a disappointment, we have the story of Barry Bonds going for the home run record, which I am following. And remember, even if he breaks Aaron's record, he'll have to DH for several more years to break Sadaharu Oh's mark .

Monday, July 02, 2007

Assorted Scribblings

I want to talk a bit more about the European trip, now that I'm back and a bit more settled. I want to thank a dear friend, Linda Holiday sensei, for putting the seed of the idea in my consciousness, and for being a real organizing force. On my own I probably not only would not have gone, but would never even of thought of going. The amount of travel time on planes, trains, and buses was very daunting. The experience of travel, however, seeing Paris especially, was, in the end, well worth it. After Switzerland, we went to the Italian alps, near Mount Blanc, for 2 days at of all things a Native American Shamanic Conference.With drumming, chanting, and Sweat Lodges, this was a very deep spiritual experience.The parents of one of Linda sensei's students holds these conferences worldwide. For more information see I want to thank the entire Secunda family for welcoming us for those 2 days.

The sweat lodges were really something else. We associate heat and light together. Heat generates light. However in the lodge there is a very intense experience off heat and dark.This is a very powerful combination for inner cleansing and purification. I remember having similar experiences in Japan working with Anno, Tojima, and Yanase senseis while taking ukemi. As one settles past the "I" trying to control everything,through the mental and physical states of exhaustion and sweat, somethings emerges.........I felt that during the lodges.Also, if we were to go back to the beginnings of the universe, the big bang,I would opt for heat being generated before light. So for an incredibly short amount of time you would have a dark but very hot(so hot that things like gravity and electromagnetism could't exist yet) universe. So maybe there is something very primal encoded into the experience.

Following the conference we had a day(Thursday) to get to Zurich,from where we would fly out at 9am the following day.We had a harrowing experience when Linda sensei got us reservations for car number 310 on a train to Zurich, only to find cars 309 amd 311 and no 310! But we went positively forward and everything worked out.The last 2 days of travel pretty much blurr in my mind. I remember we met a very friendly and courageous(she is battling cancer) Italian woman on our journey to Zurich. So more on Europe as it pops up.

For me the highlight of Paris was a car ride at night. I shot it on my camcorder. I've turned it into photos and made a dvd slideshow of it. I hope you enjoy it.