Today is my birthday. As the years pile up you sort of hope people forget. Yet at the same time I am moved by people who remember. So I thought I would do a blog today and pass on some things that have been noted by me recently.
Thanks to those who have continued to train at the dojo during this time of economic instability. Classes are being attended. We have a good group of new students, which is also encouraging. None of us really knows where the current economy is going. Hopefully the dojo can provide a positive place to come and train, process, and transform during this uncertain period.
We will be taking the adult program and cancelling adult classes during the Menlo College retreat from Sunday June 14th through Saturday June 20th. I am proud to see a good turnout from the dojo for this event. I am especially happy that so many of the instructor level people are takin advantage of this opportunity. Instructors also need to continue to train and evolve. That and I think everyone will find this a very fun time as well.
I recently saw "How Bruce Lee Changed the World" on History channel. It brought back some memories and reflections from the '60's and '70's. One cannot today imagine the effect that he had on someone who was young and Asian during this period. Asian characters on screen were often played by non-Asians. Chief among these was the late David Carradine playing a character designed by and for Bruce Lee on the tv series "Kung Fu". My parents being of Japanese descent were interred during the second world war. I was raised in a complex environment where non-Japanese were not fully trusted and at the same time was encouraged to excel academically so as to fit it and thus be not singled out by a very white world.
In the midst of all this came Bruce Lee. He played Kato on "The Green Hornet" tv series in 1967. He was uncompromisingly Asian. Played his role with dignity and pride. His lightening fast kung fu moves were unlike anything that had been seen on tv. Before him screen fights were long drawn out affairs such as in the early John Wayne movies. One strike one kick were all he required to take out a lethal opponent.
I followed his exploits through articles in "Black Belt Magazine". I remember watching "The Way of the Intercepting Fist" on "Longstreet" during graduate school at UC Davis with my all white house mates at Russian House. Even though he was Chinese he always engendered in me a sense of racial pride. I was practicing t'ai chi ch'uan morning and evening, doing several aikido classes a week, and during my last year trained Japanese Shotokan Karate as well. I even managed to sneak in a graduate class or two.
I think he had something to do with my becoming a martial arts instructor. There was a deep philosophical sense to his Jeet Kune Do. The philosophy is one of deep self exploration. Of strongly finding and following one's own path. Of developping and training oneself constantly. He was also an artist. He studied film very deeply and was responsible for many of the production aspects of his films. He basically did 4 films. Died a month before "Enter the Dragon" was released, and is bigger today than ever.
One that was pointed out in the documentary was that recently there was a statue of him erected in Bosnia. The comment was that "We are Serbs, Croats, and Muslims.... but one thing we all have in common is......Bruce Lee". Ueshiba Osensei saw Aikido as a way to create the world family. So it is gratifying to see a martial artist become a symbol of unity in this increasingly complex world.
I found out from Artt Frank that he and Chet Baker really liked Bruce Lee films. I e-mailed Artt and said that the same broken rhythm I saw in Bruce Lee's movement I heard in Chet's trumpet playing.Artt confirmed that Chet played in a broken rhythm as well. That was encouraging to hear. Both Bruce Lee and Chet Baker followed their own star. Period.
I am including a video from late November. Ben Shuts and I were informally playing music together and I just shot this with a camcorder.