Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pictures from the Oakland Raiders' demo

These are a few photos that came of our weekend adventure at the Oakland Coliseum. We got a chance to pose as a group with Bruce Lee's widow, Linda Lee. There is a scoreboard shot honoring Bruce Lee and the Martial Arts event. There is a field shot but of the center and not our demo next to the corner of one of the end zones. There is a nice shot of Shin during our demo.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Memorable Sunday

Yesterday a group of Aikido of San Jose students and I went to the Oakland Coliseum Arena to do a half-time demo for the Oakland Raiders. This was facilitated by Master George Chung, who has thoughtfully included us in his events in the past. This includes half-time demos for the 49ers in 1994 and 1996. But these were summer exhibition games. Yesterday was a regular season NFL game. The Raiders sponsored an Asian Heritage Week. There was a half-time demonstration by Martial Arts schools from the bay area. It honored the spirit of Bruce Lee, and included in the proceedings was an appearance by his widow, Linda Lee Cadziwell. We got a chance to briefly meet her and have a group photo with her. Earlier I was on a seminar teaching junket to Seattle Washington and able to visit Bruce Lee's grave and have a picture taken there.

Now these demos are physically very challenging. As a group we had to be at the Coliseum for some walk throughs at 8:30am. This included a series of runs across the diagonal of the football field the long way. After each run followed a going through of our presentation as a group, followed by another run off the field. All in all I feel we did a good job. I want to thank Harry Concepcion, Jim Johnson, Yu-Chen Shen, Mary Fortino, Shin Tsurushima, Matt Laine,Andrew Le and Meng Ear for a spirited and game effort. And also Steve Tsao, who was on injured reserve as he turned an ankle during our Friday night run through. Some of the demo team members may feel as if they played a football game yesterday. And in spirit maybe they did. For the record, all of the demo team and I except Shin left at half-time. The Raiders pulled off an exciting win scoring 10 points in the last minute of play.

I hope the Bruce Lee part of the proceedings was emphasized enough. Here is a man who started several industries pretty much on his own. Martial Arts action films were pretty much a non-factor before him. There were Chinese and Japanese sword films, mainly period dramas. To make martial arts the reason to go see a film, that was brought about by Bruce Lee. And the phenomenon of Martial Arts schools likewise.
His presence and films created a revolutionary interest in Martial Arts. Many schools opened and continue to open because of that.

Growing up Asian and male in the '60's was very different than it would be today. He was a tremendous influence on me. Along with the British actress Diana Rigg and Aikido's founder Ueshiba Morihei Osensei, one could argue that he influenced me as much as any one could. Not a direct contact. I've never met any of the three. But to see him in "The Green Hornet" was revolutionary. Someone Asian and male who was strong, decisive, and "in charge" was very strongly inputed on my psyche. Some of the scenes in the tv series show him taking on corrupt authority figures such as police officers on the take, bad politicians, etc. The man exuded "attitude" with a capitol A. I would watch the whole show just to catch the 3 to 5 seconds where he would show his kung fu moves. And to realize that this martial artist/actor is a bigger star than anyone the NFL has ever produced is mindboggling. The NFL or any sports league will never produce a star that has the historical and global impact of Bruce Lee.

I have heard that Stan Lee and Marvel comics has found a way to make Bruce Lee a character in an upcoming Action film. And the following clip demonstrates that his memory continues to live:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mission Accomplished

I just want to let everybody know that our Fundraiser was a success. We have managed to pay the power bill. It was a very good turn out for training, both from within the dojo and from other dojos. It was heartening to see some of the newer members of Aikido of San Jose on the mat, doing their first Aikido event.

I would like to thank both Rober Frager and Robert Nadeau sensei's for coming. They formed the duo that was my original contact to Osensei's aikido. I would like to thank Linda Holiday, Betsy Hill, Robert Noha, Lou Bermingham, Frank Silvey, Mary McLean, and Harry Concepcion senseis for teaching wonderful classes.Special thanks to an old student and friend, Ed Rathman of Willow St Wood-fired Pizza for donating the gourmet pizzas, to Maurice Gregoire who chipped in to cater the sandwiches and salad, To Frank Silvey and Mike Brown who helped co-ordinate the action on the "playing field". And there were so many people who served as "guardian angels", helping out with the cleaning, the setting up of the food, and other tasks that might be left unnoticed.

Old personal friends who dropped by: Peter Ralls, Sandy Olliges, Nick and Marianne de la Torre, Mariko Tamura, I would like to thank you all. I re-connected with Lenny Pollak, an aikido student who was active more in my Santa Cruz days. More on that as I get photos and videos from people who were shooting. But thank you all for your support and love.

I just put an Osensei video on youtube. It is in the late '60's and shot at the Hongu Grand Shrine. Seeing Hikitsuchi sensei as uke is very interesting:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

ASJ Frite Nite 2009

Friday night we held our annual Halloween costume party. We had a good turn out. Although due to the Friday night date a lot of people who have made previous Frite Nite's so memorable were not able to attend. So I assembled a video so those not able to attend could see what transpired. I think the choice of costumes reveals a lot about what is going on inside.

I believe our first Frite Nite was in 2005. It was held in Los Gatos at Mike Brown's house. I went as Starman, a DC superhero written by James Robinson. Still one of my all time favorite comic books. More on that in another blog.

In 2006 I was really into the "Underworld" movies. So I dressed up as a vampire deathdealer. I was able to get a matrix type jacket, like the one Kate Beckinsale wears, put on some vampire teeth, and there I was.

In 2007 I got a kimono, had my daughter Jenny tint my hair red, and went as Nemuri Kyoshiro, the full moon swordsman. Still, as portrayed by Ichikawa Raizo, my favorite movie samurai character.

In 2008 I went as Superman. That was hard to do. Donning that outfit was pretty daunting. But it turned out to be much fun. I was advised by a psychic healer to either have a portrait done in or be photographed in a Superman costume. She said that would heal a lot of past unresolved stuff. Also, she said I would one day fly. I still hope to, but to this date that has not come to pass.

And this year I went as Bruce Lee. With Alwen Laguatan's help, I traced down a Game of Death jumpsuit on the internet. This was much harder than even the Superman costume. I've always wanted a body suit. It comes from watching Bruce Lee and Diana Rigg in "The Avengers". But putting one on is not as easy as one thinks. You can get very hypercritical about the state of your appearance. Especially as you get sixtyish.

So themes from my past several years. Superheroes definitely. Warrior themes strong. Mystical magical supernatural flavor also. I was also considering putting on my Chet Baker t shirt, walking around with my trumpet, and being Chet. This would have been a radical departure from my past. So what will next year bring? Stay tuned........