Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review

I've postponed this review. One because of the shooting in Colorado that is connected to it. And two because it took another viewing or two to sort out actually how I felt about it. And I didn't want to give out the ending so soon after the film came out.

Anyway, after multiple viewings, I really like this film. Christian Bale is an excellent Batman. Before this film he was tied with Michael Keaton for my favorite. But he is now number one on my list. The interplay between him and Michael Caine as Alfred is touching and human(or at least as human as it can be in a film of this genre). Usually superhero films are designed to let you walk out feeling somewhat invincible. Or at least safe because Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Black Widow are on the job.......To their credit this latest trilogy does not let you leave that way. That is what threw me initially about it.

Outwardly the film is resolved much the same as the Avengers film was, with a nuclear explosion. But one thing Batman has done in the past, especially Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns', is alter the comic book non-reality that things never really change. Miller took a gritty take on the Batman and made it memorable with change in both the character and his situation very strong at the end. This film does much the same. I don't want to give away too much because I don't want someone who hasn't seen the film to miss anything.

Ann Hathaway is an excellent Catwoman. My favorite to date by a long shot. Not counting the actresses in the sixties camp tv show, Michelle Pfiefer and Halle Berry have done recent portrayals of this character. Hathaway does the best to catch the conflicted nature of the role and add her own stamp to it. Physically, she does the role to a level it has never been done before. In the comics the Batman-Catwoman relationship is an enigmatic one, swaying on direction then going another. This movie definitely brings out the issues more clearly than those in the past have.

So if you haven't seen it, get going. It gets 2 thumbs up from me. The one drawback is that it is almost three hours. And if you aren't ready for that it might get to you

Not Batman related but I am adding a video I did of a piece Dennis and I did recently I call 'Latin Reveries'. It is very short but I think good. I think you will enjoy it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Aikido History

My martial arts history begins with karate, which I started in fall of 1968. I began to read about martial arts in general. And sometime probably in early 1969 someone loaned me an issue of black belt magazine with an article about aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba Osensei entitled “The Old Man and the Ki”. It detailed how Ueshiba Osensei could perform unusual feats of magic like throwing people without any physical contact. Later in the summer I found an article in Psychology Today magazine entitled the “Psychology of the Samurai” which had a great deal to say about aikido and about Osensei. I remember remarking,”I wish there was aikido available here( I was in my 4th and last year as an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Cruz)…..

My timeline:
October 1969: Went to an aikido demo given during orientation week at UC Santa Cruz given by Robert Frager and Robert Nadeau. Also in attendance were Allen Grow and Betsy Hill senseis.

Later in same month attended the first meeting of the UC Santa Cruz Aikido Club taught by Robert Frager….

Discovered Robert Frager wrote article in Psychology Today.

December 1969 went with Robert Frager sensei to a weekend co-taught by him and Nadeau sensei at the Mt. View dojo on Castro Street. It was my first experience being in an Aikido dojo, not just a club.

June 1970: Graduated from UC Santa Cruz, tested for and was awarded Blue Belt(4th kyu), participated in  a weeklong Gasshuku at the Mt View dojo co-taught by Robert Nadeau, Robert Frager, Frank Doran, and Allen Grow senseis.

Fall of 1970 thru June of 1972 trained at the UC Davis Aikido Club under Allen Grow sensei.

Late 1972: Back home in Santa Cruz and tested for and received ikkyu(brown belt) at UC Santa Cruz Aikido Club. Nadeau sensei and Frager sensei present..
Early winter 1973: Left for Japan and trained out the rest of the year at the Kumano Juku Dojo in Shingu Japan training under Hikitsuchi, Anno , Yanase, and Tojima senseis. This trip also featured short junkets to Hombu dojo and to the Iwama dojo in the fall. Promoted to shodan in mid-December when I returned to California.

January 1974: Began teaching Thursday night adult class at Aikido of Woodside(now Aikido West) at the request of Frank Doran sensei. Later picked up the kids’ class as well.

August 1974: Returned to Japan and training at the Shingu dojo.

Late Spring 1975: Promoted to nidan. Returned to Santa Cruz to teach for Robert Frager sensei who was leaving to open the then California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. Took over teaching the Aikido classes for the Phys ed department and the Aikido club classes.

June 1976 taught a daily afternoon class at the Summer Retreat which was then held at Dominican College in San Rafael……

July 1976 : Was asked by Nadeau shihan to teach at the San Jose dojo, which opened that month. I was one of the original faculty, teaching Friday night adults and Saturday morning kids and adults.

January 1977: Left for third major stay to train at the Shingu dojo. Was Hikituschi sensei’s main uke at the All Japan Aikido Demonstrations held in June at the Budokan….Trained pretty much until late December then returned to California. Resumed teaching at the San Jose dojo. Was given a night at the San Francisco dojo. Taught also at the UC Santa Cruz Aikido Club which was now led by Linda Holiday sensei.

August 1978: Began teaching the beginning Aikido course at San Jose State university. Continued teaching there through summer of 1994.

1979: …. Somewhere around here awarded sandan…..

February 1980: Purchased San Jose dojo from Nadeau shihan and became chief instructor.

1983: Somewhere around here awarded yondan…..

1987” Awarded godan…….

1991: Awarded rokudan……………..

1994: Featured in half time demo of Forty niner game.

1997: Again featured in half time demo of Forty niner game.

1999: late in year rejoined now California Aikido Association.

2001: Late fall spent 10 days visiting Anno sensei in Shingu along with Linda Holiday sensei.

2006: In June went with Nadeau shihan to Hombu dojo. Led a group to haka mairi at Founder’s grave in Tanabe. Then visited Anno sensei at the Shingu dojo. The trip also included visits to the Hongu grand shrine, the Nachi shrine, and the Hayatama shrine, all places the Founder regularly visited and prayed at…..

June 2008: Guest instructor at the Summer Retreat now held at Menlo College…….

November 2008: Celebrated 40 years in Aikido. In attendance were Nadeau shihan, Robert Frager sensei, and Betsy Hill, Sue Ann McKean, Mary McLean, Lou Berminham, and Frank Silvey senseis.

Fall 2009: featured in half time demo at Raider NFL game. Awarded membership in the Bay Area Fighting Arts Hall of Fame. Met Mrs Bruce Lee……..

Spring 2009: Became a member of special research team headed by Nadeau shihan.

January 2010: Featured at an event at the Mt View Performing Arts Center honoring the Founder of Aikido.