Aikido training in Japan

Zacky Chan Version 3.0

The mountains are my body,
the clouds are my thoughts.

 How’s that for wisdom? When I took these pictures it was a real “Whooaaaaa … duuuuddde.” moment for me.

 I’ve been foibled by the blogging gods over and over again trying to put a first entry in over the past couple days, and so now you’re getting a very very condensed version of what I imagined. Screw it, look at these interesting pictures I took on a week-long hiking trip from Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture to Kamikochi in Nagano, drink your preffered blog-reading-beverage, and read some ramblings about my recent transitions and thoughts on martial arts.

 First off, I have left my old job working as an assistant language teacher with the JET Program at Sakurai High School in mid-smalltown Kurobe to be a children’s eikaiwa (English conversation school) teacher for Peppy’s Kids Club in small city Toyama City. This means I moved from the rice paddies to the grey concrete blur to work for less pay and reduced vacations for a job that’s 100x more challenging … oh yeah, and I work nights so I get to go to aikido once a week maybe instead of three to four. But things couldn’t be better!!! They also couldn’t be worse. That’s just the nature of existence, there is only the now, right?

But seriously, everything is just mountains and clouds.

 And here’s my friend.

And his friend. They were cool and liked to drink beer. They saved me from realizing my week of “purity” and bought me a very expensive tallboy Asahi from one of the mountain huts.

 Anyway, everything is different now.

The old thoughts aren’t interesting anymore, the don’t make sense anymore, the images, the smells, my clothes even, it’s all dead history.

The beautiful thing about the New, is that you can’t really expect what it will be, and if it really is new, it will be accompanied by new feelings. This is really how you know something is new. It’s that easy! You just do it! Right?

Well, not … really. Our mind, the tool that it can be, categorizes and starts inserting all kinds of opinions on the matter … which becomes more your habits and tendencies than that new experience itself. For example, your at a festival seeing something you’ve never seen before and it’s great with all these new feelings, but then you start to think … which is stupid … “Oh, I know how to make this better” or “I know what this is” or you say some stupid joke that is half-relevant you heard but your friends probably haven’t. If this occurs long enough without being checked, then you’ll just have a long history of you masturbating all over these passed up new chances. And that’s not all that cool.

There’s got to be a better way.

Most likely, between the abstract polarities, you find yourself in your specific situation, which is amazing and completely independent and new in and of itself. So, let’s get specific here. Concerning this blog, and myself, I will be writing about being an American living in Japan, because that’s what I am, Zen and Taoism and mythology because that’s what I’m interested in, teaching foreign language, because that’s what I spend a lot of my time doing, and then of course, like a giant masterpiece standing in the center of my grand cathedral, exists … martial arts …

What an extremely difficult thing to describe.

 A lot of my time is spent on this topic of “martial arts”, and I think that goes for a lot of readers here too. It is a beautiful kaleidescopic mandala we form together at “martial artists”, with all different kinds of styles and beliefs and directions and histories … including all our brothers and sisters in the past who punched the air and moved around through imaginary opponents and liked it. One of the particularly interesting things about the “martial arts” that I like to think about is the timelessness of it all. Someone centuries ago may have been doing these same movements and thinking these same things. In a way, we can excuse ourselves from the modern world by engaging in such activity, which is cool! But we do exist now, and are an integral part of the modern world of October 2011. In this respect, we have some very interesting trends in the “martial arts.” (I hope the quotations aren’t bugging  you, because I must persist until the end of this entry).

We have UFC cage fighting featuring mixed “martial artists”, and people practicing “martial arts” who have never encountered violence in their life. The great disparity between “martial artists” leads us to one very big question:

 “What are the Martial Arts!”

And then we have the emergenceof the blogosphere, an electronic voice translated through 0’s and 1’s given to all with access to a computer with an internet connection.

So let’s get talking!

Well, actually that might be enough for now. We certainly don’t need to solve the Problem right here an now. Rather, let’s discuss over months or years of snipits of discussion. We’re so very far from the end anyway.

If I could make one last comment though …

Recently, there has been great debate over what constitutes a “martial artist.” A lot of the people I tend to side with, but don’t totally agree with, accuse some of not embracing the “artist” side of the equation. For example, UFC fighters are only just that, and can not be considered “martial artists”. But lately I’ve been looking at the other side of the phrase. I’m comfortable calling myself and artist in my practice … but martial? Am I martial? Are you?

It’s all just mountains and clouds … and flowers.

I happily look forward to more conversations with you all. Thank you for reading.

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