Mar 19, 2016

Aichi advertising for full-time ninjas in tourism push

( 3-13-16)

Wanted: six full-time ninjas who have a way with words and can do backward handsprings. Pay: about ¥180,000 a month.

Aichi Prefecture said it is hiring full-time ninjas — the martial-arts masters and stealth assassins of feudal times — to promote tourism in an area known for historic Nagoya castle.

Newly hired ninjas will receive a one-year contract with monthly salary of ¥180,000 plus a bonus, said Satoshi Adachi of the prefectural government’s tourism promotion unit.

They will also perform acrobatics, demonstrate the use of their trademark shuriken (ninja star) weapons and pose for photographs with tourists, he said.

A poster the prefecture created says the ideal candidates are ones who “enjoy being under the spotlight even though he or she is a secretive ninja.”

Having the ability to speak Japanese is preferable, but non-Japanese individuals passionate about history and tourism are welcome as the troupe will sometimes perform in English, Adachi said.

“Our ninjas also have to be good at talking to promote tourism, although ninjas are basically required to be secretive,” he said.

They also “have to be able to do backward handsprings and some dance moves,” he added.
Successful candidates will go through a one-month training course in April.

The prefecture is accepting applications until March 22. Men and women aged 18 or above of any nationality can apply.

Nowadays ninjas are mostly confined to history books and fiction.

But they are also used to promote the city of Iga, Mie Prefecture, near the ancient capital of Kyoto that was once home to many ninjas.

And last year, governors and mayors from prefectures around the country traded their usual suits for ninja costumes to announce the launch of a “ninja council.”

The not-so-stealthy move comes as local governments turn to tourism as an economic growth driver ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Mar 10, 2016

Any reasonable parent would be ashamed of Will Smith’s kids

(by Kyle Smith 3-10-16)

We don’t know for sure that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are the most horrible parents on Earth. But the case for that seems strong when you consider their ├╝berentitled, brainless, self-adoring, twaddle-spewing little munchkins.

These kids are to childhood what the script of “After Earth” was to writing. Spoiled? Too mild. These kids are nuclear narcissists. The elder Smiths may have boycotted the Oscars because they weren’t nominated, but they boycotted parenting because they couldn’t be bothered to raise kids with any grounding in reality.

Naming their children after themselves via gender-reversal — the boy, Jaden, is 17, while his sister, Willow, is 15 — turned out to be merely the first sign that the Smith household would be a greenhouse in which all egos would be jacked up on maximum-strength fertilizer (the Hollywood kind) and cultivated to grow crazily.

Just check out the Twitter bios of this pair: Jaden Smith promises, “If You Want To See The Future Of Music, Photography and Film Making.”

Whoa, kid — why not worry about walking the dog and taking your SATs before you do all that? Jaden’s primary activity these days seems to be trying to be the black Boy George, minus the talent.

Playing dress-up in a variety of feminine looks, Jaden (who is starring in a womenswear campaign for Louis Vuitton) presents a shot of himself in a matching skirt and jacket, with long dreadlocks and a Boy George hat, under the caption, “STUNNA.”

Willow's tweets are, if anything, even more pretentious, vapid and humorless than her brother’s. “ANYTHING that I EVER do is geared towards the evolution and vibrational elevation of this planet through the inspiration of individuals,” reads a recent thought. Girl, the planet isn’t asking for your advice. And how does kiddie R&B like “Whip My Hair” (her 2010 single) lead to “vibrational elevation” of anything?

A recent T magazine interview featured many other pearls of wisdom from the Spawn of Smith.
Willow: “. . . the feeling of being like, this is a fragment of a holographic reality that a higher consciousness made.”

Jaden: “We don’t think a lot of the music out there is that cool. So we make our own music. We don’t have any song that we like to listen to on the [Pacific Coast Highway] by any other artist, you know?”

Willow: “There’re no novels that I like to read so I write my own novels, and then I read them again, and it’s the best thing.”

Jaden: “You never learn anything in school. Think about how many car accidents happen every day. Driver’s ed? What’s up? I still haven’t been to driver’s ed because if everybody I know has been in an accident, I can’t see how driver’s ed is really helping them out.”

Willow: “I went to school for one year. It was the best experience but the worst experience. The best experience because I was, like, ‘Oh, now I know why kids are so depressed.’ But it was the worst experience because I was depressed.”

Who would raise kids to think they can make music better than any music written before and write novels better than any novels that have been written before?

Will Smith has proudly claimed responsibility for being the Dr. Frankenstein who created these terrifying ego monsters, saying in a recent BBC radio interview that Jaden has a “really powerful internal quality as an artist that as parents we encourage . . . Jaden is 100 percent fearless, he will do anything. So as a parent it’s scary, it’s really terrifying — but he is completely willing to live and die by his own artistic decisions and he just doesn’t concern himself with what people think.”

Which has led to goals like this one Jaden mentioned: “I have a goal to be just the most craziest person of all time.”


Mar 7, 2016

Cobra Kai trilogy project

(more to come)

The Cobra Kai Project
(more to come)

Cobra Kai 2
(more to come)

Cobra Kai 3
(more to come)

Sweep the Leg trilogy project

(more information coming)

Sweep the Leg 1
(more to come)

Sweep the Leg 2 - the Dojo Wars
(more to come)

Sweep the Leg 3
(more to come)

Mar 6, 2016

Good looking gi's

(photos taken from USSD's Facebook page)

I've debated the past few years since I have been taking kenpo classes if I should go with a more expensive/high-quality gi that will last longer but will start to have the washed/worn look, or should I go with the cheaper/not-as-high-quality gi but be able to get a new gi more often and keep the dark black look.

Such dilemma.

I've always gone with the less expensive gi so I can get a new one more often and keep the dark black look. However, upon see these photos on USSD's Facebook page I think I will soon go with the other option.

The longer I spend in the art I think the more telling it might be if I get a more serious gi.

Mar 5, 2016

Ninjas in the dark

I think better would be, "I'm not afraid of the dark, I'm afraid of the ninjas that lurk in the dark."

Mar 3, 2016

Shito-Ryu Karate Trailblazer: Fumio Demura

( 8-11-14)

Ask the average karate practitioner to name the main styles of Japan, and chances are he’ll rattle off shotokan, goju-ryu and wado-ryu with no trouble. But unless he’s really up on his art, there’s a good chance that he’ll stumble over the name of the fourth major style, snap his fingers and ask quizzically, “What’s the name of that other one, again?”

That other style is shito-ryu, and any karate student’s puzzlement about it is somewhat understandable.  Shito-ryu is relatively unknown outside Japan, even though it’s perhaps the most interesting of all the Japanese systems. Shito-ryu is really a combination of several styles. For instance, it adopts the quick, strong moves of shotokan and blends them with the slow, heavy breathing aspects of goju-ryu. Another noteworthy feature of shito-ryu is the emphasis that some of its instructors place on making their students proficient in kobudo (traditional weaponry), including the bo, sai, naginata and nunchaku.

Probably the biggest reason shito-ryu is still relatively unknown is that until quite recently, few attempts were made to export the style. Certainly, its practitioners haven’t been nearly as aggressive in sending sensei to other countries as have the followers of shotokan.

The results of this stay-at-home policy are apparent: Few martial artists know it abroad, and the other Japanese styles dominate the foreign field. In the United States, shotokan is the most widespread. In Europe, wado-ryu is very strong. Meanwhile, goju-ryu is well-known — in good measure because of the worldwide publicity given to two of its most prominent, and flamboyant, practitioners: the longhaired Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi and the barrel-chested Mas Oyama.

In the United States, there’s only one shito-ryu instructor. That’s surprising in view of the fact that America has more karate players by far than any other country outside the Orient, and there’s such a profusion of styles taught here. (Estimates of the number of U.S. karateka run as high as 50,000.)

A few years ago, we were discussing this point in Black Belt’s offices with Fumio Demura, a muscular fifth dan who’s shito-ryu’s sole representative in the United States. Although little-known abroad, he’s one of the more recognized karateka in Japan. He won the All Japan Karate Championship in 1961 and serves as his style’s representative in Tokyo, where he operates five dojo. He’s also much in demand to give demonstrations with the bo, sai and other weapons because of his advanced skill.

“I think the big reason why foreigners know so little about shito is that the style is most prominent in the western area of Japan, a good distance away from Tokyo,” Fumio Demura said. “Foreigners who come to Japan tend to concentrate in Tokyo, where they are not exposed to the style. In Tokyo, it’s the shotokan and goju styles that are strong, and it’s these styles that visitors usually pick up.”

Fumio Demura got to the United States almost by accident. Running true to shito-ryu form, he’d been content to stay in Japan and build up his style in the Tokyo area. But he was temporarily sidetracked by a persuasive American karateka who coaxed the reluctant Fumio Demura to cross the Pacific and introduce shito-ryu in the United States.

The American responsible for Fumio Demura’s odyssey to the New World is Dan Ivan, a jack-of-all-trades of the martial arts who operates several dojo in Southern California. Dan Ivan holds a first-degree black belt in karate, kendo, judo and aikido. He learned the arts in Japan, having spent half a dozen years there. Dan Ivan accompanied Fumio Demura to our offices and explained how he happened to run into the man who’s now head instructor at his schools.

“I had gone to Japan last year to look for another instructor for my dojo,” he said. “My black belt is in shotokan karate, so naturally I was looking for a shotokan man. But everywhere I went, people kept talking about Demura. Finally, when I got to meet him, I was impressed right from the start. I was especially impressed by his fine attitude. I have met some karate men who were excellent technicians but whose attitude left much to be desired.

“But you take Fumio, now, he has a fine outlook. For instance, when a student who’s had some previous karate training comes to the dojo, Demura always asks them what they learned first in karate. Usually, they tell him that they learned stances or exercises or techniques. Then Fumio tells them that the first thing they learn in his dojo is good manners. I consider myself quite fortunate to have gotten Fumio to come to this country to teach in my dojo.”

One of Fumio Demura’s first converts to shito-ryu was Dan Ivan. “Fumio’s instructing me, and I hope to take my exam for black belt later this year,” Dan Ivan said.

Shito-Ryu Karate vs. Japanese Styles

“Actually, all the Japanese and Okinawan systems are similar in many respects,” Fumio Demura said. “And surprisingly enough, I find that in the basics, the Chinese systems have much in common with ours. I never had a chance to study Chinese systems before I came to the United States, but this is what I’ve noticed in observing the practitioners of the Chinese arts here.”

But he pointed out that it’s in many of the details that the various karate systems differ. For instance, in some styles, the students fight from a short stance. In others, they fight from a more spread-out stance.

“You can quite often tell a goju man by the way he stands — he will fight from a short stance,” Fumio Demura said. “The wado man has a different type of short stance. The shotokan man, on the other hand, will fight from a longer stance. The method of throwing punches might vary a little from system to system, also.”

The shito style is more flexible than the others as far as the fighting stance goes, Fumio Demura insisted. Shito-ryu people will fight from both long and short stances, and move back and forth between the two.

Shito-ryu combines many of the hard, fast techniques of shotokan with the slow breathing of goju. These latter techniques, called sanchin, are muscle-building methods based on dynamic tension. In this respect, shito-ryu clearly shows its Okinawan origins, where sanchin techniques have been highly developed.

“My style comes from Okinawa, where there are two great schools,” Fumio Demura said. “One is called Higaonna, and the other is Itosu. Higaonna and his student, Chojun Miyagi, established the goju school. From Itosu, there is another style followed by many Okinawans. Itosu has nidan and sandan forms, and goju has punching and breathing forms. My style has both elements.”

Fumio Demura stresses two things when instructing his students. One is a strict emphasis on the basics, which he believes are neglected in the United States. “Too many instructors don’t teach what karate is really all about,” he said. “They will just give instructions in punching or kicking or something else. But they don’t teach why a certain punch or kick is good for a certain part of the body.”

This emphasis on developing all parts of the body physically is the second part of Fumio Demura’s mission. He’s powerfully developed himself, and he stresses the bodybuilding and health-giving aspects of karate practice.

“You know, when I was in Japan, I once worked for a pharmaceutical firm, and as part of the job, I had to visit many hospitals,” he said. “I have always thought that hospitals and medicine are very helpful for the sick, of course, but I think that good karate exercise and bodybuilding are even more important and beneficial.

“Karate is a really good form of exercise. And it can be done by old as well as young people. A lot of people complain that karate is too much hard work. But each person can vary and control the amount of work he puts in. As a result, even little children and women can take up the art beneficially.

“There’s another thing about karate: You don’t need anyone else to be able to practice it. Football needs other people to help play it. Swimming needs water and a good climate. But in karate, you need nothing outside yourself.”

American Karate

Fumio Demura had some interesting things to say about American tournaments. For one thing, he pointed out that Americans compete to a far greater extent than do the Japanese. For instance, in Japan, they don’t run major tournaments in which white belts participate as well as black belts. In Japan, the karate students are expected to have learned their basics thoroughly and be of black-belt status before being allowed to go up against one another. Among other benefits, it saves a lot of wear and tear on the body.

“There are a lot of accidents in American karate tournaments because the basics are not practiced enough,” Fumio Demura said. “The contestants don’t have a real grasp of the fundamentals. They practice for maybe six months, and then they go in. But for speed, good timing and the ability to stop kicks and punches, they need basics, basics, basics.”

Fumio Demura was insistent on another thing, and that’s the need to provide good judging at tournaments. He agreed with Black Belt’s assessment that most tournament judging in the United States is below par. And he should know what he’s talking about, for he’s a top referee in his own country.

“In the United States, you don’t even have a school for refereeing,” he said. “You don’t have to have a regular school, just an informal one where people can meet perhaps once a week to learn refereeing techniques.

“Then all the people who will be officiating should get together starting, say, six weeks before the tournament so they can familiarize themselves thoroughly with the rules and judging. They must check one another to see how one would call a half point and how another one might call a full point. Then they would have to standardize these things.

“If the tournament is just going to be among people from the same school, then the refereeing is not quite as big a problem as when many different styles are competing. But in the United States, where contestants from so many different karate styles are competing, it is essential that these meetings be set up before the tournament.”

Fumio Demura also had some encouraging words to say about karate in America. For one thing, he thinks the level is improving. And having so many styles to learn and choose from can be a big help. But as he pointed out, all the tournaments in the world aren’t going to be that big a help unless the contestants have had a thorough grounding in fundamentals first. This is the area he believes needs the greatest development, and it’s what the man teaches.