Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back On Top Baby!

After my last Monday class of frustration I decided to do three things: First, drink a beer ... then practice for an hour ... and then buy 6 books about Aikido in Japanese from! If I don't understand my Sensei because he's using Aikido vocabulary all the time, then I'm going to learn it. I felt immediately gratified after ordering them, even more so when they arrived only about two days later, but am now looking at them a bit apprehensively trying to judge exactly how this is going to work. For all those students of Japanese, I think you'll be able to sympathize. There is a large amount of kanji to decipher. Thus far I have utilized my fellow teachers at school to help me with kanji translations, but they are getting busier and my novelty factor is wearing off, so I'm not getting as much help these days. I have a great kanji dictionary, but to struggle through finding the radicals and such for every single word in these books may take me about 80 years, and that exceeds my contract here in Japan, so I need to find something else. I did hear from a friend that actually the best option may be to buy a Nintendo DS because it has a game you can buy that has a great kanji dictionary, and as long as I get the stroke order right, it's about the fastest and most effective way possible. However, it will be expensive, and there is a great looming threat I will satiate a deep desire to play Zelda and thus neglect teaching responsibilities, studying Japanese, practicing Aikido, getting out and exploring Japan, and hanging out with friends. Mmmmm. Any words of advice is GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Class the other night actually went very well. I showed all the books to my sensei, and he was certainly interested and maybe even a bit more shocked. I think he was happy to have an enthusiastic student, but confused as to how I'm actually going to read these books, or if I'm just crazy. As for being tossed, I certainly ate a lot of mat while feeling new pains in tendons I didn't even know existed. As for throwing, I am already seeing small improvements.

Buying these books and having a positive and thirsty attitude I think are great fruits blossoming from studying about Taoism and the internal arts of Tai Chi, Bagua Zhang, and Hsing I. With life in constant change, the universe and its manifestations are always vascillating in a wave like fashion alternating from up and down, positive to negative, and so forth. My life and training are no different. However, I believe our role as rational and sensitive humans is to see these patterns and be able to hasten those less enjoyable parts and longer enjoy the time in the sun. In Japan I have made so many mistakes and rode already through a lot of less than ideal experiences, but the best thing I can do is to get on that horse and ride as fast as I can into the next adventure.


  1. I think one problem you may experiance is that terminology changes between styles and schools.
    If you can get in touch with Pat at Mokuren Dojo and Sensei Strange they have depth of knowledge that may help.

  2. One more thing about reading Japanese - there is a great site called which does E-J and J-E translation (it also gives Chinese readings). So anything that you have in a digital format, you can copy into their site and get character readings. Good luck, BP