October 10, 2011


We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a personal announcement: my daughter earned her shodan (first degree black belt) in karate this weekend. It occurred to me that I got mine the same year she was born.

She's been around it her whole life but for some reason got seriously into it a few years back. A lot of people approach it as a sport or fitness activity, but I recommended she approach it in a traditional way, as a serious fighting art and classical budo or martial way. She did, applying fiercely the admonition of Shotokan karate master Gichin Funakoshi, who had this to say about practice:

Be deadly serious in your training. Your opponent must always be present in your mind, whether you sit or stand or walk or raise your arms. Should you in combat strike a karate blow, you must have no doubt whatsoever that the one blow decides everything. If you have made an error, you will be the one who falls. You must always be prepared for such an eventuality.

She brought that serious attitude to her form or kata practice, prearranged solo exercises in which one executes techniques in multiple directions against imagined opponents. She also proved to be quite a predator in kumite or sparring. In practice, she would only spar with toughest and best she could find, duking it out with black belt men who outweighed her by half or more.

When she did compete, she generally dominated the ring, often kicking her opponents out of it. She once said that I seemed prouder of her when she did that than when she got her doctorate. For the record, that isn't necessarily true. But it might be.

WHAT HE SAID. Here's Paul Krugman on the ruling class hissy fit over the Occupy Wall Street movement.

THE POLITICS OF OCCUPATION. Here's Robert Reich on the Wall Street protesters and the Democratic party.



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