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Anyway, I've linked the DW and LJ accounts now. Not that they're terribly conducive to conversation as they once were, but I'm okay that.
Back to this cyclical pattern of events we call "life," I've been re-learning my Mantis kung fu in earnest. First, let me say why I went back to the beginning.
The kempo style taught at my previous dojo was dubbed "Shaolin Kempo" (despite the school calling itself 'karate,' and don't even get me started on that issue), meaning that this style's branch was brought over by the Shaolin monks, stayed a spell in Hawai'i (where it suddenly was streamlined and called Kempo), then brought over to mainland US and disseminated throughout by various masters. Or something like that.
In any case, I found that my previous training helped me get an upper hand on learning the material and they were happy to have me teach. It was at this point I noticed a few things. The head of the school was always interested in my opinion on moves and ideas behind closed doors, but in class he and his assistant were quick to shut down any of the habits of my old training. I found the clash odd and often insulting, but didn't say anything as it was their school.
Cross-over between styles is inevitable in martial arts as one is often based on concepts of another (mantis and monkey styles being a great example), so it's not a surprise to see similar moves between schools. However, when the forms that are taught at a Kempo school are really close to that of, say, a Korean Tang Soo Do school, one has to wonder. After getting my black belt in Kempo, suddenly their style changed; the black belts had notably different techniques than lower ranks, certain 'bad' habits were now encouraged, and we were told that, unless you were an instructor, you don't need to worry about remembering the low ranking forms anymore. The dissonance stuck with me and I eventually left before the pandemic fully hit us here in the US.
While practicing my Tang Soo Do at home, I came across an old book I had that covered the art and, behold, I saw all the forms that the Karate place taught. They were the unaltered style; the dojo taught altered methods to students, which the head of the school kept tweaking to make it 'an evolving art of Kempo,' or whatever. It became clear that the school straight-up used TSD as the basis for training and forms, but saved actual Kempo material for black belts. It finally clicked why the head of the school was always so interested in my thoughts but quickly shot down any ideas or experiences I voiced during classes; he clearly carbon-copied TSD as the basis for his own style and hoped no one else would recognize it, saving actual Kempo for those who have invested enough time and money to show their commitment. (Emphasis on money, as his password was roughly 'Boulder Rules for Money!' (which was the biggest red flag ever.))
I feel a lot better about leaving that school.
So, I'm a <I>ronin</I> again, but now I've got a bit of perspective. I've learned this: modern martial arts are rarely 'pure;' at least some element was taken from someone else's style and acknowledgement is almost never given. The Mantis and TSD I have were from a grandmaster who splintered off from traditional TSD schools to start his own stuff up. That Karate school has an identity crisis and is composed of many, many martial arts concepts. Thus, when it comes to an art, a student has what they're given and it may not be what it claims to be, but they now have an expression of martial prowess along a certain style. Style is how one expresses the crucial elements of that art, what they believe to be important. If you critically examine a style, you can remove the inconsistencies and weaknesses, but you can also strengthen it by supplementing techniques from external sources (just be honest about it.)
Given all of that, I'm deciding that I can use these three martial arts styles that I have to create a hybrid on my own terms. Will I be starting a school? Nah. Will I be saying it's taught from So-And-So? Sure, but I claim no lineage from it. Will it help keep me reasonably fit during this never-ending American Pandemic? Yuppers!
So, back to Mantis.
Okay, it's 2020.
A global pandemic has hit and our delusional capitalistic systems grind to a crawl because there are few physical bodies out there to keep it going. Modern Nazi wear Hawaiian shirts and carry guns in public. We're encouraged to stay indoors, but wear masks and keep 6' apart when going outside (though there's resistance to these guidelines for some reason.) President Travesty had loaded government departments with people whose former occupations was exactly oppositional to that department, pretty much nullifying our entire system. Police are getting caught on film ruthlessly killing black citizens and largely getting away with it. Oh, and all countries are prohibiting any American from visiting.
This scenario would be considered distilled tropes of a dystopian novel if it weren't completely exhausting, horrifying, and real.
On the other hand -
People don't want to go back to work or school because of the virus (showing that late-stage capitalism is stupid). Guns and Hawaiian shirts don't mix, so American Nazis look like deranged clowns and are easier than ever to spot. I prefer the indoors as I generally hate other Americans and I burn in sunlight, so this isolation thing isn't too hard on my psyche (though B needs his socialization by any means he can get it.) PoC voters are organizing in a big way to vote the monsters out of the White House. (Pity they sided with Biden, but whatever.) The Black Lives Matter movement has been doing marches and protests with immense results, including the re-allocation of the swollen police budgets and distribution of civil duties (not to mention a solid effort to remove the thrice-damned systemic racism built into our country.)
Yes, there's finally some improvement to this long nightmare, but there's still plenty that can go wrong. I, for one, won't hold out hope that things will change; there's at least one more real big, ugly event that'll happen before America decides to change for good.
Yes, I'm bitter about it all.
In better news...
I finally married Dr. Tectonic, we went back to Japan for the honeymoon, reconnected with the Yamamotos, earned that black belt in Kenpo, restarted my Japanese studies in earnest, studying to pass the TEFL, working on designing my own board game, and have sworn off bread, milk, and coffee as these no longer agree with this mid-40's body of mine, got a new cat, ditched emotionally damaging people, and feel less broken and inferior as a human being.
Motto for this year: Fuck you, 2020. I'm evolving.
Oh, and fuck FB.
D&D Monster of the Week
Honorary Blue Belt, get!
This means that though I'm still working my way up to this rank, I'm considered to have equivalent skills and knowledge at this point.
(Ranks here are different, too: white, yellow, orange, purple, blue, green, brown, red, black.)
Yellow belt, get.
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One of my Xmas gifts happens to be a monthly delivery of snacks and goodies straight from Japan.
From top to bottom-
-White chocolate yam things (??!), potato chips
-Lemon drink, strawberry shortcake candies
-GABA infused stress relieving chocolate chews (??!), Calpis milk jellies, orange gummys
-Strawberry yogurt chews, PokeMon pineapple chews, Fit's gum with Where's Wally card
-Pizza, Chocolate, and Hello Kitty Strawberry Pocky
-Bonus pen and pencil