B&W profile

Still here.

It's been an *age* since I've babbled. Let's begin. 



Okay, so first, I had 3 laptops essentially die on the same day. That was... awful. Thanks to a little gadget I picked up a while ago, I've been able to not only retrieve most of the data on their HDs, but also stuff from desktop HDs I had over a decade ago. I'm sorting through a preposterous amount of pictures and old music, but it's nice to know that I have them. 

To replace the old laptops, Beemer has given me permission to purchase an early birthday present in the form of a Lenovo Yoga laptop with a 516 gig SSD and lots of bells and whistles. I'm quite thankful for his understanding and I'm pleased with the purchase. Light, quiet, num keys on the side, etc. It's a hell of an upgrade. (squee) It can also fold backward into a really large tablet, not that I'll be using that feature much as I've still got two Samsung Android tablets that work just fine for that purpose. 

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I've completed the 120 hr course for TEFL (Teaching English to Foreign Learners) which also includes online teaching, teaching large classes, and some other curriculum. My target is to teach Japanese students, but I gotta say that the Chinese sites are paying notably better for equal work. I still think I'll prioritize Japanese students for job searches as I know enough of the language to get by and I know the culture.



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During the Pandemic Months last year, I played a lot of Final Fantasy XIV with some local folks. They're on their 3rd, ShadowBringers (which was excellent) and have announced their 4th and final (ha) expansion, Endwalker. Looking forward to it, also looking forward to taking a break from it. 

I've just finished the PlayStation 4 game, Control. Mix parts of X-Files, Warehouse 13, and Fringe into one package and you'll have a good idea of how mysterious and wacky the game is. It deserves most of the praise it has received, and I think it could well be a great new franchise if they handle it right. Plenty of room for Lovecraftian critters and horror (without the racist and misogynistic trappings) spun in a new way. 

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Talked with Mom recently, making sure she's doing well. While she's physically well, she's decided not to get the COVID vaccine. This upsets me. She claims she'll be fine and healthy and whatnot, but she's willing to remain not only vulnerable to the virus, but also act as a spreader if she gets it. I can't fathom her thinking here, and I'm especially annoyed that not too long ago she was a nurse. There's a lot behind this, and I've got to reflect on her choices. It's pretty stressful. 
 

B&W profile

Oh, right! Cross-posting is a thing.

Having last fled the scene that was the end of the Blog Era, I seem to have forgotten how to do basic crap like cross-posts, HTML links, and the like. What's old is new again, yes?

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.

Moving on!

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.

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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! 

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So, back to Mantis. 

B&amp;W profile

Emerging from the wreckage

Oof.

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.

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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.
B&amp;W profile

Blue

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.)