Monthly Archives: February 2010


I haven’t written about kendo in a while.

I’m still participating in kendo, though I am on “winter hiatus” from my main club, the Kansas City Kendo Club, because we do not have an indoor training facility. Apart from absolutely despising the cold I don’t want to risk further injuring my knee by slipping in snow or mud, so I’m giving the home club a miss until it warms up and dries out. But I have the luxury of having my college club and the nice, new rec center to practice in, so that has been good.

Something funny happened to me with kendo after about a year into it. I started out gung ho, acquired my uniform and bogu quickly, worked out hard and often and made nearly every practice, twice a week for a year. I’ve been to a tournament, traveled to other clubs to practice and passed my ikkyu examination. Experienced kendoka will roll their eyes or chuckle at this, but I felt pretty accomplished after that first year, feeling like I had a pretty good handle on what was going on. Cocky, even…

The other day at my college club we had a challenge, sparring in matches for the right to have a refereed match with a visiting scholar who is very good at kendo. I drew a club mate for the first round who had started kendo just a few months before, right about my one year “anniversary”. What I thought was, “I’ll at least get to have two matches,” thinking that this newbie I had never matched against before would be a certain win.

If you just now thought to yourself, “I bet he got his ass handed to him” then you are correct.

I sparred casually and was surprised when the ippon scored wasn’t mine. No problem, got over confident, time to get to work. Then the ref announced “one minute”, and it dawned on me that down one point to nothing I was going to lose if I didn’t score ippon and do it quickly. I frantically started swinging, but to no avail. I was sloppy and unfocused and I wasn’t going to get away with it. Time was called and I had to see the situation for what it was.

I at first ran through rationalizations in my mind. I wasn’t feeling well. I was out of practice. Mars was descending into the House of Aquarius. The bottom line is that I lost. Period. But more importantly I also made a dishonest mistake in underestimating my opponent, which is fundamentally disrespectful.

There is no guaranteeing I wouldn’t have lost no matter what my attitude was in the square that night. It would be arrogant of me to make any assumptions otherwise. My opponent bested me in that match, and every match is a thing unto itself. But I didn’t just go out there and lose a match. Even if I had won the match I would have failed in spirit for the disrespectful attitude I had in my heart when I stepped into the square. It is fortuitous that I did lose, because it allowed me the opportunity to reflect on that attitude where I might not have otherwise, and to make a change to better myself. And as I’ve said many times, a failure isn’t complete until you miss the chance to learn from it.

I feel I did learn from it. It would have been missing the point to simply learn from his sparring habits and develop an answer to them. I want to be a better person than I was that day, not just a better at the motions of kendo. We’ve since had other matches, and while the results of those matches aren’t important, what is important is that I entered the square with complete fundamental respect every time since. Without that we’re just wailing on each other with bamboo, win or lose.


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Fitness Report 12Feb10

Waist – 41.75″ (?)

Weight – 225.8 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – xx.x%(scale)/29%(A.F.C.)

Overweight by – 37 pounds

Exercising – Three papers were due this week along with a ton of reading, so, I went jogging once.

Dieting – Cafeteria food is my kryptonite. Delicious, delicious kryptonite…

I feel – Like I was up reading Plato’s “The Republic” all night. Oh wait, I was.

I wrote down what the scale told me my body fat was this morning before I left for lunch, but I’m guessing that piece of paper was stolen by the house gnome. Probably in retribution for not keeping the house tidy. So all we have this week if the Army Fitness Calculator. I’m thinking of ditching the electric measurement altogether. Actually I’ve been thinking about it for some time, but that is the feature that made me go out and spend fifty dollars on a new scale, so I’ve been reluctant to do it. I don’t know, whatever.

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“Friends of the Carnegie Exhibition” Art Show Opening at the Leavenworth Carnegie Arts Center

Friday, 5Feb10, I attended the “Friends of the Carnegie” art exhibition opening at The Carnegie Arts Center of Leavenworth, Kansas. This was an exhibition of art created or collected by benefactors of the CAC, including the two founding co-directors, Mary Ellen Maxwell and Rebeca Johnson. Mary Ellen is my mother, and when they founded the Leavenworth Area Arts Center (as it was first known, even for a while after they secured the Carnegie building) I was a child of about eleven or twelve. My mother spent long days working at the CAC, often coming home late at night, and I spent a lot of time there with her. The CAC was like a second home to me during those years, and I often took classes or volunteered as a summer camp counselor there, but most often spent time there drawing or modeling clay or writing while my mother worked on either the business of the center or her own artwork. I have a lot of fond memories of the place, and my sister even got married there. Ma retired from there a while back and I don’t get out there much anymore, but it’s always nice when I do and this time was no exception.

For starters I was hungry when I got there, and was happy that the opening was blessed with a fine array of food. There was also alcohol to be had, but I’ve made an oath not to recreationally drink until I am comfortably below 200lbs, so I stuck to the punch. I don’t remember the caterer’s name, but she was very nice and the food was good. When I walked in the first person I spotted was my dad, and he took me on over because he knew I hadn’t had dinner, and we talked about books for a bit while I took advantage of the spread.

Ma collects Oaxacan Wood Carvings, and here is one of here larger ones. She has it laid out on a mat she made I think for a previous show she put on. She’s got a bunch of glass beads strewn on there for effect. Of course Ma has a bunch of glass beads, and in a variety of colors. That’s just the sort of person she is. One day I needed surgical masks for something I was doing (I don’t remember what), and in she goes into her office and comes out with some. You never know what’s in her supply reserve, honestly she has just about anything you’d need for anything. Sometimes we go to hardware stores or office supply stores and wander around together, because I have inherited her love of supplies.

These are normally in my folks’ bed room. The sign said “DO NOT TOUCH”, but the drawers I think are utilized as jewelry organizers when not on display in a gallery. The full-size photographs can be viewed by clicking on them, by the way. Also, I’m going to do the centered picture and text description thing for a bit here, so hang on…

This creature is either about to commit a violence to your face or commit a break-dancing to the floor.

I have no idea what this thing is, but it’s cool.

I do know what this is, however. Well, not exactly. This is something called found art, and this particular piece came from the old Great Western Manufacturing Company. It probably wouldn’t be as cool if we knew exactly what it was…

This is a close-up of one of Ma’s 3D painting/sculpture hybrid things she did a while back. I always really liked this one. I really liked a lot of the stuff she was doing around this time.

Another 3D piece from Ma that mixes the images of the Cosmos with a door.

I imagine some Deist creator god sitting at this desk drawing up the universe when I see this.

Susan Nelson, long time friend of the family and an art teacher at the University of Saint Mary made this tea-pot. Susan is a whiz at this sort of thing, and last year she helped me to create some deity figures for my House Shrine Project.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think she made this vase, too.

View from the north side of the Stacks Gallery, so named because this large room housed the library stacks when the building was still the Leavenworth Library.

This is Toulouse Carnegie, add him on Facebook to get updates on upcoming classes, events and exhibitions at the Carnegie Arts Center.

This is a newspaper clipping describing Tatsuo Sato, a former President of the Heart of America Japan-America Society. A couple pieces of his work were in this exhibition because they were in the personal collection of one of the benefactors participating in this show. I mention it here because I am a member of this fine organization!

This large painting hanging in the main hall of the CAC wasn’t part of the exhibit (it’s a permanent fixture) but I include it because it has an interesting history. This painting used to hang in the bar in the old Cody Motel, which was razed a while back to make room for some retirement condos. It was a typical Old West saloon painting, being both technically “culture” as a reproduction of an actual work of fine art, and also “nude girl for drunk dudes to look at”. The story goes that Carrie Nation was coming through Leavenworth during the Prohibition, and the saloon owner met her at the train station and delivered some convincing plea to her to spare it as fine art, to which she consented. This painting has caused some patrons of the CAC to be scandalized in recent times as well, which I find both amusing and depressing at the same time.

And finally, a snowman. I saw this fellow on the roof level of the south parking garage at Johnson County Community College today when I stopped by this afternoon on an errand to meet with my friend and former professor Mrs. C. I include him here because I think he’s neat, and seeing him at the end of the afternoon took some of the edge off that a little misadventure on the turnpike this morning had put on.


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Fitness Report 5Feb10

Waist – 43″ (?)

Weight – 223.6 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – 30.9%(scale)/29%(A.F.C.)

Overweight by – 35 pounds

Exercising – Still moving back into my regular routine. Should be up to my old minimum next week

Dieting – Much better this week!

I feel – Like it’s Friday night and I want it to never end

Clearly I’m going to have trouble maintaining my level of activity this semester. I’m taking three classes that require regular paper writing and I have to do an unbelievable amount of reading every week. I’ve already singled out fencing as the first things that has to be scaled back. I didn’t even go this week, but I’m contemplating making it a once a week thing by design, and that day maybe being Sunday. I don’t know yet, but this semester is going to be tricky. Running at the Rec Center up at KU is kind of nice, but it’s also noisy and crowded in their. The track isn’t too crowded, but I’m used to jogging alone late at night with nobody else around and it being very quiet. Maybe I should do that in case I have a heart attack or summat?

Also, I still don’t know what to think about the variation in figures that my electronic scale keeps handing me.

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