Jeff Christian

Random Thoughts in Tokyo

Daikomyosai was amazing this year, as always. Hatsumi-soke was super genki, there were techniques demonstrated in both yoroi and beautiful formal Japanese court wear, and the training was intense, enriching, and enlightening. Today is my first day off since I arrived two weeks ago, and the first opportunity I’ve had to regroup and reflect. Rather…

Tall Grass

It may be surprising to learn that bamboo is categorized as grass, not as a tree. Granted it’s the only variety of grass that can grow to over 100 feet tall. Described as the “wood of the poor” in India, “friend of the people” in China and “brother” in Vietnam, bamboo is a wonder plant…

The Culture of Tea

There are certain aspects of Japanese culture that seem uniquely Japanese, especially if they evoke a more Zen-like approach to the subject. Some of these activities make sense to us in the West, even if we can’t immediately identify the difference between the Japanese approach versus the Western approach. For example, ikebana (flower arranging) at…

Yin and Yang

By now we are all familiar with the terms Yin and Yang. We all assume that we understand its meaning. It’s the balance of everything: Good and Bad, Black and White, Male and Female. We know what we have read in books and heard in lectures from wise men. But aside from making a cool…

Traveling Light

There is a saying about preparing for a trip: “Lay out everything you need, then pack half and take double the money.”  While doubling your money might not always be the easiest path, cutting down the things we carry around with us can really make life simpler, especially when faced with transcontinental voyages like out…

My Perfect Teachers

Very often, people will ask the question, “Why doesn’t Soke do something about so-and-so?” The teacher being discussed may have a reputation for not being very skilled, or being selfish, or too financially driven. Sometimes these criticisms are well founded. Other times they are rumors being passed on by people who have never met the…

The Care and Feeding of Translators

by Rich Maloof Recently, I’ve been translating at the Honbu on Saturdays and there are a few points I’d like to bring up on how to make your experience there a little smoother.

Muzosa: More Than a Name

Here’s a question: how many people know “muzosa”? I’m sure everyone who’s reading this Journal would say “of course I know “muzosa.” It’s the name of our dojo, duh!!’, which is OK. However, how many people know the meaning behind the word “muzosa”?

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