Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Shaolin Kung Fu in Contemporary China

This month's National Geographic Magazine has an article about the current state of the Shaolin Temple and it's place in contemporary China.The article may be read online here.

While written for a general audience, there are still some interesting insights. Take a look.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Beauty of Dogs

The below is a beautiful slow motion video (1000fps) shot of dogs jumping for dog treats flying through the air. It’s actually an advertisement for Pedigree, as you’ll see at the end. It’s interesting seeing all the little details our eyes can’t ordinarily pick up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter Training

The International Sogo Budo Federation is holding it's 2nd Annual Winter Training in Auburn Hills, MI on March 12. For more information, please contact the Martial Science Center.

International Sogo Budo Federation 2nd Annual Winter Martial Training Event
March 12, 2011
Join us for an exciting day of training!!
WHERE: 937 N. Opdyke, Auburn Hills, MI 48326

WHEN: Saturday Mar. 12, 2011 2-5 pm Training

WHAT: All ISBF Members and guests are invited to our 2nd Annual Winter Sogo event. This is a one day, hands on opportunity to train with the various ISBF recognized instructors representing the different facets of Sogo Budo. Participants will be exposed to a broad array of percussion, weaponry, and grappling engagements. Come sample the buffet of martial knowledge available to you!

FEE: $50 for ISBF Members, $60 for non-members (cash please)

HOSTED BY: The Martial Science Center, LLC, home of the Sui Shin Kan

Greg Boliard Sensei
Dan Kendall Sensei
Kirk Rehn Sensei
Gary Nepper Sensei
Dan Confer Sensei
Kevin Hough Sensei
Rick Brady Sensei
Mark Szof Sensei
John Parks Sensei

REGISTRATION: Advance registration please!
Call 248-703-1471 to reserve your spot today!
A DVD of the event is included!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Enemy of the Bureacratic Mind

Walter Russel Mead has started teaching Grand Strategy at Bard College. To the end, he's begun a blog entitled StratBlog. A friend sent me the link to one of his articles from which I will post an excerpt below. The whole article may be read here.

The article is about Sun Tzu and the Art of War, and how the way of Sun Tzu was the very opposite of the bureaucratic way Chinese governmental affairs were managed.

Don't play by the other guy's rules. Change the game. If he wants to play poker, play chess. If he wants to play chess, then box.

Since we've examined The 36 Strategies, maybe it's time to begin posting on Sun Tzu's Art of War?

 The Art of War comes out of a culture where political correctness reigned: Confucian China attached enormous importance to ideas of correct conduct and correct speech.  To do something in the wrong way was to do the wrong thing.  Ethical Chinese scholars rejected concepts like the use of deception in warfare and believed that the aim of politics was to establish a benevolent state under a wise and absolute ruler who would use unlimited power to promote the general good.

It was a culture of bureaucracy and meritocracy.  China is famous for inventing the rigorous civil service exam, with posts awarded to candidates based on their demonstrated academic knowledge.  By and large the classical works of Chinese literature on the exams celebrated the ideals of propriety, conformity, and respect for the ancient traditions.  In the quiet library of Confucian literary studies, The Art of War is like a fart in church.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The 300 Tang Dynasty Poems, #38: The Moon at the Fortified Pass

The Tang Dynasty was a high point in Chinese culture. Poetry was especially esteemed. No occasion; no homecoming or leaving taking was too insignificant to be commemorated in a poem. The best examples of the poetry of the age are collected in the classic, 300 Tang Dynasty Poems.

Below is #38, The Moon at the Fortified Pass

Li Bai

The bright moon lifts from the Mountain of Heaven
In an infinite haze of cloud and sea,
And the wind, that has come a thousand miles,
Beats at the Jade Pass battlements....
China marches its men down Baideng Road
While Tartar troops peer across blue waters of the bay....
And since not one battle famous in history
Sent all its fighters back again,
The soldiers turn round, looking toward the border,
And think of home, with wistful eyes,
And of those tonight in the upper chambers
Who toss and sigh and cannot rest.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Lantern Festival

Today is the Chinese Lantern Festival. This is an English 
translation of the poem referred to in the post, Meaning in Language. 
The Lantern Festival
--A Lyric Verse by Xin Qiji (1140-1207)

Lanterns look like thousands of flowers aglow;
Later like stars, from the skies, fallen below.
On main streets, horses and carriages ply.
There, ladies shed perfume, as they pass by.
Orchestral music and song greet our ears,
As the moon, slow and steady, eastward veers.
Of the Spring Festival, this night marks the end.
The whole night, capering, carps and dragons spend.
Adorned with ribbons or paper flowers on their head,
Clad in their best raiment, something bright or red,
Women squeeze their way among the festive crowd,
As they talk and laugh; even giggle aloud.
Rouged and powdered; perfumed to their heart's content,
They cannot but leave behind a subtle scent.
Up and down the main streets, I must have run—
A thousand times or more in quest of one, 
Who I have concluded, cannot be found;
For, everywhere, no trace of her can be seen,
When, all of a sudden, I turned about,
That's her, where lanterns are few and far between.

Hundreds and thousands of times, 
For her I searched in chaos, suddenly, 
I turned by chance, to where the lights were waning, 
And there she stood!

Taijiquan and Karate

The below is an excerpt of an excerpt from a book by Mas Oyama, the founder of the rugged Kyokushin Karate. The full excerpt may be found here. Oyama was also friends with Kenichi Sawai, who founded Taikiken based on his study of Yiquan during the Japanese occupation of China during WWII.

It is a little known fact that the legendary Founder of Kyokushin Karate, Sosai (Grandmaster) Oyama admitted to only one single defeat in his entire life as a Karateka.

The man is whom the martial arts world call the "God Hand" or the "God of Karate".

He is a man who easily sliced through bottle-necks, broke rocks with his knife hand, killled bulls with a single blow, defeated hundereds of martial art masters & professional fighters, boxers, wrestlers all over Japan & the whole world.

Yet in his biography this invincible Karateka revealed that he could not beat one frail old man - an old man who practices "Taijiquan", the art of the Grand Ultimates.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Warrior Ethos

Steven Pressfield, the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and Gates of Fire, is starting a new series of articles on his blog for his "Writing Wednesdays" feature. Below is an excerpt from the first article. The whole thing may be read here.

Warriors and Artists

What is a warrior anyway? It’s you and me, as we fight the daily battle against our inner demons of self-sabotage, self-betrayal, self-doubt and so forth—not to mention the real, external foes we must contend with in our art, our businesses, and our personal lives.

We duel adversity every day, you and I. We get bloodied; we experience casualties—and we have to get up and find a way to fight again. We might not be wearing body armor or carrying M4 carbines, but we know in our bones that the warrior virtues of patience, resolution, tenacity, selflessness, capacity to endure hardship, etc. serve us every day of our lives. Life is a struggle. That’s why the word “war” is in the title of The War of Art.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

More Examples of Strategy #31: Scheme with Beauties

A friend sent me these three stories. I will post an excerpt from the first two below. You can read them in their entirety here, here and here.

Chinese use honeytraps to spy on French companies, intelligence report claims

The use of honeytraps to extort information and the placement of spying interns are among the techniques employed by Chinese spies in their industrial espionage operations, according to leaked French intelligence files. 

Among the cases cited by the intelligence reports, is the predicament of a top researcher in a major French pharmaceutical company wined and dined by a Chinese girl who he ended up sleeping with.

"When he was shown the recorded film of the previous night in his hotel room ... he proved highly co-operative," said an economic intelligence official.

In another case, an unnamed French company realised too late that a sample of its patented liquid had left the building after the visit of a Chinese delegation. It turned out one of the visitors had dipped his tie into the liquid to take home a sample in order to copy it.

French companies should do more to protect themselves from prying eyes among the 30,000 Chinese students who conduct internships in France, warned experts.

Another technique is the "mushroom factory", in which French industries create a joint venture with a local Chinese firm and transfer part of their technology. Soon afterwards, the French "discover that local rivals have emerged ... offer identical products and are run by the Chinese head of the company that initiated the joint venture." Danone, the French dairy and drinks group allegedly fell foul of this technique when it teamed up with the Chinese drinks giant, Wahaha. 

The revelations on Chinese spying techniques came as Renault, the French carmaker is embroiled in a massive espionage scandal involving three top executives over allegations they were paid to hand over car secrets to a Chinese firm. French intelligence officials were reportedly furious the part state-owned company had not asked for its help. 

France is drawing up a guide of good practice for French entrepreneurs. One of the rules is never hold meetings with Chinese delegations in rooms where sensitive briefings take place: they could subsequently be bugged. 

Prison officer suspended for 'relationship with honey trap'

A prison director and warden in France have been suspended and placed under investigation after being seduced by a 21-year old 'honey trap' in prison for her role in luring a Jewish man to his death. 

Florent Goncalves, 41, director of the women's prison of Versailles, told police that he had "fallen in love" with Emma Arbabzadeh, who worked for a group called the Gang of Barbarians, and intended to rebuild his life with her once she was released from prison, where she is halfway through a nine-year sentence.

He is under official investigation on suspicion of giving her "preferential treatment" in the shape of money, packages and telephone pin cards and other "objects forbidden to inmates".

A 36-year-old prison warden is also under investigation for allegedly succumbing to her charms and handing over telephone pin cards.

Investigators said Mr Goncalves admitted during questioning to having sexual relations with Miss Arbabzadeh between December 2009 and October 2010 in exchange for favours. The other man is not understood to have had intimate relations with her.

"She made (the two men) lose their senses," an investigator told Le Parisien, the newspaper. 

Miss Arbabzadeh, formerly called Yalda, served as a honey trap to lure Ilan Halimi, a 23-year old French Jew working in Paris, to the suburb of Sceaux, where he was seized by members of the "Barbarians", who kidnapped him and kept him in a cellar in the suburb of Bagneux in 2006.

Over a period of three weeks, he was tortured – stabbed and burned – and deprived of food and clothes. He was found handcuffed and naked, tied to a tree on a railway outside Paris, but died en route to hospital.

The gang's leader, Youssouf Fofana was convicted to the maximum life sentence in France, eligible for parole after 22 years.

Some 23 others received sentences from three to 15 years.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy Year of the Hare

Happy Chinese New Year!
The following is an excerpt from a post at the Language Log Blog, by noted Sinologist Victor Mair. The full post my be read here.

Happy New Year Rabbit You

Two years ago, the favored lunar New Year's greeting in China was "Happy 牛 Year!" where 牛 ("bovine") is pronounced niú in Mandarin and is standing in for "New" in the Year of the Ox / Bull / Cow.

Last year, the Year of the Tiger, "I 老虎 U", where lǎohǔ 老虎 (which means "tiger") sounds like "love" to some Chinese speakers, was conveniently and concurrently being used to celebrate the New Year, Valentine's Day, and a famous golfer's amorous escapades.

Well, this is the year of the rabbit, so you can be sure the Chinese would come up with a clever way to incorporate their word for rabbit (or hare) in this year's favored New Year's greeting, and indeed they have.

What we have for the current year is "Happy New Year 兔 you", where tù 兔 ("rabbit, hare") is standing in for English "to," hence "Happy New Year to You!"

This clever New Year's greeting, which is already flying around the Chinese cybersphere, seems to have won out over two other less catchy attempts to incorporate a bunny wabbit into the mandatory New Year's Sino-English salutation.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Yagyu Seigo Ryu

Well then. Having just come in from throwing about a foot of snow from my driveway to make room for the rest of the cotton pickin' snow that's going to fall, what better to do than to watch a jujutsu video?