Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Thoughts on Netflix's BEEF

Thoughts on Netflix's BEEF

  •         It’s well-made and deserving of praise, especially for exploring areas of the Asian American experience that have not been dramatized in highly-publicized mainstream works.
  •         Personally, I’d be disappointed if the controversy around David Choe brings it down.
  •         Even if Choe was just joking in bad taste, he’s an adult and should know better
  •         Choe, Steven Yeun and Ali Wong are established enough media figures in my opinion that they should have anticipated the situation and possible public response.
  •         Their reaction is clumsy and only amplifies the feeling Choe is guilty of something, and frankly, they are going to reap what they sowed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

30 Years of Aikido

2023 will mark my 30th year training in the martial art of aikido, something I started when studying abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo. Honestly, I never thought something I tried on a whim would become a life-long pursuit.

During 2020-21, as the pandemic shut down in-person classes, I had a lot of time to think about what aikido means to me. When Zoom classes were started, I had a chance to take instruction from a wide variety of teachers from around the country I don't normally get to see. And it gave me a new appreciation for all the different ways people look at the art, even the ones I might not have gravitated towards before. 

The resumption of in-person training didn't mean I could just jump back into things. Those two years had cut into my work quite a bit, so time and money needed balancing, not to mention work and family. When I do get to the dojo, I'm just happy to be there.

Years before all of this, I sketched out an aikido-themed picture based on the Eastern parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. The "Aikido Elephant" or "Aikidō no zō" (合気道の象) is a playful image expressing the myriad dimensions of the Japanese martial art of aikidō (合気道), and the many approaches of its teachers and students. It is a reminder to all those studying aikidō that they are on a path of individual self-discovery; best taken with grace, humility and open-mindedness. The title is a play on words, as the Japanese word zō (象) meaning elephant is a homonym for zō (像) meaning meaning figure or image. Thus, spoken aloud, the name can also mean "The Image of Aikido".

This year, I asked my good friend and artist Ivan Lee to make a much better version of that idea and am offering it to share in the form of a T-shirt, available here.

I hope you find it amusing. I like to think of it as a reminder to myself to be serious in training, but not take oneself too seriously.