North Korea - we're not worried

Posted on August 30, 2017 | genkijacs

You've probably heard a lot on the news recently about North Korea, particularly their missile testing. While it has also been in the news in Japan, it's important to note that North Korea is seen as much less of a threat here in Japan than it seems to be in other countries. Life goes on completely as normal here, whatever normal means in the country that invented these:

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We'll be keeping an eye on the ongoing situation, because we want to make sure all GenkiJACS students stay safe, but we don't anticipate any danger. Like all responsible businesses, we have evacuation plans in place for all major possibilities, from typhoon to Pikachu invasion.

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And we also have our faithful school managers, Tomoe-sensei in Tokyo and Yuuki-san in Fukuoka, to keep everybody in line!

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Important points:

1) North Korea has been test-firing missiles since 1984, and sending them over Japan since 1998. This is not a new problem.

2) North Korea's leadership doesn't want to actually fight other countries, for obvious reasons.

3) North Korea's military capability is intended as a defense against regime change (internal or external).

4) The missile this time (and all the ones before it) was not aimed at Japan at all, it just passed through Japan's air space.



... On the other hand, the Pikachu invasion is a real and imminent threat and people should wake up and realize that we are all in danger!

We should all be scared.

They are coming.





[click here to go back to GenkiJACS' homepage] or [click here to throw caution to the wind and request a free quote for your study in Japan!]

New Book From Hamabe-Sensei

Posted on August 21, 2017 | evankirby

Hamabe-sensei is one of the longest-teaching Japanese teachers at Genki Fukuoka's Japanese school, and he's especially esteemed for his lecture classes, as his extensive life experience makes for exciting discussions. Last month, his new book was published, and it's now available in all good bookshops, and of course on Amazon too!

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The book is called 気づきと感謝で、苦を楽に変える道を学ぶ (roughly, "Learning how to turn suffering into happiness through watchfulness and thankfulness"), and deals with Mr. Hamabe's life experiences, thoughts, advice, and much more. We have to confess that we haven't finished reading it yet, but we started with the chapters about GenkiJACS. The book is of course written in Japanese, but could be a really interesting read for former students of Hamabe-sensei, as well as anyone else with good kanji skills. And congratulations to Mr. Hamabe on publication! It's great to see his hard work pay off.

居合道(いあいど)

Posted on August 09, 2017 | genkijacs

We will continue our Japanese 武道 series with a brief introduction of the art called 居合道 (居合道).

※Disclaimer: we do not claim to be experts at any of the martial arts we will be exploring on this blog. This information is to be taken as a guide only.


Etymology

居合道 as the name is a peculiar one as it doesn’t really give us any idea of what the whole martial art is all about. Unlike 剣道 and 弓道discussed in previous posts, where the meanings correspond to the activity: i.e. the way of the sword and the way of the bow respectively, 居合道 does not have a clear meaning. 居 (い、キョ)literally means: to reside; to be; to exist and 合(あい)means: to fit; to join; to meet. So where does the name actually come from? Well according to some sources it comes from the phrase: 常に居て、急に合わす(つねにいて、きゅうにあわす)。It can roughly be translated to mean: One can act (meet the opponent) quickly if constantly present. So we can roughly translate 居合道 to mean: The way of constant vigilance.

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History

It is a relatively young martial art. Although the practice of drawing the sword has been a part of 剣術(けんじゅつ)and some of the first records of 居合術(いあいじゅつ)can be found all the way back to 1500s, the actual term 居合道 was introduced by 中山 博道 (なかやま・はくどう) in 1932 and an entirely separate martial art was born. It was then recognised by the 大日本武徳会(だいにっぽぶどくかい)or All Japan Society of Martial Virtue, an organisation established at the end of the 19th century with a goal of promoting: culture, world peace and harmony through the rigour of practicing martial arts.

After WWII Japan was occupied by the allied forces and the practice of martial arts was halted until 1950s. However, shortly after the turn of the decade All Japan Kendo and All Japan Iaido Federations were established, and the practices of these martial arts were resumed.

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The Practice

居合道 is generally practiced by performing choreographed moves called 型(かた)and they are executed in a very deliberate fashion. The purpose of these moves is not in learning how to defeat an opponent or winning a competition, but rather in learning of how to better oneself as a physical and a spiritual being. One might argue that it is closely related to meditation and there is some truth to that. 居合道encourages a practitioner to strive to developing a no-mind or 無心 (むしん)state of being, where one can react to everything without a moment of hesitation.

A beginner practitioner would start with using a 木刀(ぼくとう)or 木剣(ぼっけん)literally meaning wooden sword/blade, but eventually would move on to using a so called 居合刀(いあいとう)- a dull bladed sword made specifically for the purpose of practicing 居合道。 
Many schools of 居合道actively encourage their students to practice 剣道to remind a practitioner about the fighting aspect of wielding a sword.

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Competition 試合(しあい)

居合道 competitions are a little different to other, competitive martial arts. Instead of fighting, two 居合道家(いあいどうか) perform prescribed 型(かた)forms in unison, next to each other. They are judged on: form, timing, intention, spirit etc.

Grades

Like in many other 武道, 居合道 ranks are broken down into 級(きゅう)grades and once a practitioner achieves 一級(いっきゅう)they would be eligible to start testing for 段(だん)grades. Depending on the school there could be up to 10 段grades.

The Uniform

During practices 居合道家tend to wear wide traditional trousers and 袴(はかま)a loose durable top called 稽古着(けいこ着)as well as a belt sash called 帯(おび). Depending on the school the colour of the uniform may differ, but generally 道着(どうぎ)tends to be blue, white or black.

Words used in this article:
居合道(いあいど) Aikido
武道 (ぶどう) Martial Arts
剣道(けんどう) Kendo (Way of the Sword)
弓道 (きゅうどう) Kyudo (Way of the Bow)
剣術(けんじゅつ) Kenjutsu (Art of the Sword)
居合術(いあいじゅつ) Iaijutsu (The Art of Iai)
大日本武徳会(だいにっぽぶどくかい) All Japan Society of Martial Virtue
無心 (むしん) A state of no mind
木刀(ぼくとう) Wooden sword
木剣(ぼっけん) Wooden blade
居合刀(いあいとう) A sword with a dull edge
試合(しあい) Competition
型(かた) Kata Form
級(きゅう) Kyu grade (Equivalent to the belt system)
一級(いっきゅう) 1st Kyu (Equivalent to the brown belt)
段(だん) Dan Grade
袴(はかま) Wide traditional Japanese trousers
稽古着(けいこ着) Loose traditional Japanese top
帯(おび) Traditional Japanese sash
道着(どうぎ) lit. Cloth of the way (Practice clothing)