Monday, September 10, 2007

A long time ago in a city on Elliot Bay...

A strange man named Bernie Lau decided to teach what he could in aikido. Aikido for those not in the know, is a Japanese gendai budo. Bernie was lucky enough to study with some of the best and brightest in Hawaii, and eventually received his 1st and 2nd degree black belts directly from the founder of aikido while he was visiting Japan. That's Bernie to the left, locking up an old friend, Kregg Jorgenson, who is quite a character in his own right. Kregg served in Vietnam with Company H, Rangers, and later with Apache Troop, the 1st of the 9th Cavalry. Kregg is an author, buy his books.

At the time, Bernie began teaching in Seattle, he was a young, tough police officer and had learned much by the school of hard knocks as a police officer to supplement his aikido. Along the way, he also did some Goju ryu karate with the local group, who were higher class thugs, just like Bernie.

Bernie eventually came to the realization that in order to teach what he thought was important, he had to form his own group and leave the aikido world behind. The emphasis was to be practical Defensive Tactics and personal defense training for Law Enforcement, Security, and selected individuals. What he taught became known as Icho Ryu Aikijujutsu, which Bernie now prefers to call Icho Ryu Aikibudo.

Using his martial arts training as a basis for the teaching methods, it also included some trapping of Japanese culture in the teachings. Over laid with use of weapons, empty hand skills, negotiation skills for defusing situations, it was a good place to be.

Trailing along behind him, was a young kid who had issues, but was willing to work hard and could absorb pain and punishment like most kids absorb candy and soda pop. And this kid was stupid enough to keep coming back. Plus said kid's parents made him go to class.

That kid was me, one of the selected individuals.

And when I was old enough to have quit, I discovered I didn't want to quit. Besides, where else could a misfit teenager beat up cops legally? And I wanted revenge on the adults in the class who thought it was fun to beat up on the kid.

Now, some 34 years later, I'm in charge of the little world of Icho Ryu aikibudo. We are a bunch of guys who choose to practice a modern day version of an archaic martial form and find meaning for those things in our modern day lives.

The Icho Ryu group in Seattle has taken to calling ourselves the "Tuesday Night Bad Budo Club" or TNBBC for short. Hence the URL. This is a riff off Sheryl Crow's "Tuesday Night Good Music Club" album since we do our main weekly class on Tuesday Nights. The Bad Budo idea comes from what most people on call the fakes, egotists, made up histories, and such.

What we do is simple. We don't lie about our history, we don't pretend we are any good, and generally piss off the lousy and fakes since we make them look bad. As a result, some people criticize us and say we have a "bad reputation". We don't care. We simply practice and try to suck less at what we do in martial arts each time we practice. The top compliment you can hear in class is "That didn't suck."

We don't take ourselves too seriously. Nor do we take many others seriously. We do take what we do seriously, but not ourselves. It's a fundamental attitude needed for learning in my opinion.

We are not a large group, nor do we wish to be. We are simply people who find Asian martial arts, particularly those of Japan, and the modern day arts known as goshin budo, which are derived from Japanese budo arts, to be something we value and find meaningful. We try and keep functionality of what we do in mind as the major rule. In Bernie Lau's words, "Make it work, try to understand why it works."

Along the way, I and those who train with me, have been fortunate enough to encounter some very high quality people and a lot of scumbags. Sometimes those thing overlap in the same person. As Obi Wan Kenobi said to Luke Skywalker about Mos Eisley, "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious". The same applies to martial arts and the lowlife scum inhabiting the arts. Hence the name of this blog.

This blog is to tell the story of those encounters with the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's also a place for what passes for humor with us and a place to waste time while drinking your coffee.

I will update this as I see fit. Enjoy or not.

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