Friday, March 02, 2007


I watched a samurai movie called Sanjuro last night on DVD. It's a Kurosawa film and stars a couple of my favorite samurai actors, Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai. I've been watching a lot of samurai flicks lately, mostly because I rented one on Netflix and then they kept recommending other ones I'd never heard of. Whatever marketing program that is, it's pretty effective on me.

But there is another reason I've been watching, and I thought I may have mentioned it on this blog before. Apparently not.

For the last couple of months, I've been studying what's called tate, or samurai techniques. Tate is not an art or do, but rather a couple of katas (forms) and some action sequences we learn for the stage or camera. In samurai movies, there's generally always a main samurai fighting a bunch of hoodlums. Rarely is there a one-on-one duel, but in a typical samurai sword fight, it's over after about 3 moves.

I had a lot of trepidation over taking the class at first. I didn't want to look bad, of course. And it turns out, I'm not half-bad. It's probably the Jeet Kune Do lessons that came into play, especially because Bruce Lee borrowed some things from samurai that I wasn't aware of before. For one, the basic footwork of JKD is all samurai, while the JKD onguard stance is either from fencing or samurai, which is about the same.

Anyway, I've decided to move on in my learning to now find another, more advanced samurai class. Not sure where to look, but I'm pretty sure I'm ready for it. Another class I'm planning to take is something called kyudo, or Zen archery. Apparently, a teacher from Ojai, Calif., is visiting L.A. for a one-day intensive.

Next on the list? I'm hoping for sashimi lessons. Is it because I want to train to look like an authentic sushi chef? Or maybe I want to take on a different vocation or even start a business? Nah, I just purely enjoy cutting fish. I've taken part in dozens of sushi parties. I just want to learn to do it right.

After all, the great Musashi instructed young samurai to make a thousand strokes a day. I might as well make mine while cutting lunch or dinner.

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