Monday, January 26, 2009

XIN NIAN HAO

The Year of the Ox begins today...

Many thousands and thousands of years ago, there was a small village in China. Its villagers were being terrorized by a monster , the Nian, that looked like a dragon. The Nian came to the village once a year to eat its villagers. Whenever he would show up at the village, many villagers would be missing the following day.

The villagers tired of this got together to get rid of this evil and hungry creature. As the Nian had once been scared away by a little child wearing red, they realized that he was afraid of the color red.

They decorated the front of their houses with bright red banners, burned fire crackers and played loud drums. Some disguised as lions danced to the beat of the drums.

By doing this they actually scared the monster away. The following morning, all the villagers were still alive.

The following year when the Nian was supposed to arrive, the villagers repeated the same ceremony. They put red lanterns and scrolls in front of their houses, lit firecrackers, and did the lion dance. From then on, the Nian never came to the village again. The following day they congratulated each other for being lucky and alive; and ever since that time, the Chinese have called this day “The New Year Day.”

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martial Arts Chronology, from 2,000,000 BC to Present.

I found this an interesting document "A Chronological History of the Martial Arts and Combative sports". It contains some inaccuracies, and misses a few important facts in a Frenchman's eyes - such as 52 BC, Gauls King Vercingetorix surrenders to Julius Caesar in Alesia - this victory of Caesar changed the face and fate of the Western World (*), or 732 AD - Charles Martel stops the Muslim invasion of France in Poitiers - this is how far North they would go, they were quickly pushed back South of the Pyrrhenees Mountains.
It is nevertheless a very interesting compilation, which not only covers warfare and martial arts, but also cultural, spiritual and economical topics which proved to be very important for the evolution of societies.
A very long document. Have fun !

(*) Note about the Conquest of Gaul by the Romans : There were numerous reasons why the Romans easily settled in Gaule. One of them was Wine. Romans could make Wine, and the Gauls liked it much better than the mild grain "Cerevisia" they knew how to brew.
However, the Romans only knew how to build terra cotta amphorae to store their wine, whereas the Gauls were excellent at making wooden barrels.
So here we had a win-Win situation, the Romans brought the wine, the Gauls the barrels that let it age so much better than the amphora. This was the beginning of French Wine, Pommard, Chassagne Montrachet, Petrus... I told you, it changed the fate and face of the Western World...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kagami Biraki

We celebrated this Sunday the KAGAMI BIRAKI at the Big Green Drum Dojo in Pensacola.

Kagami Biraki (鏡開き) literally translates to "Opening the Mirror". It traditionally falls on the second Saturday or Sunday in January.

On that day, people break and eat the Kagami Mochi : a cake made of two round mochi (rice cakes), and a daidai (a Japanese bitter orange), which had been placed on the Dojo altar on the first day of January.

Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, adopted this ritual in 1884. Since then, it has been practiced in numerous Japanese Martial Arts Dojo to mark the first practice of the year.

We had today demonstrations of Kyudo, Iaijutsu, Kendo, Tai Chi and Yoshukai Karate.