Archive for June, 2007

Three promotions and a wedding

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

I just got off the phone with Jeff. I'd called to ask about yesterday's kata tests.

Austin made shodan, Evan made nidan, and Matt made sandan.

In other news, Austin got married a week earlier, on Saturday, June 2. And yet I hear he found time to contribute his carpentry skills to the dojo move.

Video from the party

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

This morning I finished editing a 9-minute video from the dojo-warming party on Wednesday. For those of you who couldn't make it, I hope this gives a sense of what a happy occasion it was. I like to think this will give the world a glimpse at the real, unscripted Sensei, as opposed to the characters he has played in his acting roles.

Update: Sensei wasn't too happy about the amount of exposure I gave to what was of course a private event, so I've removed the video. I hereby apologize to Sensei and anyone else to whom I caused any distress. I was over-eager to share the experience and posted inappropriately. It was a blunder, entirely my fault, and again, I apologize.

Must go to Geido

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Geido is the sushi restaurant that catered the dojo-warming party. I've never been there, but judging by the food and energy they brought to the party, and Sensei's longtime fondness for the place, it must be terrific.

There's a nicely written review, with photos, at a blog called "All You Can Eat NYC." The review gave me a sense of why Geido has a following, and not just customers. In this respect it reminded me of our dojo. The reviewer writes:

Most Asian restaurants are either very austere or intentionally over-the-top energetic. Geido is the first I’ve found that recalls the loud, laid-back Jewish delis of my youth. People come here to gab and eat and catch up with their neighbors.


I remember a few seconds leaning back against the wall, wishing I hadn’t eaten that last bite, taking it all in — the day was done and all of us were absolutely in the right place.

331 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217-2813
(718) 638-8866

B, Q at Seventh Ave.
2, 3 at Bergen St.

The morning after

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

A few weeks ago, I heard a story about an old French bakery. The COO at my company was telling this to somebody, and I was eavesdropping. Right now, I'm waiting for photos from last night's party to upload to Flickr. So I'll take a moment to pass the story along, because it relates to the move.

There was a very old bakery in France that was famous for its wonderful bread. Their bread was so good that the business grew and grew until they had to move to a bigger facility. They built a brand new bakery up on a hill. Everything was big and shiny and new.

But their bread wasn't the same. They tried and tried, but they couldn't get it quite right. The thing is, although they brought all their recipes and techniques to the new location, they couldn't reproduce the exact combination of temperature and humidity, and minerals in the water, and bacteria and mold spores in the air, that had developed over the years at the old place. And so they lost their reputation and the business suffered.

I thought about this story in the weeks leading up to the dojo move. Sensei told us we were going to have a beautiful new facility, designed by an interior designer, everything brand new — but that a dojo is not the place; it's nothing without the people in it. We — you and I — are the bacteria and mold. It sounds unflattering, but you know what I mean.

Sensei used a couple of metaphors of his own, in his special Sensei way. The one I remember also involves bread. He said a dojo without people is like opening a sandwich and there's no meat inside.

Judging by the outpouring of affection at last night's dojo-warming party, I think we will have no problem with sandwich meat.

Okay, the photos finished uploading a little while ago. Below is a link to the Flickr page. You know what to do.

click for Flickr page

Update: I've pruned the photo collection down to a dozen.


Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

I'm still going through old video. I've digitized all the dojo tournaments from the 90's, but it takes quite a bit of time to select and edit excerpts.

For now, here are two highlights reels. I don't know most of the people who were there at the time, so I focused on the few people I recognized.

This one is from April 9, 1994.

This one is from a tape labeled "children's / adults judo tournament, Oishi's 1994." The dates on the other tapes suggest that Sensei held tournaments twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, so I'm assuming this one was in the fall. Nina got her orange belt at this one, by the way.

Will and grace

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

On the day we moved the Coke machine to my office (I'll post more on this later), I was given custody of maybe a hundred dusty VHS tapes. I've been sifting through them, and there is some good stuff. There is also some gold.

The good stuff includes highlights from major judo and wrestling tournaments, including footage from the Olympics. There are also instructional videos for kata, grappling, and such. There is a copy of Shane, which makes sense to me, considering Sensei's favorite movie is High Noon, or so I've been told. There's a copy of Blood on the Sun, starring Jimmy Cagney, who learned judo for the fight scenes. We all know Sensei is a golf nut, so of course there are a couple of golf videos.

All good stuff, but to me the real gold, the stuff we should put in a museum and hire a curator for, is the videos of some dojo tournaments between 1993 and 1998. There are some great matches and some great nostalgia value. I wasn't around during those years, so it's been a lot of fun seeing younger versions of Nina, Will, Bob, and Jeff, to name just a few, and to contemplate how far they've come since then.

I'd love to know who the videographers were. I know there were at least two, because for one tournament I have two camera angles.

After I've digitized all the tournaments, I'm going to select some clips to put on a DVD. I'll post some of them to YouTube as well. In the meantime, here's Sensei doing nagekomi with Will, shortly after a dojo tournament on April 9, 1994. It's this clip that inspired the title of this post.