With Thanksgiving next week, the winter holiday season is fast upon us. Every year around this time, I’m forced to wrestle with what I feel is a very stressful and difficult aspect of social membership in America – the giving of gifts.
I am terrible at gift-giving, and if I thought I could get away with it, I would boycott the holidays wholesale. The sad reality is that escaping the holidays is near-impossible; even in years when I’ve done my best to let friends and family know that I wasn’t planning to participate in the consumption frenzy, somebody always manages not to get the memo, and I’m stuck feeling guilty. The alternative, embracing the madness in the spirit of goodwill, just serves to remind me that I have absolutely no skill at choosing quality gifts for even my closest friends.
However, my mother is fabulous at finding the right gifts for the right people. She seems to have a year-round list of people who need gifts for various events, and she tends to find exactly the right thing for each person on that list. With me, she usually asks me in advance if there’s anything special I would like, and this was the case last week. Most years, I have to spend a few days thinking before I can answer this question, but this year, I actually had a request – I want an alarm clock that will play music from my iPod.
When I’m trying to decide what kinds of things I want (and this goes equally for when I’m deciding what things to purchase for myself), I tend to think in terms of two main categories: stuff for music (i.e. guitar strings, cables, amp parts) and stuff for Taido (i.e. uniforms, training equipment, books, videos). Since they occupy most of my time, these two constitute the majority of my monetary expenditures every year, outside of living expenses, such as food, clothes, and transportation.
This year, I’ve been looking around, and I’m realizing that I have almost everything I want. Maybe that’s why I was able to decide on a tangible product to ask from my mother so easily. However, a man can always dream, and though I have to say I am happy with what I’ve already got, I can always think of bigger and better ideas for what I’d like to see happening around me. Since I assume that most of you are not interested in my music or life-necessities wish lists, I’m going to share my Taido wish list below – all the things I’d like to have for Taido over the next year or so.
My Taido Xmas List
- Of course, I am continually wishing for an American-flag print, satin karate uniform. Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris used to wear these back in the 80s, and I swear they used to be for sale in every martial arts magazine I ever read. Nowadays, I can’t find one anywhere.
- A DVD reference video of every hokei in Taido. This doesn’t have to be a giant production: just a camera and somebody doing the “classic and accepted” versions of each form. The hokei have already been canonized in the Taido Kyohan, so I don’t see a big deal about producing a video of them. We could get Nakano and Miyashita to do the -tai forms and Konishi and Tabata to do the -in forms. It would take about three hours to record and less to edit, but it would be invaluable to instructors and students all over the world.
- A video of my friend, Ohashi, winning jissen at the All-Japan tournament a couple of weeks ago.
- Some better documentation of Saiko Shihan’s life: photos, writings, proof of any of the numerous stories I’ve heard about him, videos or transcripts of seminars he taught, et cetera. Shukumine was a martial arts genius, and I think Taidoka should be proud of what he accomplished during his lifetime. Unfortunately, very little evidence of his existence is available for public consumption. It’s not as if he lived in a cave – let’s get some good biography up on the web someplace.
- An English translation of Taido Gairon, which is the master text of Taido theory. I have a Japanese copy, and given the time, I can read through bits and pieces of it, but it would be wonderful to have this book available as a reference to those students who don’t know any Japanese at all. Last year, Alvar and I got the verbal OK from Yoriko Shukumine and Nakajima Sensei to have the book professionally translated, but it can’t be done without some organizational cooperation as well.
- Similarly, I’d eventually like to see a translation of Shin Karatedo Kyohan, Shukumine’s book about karate. I’ve never even been able to get my hands on a copy of this one, but I’ve heard that it’s still relevant and potentially important for serious Taido study.
- A better floor. When Georgia Tech tore down the old student athletic facility and built the new, state-of-the-art recreation center, the excellent combatives area flooring was moved to a much smaller space and reassembled by student volunteers; surprise – they did a shitty job. Not to mention, the covering is carpet, which gets cleaned only about once a semester. I’d love to have a bigger place to practice with better flooring.
- A better uniform supplier. Kamikaze was a good find for us back about seven years ago; they offered the highest quality for the price I could find, along with the ability to do custom embroidery without any major difficulties. However, they’ve changed their uniform cuts, and we’re tired of dealing with the insane shipping times. The medium-quality uniforms sold by the honbu dojo are simply too expensive to require for college students, and real Taidogi, comfortable as they are, are not only expensive, but a serious pain in the ass to acquire.
- More students. More students at Tech means the we have more chance to find great students. Every semester, about half of the new sign-ups drop out a little after midterms, and half of those who remain give up during their second semesters. Tech is a difficult school, and Taido is a demanding art, so I’ve come to the position that we need to play a bit of a numbers game. Our club currently has no brown belts, two green belts, and one purple belt. Everyone else? White or black. We need more new students.
- And a partridge in a pear tree.
And really, that’s it. I promise that if all these wishes come to be sometime during 2007, I will absolutely not complain until 2008. At least not about anything related to Taido.