2007 Year End Review

So another year has gone by, and Taido/Blog is officially two years old now. I’m pretty excited about that, and I’m also excited about the end of 2007 and all of the symbolic meaning of an approaching new year. I’m already looking forward to a ton of great things that will be happening in 2008. But first, a short look back.

So far, 2007 has been a super-great year for me. In addition to marking my 30th birthday, I’ve enjoyed a deepening relationship with my girlfriend, a job that I find rewarding and fun, and a general sense that things are moving in the right direction.

My health has been good, and despite an inconvenient work schedule, 2007 has given me plenty of opportunities to practice using my body in creative ways. I’ve managed to spend a good deal of time practicing Brazilian Jiu Jutsu (even if I’m still not any good at it) and Yoga (at which I’ve gotten much better). I also feel lucky to have had the chance to be a part of the development of Kaikudo, a new martial art put together by former US Taido black belts John Okochi and Michael Issa. Kaikudo is not going to replace Taido for me, but it’s really cool practicing something that attempts to marry the internal and external martial arts in actual practice.

As far as Taido goes, it’s also been an eventful year. My former teacher has now refused to speak to me for about eight months. As regrettable as this is, it’s not nearly as sad as when he stopped teaching me. I think the real change occurred when he stopped being “Sensei,” and began insisting we call him “Kaicho.” (As my father remarked at the time, you can love a teacher, but not a president.) Though this all sounds pretty bad at face value, it’s actually helped me to understand and accept the realities of what Taido really means to me and what my continued development as a Taidoka and as a human will require. Though martial artists are supposed to remain perpetual students, I believe there comes a time for all of us to cut the umbilicus and take responsibility for our own learning and growth. That’s the area I’ve been exploring for the past year.

On a more positive note, I was able to travel to Holland in August for the International Taido Friendship Games and European Taido Championships. It was my first trip to Europe, as I stayed behind to mind the dojo during US Taido’s expeditions to previous European Taido events. I got to meet a lot of very talented and friendly Taidoka, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to begin new relationships and see a different perspective on what Taido is all about. I’m sure that I’ll be seeing many of those same faces again at the next World Championships in 2009, and I’m looking forward to making a European Taido tour sometime in the future.

But before the future, there is always the present. Presently, I’m busy preparing myself to move back to Japan in spring of 2008. That’s right. Despite having lots of reasons to leave when I did, life is pointing me in that direction again. I’m not sure where I’ll be living this time, but I’m about 99% certain that I’ll be teaching high school English in a large southern city for the next couple of years. This isn’t going to be a permanent relocation, but it’ll be a good stop on the way to some of the things I want to achieve over the next few years.

Spring 2008 will also bring the Asia Pacific Games in Australia and the 30th Sakura Matsuri tournament in Aomori. I’m truly hoping I can attend both of these events, but funds may a little tight for the first couple of months after my move. Still, I’m trying to save my money and plan ahead. I also encourage everyone who can spare the time and money to visit either Japan or Australia and participate in at least one of these two great events. I’ve had a killer time at both of them in the past, so I can guarantee that they are both worth all efforts to attend, even if you can’t compete. If you have any doubts at all as to how awesome these events are, read this and this.

And that’s about as far ahead as I can see right now. The first half of 2008 is going to be super busy – new job, new home, new dojo, and lots of places to go and people to meet. It’s going to be great, but I have a lot to prepare in the meantime (saving money is a huge priority right now). At any rate, I’ll do my best to keep Taido/Blog as up-to-date as possible and maybe even add a few technical articles if I can.

I truly hope that everyone who reads this has had the best year of their lives so far. The next few months are going to kick ass.

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