Katsucon Report

Katsucon was amazing.

I like to go for top-shelf words when describing conventions that go well, but Katsucon remains one of the best and strongest-run conventions I have had the pleasure to present at or even encountered.  Their staff is extremely capable and well-organized and they manage the space at the Gaylord Hotel with remarkable skill.

Continue reading “Katsucon Report”

The Meritocracy of Martial Arts

This weekend, I will be in DC for Katsucon!  I’ll be presenting a host of panels as part of the Japanese Cultural Institute, on topics from the Japanese-American Internment Camps in World War II to two introductory classes to martial arts (one for all ages and one geared more towards kids).

Preparing for those classes, I’ve been reminded of a longstanding and problematic point of contention in the martial arts, namely “why do you study [insert derided style du jour]?”.  This question is always asked after the revelation that a person studies an unpopular or denounced style.  In a post-UFC world, Tae Kwon Do and some traditional Karate styles are the usual candidates.  For me, it’s usually when I say that I study Iaido (a slightly obscure art, often connected to Aikido, studying the drawing of the katana).  People, especially those involved in armored combat, immediately remark with disdain and surprise.

Continue reading “The Meritocracy of Martial Arts”

Keep Working, Millions on Welfare depend on You

‘Keep working, millions on welfare depend on you’.

I read that on a bumper sticker one, long ago.  I still see bumper stickers that say that from time to time.  I used to love that bumper sticker because I thought it was a rallying cry, a call to encouragement.  I read that and my takeaway from it was ‘you are helping to support millions of people who need help, who are trying to get back on their feet’.  It wouldn’t be until years and years later that I would understand that it was meant as a complaint.

Continue reading “Keep Working, Millions on Welfare depend on You”

Express Yourself

Katsucon is in two and a half weeks.

I’m pretty jazzed about it.  I’m giving a bunch of panels as part of the JCI (Japanese Cultural Institute), including panels on Miyamoto Musashi, Tale of Genji, and even talking about the Japanese-American Internment Camps in World War II (man, I wish that panel wasn’t so topical right now).  I’m also giving a presentation on hacking the Japanese language.

Continue reading “Express Yourself”