What follows is a quote (in red) that my aikido sensei sent out today, along with his excellent comment (in blue). Evidently he found it on a website while researching various warrior cultures, and I found it profound enough to include it here. Incidentally, I think what Tengu House needs right now is more posts from the world of budo. Maybe I'll post more aikido-related stuff.
"The Spartans predate the advent of the Japanese Bushi by about 1,000 years, but it's evident that all true cultures of this type place a high value on what makes a Spartan and a Bushi and then a Samurai unique, and this goes far to explain why they stand head-and-shoulders above the common man.
"I offer this for your consideration as to the value of aikido, martial arts and giri and the underlying quality of those with whom we train and trust, and how the personal focus, effort and sacrifice can change us for the better."
"An elderly man was trying to find a place to sit and observe the Olympic Games, as he went to each section. All the other Greeks laughed as he tried to make his way through. Some ignored him. Upon
entering the Spartan section all the Spartans stood and offered the elderly man their seats. Suddenly the entire stadium applauded. All the Greeks knew what was the right thing to do, but the Spartans were the only ones who did it."
Xenophon 427-355 BC
Son of Gryllus, disciple of Socrates
This is a fresh, new (at least to me) take on the ancient Ninja lore, showing Shinobi as people, with emotions; feeling, breathing, people, and not merely as heartless assasins. Although the concept of living to kill is brought up a few times, and is said with conviction, it's not said without conflict, creating something of a conflict in the viewer.
Shinobi is the story of the leaders of two rival Ninja clans, who happen to be in love. One gets the feeling that it's based on actual Japanese legend, but I don't know.
It's also the first time I've seen Shinobi in brightly-colored clothes and extravagant hairstyles, which I absolutely loved. The characters, though assasins of the highest order, are in some cases beautiful women and delightful children, who ask their elders how to make sweets and discuss their "arts" (jutsu) even as death closes in on them. It's a beautiful story, about a beatiful subject, and it came along just when I needed such a story.
Seems there's been this tendency lately toward the dark, gloomy, dreary, bleak-future-as-present film, kinda like a Mad-Max-is-happening-now thing. I really got sick of it when V for Vendetta came out, in which director James McTeigue portrayed a world in which the UK is ruled by a paramilitary dictatorship and the US has ceased to exist (imploded after losing the war in Iraq). Can you say "politics overload?"
Now along comes Children of Men, which I haven't seen and don't mean to deride in any way. But after reading Nacho's take on it over at Woodmoor Village (see links at right), I have to wonder about the either overt or thinly-veiled political content. It's not that I'm against political content per se, but I've really had it with whole doom and gloom approach. If these sun-never-shines movies are in line with your view of our present reality, then I think there might be something inherently negative in your heart, and I'd advise that you might want to go looking for it, with a mind toward turning it into something constructive, or eliminating it altogether. Looking at the world through human-ashes-colored glasses can't be healthy.