Mantis under Wing Chun shadow

26 01 2009

I started out to visit an old school-mate’s school last week. That did not turnout as planned, then what does. The smoothness of life like sailing is dependent on one’s ability at adapting. This past Sat. it worked out. I was able to make it by the school/dojo/kwoon. (http://suigetsukan.org/) to view the Wing Chun class.

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The class was small, but a good size. They were working on some drills when I arrived. My friend welcomed me as said. “please feel free to join us if you like” I laughed and said “ thanks, but I do not want you guys to hurt me”. He “G” said “nah it is all about Love”. I was impressed, this is the same thing my elder brother says, the one who just came back from Canada. I laughed again and told him that is the same thing that R says. As G is a Zen instructor as well, it should have not been surprising for him to have that mind set. Zen is about love. Many think it is all about enlightenment and ascension. It is really about love and compassion to all beings, all of the Universe’s/God/ the Great Spirit/Allah’s varied expressions.

We chatted for a while and he went back to teaching. I watched and listened. I had always had an interest in Wing Chun but was never able to take any serious instruction. I watched them go through various drills and compared it to Mantis and Tai Chi in my head. The angles, power development, feel, some of the footwork, because it does not have a lot since most of their work comes from center line work, compared to Mantis, where ours works from the angle. Their move-in/closing the gap step is the same. The wooden man drills, we also have in Tai Chi Mantis, which our grandmaster developed from Wing Chun, so it was especially interesting to watch and listen.

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Watching the Chi Sao drill was also interesting, very similar to some drills Shifu has us do and also in a way push hands from Tai Chi. I was also surprise with hearing the Wing Chun fighting Philosophy of no blocks. Somewhat like ours Mantis but with some difference. We have also not real blocks, we have deflections and are also willing to take a hit in order to give a better hit(s) and stay in close to neutralize the opponents’ power and attacks. Both systems are two handed strikes. Meaning defense and offense are done at the same time.

After the class I got to speak with a couple of his students a bit, one of which also studied Escrima from the line of my Kali/Escrima teacher. Just when I was close to leaving G said he would check to see if our other classmate who was the Master of the dojo their was upstairs. This Dojo is also a live-in quarters for several the head instructor included. Just as he was about to check, our other classmate M comes down.

It was good to see him, we all sat and talked for a while about old classmates and life. It was a good mini reunion. My next visit there in a few weeks will be to watch M teach the Aikido class. Another art I had always had a strong interest in. G had studied with Steven Seagal, who G says is an intense person to training with.  Anyway M teaches and I will go back to watch his class. Who knows maybe once life settles down I will take a few basics from him. One can never have too much education.

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A day in the Life – Gong Xi Fa Chai – 09′

26 01 2009

Earlier in the afternoon that day, my elder Kung fu brother called. He had just returned from Canada doing a seminar there in Toranto. We had a nice talk catching up on things. We also had a good laugh that he is considered a Grandmaster now and given much respect. Not that he is not worthy of it but just he does not take it so seriously as his followers. He has zero ego about it, and feels he is not old enough or together enough to be Grandmaster. Now I do have a younger classmate/student who has a huge ego. He has given himself a Dharma Master name and calls himself a Buddha. He’s skills are also not that good. Anyway I digress.  Back to my senior brother, he still sees himself as bumbling through things at times and tripping over his own feet and bang himself up with weapons when practicing. However he understands the linage thing and blames me for it in a way. I am the serious SiSuk (Uncle) who came down on his senior student for not following traditional protocol in addressing a senior Kung Fu family member.  I now have this rep among his linage of the hard-nose traditional uncle. heheh, kind of funny. I am pretty casual with my students, but I will come down on my classmates students for not following protocol. Then to I would have no problem with my classmates coming down on my students the same way. In fact I would expect it. When training with my former Shifu, we were very casual among ourselves. There was no tradition followed other than addressing Shifu. Since being involved with the Federation schools were there is more traditional manners, I push that more so not let the tradition die in this new age of diminishing respect. As Sisuk says training in Kung Fu is more that just learning moves, it is learning and carrying on tradition. Otherwise one might as well go to a gym. I have become him. H my brother, says I have a certain mystic among his students, which he encourages, we both laughed.

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He told me of his upcoming nomination for something like the Nobel Prize, because of his development of his 9 Psalms Mantis style ( http://www.blackbeltmag.com/archives/245 ) and Sacred Geometry Movement how it connects on a atomic level to Quantum Physics and his entry into the Black Belt hall of fame or something like that. I was impressed and pleased for him. Not only on his achievements but his spiritual humility on things and philosophy. He says it is all about love and energy. He is pleased also about the complete opposite view of his Shang Mountain Mantis from the UFC mentality. He is one of the few people that see Shaolin as being about love and not all about violence. Also totally not against his Christian background or beliefs. It was a good way to start the afternoon chatting with him out of the blue.

Sat was not really Chinese New Year it was in fact New Year’s eve’s eve. No matter it was close enough that many were out in Chinatown for dinner. A lot of places were packed.

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Ling Sisuk  invited LZ and  I to Chinese New Year Dinner. I had thought that he was taking his senior students from the school along as well. As it turns out it was only his family for the most part. Wife, brothers, their wives, his son in law, wife kids, etc. Only the immediate family it gave us much face to be invited with the group.  We ended up going to the restaurant where the Federation usually has our banquet. Sisuk is friends with the owner, very good friends I found out. The restaurant was packed, we had a private room where usually only the owners eats. LZ and I came with Sisuk and only Simo and Sisuk’s main employee the photographer were there. Simo went out for a bit, and just the 4 of us were there. One of the daughter inlaws came in I had not met here before. It is usually kind of funny to me to see the expressions of confusion when someone who does not know me sees me in a place with only Chinese are generally. Then if I say something in Chinese, they really are taken back. hahahah 🙂

Little by little everyone showed up. LZ and I were the only non-Chinese there. Having been in the same environment with the Chan group it was no big deal to me and I think she is also comfortable with it now. Then anyway she is use to being the only Japanese in the group most of the time and I am always as usual the only minority, so do not even give it a thought. Together we make up our own minority group the Blasian couple. Another reason it is nice to hang with the Tokyo Delegation we make our own clan.

The food started to arrive. Simo had made special request for something for me since I did not eat most of the things prepared. Item after item arrived, I had to still wait, she apologized and everyone said they felt bad, but I was fine, I’m used to it. I got to nibble on a few things, peanuts, ginger, rice until my dish arrived, some Chinese greens and Tofu with some pea pods. It was good, shortly some fish and tofu came for everyone. I was good to go from there. Simo supervised everyone and made sure I had enough to eat and take home.  She is great, very motherly.

We had the standard warm sweet beans for dessert. It was not my favorite years ago, it is still not, but I have gotten use to it. Then we were served something I had never had. some mango pudding , and some little gelaten like thingys. some were coconut with yellow bean, some were mint tasting with coconut and one was something else I forgot. I had never had them or saw them in a Chinese resturant. I asked Sisuk if they were something special for the Chinese New year like the Tea we were having was only served at New Year. He said no, it was not a New Year thing, it was served just for us. It is a special item but not just for NY. It was good! Sweet but not too sweet and nice flavor.

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Most of the topics at the table was about Photography, food, some business and the economy of course. SiSuk said there are thousands of factories closing in China and hundreds of thousands are being put out of work. We as a planet are truly interdependent these days. This was with us here in the States as the world largest consumers more or less driving the world markets. We stop spending everywhere hurts.

He also told me very quietly how much it cost him to go training Tai Chi in Hong Kong over the Christmas Holiday, thousands of dollars, with the classes, hotel food and the like I think he said about 30,000, maybe that was hong kong dollars, still Whoa!!

LZ and I before going to the dinner stopped and looked at an apt in the town we want to move to. Wow perfect , well nearly perfect the club house was small not a place for me to have class, but there is a large park nearby that has several lighted tennis courts at night. The apt was great all remodelled, stone counters, real fireplace, balcony with a view of S.F. and the S.F. Bay and reduced in price to the top of the range we were looking for mostly.

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Now I need to figure out, should I take the gamble and ( try to ) go for it with no job perse, or wait perhaps miss the chance, and trust that something as good or more better for us will come. Or that I will indeed find the work I need ( not perhaps even want but need). Or stay here paying nothing until we can not. Jheez more pressure, just what I need. Sometime it is good to have that pressure it makes one do something. Somewhat like attending class with Sifu or Sisuk because you HAVE to train. Time for Prayer, Mediation, I-ching and maybe a psychic


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“Survival, only the strong can survive”… grand master flash





In our life time

21 01 2009

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On this historic day I attended my web-designer class. I took my laptop with me to class so that I could keep updated on my misc projects. We had the inauguration streamed in on the computer in the lab and projected on the big screen. It was nice to be able to watch the events unfold. Meanwhile on my laptop I was connected to Twitter and several of my connections, including Zurui, webmaster of BlackTokyo.com, Someone in Europe and someone in Japan and other places in real time. It was very high tech. I dug it being somewhat of a geek. In the class we had elected to make a lunch time celebration of it and people brought in items for lunch.

It was a amazing historic event to watch this unfold in my lifetime. To give you some scope of this, when I was a very young boy, I stayed with my grandparents for a year in Virginia. I went to one of the last one room school houses around. It was the last year of it’s life and it was only for children of color. Years later I again stayed in Virginia and went to high school there for a year. That year was the last year of having a high school only for children of color. The white High school was just integrated, in the town of Saluda, Middlesex, Co., Virginia, about 2 to 3 hours southeast of Richmond.

I recall seeing the police set dogs on people in the south who marched for equal rights. I remember the race riots in Philly and elsewhere.  I recall the assassination of Rev Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Malcom X, lynchings in the news,  the rise and fall of the Black Panthers, Laws that said “Coloreds” could not marry outside their race. They were radical turbulent years. Now I can add to that I saw live via computer the swearing in of the first man of color to the Presidency of the United States. It is indeed the 21st Century.

In keeping with the principal of Yin and Yang, noting is all black and white, good or bad even in joy there is sadness, in this joyous time there was sadness. The illness of two Senators cast a shadow over the proceedings. Also a statement, a rhyme that was a common insult to people of color back in the day, was reworded and said as a positive statement at the event, and understood by those of the generation that were faced with the history of discrimination in this country. This statement was taken by some as a insult and given airplay to divide people. Yes we American people have come a long way, but we’re still not “there” yet. Let us continue to pray, meditate and work toward peace, and understanding. May the Christ consciousness fill our hearts.

Year of the Ox brings the seed of hope for a new vision of America and the world. We the people can make a change, and bring hope. Yes We Can.

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Vaya Con Dios Presidente Obama,

Ganbatte!

and a little something for the whoa file… I am on Twitter, and the President ( yeah I know it is most likely his staff but still the idea of it) is also… following me and my post, whoa!

Gong Shi Fa Chai –   A Happy Chinese New Year!





A day in the life…MLK day, this and that.

21 01 2009

I had spent way too much time in front of the computer the day before, which was Sunday. I was determined not to do that today. I needed balance even at the cost of being behind on some plans/project/works. Sometimes one has to say Moutakusan (enough). I started the day as usual 6:30am. Checked my email and then did my Zazen. I like the mornings, quiet and peaceful.

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I will like it even more when it is not dark and cold when I get up.  After Zazen a light breakfast, a protein shake with banana and fresh bee pollen, oishii. From there it was some computer time. I wasted a couple of hours looking , searching on Facebook to see if there were any of my old childhood buds out there on Facebook. That was a total waste. Even relatives are not there. Well one brother is but he does not even answer me. Either he does not respond to stuff from there, or … whatever. My family is on the weird side anyway. I know I am, but in a different way , so they must be as well, because I am, but so is everyone. Is that a circular argument? I have asked a few of them about if they know of or use Skype and got no answer, not even a no, just no answer. That really bugs me. Ok fine. Did I say this before…So much for that. Anyway I digress.

After spending time on the Facebook search I turned my attention to checking on my website and blogs. I am surprised at the amount of hits I’m getting and also sites that are linked to me.  Some martial art sites, which is  to be expected, but I am also linked to some as a Buddhist site, which I found surprising since I do not list myself as a Buddhist site. I do speak of the Zen/Chan thing, ideas, but I do not say this is a Buddhist site, I guess that is not needed. People like to label stuff. Chan is not about being a Buddhist or anything. Oh wait, there is the Buddhist tag, and Buddhist images, and words, maybe because I’m using tags now on the wordpress. Ah that may explain it. The old walks like a duck, sounds…etc.I guess Buddhist & Taoist relate more to this here as well. Then there are the Unity church type Christians, who view truth as truth no matter what language God is speaking in and dogma as limiting  the God /Universal experience, I like them. I can relate, when  go to church I go to one of those. No matter, It is just me talking about my life and to me does not need a label. So it can be called whatever. A rose by any nane…

It was my intention to have this as a on-line journal so my Kids and Grand-kids who live on the other side of the world can know what, how the old man’s weird mind sort of works. Some sort of track back since I’m so out there. More so once we make the move to Japan. Something in the future that says, hey I was here and this is what I did , thought and why. Something to say, show there is another side of life, other than what the main stream or the media and their one sided limited view of things tell how one is suppose to live and think. When I was a kid one of my favorite teachers said to the class, “do not be afraid to be different”; I took that to heart and ran with it. Anyway, people get what they need out of this and speaks to the individual, which is what matters. That is a good thing, ne! It is also for interesting for me to look back and see where i’ve been and thought. If I’ve gone off my track or how far or what. One needs to adapt. Like sailing a boat you need to adjust your sails with the conditions to get where you want to go and stay in harmony with the flow.

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After some time on the puter, it was time for a change. I wanted to get out and enjoy the day. I went down to the condo club-house to practice. I went through my Chen Tai Chi. That is one of my favorites. The smoothness, the peace of the flow yet the explosions of power. It feels very Yin and Yang. All Tai Chi is that way, but with Chen is is more in your face and not so subtle and internal as with the Yang and Chu style. Next up was Chu Tai Chi Sword. My only Tai Chi weapon, it needs work. Sometimes I get a good feel for it, others times…not so much. But everything is like that ne?! Somedays are cloudy some days are not. Some days you are the windshield , some days the bug.

Next on practice pallet is my favorite Mantis set, at least what I can recall of it. I am re-learning from it for Shixiong ( elder brother). When things got crazy for a while I did not get a chance to practice and forgot some of it. Now I am re-learning it and this it a little bit different from what Shifu had showed me.  His teacher showed him the Hong Kong Style, my Shifu showed me the Viet Nam Style. Overall the same, but a few little neat moves that add a little more effective flare. The set is called Lan Ji. It is one of the original 4 from Wang Long I have learned. Bum Bu, Lan Ji, and Upper and Lower Eight elbows. Lan Ji and Upper 8 elbows are my favorite. Bumbu ( Bun bo ) is the first set learned by student so it is the one I teach the most and get the most review on. That one is pretty ingrained mow.

Moving on… After some lunch and a short nap I head to the Marina. I had heard that President Elect Obama, has asked for people to volunteer in their area some type of community service in honor of MLK day. I figured since I was not part of any organized plan I would make up my own. Also since I am part of the EcoFlag group and team leader for my area I would do something on that path.

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Once I arrived at the marina after hooking up the battery charger to my boat since it was in need of charging having sat so long. I then walked around the marina. When I saw trash I picked it up and put it in a receptacle. In Yoga and Buddhist thought there is a name for that kind of work. I do not recall it, something like Work Karma. Ohhh ok, now there is the Buddhist mind showing itself. I think, it would be called Charity under the Christian flag, but not really. Now that I’m thinking of it I think that Buddhist tend to have more a sense of connection to the earth and environment as part of the oneness non-duality awareness than the Christian mind does. Fundamentalist Christians see the earth and it’s other life forms as beneath them, I think. They are it’s Lords. Hmm it does say something like that in the Bible. However I believe is it more stated as we are the “caretakers”; which is different from we are the “Lords”, Hmm anyway I digress.

Anyway, the day was perfect to be out and it gave my spirit pleasure feeling like I was making a difference and giving back. Making good karma, giving good Chi to the world. Feeling like a “Shepard” or “caretaker”.

It would have been a beautiful day for a sail. The wind, which I had not felt there in weeks was just right for a peaceful afternoon on the water.

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However…my boat. s/v Zen was almost sitting in mud and the tide was still falling. It was not the time to sail. If I had gotten there early in the morning I could have been out there, but I was otherwise occupied and it was not meant to be that day. Never the less I enjoyed being there at the marina, feeling that water Chi, and the warmth of the sun.  Even though I had done my Zazen practice earlier that day, I sat again on the boat and tuned into the world and felt the glory of the universe, or put another way, felt the glory of God’s abundant works. Simple pleasures can bring big joy.

One of the things I flashed on whilst there is the Energy of this week. Today was MLK day, all that he stood and died for, now to have a holiday for him.  How long and what a struggle it was to get here. Now here it was MLK day , and the day before Obama the first man of color to hold this nation’s highest office. Wow! To add to that this week was the beginning of year of the Ox a new lunar New Year. This usually happens in Feb, but this year, it is early the same week as  these other events. To my weird way of thinking this was profound.





Everyday, is a chance to practice… something Chan

18 01 2009

buddha-headI was up early today I had planned a trip to Berkeley to visit a Wing Chun Class run by a former classmate. When I was in LA studying under Dr Kam Yuen Shifu there was a Young student there training with us. Later he left to school to go study Wu Tang under another Shifu. Some many years later I came across him at another former classmate’s dojo grand opening in Oakland. Both were all grown up now and teachers. The former classmate who studied Wu Tang was now a Acupuncturist.

Some years later I drop by the second classmate Dojo again to find the Acupuncturist was also there. He now was located in Northern CA with his practice. He was also a Wing Chun Shifu, he had studied Akido with Steven Segal, he had also studied several other Arts and was teaching Zen from a Korean path master. I was surprised, we had a nice chat. He now runs a holistic health clinic called Turning Point

Recently I decided to go visit his Wing Chun class, I also wanted to visit the Jujitsu Dojo to watch some of classes there, maybe grab some action photo shots , that would be later. Today I had arranged to visit the Wing Chun Class. I make the 30 min drive over to where I thought the class was suppose to be, the location that one is lead to believe is where the classes are held going by the website.  9:00–am to 12:00. I arrive at 10:00, no one is there….sigh. I find out later that the classes are held at another location, the Jujitsu Dojo. My bad for not asking exactly where, when the “zen sense” flashed and I was asking if there was a class this Sunday. I figured that out later with some critical deduction and rereading the website a couple of times.

Anyway, I’m bummed, disappointed, irked. What the heck happened I’m thinking, on the drive back home, with my mind going Hmmm what the heck? I began to think of attachments. Attachments are not always physical things, but attachment are also emotional things. Sometimes emotional attachments are more damaging attachments than Physical things. This was my time/lesson to practice letting go and I got a cool picture. 🙂

The Zen story about the two monks crossing a stream with a woman came to mind.

Note to self: Everyday Chan is a chance to practice… something





The Great land is a place, to which the streams descend…

18 01 2009

LZ had prepared a dish of rice and salmon for the pot luck affair that eve. We headed over to the Walnut Creek TCM school around 5:15pm. The TCPM, Year of the OX new year pot luck was scheduled for 5:00, I figured 5:30 was a good time to arrive. I was right. We got there a few more people were still bringing in food, including us and the table was already full of food, drink and dessert. A line had started, good timing no waiting. There were also no more chairs I found out after getting my plate of food. I made my rounds for the greetings, of the students I knew, SiSuk, Simo, and my students who had came to join the activities. One of the students there found me a chair and I sat with Sisuk at the dessert table. My Shifu and the Campbell school and other local area TCM schools did not make it this time.

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There was a lot of food, most of which as usual I could not eat being a veggie-head, however there was enough for me to fill my plate with, Rice and Salmon, Tofu, salad, Sweet potatoes, bread, a cheese pesto spread, pickled olives, some kind of greens with walnuts and Chinese something, and wine. I was good to go. LZ does not go to many functions, because she feels she does not practice Kung Fu and is self conscious about.

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Simo and LZ

However Simo and the senior students there know her and some chatted with her and invited her to sit with them. She hung with me though and drank my wine, since the party was also drinking vessel challenged 🙂

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While at the table with Sisuk he pointed out how one of his students there he  remembered as a kid starting classes and now was a PhD. yet was still humble. This brought on a conversation with another student , who is a Lawyer, about the nature of being humble. SiSUk said that one can be humble but not be a wimp, timid. That was different, one can also pretend to be humble but not be that way in their heart. He used another former student as an example of the fake humbleness. He also used a Sibak as another example, this time for true humbleness. This Sibak ( senior uncle) came to visit the states one time from Hong Kong. He was very unassuming to look at. SiSuk said, when he went to visit him in Hong Kong, he was the same way, from looking at this SiBak and talking to this Sibak, one would think he was on the same level as just an ordinary guy, a regular Joe the Plumber ( my words) type of guy. However, everywhere he went with this SiBak people showed him great respect, from the top to the bottom of the black and white community.  The black and white community in the Chinese way of speaking is not about race. It is about Law and the Mafia. Meaning the police and government officials and gangsters all showed this SiBak respect and he treat all of them with respect as well, with no outward show of his importance or ego. He went on to explain a few other things to the student then asked me, did he explain it ok, understandable. I asked the student have you read the Tao Te Ching? He said no. I explained it to him some of the Chinese philosophy and ideals of behavior and said there are verses in the book which is hundred of years old that speaks of this. About ego, power, government and the way of ruling, yet being humble. It is part of the Taoist/Buddhist ( Chan) Way. This is still held in high regard among traditional Kung Fu schools and people

How could the rivers and the seas
Become like kings to valleys?
Because of skill in lowliness
They have become the valley’s lords.

So then to be above the folk,
You speak as if you were beneath;
And if you wish to be out front,
Then act as if you were behind.

_____

A skillful soldier is not violent;
An able fighter does not rage;
A mighty conqueror does not give battle;
A great commander is a humble man.

___________

The great land is a place
To which the streams descend;
It is the concourse and
The female of the world:
Quiescent, underneath,
It overcomes the male.

______________________

A man of highest virtue
Will not display it as his own;
His virtue then is real.
Low virtue makes one miss no chance
To show his virtue off;
His virtue then is nought.
High virtue is at rest;
It knows no need to act.
Low virtue is a busyness
Pretending to accomplishment.

_/|\_





Kunoichi…

12 01 2009

ninjaI was on Skype last night chatting with a friend in Kobe Japan. He is a Kung Fu teacher there and runs the Kobe Kung Fu School. Other than our topic of politics, and life style both here and there. I brought up that I noticed that while doing research on Kung Fu in Japan that there were far more females involved in the study of Shaolin Kung Fu, not only as students but as teachers. There is a big organization of Shaolin there in northern Japan, the head instructor and most of those under her are females. I found this surprising , as here in the states it is quite the opposite. I then recalled that most of his students were also female. I questioned him on that.

He said true there were only about 2 or 3 students of his who were male. The rest which were the majority were females. He said that the females there in Japan over all are much “stronger” than the men. They are much more likely to be open minded about learning something outside their culture and expanding their mind as well as being more physically tough. I asked have the men lost the Samurai spirit? He said, the Samurai were really just a small portion of the society back in the day. Most people were farmers and the like. The women needed to be tough. Those who know about Japan know that the Oba-chans are not ones to be messed with 🙂 Many women there maybe be Physically in size small but their spirits are tough.

kunoichiI know for a fact that the women in Japan live much longer than the men. I had thought that was due to the men needing to be at work most of the time. Overworking is common in Japan. Once the men finish work, unlike here where they go home and take life fairly easy, in some cases. The men in Japan MUST go out drinking with their Bosses and co-workers until late hours, then be at work the next day before their bosses. No wonder the population of Japan is dropping. The men are too tired and drunk once they get home to get busy making kids. Added to that the fact that once they get married and have a child, the sex life pretty much stops. They no longer look at their partner as a mate, they are seen as only a parent and do not think much of having sex with their partner.

So, the females in addition to having more time at home alone, if no kids, they have more time to spend on other activities with or without children.  So there you have a bored, horny, strong spirited, woman with free time and money ( the men hand over their check to the wives who control the money) on hand to explore what life has to offer. The popular thought in the west that the Japanese female is oppressed is a a myth.  So not so much Samurai, they are more like Kunoichi ( female Ninjas)