s h o t o b l o g :: the world’s first shotokan weblog

I have often told people my story about my first contact with Payet-sensei, when I ordered Aikido Shugyo.  How I found the book and the dates are all a little fuzzy in my mind, and I’ve told the story enough times now with small changes in the details that I’ve started to doubt myself completely.  But I finally found some good documentary evidence for my memories.

I used to do shotokan karate, and in 2003 I started a weblog about martial arts which was hosted at someplace called besthost1.  I updated it by manually changing the HTML documents on my desktop computer and then uploading the file via FTP.  The URL was http://www.shotoblog.com.  I don’t know what happened to the domain name, but the blog itself got picked up by Archive.org and is viewable through the Way Back Machine.  You can see what the blog looked like when it was new and about the time I stopped updating it.

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The Okinawan pine tree was my logo; this is the original version.

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It took me a while to find, but here is the updated logo with a photo of an actual Okinawan pine tree.

The original logo is now available to me through archive.org, but the updated version can be found on Flickr.  I had an account that I had hoped to use for photos of the traveling I had planned to do around the country visiting dojos and attending seminars.  That seems not to have happened!

I think–think!–the shotoblog YouTube account was mine, too.  I don’t remember where the Claire video, the only one the account uploaded, came from, but it is from the right time period and I find the woman in the video gorgeous.  So probably this was my account.

On March 14, 2005, I wrote the following, which I find very interesting to read now.  (I have put the relevant parts in bold.)

“Monday night, and I’m still thinking about my test on Saturday. After going home, starting a few chapters of Robert Twigger’s Angry White Pyjamas for the second read-through, and taking a nap, I went to work again Saturday night. Then sleep, then work Sunday afternoon, then sleep, and then work again this morning. Thankfully, Sunday afternoon at the hospital was very slow, and I had time to read. So I’ve spent the last couple days thinking about the test and reading Angry White Pyjamas. My breakthrough at the test has become, if anything, more exciting. I’m bracing for possible backsliding at tomorrow night’s karate practice, but at least I know what direction I’m headed in now.

“The Twigger book has had a profound effect on me. The first time I read it, I had never heard of Yoshinkan aikido and thought of aikido as the namby-pamby descendent of real martial arts. I was bowled over. The second reading was equally as powerful. I rarely re-read books due to the almost inevitable disappointment reading the book differently.Angry White Pyjamas was exactly the same the second time–a quality I attribute to its masterful composition. From emotional identification to otherwise undiscoverable historical anecdotes to technical clues on karate training, the book is packed with joy.

“In addition to rejuvenating my interest in practicing martial arts each read, the book caused me to seek out Shioda Gozo’s autobiography and Tesshu’s biography, both of which had further impacts on me. After reading some anecdotes on and writings by Tesshu, my kendo improved measurably, without even practicing–this fact seems to confirm to me that, above a basic level of fitness and coordination, kendo is all mental and that, whether or not Tesshu would have been successful in a 17th-century style duel, he is the model for the modern kendo practitioner.

Shioda Gozo’s autobiography is a book of such stunning directness and usefulness that thinking about it makes me want to pack up my things and move somewhere I can train in Yoshinkan. My town has one aikido dojo run by someone who advertises aikido, kenjutsu, Zen, bushido, and two other “arts.” He is supposed to be a rokudan in aikido but advertises no ryu or class times and can afford only a small carpeted one-room shack on a rural highway as his “dojo.” After someone noticed his place the first time, we started joking in karate about going to a class to show him up, assuming he was a fraud (where do you learn kenjutsu in rural New York?). Nearing the end of Angry White Pyjamas this afternoon, I decided to go out there and check it in person, hoping beyond hope that there was some authentic budo there. It was closed, but the “dojo” is in the same building as a business called Magickal Acquisitions, which appears to be a retailer of New Age nicknacks. After seeing on the sign that the instructor was a master of both Zen and bushido in addition to aikido and kenjutsu, I decided not to phone him about taking a class. The desire to beat him into embarassment in front of his students still exists, though.”

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Another interesting thing I discovered when reading my Archive archives is that for a while I thought I had the first traditional martial arts blog on the web, but then I found one by someone who studied… Yoshinkan Aikido!  What a coincidence!  I hadn’t remembered that.  Anyhow, it appears that person, Herb Bana, stopped studying Yoshinkan due to… an injury!  A Yoshinkan injury!  What a coincidence.  Here is the penultimate posting on the blog…

Due to the nature of my injury I’m not going to do martial arts anymore.
The CT Scan revealed a disc bulging near my spinal cord. If I’m not careful the disc could touch the spinal cord causing further damage.
That’s it.
It was a short journey and like a lot of other people, it has come to an abrupt end. I’ve seen others suffer broken collar bones and broken wrists and never come back. I never thought it would happen to me.
You should think carefully about getting involved in martial arts…. while your training everyone is OK, but as soon as you get hurt, noone wants to know about it.

This is so true.  It’s a real problem with martial arts.

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