Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Martial Arts Mayhem: Master Slices Throat

WARNING: In this video, a "Master" slices his own students throat with a sword.

Today in jujutsu class, my sensei was basically throwing me to the ground over his shoulder by applying pressure to my elbow joint. I let him do it to me; he let me do it to him. This requires a degree of trust.

What you will see in the video I have posted above, is a fine example of student/teacher trust. Unfortunately, it is also a fine example of student/teacher idiocy.

The "Master" in this video displays idiocy in being sucked into doing something he is obviously not ready to do, at the risk of incredible injury (to others that is!).

Not only has my own mother showed more finesse with a blade in the kitchen, but the jerk of a sensei didn't even demonstrate the most basic maybe the most important skill of a martial artist: AWARENESS!!!

The first thing he should have been aware of, is that he was not capable to pull of the stunt he was working on. Secondly, Even after slicing his student's throat, he just non-nonchalantly potters off as if nothing happened. Like an ostrich burying its head in the ground, he ignores all the signs. I imagine that his ego was so wounded that he couldn't bear to face the mistake he had just made. That being said, I do not put all the blame on him, after all, the student really should know better.

I mean seriously, if my sensei asked me if he could cut a cucumber in half off of my throat with a katana, I'd think it was some kind of test...A TEST to see how STUPID I was!!!

That's right, a deadly Darwinian test to weed out the denser students.

I wonder if such tests existed in medieval Japan...hmmm...I can picture it now...

Young graduating ninja being told by their Master "You have done well, but one test remains: To be a true ninja, one must survive the drinking of the auspicious-ninja-dragon-acid-blood-of-death!!!".

While half the ninja scale up the wall to escape the test, the Master oversees that those who wish to be "true ninja" drink a hearty helping of acid.

The Master, having wiped out the last of the remaining dumb-asses from his guild, and can rest in peace knowing that his true disciples were smart enough to scale the wall and go onto live long lives of assassination and espionage.

Well, I don't know if such tests existed then, but from this video, I assume they exist now! I hope I will never be tested in such a way, but if I am, I certainly hope that I will be smart enough to recognize it!

Or at the very least drunk enough to not care!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Internet date me!

That is right you sexy single foxy female lady girl ladies, Phil is on the meat market, and he is available rightHERE!!!

This photo is of me and lead actress Emily Chow at a rehearsal for Grace Chin's "The Quickie"; a contemporary play about speed-dating here in Vancouver. Actually, my only experience speed-dating has been virtual, which leads me to today's topic...

Online Dating!!!

Now for some, looking for romance online is no different than paying for the privilege of whacking off in front of a webcam. Others may see online dating sites as a haven for unattractive lonely people with no social skills.

But internet dating has come a long way! Now, many people don't need to pay money to whack off together on webcams! And whatever advantage unattractive lonely people with no social skills had online in the past has been demolished by the flood of HOT lonely people with no social skills.

I have a profile at Plenty of Fish: a free dating site where people from around the world can connect with others in their city or beyond. POF connects people world wide, but its humble origins are in Vancouver. In fact, in my "real" life, I actually once served food and drinks to a a few dozen members of a Plenty of Fish social-group here in Vancouver. They were mostly older, and had discovered the site as a great way to network and make friends.

Oh, and if you really do think people who date online have no social skills, then I dare you sign up today and try and get a date.

Visit POF today and you will discover it is filled with all types of men and women, of various age, size, occupation, ethnicity etc. Some are more explicit about their "size" than others. Some profiles are so well written that you may almost find yourself charmed into a metal bikini happily chained to Jabba the Hutt. Others read like a bad Babel Fish translation of a Japanese porn site. Look long enough though, and you are sure to find someone you would like to get to know. Or maybe even someone you already know!

I signed on a couple of years ago (back in the day before Facebook existed), managed to squeeze in a luke-warm date with an attractive woman, and then didn't pay much attention to it for quiet a while.

Then a year ago I revisited the site hoping to try a little social experiment. I wanted to try out some interesting pointers I read on internet dating by author and world renown PUA (Pick-up-artist) Neil Strauss . I became interested in Neil through his autobiographical bookThe Game. The story follows Neil through his twenties, where he begins as a socially awkward young man constantly seeking self-affirmation from women, and transforms into a social-dynamo that uses, interprets and develops PUA skills to connect with people and himself. In the end, his life, as well as the lives of those around him see profound change.

With great humour and insight, Neil writes about all the foolish things we men do, and all the foolish things that we really should be doing.

With Neil's advice in mind, I edited my profile and changed a my messaging tactics. Suddenly I had scores of women of all ages from different countries making first contact! There were countless messages and responses. I only absorbed a small part of his wisdom however, and as it turns out, I had little success taking any of my relationships with these women past the the stage of online flirting! I was wasting my time, and other theirs!

Where did I go wrong?

In retrospect I realize that my time on that website was spent bantering in the same way I do at a party with people I never intend on seeing again. I talk and talk and talk, but I am often reluctant to genuinely connect with new people.

When I feel like I'm connecting with someone or something new, I have a tendency to become too cognitive. My brain starts overworking. I start thinking how this or that situation or person is just like another, and before I know it, I am no longer "in the moment".

I'm not alone in this. I've met many others who let their past experiences cloud the natural wisdom that is inherent in them. It is that wisdom that allows a child, a pet, or a senile parent to show even the most jaded of us a new way to look at the world around us.

My failure to be in the now, and my habit of relying on my cognitive mind, is what makes me appear flat on stage as an actor, and what gets me beat three times by the same move in one day at the dojo.

When we are in the "now", or "in the moment", then you are experiencing that moment for what it is: a unique moment unlike any before or after it. We can not expect to treat what is "now" like what "was" or "will be". If we do, we are doomed to receive no new results, no matter what our wishes may have been.

Thinking back to "The Game" and to Neil's other writing, he continuously stresses being in the moment and making genuine human connection with people. It was odd that I let him inspire me to give POF another chance, but that I was so blind as to what I was missing in my online interactions with the girls I was in contact with.

If and when I go back to using Plenty of Fish, I will keep this in mind. Whether I'm in the dojo, on stage, with family or friends, or in the company of strangers...especially attractive strangers...I will try and meet the moment like it is no other.

Hey, why not try out Plentyoffish?

If you ask your self "why not?" and your brain gives you a dozen answers, try and think about where those answers came from. You will likely find they didn't really come from you! Hey, why not share them here with me? Maybe it will be the start of a much more interesting post?

If you let it, no matter what you try will promise to be like nothing you have ever tried before.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GI Joe John Carpenter's "The Thing"

This video is so funny and scary at the same time! The production values are off the hook! If your a movie buff, or just a GI Joe fan, check it out. The characters have been chosen perfectly. The faces of the Joes are given even greater expression in thanks to a musical score by French artists Zombie Zombie. Great homage to the original John Carpenter "The Thing". Enjoy!

For a more high quality version, check out this link:


Friday, February 6, 2009

The grass is always greener on the other side.

A friend of mine works in a Hostess Club in Ginza: Tokyo's posh business district. She makes big money off of big businesses that are hoping her charm, intelligence, and quick wit, served with limitless and expensive alcohol, will help make seeming unbearable clients and contracts endurable. She offers a service that is unique to Japan. And a service that is now, in part to the current global economic recession, seeing less and less business every day. In light of this, my friend has expressed envy at my position here in Vancouver, home to the 2010 Olympics and with it thousands of (imagined?) job opportunities. I told her the grass may seem greener on the other side, but only because it is resting on top of a huge pile of shit.

I did not have the heart to crush her dreams of coming here and mingling with the big money that is supposed to pass hands here in our city. So instead, I asked her to Google around for a bit and crush them herself!

It seems that January has been a stellar month for depressing new related to the Vancouver Olympics. The best article I found for an awesomely depressing overview of the situation here at a Marxist-flavoured website called Fightback. Reading about how much the Olympics are going to hurt us, I was reminded of the good old days just before and after we won the bid, and of all the things then that made me think to mysefl "Oh, this is going to suck!".

  • There was groups of concerned citizens and politicians begging the visiting Olympic committee not to choose us because we would not be able to provide the proper infrastructure or finances

  • I remember the day we won the bid, and seeing the colossal wave of protesters swarming the celebrations downtown at the bottom of Burrard Street. The next day a carefully shot photo of the event appeared on the cover of The Province newspaper with some title like "Vancouver Celebrates".

  • Our mascots bugged me from day one: A Sasquatch whose name kinda sounds like it might be a dirty word for vagaina; a polar bear dressed like a killer whale (maybe); and a rodent like beast (that I hear is supposed to be a Thunderbird WTF!?!) who wears a helmet. I hear that these three mascots were picked out of over 1600 artist submissions! I still think this is actually a cover story, and that really they were pulled from the wreckage of a failed Japanese Anime.

  • Our amazing (made in China) Hudson's Bay Olympic clothing that represents a fake kind of multi-culturalism with a design that screams "this looks Chinese to White people!".

These days, I don't care about the past, so much as I worry about the future. Our new Convention Centre is something like 800 million dollars over budget (oh, I so wish that was sarcasm); the city has just been caught trying to bail out the near bankrupt construction company building our over budget Olympic housing with money that would have to be paid back by tax-payers; and I'm pretty sure that Premier Gordon Campbell has demanded that all Vancouverites must hand over their first born sons for a hundred years if they wish to continue to live in Vancouver.

It is funny that my friend cited the Olympics as a possible draw for her to come to Vancouver in the search of work, because it is actually because of the Olympics and all the looming troubles surrounding it that have tempted me to run off and try my hand at teaching English in Japan! I wonder what will happen if my friend and I trade places. Will we both suffer financially as we would at home, only without the support of our loved ones? Or is the grass really greener on the other side for those willing to believe it so?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Action Figures Revisited

The origin of suffering is attachment. This is one of the Four Noble Truths as expounded by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Siddhartha believed our desire for, and attachment to worldly things was the cause of all human suffering.

As a young boy looking down the barrel of a tiny assault rifle carefully aimed at my favourite G.I.Joes, I never imagined that those same Joes would some how cause me to suffer in my later years.

Okay, I admit that sounds a little overly dramatic, but the thing is, I’m selling all my old toys and collectables right now, and I’m a little astounded by the mixture of feelings that surface whilst I dig them all out of their hiding spots.

Action figures were an important part of my childhood, and an embarrassing part of my teenage years. As a kid I would spend hours in the basement constructing elaborate stages for them: A super hero headquarters, an evil gang's hide out, a sleepy town for Cobra Commander to roll in and crush. Each scene begat equally if not more elaborate story lines: six Joes lost in a strange alien world (made up of bedding and stuffed animals) without friends, adequate supplies, or even the language ability to defend themselves; Dick Tracy forming a reluctant alliance with mobsters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to battle a horde of technologically advanced aliens from another world (He-Man villains and ThunderCats) who find themselves stranded in the 1930's. It was these elaborate story lines that emotionally connected me to each of the figures in different ways, and prevented me from parting with them even in my teenage years.

These connections are also how I justified selfishly refusing my little brother access to my toys. His vigorous style of play meant that his action figures saw much more “action” than mine did, and subsequently had fewer arms, legs, and heads than mine. I would snatch my figures off my brother and rather bare his tears and our mother’s wrath, than be forced to break the news to Darth Vader that his only Storm Trooper has no legs. My devotion to these figures even compelled me to sneak into my brothers room when he wasn’t around, and attempt to restore the victimized vehicles and figurines back to their original state to the best of my ability. I felt I owed it to them.

Right now these toys are at rest on my work desk. G.I. Joes, Cobras, several different incarnations of DC and Marvel heroes and villains, a host of other miscellaneous robots, aliens, Star Wars figures figures and vehicles all sit amongst each other. Over the course of more than two decades, old rivalries and allegiances have been forgotten. Lego pirates sail peacefully on a bright sea of costumed heroes, without fear of the 12” giants or well-armed 2” spacemen that they pass. Their stories have faded along with the desire that I once felt for all of them. Now they sit in my room like an unwanted lover; full of memories but devoid of passion. There is not much left for us to give each other now, except maybe some freedom.

Over this last week I have been sorting, repairing, and photographing my old plastic friends. Some will help pay off my student loans via Craigslist, FaceBook, eBay etc; others will find themselves in the hands of kids who had less than I did as a child. I have been surprised to find that in doing so an old hobby of mine has revived and evolved: Fixing old toys, and creating new ones!

Repairing toys is something I have long done, but now I have more sophisticated means of doing so. Creating toys though is something I had ever only done once before. It was for my little brother. I took one of my favourite G.I.Joes (he was one of the six lost in that alien world I mentioned above) and through hours of sculpting, sanding, carving, gluing, painting, and packaging, I created an action figure OF my own little brother. The figure wore my brothers very own high school basket ball uniform, and even came with accessories (only figure stand and basket ball…I wasn’t feeling generous enough to sacrifice one of my bazookas). It even had its own packaging with his photo, a biography, and his own signature in gold ink. It has been kind of hard for me to top that gift ever since (owing partly to the fact that I can be a real jerk), but he still brings it out to show his friends to this day. I can tell from the packaging that he took it out to play with at least once, but I don’t mind. In fact, I’m looking forward to the day when I can sneak back into his room to fix it for him.

In letting go of my old toys, I could pretend that I’m letting go of my desires and bringing myself a step closer to satori, but the reality is that I am probably just trading old desires for new ones. That being the case…

Feel free to contact me in you are interested in participating in my desires, old or new! Below is a link to my facebook toy galleries, and my contact information.

If you want to buy something, or if you have old G.I. Joes or other toys that you are willing to part with, give me a shout at: philipgurney[@]gmail.com. And may Buddha bless you!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


When I'm not making a fool of myself online or in the streets, I can be seen making a fool of myself in the dojo where I get my ass handed to me by kohai and senpai alike!

Located on the campus grounds of the University of British Columbia, nestled amongst the trees, text-books and drunken co-eds, is the UBC Rec Centre: home to a myriad of fitness and wellness progams, inluding martial arts. It is here where the UBC Classical Jujutsu Club studies Takeuchi-ryu jujutsu under the auspices of the Shofukan dojo.

The Shofukan is a special place. Yes, partly because I am there, but more so because of its affiliation with the Bitchu-den lineage of Takeuchi-ryu: a classical system of jujutsu from Japan founded by Takeuchi Hisamori in the early 16th century. After reading the not-so-great Wikipedia article on Takeuchi-ryu, you will learn something of its history and curriculum, but what you won't learn is just how damn difficult it can be to find a place to study it! That makes the Shofukan a very special place indeed for anybody who has an interest in Takeuchi-ryu or Koryu in general (Koryu being a term used to describe Classical Japanese Martial Arts whose origins pre-date the Meiji Restoration). It is therefore my pleasure to present to you in my first post, the link to the Vancouver Shofukan's new web page at: http://www.shofukan.ca/

Please check out the website. Inside you will find some rudimentary information on our dojo; links to other Bitchu-den Takeuchi-ryu dojos around the world; and links to some great resources that you can use to start or further your interest in Koryu. Enjoy!

Yours in Budo,

Philip Gurney