Personal Message: Finally After a gruesome quarter I’ve able to finish this article albeit late…

Disclaimer: Throughout her career life and most of her life, Teresa Teng’s life experience was really demonstrative about the socio-political-economic dynamics in Taiwan at the time as part of Cold War and soon, Asian Tigers aka Rising Asia phenomenon. Now, let’s begin with her early life.

Teresa Teng was born on January 29, 1953, as Deng Liyun/Teng Li-yun (鄧麗筠), at Yunlin County, Taiwan, to a military family. Her father was a colonel at the ROCAF (Republic of China Air Force), who fled to Taiwan alongside with Liyun’s big family following the defeat of Kuomintang forces in Chinese Civil War. She had 4 brothers, 3 elder and 1 younger. Since a young age, young Liyun had displayed a great interest and talent in singing. As early as 3-4 years old, Liyun enjoyed accompanying her father performing Chinese opera, as mainly the troupe’s singer. When she & family moved to Luchou, Taipei County, in 1959, this would just bolstered her singing abilities.

Given more resources in Taipei, Deng Liyun became more active in singing talent shows and competitions. In 1964, at just the age of eleven, Teresa won the China Broadcasting’s (now Chunghwa Broadcasting Ltd.) singing talent show by the song 訪英台 “Fang Yingtai“, a Huangmei Opera-based song that become the soundtrack for the Shaw Scope’s “The Love Eterne” (梁山伯與祝英台 “Liang Shanbo yu Zhu Yingtai“)  , a hit movie that year played by Li Li-hua. The following year, Deng Liyun also won Golden Horse Recording’s talent competition by the song  採紅菱 “Cai Hongling“. Thus, these became the dawn of Deng Liyun’s career in music industry. During thThis at time, Liyun was coached under Cheng Sheng Ltd. for her singing abilities, while began performing on big restaurants, clubs and such. However, as the singing activities increased, Liyun were no longer able to manage the balance between professional and schooling. In 1967, after serious consideration, with her father’s blessing,  Deng Liyun dropped out from Ginling Girls High School to concentrate on her singing career full-time. At the time, the economy of Taiwan was rising as the “Four Asian Tigers” after the USAID aid ceased in 1965 for the United States involvement in the escalation of Indochinese War. During this time, Liyun often performed at 國之賓 “Guo Zhibin“cabaret club, with her signature song of 一見你就笑 “Yijian ni jiu xiao“.

Finally, in 1969, Deng Liyun entered the entertainment aka show business. It was also around this time that Liyun began to choose her stage name as we now known in the Chinese world: Deng Lijun (鄧麗君). At this time also marked the birth of China Television (CTV, famous of its entertainment shows). Thus Lijun began participating in the showbiz by hosting CTV’s prime time evening entertainment/talent show, 每日一星 “Meiri Yixing“. At the same year, Deng Lijun also began to release her first original single, 晶晶 “Jingjing” and performed in the top television serial at the time, 謝謝總經理 “Xiexie, Zongjingli“. Thus her reputation as a pop star began to boom on this point. Also in 1969, Lijun led the fundraising concerts across Hong Kong and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Philippines) for the charity following a severe typhoon that hit Taiwan that summer-fall, thus marking her own outreach and promotion overseas, particularly among overseas Chinese audiences. Amused by Demg Lijun’s abilities, the President and Prime Minister of Singapore awarded her a special award for the charity purposes. By reaching Hong Kong as the hub for global Chinese entertainment, soon Deng Lijun’s popularity soar was imminent. In 1970, Lijun held her fist performance in Hong Kong, also for charity purposes. She was then awarded, “the Queen of Charity” by Overseas Chinese Daily News. Also at 1970, Lijun acted in the musical-movie 歌迷小姐 “Gemi Xiaojie” which storyline reflected her life experience, thus bolstering her image as the Chinese pop superstar.

By 1973, Deng Lijun has been on the top list of the most popular Chinese singer & popstar. But following a broken romance relationship with the son of the Malaysian gamble king, Deng Lijun then decided to advanced her career into the Mecca of Asian development at the time: Japan. At the time, Japan was also experiencing her golden years of postwar economic boom and becoming the World’s second largest economic power after the United States by 1968. With the aid of Funaki Minoru (舟木稔), a Polydor Records talent-hunter, Deng Lijun was recruited and prepared to penetrate the Japanese market by Polydor Records Japan (now part of Universal Music Japan), especially given to her already popular status at the time. Thus Lijun flocked to Japan in late 1973 for a 6-months coaching in Japanese and Japanese recording preparation. After a gruesome 6 months learning Japanese from zero and adjusting lifestyles in Japan, finally, on March 1, 1974, Lijun released her initial single in Japanese, 今夜かしら明日かしら (Konya Kashira Ashita Kashira), under her Japanese stage name, Teresa Teng (テレサ・テン), which we mostly refer to her name today.

<to be continued>

Teresa Teng/Deng Lijun/Teng Li-chun (1953-1995)

This all began in around early 2006. I was then a very masochist-misogynist Stalinist-with-a-human-face secondary school student sympathizer. Therefore, I didn’t have even one single female idol, be it singer, movie star or so what. However, by that time, my favorite singers has been Chinese singers, as that times were also the height of my chauvinistic Chinese stance. But out of a sudden, I became so enchanted by Teresa Teng (1953-1995), a woman singer from Taiwan whose reputation as the best Chinese woman singer still unsurpassed even long after her death.

As a young kid, I often heard about Teresa Teng and her song because of my parents who sometimes love to play her songs. However, even in the most masochist-misogynist days, I still have some positive attitude towards her and her (Chinese) songs, just because they’re simply wonderful. Also to the opinion that she’s beautiful. However, in around February 2006, my cousin brought my mom a karaoke VCD about her songs.

After listening her songs throughout the karaoke VCD, I began to admire her so much. This is so unprecedented, since I could enjoy almost more than half of the songs in the karaoke VCD list (~12 songs) at single time. Usually, I could enjoy at most 40% of an admired singer’s song. But this record showed that for me, Teresa Teng is not arbitrarily a mere good singer, but phenomenal; her mild, sweet voice really brings the calming, serene, elegant, joyful aura when listening to her songs. Not to mention her outstanding talents especially considering the socio-political-economical conditions in Asia-Pacific during her heyday times. Besides, Teresa Teng’s beauty, for me especially at the time, seems very unique if compared to beautiful women I’ve ever seen, be it everyman, celebrities, or such. Her unique beauty is also inexplainable by words, watching her live performance or album cover made me deeply enchanted just at first glance!

Hong Kong/Japan recital, c.1977-1978. Look how she was accompanied by orchestra!

As I enjoyed her songs, I also aspired to have her quality of voice and beauty! For me, because of the consistency and elegance, these type of songs must be performed as it is, like performing a symphony orchestra. This experience soon plants the seeds of “the Lady Inside me”.

Before I tell about her biography, please allow me to explain briefly about her significance in Asian pop culture that brought her as a pop culture icon, even hero, for us especially Chinese people.

Teresa Teng, c.1977 in either Hong Kong/Japan.

First of all, it is important to consider the notion that the significance of Teresa Teng’s singing talent and career is because Teresa Teng also served as a cultural ambassador between Chinese and Japanese societies, the two “dragons” in East and Southeast Asia. Until 1960-1970s, Japan was the only developed nation in literally whole of Asia-Pacific. Even Israel was still building her economy. Yet so, albeit the Four Asian Tigers began to emerge during those times, conclusively, their development were not as advanced as today. Even in 1970, South Korea was still poorer than North Korea. Yet when Japan entered her heyday in 1960-1980s, even though pursuing pro-West stance, the bitter wartime memories still remained very fresh among the people in the rest of Asia. Thus, anti-Japanese sentiment was indeed harsher during that time period especially among our grandparents’ generation, whom witnessed first and second-hand about the war, yet they were during those 1960-1970s, they were reaching their peak stage of their lives. Given to this phenomenon, then emerged the notion of “we only be friends with Japan is because of their money”. Especially since Japanese economy was at the peak during the Cold War era.

Teresa Teng, 1979.

Teresa Teng, Japan, 974. Her 2nd Japanese single was a great hit that brought her the trophy.

At the same time, albeit strong anti-Japanese sentiment among the elders and middle-aged, because of the rising economy and exposure to Japanese products, the era of 1960-1970s also saw the growth of the diffuse of Japanese pop culture products as these Asian nations are began searching role models that would suit the societal conditions. Japan became the prima donna that aside from the shining economy, the Asian commonalities became the eye-candy factor for modelling after Japan.

Today, Chinese celebrities like Jay Chou, Faye Wong tend to relatively only face cultural barriers if trying to hit the Japanese market, but Teresa Teng must overcame ALL cultural, socio-economic, and stereotype barriers, where all these barriers were much more difficult especially considering the socio-economic-political conditions in Asia Pacific during her lifetime, aka, Cold War. However, despite of the harsh barriers, Teresa Teng could manage to sing in Japanese alongside Mandarin, Hokkien, and Cantonese, whereas most East Asian singer nowadays tend to be stuck on their home culture languages. Albeit now Kpop singers are so popular in Japan, and some of them did sing in Japanese, but hey, if consider the other aspect, they still face easier challenges if compared to Teresa Teng! Nevertheless, now, both people in Chinese and Japanese societies, both old and young still know Teresa Teng. She’s simply a sweetheart for everyone, regardless of race, religion, creed, or culture, even political affiliation, although the Beijing conservative hawks used to ban and denounce Teresa Teng as “decadent”. However, for us ladies, she seems to have more appeal because of her calming, serene aura and beauty.

This is how Teresa Teng become my first patron saint for “the Lady Inside Me”.

 

Jujutsu Ninjutsu Taijutsu JudoAikido

Being an aikidoka, over the time, I have been fascinated by not only the fundamentality in the principles and application, but also to the great extent and relationships aikido shares with other grappling martial arts, mainly jujutsu, ninjutsu-taijutsu and sumo as the closest proximities because of the fellow Nihon-budo status. But what’s even more fascinating, from mingling from other martial arts practitioners, as well as reading literatures and watching from media, I found that jujutsu, the greater umbrella which aikido belongs to, also encompasses a lot of martial arts we even couldn’t think of. Jujutsu is so omnipresent in most of World’s traditional martial arts!

Ne-waza Children quarreling Infant in womb

Omnipresent. Yes, personally speaking, I see that lots, if not most, of simple self-defense methods are heavily infested by jujutsu techniques, especially when dealing with weaponry or multiple attackers. Now if talking about grappling where jujutsu is often classified at, people from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/Gracie Jiu-jitsu often argue that grappling is among the most natural and fundamental movements of human being, especially if talking about infancy movements developments and even pre-natal movements. This is quite analogous to what I hear from lots of doctors argue why swimming is the beat sport because of its fundamentality, where we all humans are literally swimming inside our mother’s womb.

Grappling  

I’d rather say that the rationale of the fundamentality of grappling is a very powerful foundation to suggest why jujutsu is so omnipresent. However, besides the inherence and fundamentality, then onmipresence of grappling movement, I also found that the eclecticness in jujutsu family martial arts is actually the another critical factor to contribute to jujutsu’s omnipresence. Whilst grappling become the mainframe of Jujutsu, hence to its, again, fundamentality and omnipresence, the elements of striking and weaponry are the ones that critically solidifies its frame. According to especially athletic experts, running aka athletics is the mother of all sports. Within this frame of rationale, striking and weaponry is also defined as “the mother of all martial arts”. Grappling, striking, and weaponry, in the eyes of Jujutsu, are like coffee, cream, and sugar. Together, these blend is called Jujutsu.

Let me go bit further about the importance of striking and weaponry inside Jujutsu. Striking makes Jujutsu more than just games or dances, like sumo or wrestling. It provides the sense of martial inside Jujutsu. Weaponry, on the other hands, aside from contributing to the martial aspects of jujutsu, also contributes to the aesthetic aspect of jujutsu, making it also an art. This proportional blend of grappling, striking, and weaponry is what makes jujutsu unique if compared to sumo, conventional boxing and wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, Pankrathon, and such. In my own Orientalist point of view, this unique blend is what makes jujutsu seem to be more “civilised” albeit still effective and efficient, if compared to these other kinds of wrestling.

osensei randori randori

Besides of the unique blend, the principles within jujutsu is the another one aspect that solidifies its omnipresence. In the jujutsuan principles, size, power, numbers should not be a problem for someone to overcome his/her opponent/s. Even a wiry, lame person should be able to defeat strong multiple attackers safe and sound. Therefore, from this fundamental principle, the necessity for efficient techniques are always fostered and reminded at all times. That’s why jujutsu masters often argue that because of this relevance, as a martial art, jujutsu is suitable for all kind of people, regardless of age, sex, creed, religion, culture, health, size, and body shape. Even the handicapped can be so adept in jujutsu family martial arts. This all proves how universal, fundamental, and omnipresent jujutsu is, in regarding its philosophy, fundamental, and technical status.

Kapap

Kapap-Krav Maga, our cousin from Israel

Bartitsu

Our British cousin Bartitsu, famous with Sherlock Holmes

Sambo

Sambo, our Russian cousin

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu/Gracie Jiu-jitsu, our most famous cousin from Brazil.

Last but not least, the modern history of jujutsu iteself also strongly reflects the reason for the omnipresence of jujutsu. By this case, objectively speaking, I really must give high credits for Kodokan Judo and its ancestor arts, as well as Kano Jigoro-Mifune Kyuzo as both the representative art and figure. During the last century, Kodokan Judo was greatly responsible in forming, as well as solidifying tons of modern martial arts system in this planet, especially in the European World. From the late 19th century, Kodokan Judo inspired Bartitsu, the martial arts we associate Sherlock Holmes with. Then in 20th century, our beloved brothers Vasili Oschepkov and Viktor Spiridonov from Russia then developed the martial art Sambo and Samoz martial arts. Even Krav Maga and its mother art Kapap, the famous self-defense system, is also heavily derived from Kodokan Judo-Jujutsu, albeit Imi Lichtenfeld as the founder of Krav Maga himself was a boxer-wrestler. Then, came the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu/Gracie Jiu-jitsu, the most famous jujutsu derived-art in the Western world. This interesting historical facts, again, showed how we, jujutsu practitioners of all over the world should feel and share the sense of familiarity with alot of different martial arts. Now it’s like everyone is connected, yes?

These are the factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic that contributes to the universality, fundamentality, then omnipresence of jujutsu. I don’t mean to hinder other kinds of arts, but based on these facts and arguments, this is what makes me proud as an aikidoka as part of the vast jujutsu family. I am an aikidoka, I am a jujutsuka, and I’m proud of it. But above all, we are all family! Tachi Rei!

Name is Prayer

(Prophet Muhammad’s Hadits)

PM: Finally, after months of reasoning, I could tell you all of why and how I choose my maiden feminine name!

Again, Shakespearean thought of “What’s in a name?” plays again here. This time, it’s even more inherent, because now we’re talking about maiden name, which indeed are our more inherent identity.

For your basic info, my feminine name “Sayuri” (小百合) basically means “small/little lily”. Now, talking about myself, some people might think it’s bit awkward for me to use that name especially since for body size, I’m not really “small” (As a reference, my height is ~176 cm). However, it is the combination of admiration, adventure and reflection that brought me into choosing the name “Sayuri”.

First of all, As a fan of Japanese culture, I’ve seen so much names like “Haruko”, “Michiko”, and such (those that have “-ko” (子) endings). I personally don’t dislike those names, just seeing that those names are just too “common” for my ears. Also since that because of my stance as a universalist, I found that despite the actual meaning of the “ko” is “lady”, if I compare with the “-o” suffix (男 , 夫, or such, which is indeed attributed to males), I sense of kinda “gender disparity” just in naming. The “-o” suffixes are basically means “man”, while “-ko”, literally means “kid”. From that standpoint, I began to wonder for another kinds of maiden names.

In the midst of adventure, I realized that in order to pick a name, at first step, it is generally wiser for us to pick up names that symbolizes at least our ideals or expectation about ourselves, and/or symbolizes our own true self. Personally, I’m considered to be a very caring, curious, and warm. I also could think in-depth/detail, and I love grandiosity. But on the other hand, as the “side effect”, I realized that I often become coquettish, attention-seeker, hypersensitive, multipolar, even inquisitive. Now, in terms of personality traits, especially the bad habits, we all know that each characters has its ups and downs and therefore, we couldn’t eradicate them but we could deal with those bad habits, as lots of psychologists, and spiritualists say. This again suggest a proper name that could fulfill this mission.

When I began to “adventuring” for names, as the baseline, I choose the names that contains the characters of “Mi” 美 (beauty). Obviously, this is because I want to be a beautiful power in all aspects of life, besides physical beauty. And, to support my desire, the next step, I picked the characters that means “future” (明), “wisdom” (恵). So far, so good, but then, another obstacle’s coming. I see that all of those three is inherent in my life and personality, but how to tie things up? So the challenge is, how to tie those name meanings into a concise, rhythmical name? And this made me thought very hard.

石川さゆり (Sayuri Ishikawa (1958-)). She’s just simply uniquely gorgeous!

吉永小百合 (Sayuri Yoshinaga (1945-)). Look how beautiful she is despite she’s almost 70 years old!

Suddenly, out of the blue, my role models became the source of inspiration, and this also has a “deja vu” factor. Personally, I love to sing and act, and in my role models, I found Ishikawa Sayuri (石川さゆり (1958-)), an enka singer (which genre of music I really enjoyed, especially the mood-kayo) , and Yoshinaga Sayuri (吉永小百合 (1945-)), actress-singer (in the 1960s). Gosh, they are both beautiful, but personally, I found that Sayuri Yoshinaga’s beauty is more appealing and suitable for my condition. For me, Sayuri Yoshinaga’s beauty radiates the aura of warmth, and elegance, like we remember the aura of the “Aquarius lady”. So, naturally, I leaned over Yoshinaga. But that’s not yet finished. What’s even more interesting, aside from my admiration, and similarity of interest, it turned out that Yoshinaga, Ishikawa, and me shared the same Chinese zodiac, despite having different birthdays (Yoshinaga is April, Ishikawa is January, and I’m in August)! What a coincidence!

There’s lots of kinds of lilies, but this white lilies are the one that ring my bells about the meaning, also the ones I most often see.

I really have a firm, fiery type personality, so meeting this type of “Aquarius lady” aspect really appeals for “balancing powers” in my personality. Also, the name “Sayuri” seems euphonic to me. And when I searched the meaning, this is what makes the point. “Sayuri” (小百合) means “small/little lily”. Despite I never seen lilies so much in my life, but I do know that lilies symbolizes beauty, faith, hope, motherhood, passion, and lots of other noble feminine values. And probably, “little lily” symbolizes the beauty of hope, faith, and passion. When reading the meaning, I feel that the deep meaning is really attaching for me, aside from the eureka feeling. And, linguistically speaking, the philosophical meaning of lily really embodied the values of beauty, wisdom, and (bright) future I’m craving for. Bingo! I finally got the right one! So, as you could say, I opted to choose the name “Sayuri” (小百合).

And that’s the simple story of how I choose my feminine name “Sayuri” (小百合). ^^

Being a member of ethnic Chinese minorities in Indonesia, we have been suffering from the cultural genocide thru assimilationist policies by especially the fascist New Order regime (1965-1999). The use of Chinese language in media and public life was banned even until 2004, even Chinese customs and cultural expression  (including Chinese Lunar New Year as public holiday) were banned from the public until 1999. The cultural genocide itself has brought a “cultural amnesia” throughout lots of young Chinese Indonesian. Even worse, my generation is part of the worst generation suffered from this cultural amnesia. We become unable to speak Mandarin as the lingua franca of Chinese people, and worse, we even didn’t understand and even ridiculed about our own cultural customs practice! We’re one of the worst “lost generation”!

I really must consider myself as “bit luckier”, since while lots and even most of my peers are “feeling comfy” with the assimilationist stance, thanks to the strict ethics from my ultra-conservative grandparents and parents, I’m still able to appreciate and comprehend our own cultural customs practice, albeit that I’m still struggling at perfecting my Chinese language command, especially realizing the fact that  since my grandparents and parents are still considered the people whose Indonesian language is not their primary language (especially my grandparents, where they are still considered 1st and 2nd generation of settlers), despite holding Indonesian citizenship and our family had settled in Indonesia for ~ 100 years (not really short, but still not really long enough if compared to lots of other Chinese Indonesian folks). If I remembered my childhood days, my granny often strictly taught us Chinese. My grandparents often brought us to Chinese restaurants, especially dim sum, since they are Cantonese. And, boy, they REALLY enjoy Chinese opera, the typical shows we children often disliked because it’s so noisy and weird, if not, creepy! I was schooled at an expatriate-community Montessori school (which is a very prestigious background, indeed), and therefore, not only our English language command are honed, but also, subconsciously, our worldly views. And this worldly view is what also dragged me to the world of intellectuality, something that my grandparents really embraced, despite they’re holding the “old way”, which we, the young, often found it “so boring/irritating”.

When I reached junior high, my cultural awareness and intellectuality, also idealism growth went off exponentially. I tried various ways to re-discover my “Chinese-ness”, especially thru the means of civitas academia. This journey then led me to discover the Japanese culture furthermore. Japanese pop culture and products have been everywhere now, and in my home society, it’s basically part of our daily lives. Based on my fascination over Japanese modern culinary, classic pop songs (especially 1960-1970s mood-kayo), martial arts, and last but not least, the tech stuffs, this had brought me to deeper desire to learn more about Japanese. Especially since lots of fellow Chinese Indonesian scholars argued that as Indonesian people, generally,  it is wiser to put Japan as role model instead of China for development, especially since the fact that both Indonesia and Japan are maritime countries and therefore, shared the analogous way instead of China which tend to be more “continental”. Long story short, “Japanese pattern” are more suitable for Indonesia, albeit we shouldn’t forget our Chinese heritage.

Strangely enough, it is the Japanese culture that helped me to rediscover my “Chinese-ness”. Maybe it’s because of my fascination or what. And my fascination really came from the notion of “simplicity, ergonomy, and modernity”that came from he Japanese products I often experienced.  But really, from my own experience, being exposed to Aikido and mood-kayo songs, I become more understand about the twists and tracks about Japanese culture, thus also helping me understanding my own root culture heritage, and vice versa. And inevitably, this phenomenon also brought me at odds with my parents and especially grandparents. They, especially the grandparents, really disliked the Japanese or Japanese things. The bitter memories of Second Sino-Japanese War (1931-1945) are still haunting on their minds. Yet we must admit that some of their dislikes about Japanese atrocities (especially due to their very xenophobic-ultraconservative values that even now are still under heavy struggling to eradicate it in Japan) are also reasonable and true, that doesn’t mean I supported their atrocities and the legacy of the atrocities itself! Being a universalist and worldly person, we must be able to look up at things objectively and compassionately. Take the goods, and mend the rest! Not just throwing the rest! If not, this World could still be a hell!

If talking about the elders’ dislikes over Japanese yokes, let me illustrate my own grandparents’  case: my late gramps never enjoy to ride a Japanese car or using Japanese-made tech stuffs. And my grandparents don’t usually eat Japanese food! When talking about martial arts, they even don;t like to discuss it! Maybe and certainly, this might be because of the terrifying abuse of martial arts skills they witnessed personally during the war.

Now, in re-discovering my “Chinese-ness”, I used to join the Taijiquan Aerobic Club in high school. I also used to be a fan of Mandopop songs. I was so pathetic back then, even also a freak and nerd, rather anti-social. I was also very prone and helpless to bullying. Then my parents pushed me to train Aikido. But being so staunchy about the “Chinese-ness”, I refused to learn it , initially. It was not until a few months after training that I began to enjoy, even love the traditional Japanese martial arts, since I found them more simpler, and more systematic if compared to Chinese Martial Arts, which I never look down, ever since I like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and other HK movies. Learning Aikido has not only honed my spiritual intelligence, femininity  self-defense capability, or character and soul, but also brought me to the enchanted forest of Japanese culture which I really fascinated by, and then, this journey, again, also helped me to understand the Chinese culture as my cultural heritage especially given the fact that Japanese culture are part of Sinosphere civilization. After comparing Mood-kayo to Mandopop songs, I also found that Mood-kayo songs are much more enchanting, even become the best pop songs I’ve ever listen to, thanks to my admiration over Teresa Teng (1953-1995) which then also sparked my admiration over her Japanese contemporaries like Yashiro Aki (1950-), Koyanagi Rumiko (1952-), and much more, mostly females, and they’re all beautiful ^^.

Now, if talking about Aikido, I still remember when I showed my gramps and cousin the ” 13 jo-kata” (staff techniques). It’s not an easy task to memorize empty patterns since I’m dyslectic that required REAL sample and application to be able to memorize. And thanks to the simulative approach, the Aikido techniques (especially the bare-hand techniques) has helped me to comprehend the system easier, since we practice the techniques on partners instead of just doing empty forms like in karate. But then, my gramps kinda “look down” on it, and prefer the Shaolin. HELLO? You don’t appreciate your granddaughter’s ability, and Shaolin system is so delicate despite effective? That kind of thought really stroke off my mind. Boy, gramps and granny are really a fan of Kung Fu, but they disliked and even know nothing about Japanese budo/bujutsu. At one chance I showed gramps the Aikido’s randori and jiyu waza technique demonstration video on YouTube, and he’s pretty curious and fascinated, since he saw that the more and harder someone attacks, the harsher his/her fate be because of the Aikido techniques. He then expressed an awe.

But it was after I discovered the history of Aikido that I realized how my gramps don’t even like Aikido, despite I believed and this believed is also supported by the Aikido community, that Aikido is martial arts to promote peace and justice. In the history of Aikido, during the 1930-1940s, Aikido was very popular among the Japanese military. This means, at that time, especially during the war, Aikido was also used to suppress the civil rights, human rights, both in Japan and especially abroad. It was one of the art that were severely abused during the Sino-Japanese war! It was the art that were used to torture, interrogate, and even murder people like my grandparents and their families! No wonder why my grandparents still disliked the art I practiced and loved. Yet I still revered Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei O’sensei and his teachings, which is never wrong, also his students and teachers, in which O’sensei and his teachers were also part of the ultra-nationalist Japan because of their strong connections to those fascists and their prominent status, also their personal history. It seems like I’m pissing on the graves of my fellow families and betraying the Chinese people, especially those killed by the Japanese during the war…

That kind of thought, in some extent, might be true, but again, we can’t deny the bitter past. As a universalist and a cultural and heritage conscious person, we must wisely refection at them, thus also looking forward to make this World a better, a more, feminine place. Embracing the things that related to our enemies for our own and future’s sake, that’s also part of the game. Nothing is really evil, if something is good, take it, use it for the civilization’s sake, but if not, try to fix it! That’s how Aikido, as part of the “enemy of the nation”, fostered my universality, femininity, and spiritual intelligence in rediscovering my own cultural background. Unbelievable, but let’s make our World better…

I love God, therefore, I love freedom. As I love freedom, I love justice and progress. I know, you know, we all know that these are universal and eternal values human being yearned for. Also for this reason, it is why scholars, especially in the West argue that liberalism is the basic and utmost goal of human life. And, in parallel with what my history professor used to tell me, what makes the West, especially USA, as the modern generation witnessed, become so obsessed in promoting democracy and liberalism as part of “American Values”, again, is because of the reason that liberalism and democracy is basically any human being’s basic and utmost goal in life.

Well, like I said before, I love justice and progress because I love freedom, and I love freedom because I love God. Treat others the way you want to be treated, that’s what the classic wise proverb says. Fine, nothing is wrong at all with that. As a novice in politics back then, I became a staunch believer of classical liberalism, the branch of liberalism preached by the West. Now, literally, I have became nearly all kinds of political ideology’s admirer, from Classical Liberalism to Stalinism, Fascism, and even Islamism, before finally I met Anarchism and decided to “retire” from politics. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about politics, I just simply found the way higher than politics.

Throughout exposure to various kinds of ideology, as the liberating framework, I basically have chosen the path of liberty, which led me to progressivism, which meets with liberalism at most points, then in the higher steps, brought me to socialism-communism, then anarchism. But during the journey, throughout history lessons, I, on the other hand, also become an admirer of various strongmen throughout history. As a child, being raised in a very strict environment of my parents had contributed to the family values of highly revere the values of iron fist. I was used to revere those values, but thanks to the religious teachings about treating others well, I compelled from those thoughts and returned to the path of liberty. However, of course, not all of those iron fist leaders and ideology I’ve encountered are evil. In most cases, these phenomenon teaches us what it is to be persistent, and vigilant. And in some cases, now, I could understand the meaning of “benevolent dictatorship”. But indeed, as a follower of liberty, despotism is my greatest enemy as well.

It is from the concept of benevolent dictatorship that I began to realize the importance of the perseverance to preserve the noble goals of liberty, by any means necessary. I began to realize, that besides not all dictatorship is bad, also, not all democracy/liberalism is good. I also began to realize that the basic and utmost goal in life is not mere freedom, but instead, Enlightenment. Enlightenment is the ultimate liberation. Enlightenment values universality but mere liberalism is not necessarily, based on my personal experience. Therefore, to reach Enlightenment, we need more than just liberalism. Instead, it is Universalism. Why?

Liberalism, as the framework, propagates the modernity, progression. Not wrong, but the matter is, liberalism often neglects the concepts of “good old days”. But this doesn’t mean conservatism rocks. Conservatism also don’t like progression. But in Universalism, we must fight for progression, and we must conserve the best results achieved and then fight to progress again until we finally reach the ultimate goal, which is Enlightenment, then we must preserve it! That is what is meant if we choose the path of TRUE liberty.

Liberals often say things like “it’s up to you,but in my case I’d do….”, “each people is different”, “you could do…”, “that’s true, but…”, “you just can’t do that by that way”. Yes, diversity plays an important role in liberalism, yet good goals shoudl also be accomplished in good ways, but if we are heading for Enlightenment, if we just keep stuck to those kinds of notion, isn’t that leads to ignorance? And isn’t ignorance is basically an embryo to greed, which is the ultimate arch-nemesis of Enlightenment aka Ultimate Liberty?  That’s why we need Universalism, because Universalism sees that there are always similarities and simplicity between the most diverse and complex things/issues. Universalism, despite highly regard means, at the end, glorify the goal as the ultimate value. Therefore, basically, the end justifies means. And Universalism, is what driven me into the state of awareness, perseverance and compassion, which leads me towards socialism-communism then anarchism. And this is why, now I began to tell you, Liberalism is NOT YET ENOUGH! This is why I Love Liberty, but not Liberalism itself!

First of all, I’m basically feel heavy to discuss about this, ever since this topic might be very sensitive for some. Folks in Aikido etc may say that I’m a traitor, peanuts, perpetrator or anything, but as a budoka and a transgender standing for enlightenment, I feel that I really must say this bitter words, no matter what…

As a transgender budoka, I often heard the stories about the differences between the traditional and modern Japanese arts. While my sensei personally believes that the “martial way”/budo aka modern style is more rigorous than bujutsu/”martial arts” aka traditional style because even philosophically “way” means more than just mere “art”, but recent facts and pedagogic reasoning suggests the opposite, especially for those searching for perfection.

First, let me explain the “nature” in both approach. In budo, emphasis is placed on fundamentals/basics/principles. Thus, the curricula are often simplified so that novice students could grasp the fundamentals easier, which the proponents of this approach believe, that strong fundamentals will lead to better understanding of details. Yet also, the system in budo are generally more open/friendlier to “foreigners”. Above all, in simpler words, budo propagates critical thinking. This kind of thought, which shares the similar spirit of the intellectualism based on the Enlightenment Age, proved to be very enlightening and helpful for us especially today, especially for those in serious need for learning but limited capabilities. Being an aikidoka, as a novice back then, I really owe a lot to the very simple-but-simulating curriculum from Aikikai, yet also the very openness of the dojos I enrolled. “Aikido hospitality”, maybe that’s the ideal keyword to describe my own personal experience about the hospitality offered by the budo approach. Thus, I become an aikidoka.

Now if I talk about bujutsu, the story is rather different. Despite myself haven’t experience any bujutsu in my life, but based on the elders’ stories, here’s how could I re-broadcast: bujutsu, hence the concept as an “art” instead of “way”, propagates the mastery over the smallest details. This kind of approach believes, that details are the things that become the key, the key to victory. Therefore, the curricula are often very elaborate, and as the natural consequences, it took more time for novices to grasp even the simplest fundamentals. Hence, in this kind of approach, patience and fortitude are the iconic values, since mastery over details took no easy step. Yet also, bujutsu are often described as “exclusive”, despite I could understand that this kind of thought is based on “quality, not quantity” jargon. But as my journey in Aikido progresses, now, after several years, I now feel the necessity to grasp on the bujutsu aspects.

I see the comparison of the two approaches as “linked to each other”. In martial arts pursue, I see that both approaches share the same critical importance. However, if I relates this martial arts issue with the transgender issue, I found that the struggle between the old vs new style is kinda share the similar “songs”.

Now, referring to my aikido experience, I’m definitely sure that lots of people will frown at me when I tried to escape to the Aiki-budo world. Why the heck you must cross over to the “archaic method”? Doesn’t the modern method have generally better in everything? Yes, I do believe that it is very critical for beginners to know exactly what, why, and how they are doing, in the shortest time possible. I really feel  very grateful of the Aikikai teaching method that has no kata (where Bruce Lee believed it’s unwise to teach it to novices since it doesn’t teach students epistemology), so very simulating, but on the other hand, quite handy since there are fewer techniques to memorize yet  they are quite simple, for self-defense. There’s really no doubt that Aikikai method is really powerful for those still questioning on “how do I defend myself from…?” , a typical novice’s thinking. But then, when we already know the techniques, there sparked a new question: “how to do it correctly?” The background is simple: if we do the techniques correctly, we’d be able to defend ourselves no mater how, but then, how to achieve it?

When I was struck with this question, I realized that I’ve encountered my first real major roadblock in martial arts pursuit. This must be overcome if I still love Aikido. I indeed started to ramble all over, searching for solutions. But the bad news is, the Aikikai system which I have been educated with as fundamentals cannot give me a clear solution. But each time I found the good solutions, because of the severe politics that had entrenched in the world of Aikido, lots of Aikikai hawks denounced me as “traitor”, “dumb ass”, and so on. We aikidoka are often convinced by our senseis that “Aikido is the ultimate martial art because the principles of Aiki as the heart is a very universal and fundamental principle in ALL martial arts”, yet I’m still holding that doctrine. But what really upset me, is that if there are no proper methods to lead to the “ultimate way”, or even that the snobby believe that “Aikido is different from karate, jujustu and such…” this could lead others to mock Aikido as “big mouth”, and that is what’s really happening to the state affairs of Aikido.

Here’s my basic frustration: if Aikido is to be said as “the universal, ultimate martial art”, shouldn’t Aikido bears the similarities of ALL martial arts despite having its uniqueness that differentiates Aikido to be invincible among all martial arts? But those hawks keep thinking that “Aikido is aikido, nothing else!” and refuses to either acknowledge the universality of martial arts, or worse, denounce other martial arts’ good aspects! This is a really serious blow for me! These kind of people are only satisfied with the fundamentals, which I believe, are still incomplete. We still need to master the details afterwards.  Yet others, if not mocking, stayed “wishy-washy”….

I really hate wishy-washiness, opportunism, and such. I do believe that Aikido is the ultimate martial art, so this means, I must have of ALL fundamentals that lead to it. But the fundamentals, again, are scattered not only in Aikido, but also other martial arts, even the ancient ones. Yet so, the old ones like old time karate, jujutsu, ninjutsu, and Aikibudo have the better answers for my martial at pursuit. Now being exposed to the conflict and the synthesis of the old and new approaches, I do believe that the frame of bujutsu is ain’t wrong at all. Mastery over details are critical, but in order to get that way, we still must master the fundamentals well. If we are aimed only at mastering the fundamentals, we could easily stop progressing since the “modernness hospitality” through its ergonomy could easily blindfold people who are “short-sighted”, but as a human, we should never stop progressing. That’s why I think that we  should aim at bujutsu with the basis of budo. And this is why now I converted to Aikibudo instead of Aikido, despite not yet officially…