YOLO & FOMO for COVID19

YOLO & FOMO for COVID19

Dear boys,

We were undecided about going for a holiday for last year’s December holidays. Firstly, Ian has already gone to Japan for his school’s learning journey, and I was planning a trip to Japan this year, 2020 for the IAF, International Aikido Federation meet, happening once every 4 years. The last time I was in Japan was back in 2000, it would be an epic journey for me to return after 20 years.

IAF pass
My IAF card back in 2000

Your mum told me that if we were to plan for a December holiday, I will have to scrap my trip, money’s (or the lack of it) is the issue. We decided to go ahead with a short getaway so that Wayne will not feel FOMO, now that his big brother had an awesome trip with his school to Japan. Besides, I decided to YOLO, as we will never know what will happen in 2020 (look what happened!!), we’ll cross the bridge when we get there, if I get to go to IAF2020, it’s be great; if I don’t get to go, at least my kids and wife gets to go on a holiday in December 2019. So we made some plans and calculations and ended up going to Desaru, Hard Rock Hotel, which was an awesome trip, no regrets there.

Hard Rock Hotel Desaru

We had a good time there, and I’m thankful we went; because COVID19 happened.

Travelling will no longer be the same

I was just thinking about it while I was cleaning the toilet, it was a good call to go. Now that the new COVID19 world, global travelling will be severely curtailed, and we can only reminiscence the good ‘ol days, where we went here and there.

Oh, my solo IAF trip shelved as well, as most event and meets worldwide are put on cold storage, anyway the Olympics 2020 was pushed forward to 2021 too.

IAF photo
My IAF trip back in 2000

Travelers worldwide will have to take stock of how to restart the holiday business again. We may be able to travel and visit places, but I don’t think it will be with great ease like before.

So I’m really glad Desaru happened in December 2019, as this year, I don’t think the world have a solution to deal with COVID19 yet, and so holidays are going to be holidays at home. We can only look at the videos and photographs we have on our trips.

Saving Money and Spending Money

While we do make plans to save and it is important to do so, we were glad that you boys enjoyed your fair share of travelling, taking planes, flying here and there. We want you boys to have beautiful memories of the places you’ve been as a family as as brothers, these are shared experiences that build the bonds you both will have that will carry through thick and thin.

We could have been stingy and saved every penny for a great big trip, something epic, and once-in-a-lifetime, for example my IAF2020 trip, but all that saving is sort of in vain, now that this global phenomenon is upon us, we cannot travel like before, even if we have tonnes of money.

IMG20191215184443

It’s a balance, and YOLO (You Only Live Once) is an acronym used to describe The Millennials and their lifestyle, spending like crazy, living just for today (Live Once), and not worrying about tomorrow, not saving a cent for rainy days. As parents we do worry about your tomorrow and I feel that your mum and I managed to achieve a good YOLO for you boys, we don’t spend like there is no tomorrow, and yet we don’t save like misers, making you boys FOMO all the world-travelling fun. Now with the new COVID19 world, we will really FOMO some things we’ve done in the past, and take for granted. And I’m glad we had our share of fond memories.

 

My Bokken, 木剣

Any decent Aikidoka will own at least one bokken, 木剣. Or two; or more.

I have two, and each has its own story, well, perhaps the later one.

my first bokken at the bottom, the second bokken on top

The one at the bottom was my very first one, made in Taiwan, bought in Liang Seng. Anyone who is a decent martial artist fanatic in Singapore, will know about this martial arts shop, still located at Marina Square. It was a casual purchase, and since everyone who is ‘on’ enough in Aikido, will get one of these training weapons.

I also have a jo, of course. But with any Samurai influence, the bokken, a wooden representation of the Katana, is the ego status of any budding Japanese martial artist.

Choosing a Bokken

There is no special way in choosing a bokken. really, nothing special. Wood is wood. Of course, these wood are carved, very often by a machine to take the shape of a practice sword. And other than checking for surface crack, there is really no way to ensure that the one you have is going to be the one that last.

So it is very much an economic purchase, which comes with a need. I needed a bokken for practice, which is why I got the ‘Made in Taiwan’ type. What is the difference anyway?

My Second Bokken

The darker coloured one was my second and a very expensive carved, curved wooden stick. but it reaffirmed the way I looked at a bokken, because it felt like a very different bokken.

I bought it when I went to Japan in 2000, for the 8th IAF congress, some kind of once-every-four-years pilgrimage most devoted Aikidoka will go, at least once in their life. I was out with my fellow Aikido friends, and we walked into…a martial arts shop in Tokyo!

We were just browsing and didn’t really thought of buying anything. Sunny, my friend and I went up to the weapons rack and ‘toyed’ with some of their bokken and jo. They have some big-ass bokken for some really heavy-duty training. But it was this brown looking one, that I serendipitously picked up; that caught my attention.

It felt…right.

The bokken feels solid, and balanced in my hand. It got me excited, and I let Sunny held it, he nodded his head, agree in assessment that the bokken was balanced and felt good. It gives a kind of assurance and confidence when you held it, very skillfully crafted.

I was in Tokyo, on kind of a shoestring.

I didn’t plan to buy anything from that martial arts shop, maybe a good set of Japanese Gi, hakama, perhaps, certainly not a bokken.

I bought that bokken.

It was a happy purchase and it felt right in my hands. And to affirm my happy purchase, Sunny said he’d have bought it, had I not buy it first.

My made in Taiwan bokken on top, and the made in Japan bokken below

When I brought it back home, and excitedly pit it against my first Taiwanese made bokken, it really felt different. The Japanese one really does have a certain balance when you swing it.

It is a very precious purchase, and of course, I’d bring the Taiwanese one out for training, I wouldn’t want to damage my ‘silver bullet’!, but that was my mindset back then.

These days

Although that Japanese piece of wood has been with me for the past 18 years, and I liked it fondly, I’m not so attached to it so much as to not want to use it. In fact nowadays, for combined training, where the school says bring your bokken/ jo for weapons class, I have the tendency to use those already in the dojo.

It is not that I won’t like to scratch or damage, or worse, break my precious Japanese one, it is a matter of pragmatics. I have to train myself to be able to use any weapon, not just my own personal one. so my mindest these days is to use any bokken available, never mind if it is made in Taiwan, old, banged-up, I’d use it, I’d train with it, being less selective, is to be less judgmental. It is just a bokken, why get so attached to it?

On the other hand, I’m also lazy to carry 2 wooden sticks out, especially when the place of training will provide for those who didn’t have it, or didn’t bring it.

the Japanese bokken on the right have some carvings on it… the Taiwanese… just have my initials for markings
a close-up on the carvings.

The Japanese bokken

It is a valuable training tool, having the proper one, because it does help correct my swing, and balance, and you know it when you got it right, the sound of the quiet ‘whoop’ as the bokken cuts through the air. The Taiwanese one, or any bokken for that matter, will make the same sound, if you swing hard enough.

The difference is, the Japanese bokken, you don’t really have to swing it that hard, you just have to swing it correctly, and when you hear that sound, you know you are corrected.

(I have a blue band around both bokken, as it is a universally accepted colour, especially in the military to represent dummy, training, inert equipment. Besides, it is quite signature, and provide me with easy identification, in a mass training classes, with too many bokken and jo mixed together.)