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Saturday, February 14, 2009

About the Mastheads

Well, as of this writing, there are two mastheads. There will be more. I have only recently started fooling around with GIMP and have no clue what I am doing yet.

First, there is the original masthead, to which the following comments pertain:

These are just a few, a very few, of the many people who have contributed to the development, defense, and preservation of the West. From the upper left and going clockwise:

Samuel Rutherford, author of Lex, Rex and disseminator of many ideas crucial to founding of the United States; Aristotle, who did the tough sledding in formulating the rules of logic; Martin Luther, the great reformer; John Calvin, another great reformer; Thomas Reid, noted thinker of the Scottish Enlightenment and developer of what was once the dominant philosophical school in the United States and England, Common Sense Realism; Paul, the apostle to the gentiles; Adam Smith, the theoretician of capitalism; William Shakespeare, arguably the single greatest dramatist in Western history; Taika Seiyu Oyata, the founder of Ryu Te; Francis Schaeffer, probably the foremost (and most intellectual) Christian apologist of the twentieth century; Edmund Burke, the Irishman generally conceded to be the first of what we now call conservatives; Cicero, the defender of Roman republicanism; and Moses, the great prophet.

Many have been left out for lack of space. More could be said about each of those shown, and will be, as time goes on. For now, two brief words of explanation:

I chose not to include the most important person in all of history, Jesus Christ, both to avoid any hint of idolatry and because every artist's depiction I have seen of Him shows Him, frankly, as a somewhat milquetoast individual, not at all in accord with the way He's described in Scripture.

Now, about Taika...

You've got to be wondering why there's a picture of an Okinawan karate master on the masthead of a blog that is principally about the West. It's so striking that I feel compelled to explain. I'm sure that some will say that I included him solely because of my interest in martial arts, and because he is the founder and head of the system I study, RyuTe, and no doubt there is a little truth to the charge. But there is a little more to it than that.

Consider who this man is, and what he has done. He is descended from a noble family on Okinawa, and is one of the last people to have been trained directly by the old Okinawan bushi who actually had a role in protecting the Okinawan king. He has spent his life researching the old Okinawan martial arts and is quite probably the single most knowledgeable person in the Western hemisphere, if not the world, upon that subject.

He was slated to be a kamikaze just before the end of World War II. His death certificate had already been sent to his parents. And yet, when he opened up his own dojo on Okinawa, not only did he teach Americans, he taught them the real Okinawan karate when not every teacher did so. Eventually, he emigrated to America and was the first, as far as I can tell, to make the subjects of tuite (karate's corpus of close-quarter grappling techniques) and kyusho-jitsu (vital point striking) available to the American public.

I don't know if some people realize how huge this was. For many, many years, hardly anyone was willing to teach Americans the Asian martial arts at all, or if they did, they didn't teach everything they knew. Taika is in the company of people like Henry S. Okazaki and Ark Y. Wong, who made very deliberate decisions to teach what they knew to people of all backgrounds even if not everyone of Asian descent approved. Other people may have followed, and started teaching chin na and cavity press, but as far as I can tell, Taika was the first, he opened up the way, and no one, to my knowledge, has demonstrated greater knowledge on these subjects than he. It is very possible that were it not for Taika Oyata, hardly anyone in the Western Hemisphere would be more than marginally familiar with these subjects.

Taika left his family, his country of birth, and made his home with Americans, and (according to my instructor) converted to Christianity. He teaches his arts as life protection arts, implicitly acknowledging several cardinal Western values in so doing. The time will come, if it isn't already here, that more than a few people of the West will need such life protection skills. It is for the role that he and his teachings have had, and will have, in preserving the individual lives of those who will uphold the values of Western Civilization that he is included.
Then there is Masthead 2, which is the result of my very first efforts with GIMP. It's just a shot of the famous Lewis Chessmen with the blog title on it.
And then we have Masthead 3, which is the one with the go board, or goban. Yes, I am fully aware that go is an oriental game. I still find that playing go has a way of enhancing life and stimulating the mind. It's a welcome addition to intellectual life of the West.

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