Exploding Pen once again made a special appearance at Seni at the Birmingham NEC — the UK's annual martial arts expo.
As usual the Exploding Pen sales staff were the real stars of the show, using their fabled Japanese foxiness together with ruthless ninja selling techniques to assault the minds and wallets of defenceless visitors.
This year it was clear that Seni's focus was moving away from traditional Japanese arts like Fudebakudo in favour of more seedy styles of sweaty pummel- wrestling. Nonetheless we maintained a dignified presence next to our UKA (aikido) and BKA (iaido) friends. By way of a Zen protest, our demonstration of no-demonstration went largely unnoticed.
Seni 2005 was the first time the world had seen Fudebakudo's edible shuriken. The gingerbread shuriken, with chocolate-flavour tips, were a cause of wonderment and awe.
Jun-san (right), 3rd dan Fudebakudo, assisted by Mami-san. Jun is demonstrating flawless book-handling skills. Notice how none of her fingers obscure the title.
As ever, it was great to talk to Fudebakudo friends and practitioners, and, according to our policy of inscrutability, we played mind games with the many people who didn't get it. We really were asked if the Hokey-Cokey could be performed in any style of karate (of course, the answer is "yes"). And we had this scary exchange with a woman who was purchasing weapons for her silent, slack-jawed son:
- Are those shuriken real?
- Uh... well, they're gingerbread...
- Woman, with intensity:
- Yes, but are they real?
There was also one touch-and-go moment when a large and powerful karate man who was becoming increasingly bemused about the mysteriousness of the Fudebakudo martial system started grumbling, "I... don't... like... books." But luckily he left before smashing anything up.
The British Free Fighting Association's chief instructor Andy Hopwood tacitly revealed — by subversively wearing a Fudebakudo T-shirt during his demonstration — that the entire BFFA syllabus is based on Fudebakudo principles. Wise observers have long suspected that their characteristic battle cry of "STAY DOWN!" is actually a Buddhist chant originating from an isolated, and angry, sect of Shaolin monk dog-trainers.
Incidentally the edible shuriken are not currently available online. And they really were real, in the normal sense of the word, before we ate them.
This year's show would not have been possible without the hard work of Jun-san and Mami-san and the down-to-earth support of Peat and Suzie. Thanks to our friends from the UKA and BKA for making it fun, especially Cath for taking us out for a wild and crazy time on Saturday night.
Incredibly, having borrowed Peat's table last year and destroyed it, this year we borrowed a table from Tim, and we broke that one too. Sorry.
Table-less, we did not go to Seni 2006.
Fudebakudo edible shuriken, authentically packaged and kept out of reach of children.