Hard 'n' Soft 

It's all in the mind

FRI 1/9

After World War II ended, General Douglas MacArthur and his team of rebuilders banned traditional martial arts from Japan on the grounds that such activities promoted militarism. But a few local smarties got around the decree. One was the philosopher So Doshin, who blended the hard martial arts (like karate) with the soft (tai chi) to create Shorinji Kempo, a discipline he billed at the time as merely a "dancing religion." Fifty-seven years and an estimated 1.5 million practitioners later, So Doshin's bare-handed technique is not only appreciated in the Land of the Rising Sun, it also has found its way into a few Bay Area dojos. For those who study shorinji, there isn't much talk about mastering video-game-inspired roundhouse kicks or blood-splattering punches. No, the discipline is based on more basic Buddhist principles: strengthen one's inner self, and the rest will follow. In fact, Doshin developed shorinji as a response to the devastation left by the war, and he theorized that his discipline, practiced on a wide scale, was a motion toward world peace.

"The emphasis is not to compete with each other," says David Toone, an Emeryville-based shorinji teacher who will be leading a demonstration this Friday. "The only thing I'm competing with is a desire to improve myself."

Which isn't to say shorinji doesn't take care of business. Toone says at the demonstration he'll show what to do if you come up against three attackers in a dark alley. But unlike karate, the moves aren't designed to cause permanent damage. Shorinji-ites attack pressure points -- a swift tweak to the shoulder joint can drop your attacker as if he's been shot -- that simply stop the motion of the invader.

"Shorinji walks the line between soft and hard," Toone explains, "but more than that, it also offers a way to get into a meditative mindset that translates outside the dojo."

And if So Doshin is correct, that would be a good thing. The Shorinji Kempo demonstration takes place Friday at 8 p.m., at the Emeryville Taiko Dojo, 601-A 63rd St., Emeryville. For more info, see EmeryvilleShorinji.org or phone 510-815-0607. -- Justin Berton

SAT 1/10

Stealthy

Hire More Canadians

Regular readers of this section know that pickup lacrosse games are now taking place at Cal State Hayward ("Scoop It Up," December 31). But that isn't the only lacrosse action in the Bay Area. The San Jose Stealth, a new professional indoor lacrosse team, is making its bid for fans this season at SJ's HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara St. Under the leadership of general manager Johnny Mouradian, the squad makes its home debut Saturday night, January 10 (7:30 p.m.) against Colorado, having lost its first road game versus the same team. Only one player on the 23-man roster is not from Canada -- Mike Regan of Albany, NY -- but then again, only one other guy is not from Ontario province. Tickets: 408-999-5700. SJStealth.com -- Kelly Vance

THU 1/8

Frostine the Snow Woman

Snowshoeing is harder than it looks. But if you ever longed to tramp across the frozen tundra making picturesque tracks, you -- provided you're a woman -- should consider Atlas Snowshoe Co.'s Explore Winter Women's Workshop at REI Berkeley (1338 San Pablo Ave.) this Thursday (7 p.m.). Led by internationally respected adventure athlete Cathy Sassin (one of the Women's Sports Foundation's top 100 female athletes in the United States the last two years), the workshop covers everything from gear and clothing to trip planning. Each participant receives a goodie bag and a chance to win a raffle for a free trip to Vail. Curious? AtlasSnowshoe.com -- Kelly Vance

1/8, 1/10

Conference Confidence?

The surprising Cal women's basketball team continues its campaign against Pac-10 rivals this week as it hosts conference opponents Arizona (Thursday) and Arizona State (Saturday) at UC Berkeley's Haas Pavilion. The Lady Bears, fresh off a 1-1 northern road trip to Washington and Washington State, look strong enough to compete in the Pac-10 -- but the two Arizona teams are another story entirely. Keep your eye on senior guard LaTasha O'Keith, who scored twenty points from the floor against Washington State last Sunday. Tip-off times are 7 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m. Saturday. For more info, log on to CalBears.ocsn.com -- Kelly Vance

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