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“Swordmanship is not meant to be showy, but beautiful,” Ric says of his demonstrations. In the spring of this year, an invitation came to attend the Butoku Sai in Japan. 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the event, where martial artists from 23 different countries come together to learn from each other and to demonstrate. He did not let this chance to share his passion and By Caroline Barrett to travel to Japan pass him by. Japanese sword fighting is an ancient and Ric grew up in Delmar and after college returned, beautiful art form. It’s a way of life for some, married, raised a family and started a nationally including Delmar’s Ric Kaplowitz, who practices recognized home re-modeling business Now, with the sword every day. Ric was a student at 49 and single with teenage daughters, Ric of Tae Kwon Do for 25 years until seven years knew this honor was an opportunity of a lifetime. ago, when a knee injury caused him to look With the help of a sponsor he boarded a plane and, along with a for something else - a contingent of 15 other different focus. Americans, set off for “I am blessed to have Kyoto, Japan. stumbled onto one of The experience was the best teachers in extraordinary. He was the country, Tanaka especially struck by Sensei, right here in how respectful the Delmar. He is not only people in Japan were; an amazing teacher how peaceful the but is truly dedicated to society; how generous the art.” the people in sharing Ric is part of the Suzaku their knowledge and Dojo at Dewey’s their art. Martial Arts Academy The trip didn’t include located in Delmar. He much time for siteand Tanaka Sensei and a few other students practice Samurai seeing. Instead, Ric and the other students spent Swordsmanship. Ric explains that the discipline their time training. They attended seminars and has been handed down from ancient Samurai worked hard at perfecting their demonstration. warriors. The evolution of the art can be traced to Although they had been practicing for months changes in culture and the fact that swordsmen independently, the Americans met for the first were no longer needed in battle. The job of the time on Friday. By Sunday, they had to be a Samurai changed as modern warfare emerged. unified team. They went from being warriors to peacekeepers, On the morning of the event, all of the athletes and their swords were no longer drawn but worn and officials marched off to the Heian Shrine. on the hip. The art form practiced today mirrors There, they were greeted by priests who those swordsmen, who moved with grace and performed a formal blessing ceremony, wishing ease. Now the sword represents an extension of all the athletes safety and wellness. the arm and is used as an expression, not as a “It was very emotional for everyone,” Ric says,” to have all the athletes assembled, the teachers weapon. on the stage. We were brought close together for one common goal: to share the love of the art.” The Butoku Sai was held at an ancient training hall in the center of Kyoto. The building is an old post and beam structure with a wooden floor, open windows and high ceilings. Ric felt humbled standing in that building. “I felt the feet of so many who had been there before me,” he says.

Neighbors Next Door

Ric Kaplowitz Samurai Swordsman

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The Americans sat together for hours watching the other teams before it was their turn. They stepped up and performed their demonstration. It was the culmination of hours, days and months of practice. Ric emphasizes that by that

He was especially struck by how respectful the people in Japan were; how peaceful the society; how generous the people in sharing their knowledge and their art. point their demonstration was rooted in muscle memory. It had been practiced long and hard enough that the body just knew what to do. Ric describes the way he felt like this: “It’s like being on the ball field at the World Series. As an athlete, you’re in the zone and your body knows what to do.” The challenge for the team was to perform the six-part demonstration with perfect synchronicity. The team from the USA was well rewarded for their dedication, practice and grace. Though the event is not a competition, Ric’s team was awarded the highest honor, the Yushu Sho in both of the events they performed in. Ric went to Kyoto to experience Japan and the martial arts, to learn from the teachers there and see and feel the culture. He went to live the passion of his art. The Japan trip and recognition behind him, Ric still doesn’t feel like he’s mastered Samurai Swordsmanship. In fact, an important part of the art is the realization that you are always a student. “In the martial arts, you’re always climbing a mountain. When you’ve reached the top of one peak, stop and appreciate all the other mountains left to climb. There is always more to learn,” he shares. Perhaps this is why he returns to the dojo to practice the precision and beauty of the Samurai Sword.

Know a Bethlehem neighbor who has a unique story? Let us know! Please email: john@ourtownebethlehem.com

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Around Towne

James Glenmont Car Wash

Rebekkah

Photos by Kristen Guastella

Hidden Cafe’

Sabrina Swifty’s Restaurant & Pub

“J” Steiner’s Bike Shop

Gary Ship Copy & More

Kate & Christen Delmar Marketplace 47


Trish’s Pix from

Tattered Pages Used Books

“It is not true we have only one life to live, if we can read, we can live as many lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.” ― S.I. Hayakawa “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you‛ll go” – Dr. Seuss

Dear fellow readers… S.I. Hayakawa and Dr. Seuss are very different writers…but share a common belief that reading can take you away, adjust your perspective, improve your mind and enrich your life. I continue to promote, that reading is the most economical means of a “getaway”. Summer reading tends to provide a different kind of “getaway”, for you are often “away” when you enjoy your reading. Your venue for reading might be pool side, in the shade of your backyard, in an air conditioned room, on the beach, on a mountain top, lakeside or just on your lunch break, in a hammock or on a plane. This past month I have seen an increase in customers, as we usually do in the summer, here at Tattered Pages Used Books, as they come in to gather vacation reading. Seamus loves the increased attention as well. His little tail “helicopters” as he sees familiar faces come through the door. It has been such a pleasure assisting customers with their search for their “beach” & “vacation” reads. Many customers, such as Darlene, say that they look forward to their vacation for the time it avails them to read

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“lighter” stuff! Among her books, “Tenth Circle” by Jodi Picoult, a story of family, secrets, devotion and betrayal; not exactly light in content but less technical reading than her work related reading. I love assisting people choose new authors, titles and genres. I especially love helping the children discover the joy of the escape of reading. Tales of dragons, pony pals, magic tree house adventures, diaries, journals, mysteries and adventure leave in the hands of children while their parents check off one more thing on their list before leaving for vacation! * Remember the most effective way of helping your children become life- long readers… you! Set the example. Show them that reading is not a chore but a pleasure. How great would it be if all children believed that reading was a routine part of life like eating, brushing their teeth, playing, etc? One of our regular customers, Barbara, asked me, this past week, “Where do you get your ideas for what to write each month?” I told her…from people like you! My conversations with customers lend me a spark of an idea and then I “springboard and plank” (basically thoughts bounce about in my head) and I start writing. I look forward to the conversations that take place every day at the shop. We discuss authors, plot lines, as well as vacation destinations, family and even community events! Barbara is a voracious reader with a great family who tends to love books by Mary Balogh, Robyn Carr, Barbara Delinsky and Debbie Macomber. The common thread: family, life, love, challenges and triumphs. As Hayakawa stated, you live in others‛ lives. That is why “romance” novels are so popular. Series novels by Robyn Carr (Virgin River) Susan Mallery( Fool‛s Gold, CA) , Debbie Macomber (Cedar Cove, Washington), Susan Wiggs (Lakeshore Chronicles, upstate NY), Sherryl Woods (Sweet Magnolias, South Carolina & Chesapeake, MD) have created contemporary stories of small town life, in realistic settings. As you can see, if you like one author, there are often several who are very similar for you to try as well. Tattered Pages has a reference guide containing advice for new authors if you like one you just might like the other. For instance, if you like John Sandford you might like Stuart Woods, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, and Lee Child to name a few. One of my favorite customer interactions was with a “field trip” from Beverwyck Senior Home. The store was filled with the sound of 40s music as the residents walked the aisles with their walkers. Others sat in our living room area and around our table discussing music, authors, and what books they found. One woman had the large print mysteries stacked on her walker, another took advantage of our 6 greeting cards for $5! Seamus loved the attention and the ear scratches! After 30 minutes they left with books in hand and a smile on their face asking if they could come again! We are available for “field trips”…call me anytime! Another wonderful customer was discussing


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OUR TOWNE Bethlehem August