Hey judoka/Martial arts peeps can we have a serious talk?

So where I first started training judo I was taught and told to always kia when you throw. No excuses. No kia? Fine then pushups. Since traveling to many other dojo and what not I noticed that nobody kias? Whats up with that? So why do you are do you not kia in randori or doing uchi komi? 

If I showed up to your dojo for a trail class and let out a ‘Kyaaaaaaaaa!” every time I threw harai or morote would you consider me a massive duche cannoe?  I’m legit curious and this has been bothering me for awhile. 

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Brothers fulfill the promise of one fallen.

(Article by Major George Chigi and Captain Kapualani Ampong-Duke. Photos courtesy of 3-1 AD Public Affairs Office, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, 7 JUN 2014.)

Soldiers dressed in full Army Dress Blues filled the front seats of Mountain View High School graduation ceremony on June 7, 2014; a unique sight, even for a city located just outside a military installation. As Lluvia Loeza’s name was called, the Soldiers rose to their feet and rendered a salute.

Lluvia’s brother, Staff Sgt. Roberto Loeza, Jr., was an Infantry Rifle Squad Leader and Headquarters Platoon Sergeant in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas. He deployed with the unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011. Before leaving, he made a promise to his youngest sister, Lluvia, that he would be at her graduation to watch her walk the stage. 

Roberto died of injuries sustained by indirect fire on May 25, 2012 while serving in Logar Province, Afghanistan. 

Roberto’s brother, Esteban, wanted to surprise their sister. He sent out a message through Facebook to Roberto’s old unit asking for volunteers to stand in his place. The call was answered immediately. 

Though the majority of the unit is deployed once again to Afghanistan, the Battalion’s rear detachment known as Task Force Stalwart West led by the Battalion Executive Officer, Maj. George Chigi, along with Maj. Christopher Penwarden and Sgt. 1st Class Bernie Brooks, organized a group of Soldiers to attend Lluvia’s graduation. 

More than 30 Soldiers from 1-4 Infantry Battalion attended the graduation. Also in attendance were several Soldiers from the Fort Bliss area that knew Roberto well, including Penwarden and Sgt. 1st Class Jason Yeazel. 

Lluvia was completely surprised by the Straight and Stalwart Battalion Soldiers who gathered in their Army Service Uniforms. Making the event even more special for her, Major Chigi received permission from the school district’s superintendent to present Lluvia with her high school diploma. 

Staff Sgt. William Berry, a member of Charlie Company and a friend and comrade of Roberto, stated that, “Staff Sgt. Roberto Loeza, Jr. was a loving and caring father and family man. His Soldiers held him in very high regard and respected his leadership and presence.”

Lluvia was just as impressive as her older brother; her discipline and drive earned her the distinction of the 4th highest grade point average in her high school. Lluvia’s brother is sure to have been proud to know that Lluvia’s efforts earned her more than $100,000 in college scholarships.

The entire Loeza family was overwhelmed with emotion. They were happy to see so much support from the Straight and Stalwart Battalion for their son and Lluvia. The families of the other graduating students were awestruck by 1-41 Infantry Battalion as it rendered honors to Lluvia, the family, and Roberto.

“It was a very emotional and uplifting event for us and the family. All in all, we fulfilled a fallen Soldier’s promise and we did it with pride and honor and represented the 1-41 Infantry Battalion with nothing but the utmost respect and pleasure doing it for the family,” said Brooks, the Charlie Company First Sergeant.

As the 1-41 Infantry Battalion soldiers gathered to say goodbye to the Loeza family, Berry presented Lluvia with a Straight and Stalwart Battalion coin. These coins are traditionally only given by the Battalion Commander and Command Sergeant Major to Soldiers for extreme excellence in the performance of their duties. Lluvia was also presented with a Bulldog Brigade coin.

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Around 100 Marines from my area, of 3/5, took time off of their 96 hour liberty to go back up to 1Sgt’s Hill and place over 2 dozen crosses back to their rightful spot.

Orginally about a week ago, 4 Marines and 2 US Navy Corpsman went up the hill because the fire in Camp Pendleton was spreading pretty well all over the base. They made it just in time, taking down the last cross before the fire (only 30 ft away now) engulfed the rest of 1Sgt’s Hill.

The Marines vowed that they would get the crosses back up at the end of the week and stuck to it, restoring one of the most beloved memorial us Marines have.

Watch on gracekraft.tumblr.com

First Flight is my Senior Film, from concept to the final product, I have been working on it for a total of 7 months.  Each frame of animation is a brush pen drawing on paper and the backgrounds were done in watercolor graphite.  Everything is digitally compiled in After Effects.

This film is very personal to me.  The theme at the core of this narrative can be applied to a good many experiences and situations, but for me it is inspired by my feelings in moving from childhood to adulthood as well as the stresses and worries that come with graduating and going out into “the real world.”  The main character, Kia, is a young kestrel girl testing her wings for the first time.  She is a character I have put a lot of myself into, my experiences, my emotions, and my situation at present.  I’m thankful that I’ve always had the support of my family, especially my parents, which I certainly took inspiration from for the mother bird character, Aria.

If there is one thing I am very happy with about this film, it is that through the long amount of time I spent on it I stayed true to myself and really made this film my own.  The combination of the medium, the animation and art style, the themes, and the characters come together to make a film that I feel confident in calling my own.

I hope you will all enjoy First Flight~

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