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  • Spencer Bennington

Photos and Meditations

Updated: Dec 22, 2019

Welcome back to the Rhetorical Roundhouse blog! Sorry for missing a post last week--summer side jobs can take a heck of a toll on regularly scheduled work fun. That said, I hope you've had a chance to check out the most recent addition to the Tiny Tiger Lecture series as well as some of the conference reports from the most recent Martial Arts Studies Conference in Orange, CA. Ben Judkins has a report on Kung Fu Tea as does Daniel Jacquet on his blog.


I think because of the timing of it all, I've missed the boat on doing my own in depth report. Instead, I think I'll periodically do a sort of shout out for some of the many wonderful scholars I met and do my best to spread their work through this platform.


Today, however, I just want to throw some photos at you. I've got a few here that show my trip to Orange, then Sacramento, and Yosemite. For a boat load more conference photos, definitely check out the Martial Arts Studies Facebook page.



Speaking of boatloads, the first meal I ordered was WAY too big. Tacos and carne asada fries to die for in Irvine but my God...


The good news is I got to walk off the chow before meeting the father of Martial Arts Studies himself, Paul Bowman at a UC Irvine lecture on the cultural significance of "Kung Fu Fighting." If you're wondering, the answer is yes. Paul does have the voice of an angel.


The long walks didn't much continue, however, because Chapman University is quite the cozy little campus compared to UCI.

But in many ways it's much more beautiful.


Although, as Paul can attest, it can be a difficult place to find your way around after a long day (and night) of conferencing. This shot was taken after the rather labyrinthine trek to find Paul's presidential suite. He entrusted me to be his local American guide.

In turn he was my tour guide to Santa Monica pier and Venice beach.


Hare Krishnas doing Hare Krishna things

Mariachi Trump doing Mariachi Trump things



But this trip wasn't just a California dream vacation. The conference itself was a nexus of intelligent, diligent researchers in the field from all different backgrounds. Our two keynote speakers exemplified that well. Here is Lauren Giffith discussing the political significance of Capoeira in American social justice movements.

And Ben Judkins himself discussing the ideas of soft power and martial diplomacy as it relates to Chinese Martial arts

The conference was a place to make new friends.

A place to get to know them REALLY well!

A safe space to exchange ideas

A true forum for academic enlightenment!

And also just a great place to drunkenly fight on the beach! I mean, have sobering discussions of the intersections between theory and practice in a space for public intellectuals.

All that hard work merits a breakfast of champions. Chicken and waffle sammich!

Of course, after such a taxing conference, one must take a vacation to Yosemite for some rest and relaxation.

The crowds and traffic were a bit less tranquil


But in this space it's not too difficult to find peace


Especially when you're with such Good company! Thanks for being a wonderful travel companion Ariel :)





It may have been cold and confusing that day, but I can't get over the beauty. I'm so lucky to have seen the amount that I did.

Wait...is this the same state?

Rep the Wu

It wouldn't be a Cali trip without trying In-N-Out for the first time! I got my burger animal style like a pro

Ironically, the place I found to be the most gorgeous was right in Ariel's backyard. This is the mighty Yuba River in Grass Valley.



Of course, after all that hiking we had to refuel. This means eating more Mexican food than any human being should ever look at at one time. Seriously, I thought California was all about sustainability. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THESE PLATES??!?!

They call the historical part of Sacramento "Old Sac." I found this to be an undying source of humor and delight.

Of course, all great trips must come to an end. Goodbye California, I must go back to my side of the rainbow for now :)

I hope you enjoyed my dinky little photo tour. I sure enjoyed each moment reflected therein.


Tune in next time for more fun! As always, thanks for reading.


Kamsahamnida!