Thursday, December 23, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
I have heard this said many times. And it's true.
When we relinquish our competative view of the world we begin to succeed. For any one thing taken, another thing is lost.
In the end, your enemy is yourself and your own ego.
How does this fit into our studies? How does this make us more refined at our craft?
When we know we'll never beat another we know that we can never lose.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
We need to get out of our own way.
This is a quick summary of philosopher Alan Watts’ discourse on the Tao Te Ching.
He compares this concept to the sense of hearing. When one hears well, he suggests, the listener does not notice a ringing inside his/her ears. When one is aware of such a sound, however, the ears themselves have impacted the individual’s ability to hear.
“On the deepest level, a person as a whole can get in the way of his own existence by becoming too aware of himself.”
The Tao Te Ching, he claims, can be used as a manual to fix this. He explains to his audience the concept of No-Mind, a recurring characteristic of ancient Eastern Thought and, of course, traditional martial arts.
“Being somehow vacant was the secret of the thing. The highest kind of knowledge is not Know-How, but No-How… It means that (one’s) psychic centre doesn’t get in its own way… it operates as if it wasn’t there.”
Again, a prevalent concept in martial training.
Age-old wisdom says that if we have to look for the right technique, we don’t have it. Mind-chatter is equal to hesitation.
Says the oft-quoted Morihei Ueshiba:
“Ultimately, you must forget about technique. The further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path.”
Friday, November 5, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
The pages are filled with the author's memories of being a crime reporter in Japan. Elaborating on his many sources within the country's police and criminal establishments, he delves deeply into Yakuza business and the underground economy of Tokyo.
I will not elaborate on the content of the book. Suffice it to say the pages serve to illustrate the highs and lows of a journalist (I was briefly in the media business and the memoir at first made me want to rush back into this field as the author invokes the wondrous rush of sourcing a good story. By the end of the book, however, I took the opposite view, and couldn't help but feel sympathy as Adelstein had in many ways let his job eclipse the importance of family and friends).
A compelling aspect of the book, however, is the author's interpretation of a culture he is immersed in, but will never be fully a part of. It is a interesting intepretation of big city Japan by an American writer, who gets in very deep over his head.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
After years of toil I can now say she was right.
And my journey in martial arts is now echoing this sentiment.
There was the original inspiration, followed by a presumed idea, of what my style and knowledge should be after a certain length of time. However, reality is such that each lesson, triumph, error, and analysis have led me to the spot where I stand right now: With a much different outlook and understanding than I could have imagined prior.
Now, the finished work is far off, but the nature of my progress indicates that this pattern will persist. In this process, it seems, one is influenced by those around them as much as one's personal goals. We may get pushed in areas we wouldn't want to be pushed; counters to our favourite techniques emerge; we may work with someone who is physically larger or smaller than average. You may spar with a boxer or a goju student, leading you to adapt your style. You may have beginners that help you re-evaluate finer details as you do your part to assist them in their journey. It goes on and on.
But mainly, it's the philosophical aspects that are different. These, too, are countless. But suffice it to say, the finished piece is going to look much different than the initial concept.
Friday, October 22, 2010
I just worked on a post for a good deal of time and then lost it.
I am not ready to re-write it.
It was about No-Mind becoming All-Mind.
Now I have Annoyed-Mind; Lack-of-Faith-in-Technology-Mind.
Soon I will have That’s-OK-Mind, followed by Lesson-In-Patience-Mind.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
- I turn to look at things in cat stance (eg. if i turn in a grocery store to look at the shelf behind me i rotate in this high defensive stance)
- I often answer "Hai" instead of "Yes" when people ask me questions
- I have to stop myself from bowing when I enter or leave a room
- If i am carrying a butter knife from the drawer to my plate of toast I conceal the blade alongside my forearm (boy, is the bread surprised!)
- When i reach out to do something, say open a curtain or whatever, I automatically tuck my thumbs in or alongside my index finger so neither one is in danger of being grabbed or broken
- When I am in pain from a non-martial arts scenario, like a dentist's needle, I tap to make the discomfort stop
And I am sure there are many more. One just hopes the practical aspects of the art are as successfully programmed....
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
There is no hiding the fact the ads are propaganda. But then, so are Bud Light commercials.
I choose to suspend moral judgment on this partnership, however, suffice it to say that I turn the channel when the UFC airs its special segments where it sends fighters from its stables to go and train with the soldiers. Personally, I find the UFC spreading its substance thin as it is, watering down fight cards while increasing its number of Pay-Per-View events. That’s my feeling, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I likely have more in common with the marine training than the UFC, given how the style of jiu-jitsu I study overlaps greatly with special forces technique.
Anyway, here’s a snippet from an article written by Amy McCullough at Marine Corps Times.com:
“The goal, Marine officials say, is to engage the UFC’s rapidly growing fan base of 17- to 24-year-olds by highlighting the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and the parallel ‘sense of shared brotherhood’ exhibited by Marines and pro fighters alike.”
This coincides with the fact the U.S.A. is experiencing immense unemployment within its borders while fighting military campaigns overseas.
“Neither small nor large organizations seem immune to the economic downturn,” says Jacquelyn S. Porth of America.gov. “…With one exception: the federal government. And within the government, the U.S. armed forces, in particular, are enjoying a hiring surge.”
I guess what strikes me is how the ads link and compare the rush of organized sport to the reality of armed combat. There is, in fact, a huge difference between fighting an opponent with rules and safeguards versus killing. This concept is summed up in one of the UFC/Marine promo videos (see Our Marines Channel on Youtube.com) when one of the military guys puts things into perspective by suggesting the UFC fighters train to fight for five rounds while the marines train to finish an enemy within five seconds.
And while the marketing campaign is aimed at that same adrenaline junkie as the UFC fan, my impression is that the professional fighters, when they trained with the soldiers, realized and respected the big difference between the two organizations.
“People always tell me how cool it is, what we do and everything else, but there’s nothing cooler than being a U.S. Marine,” says UFC prez Dana White.
Again, I won’t judge the campaign, the Marine Corps, or the UFC. The ads are just blatantly obvious, that’s all.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Anyway, I think Lee's JKD definately shows some fencing components, and there a few of which I would encourage any student of budo to understand.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
And I loved both.
The change of tempo suited me well last evening, especially as I've had kata coming out the gi lately, and a chance to step back and reacquaint myself with the fundamentals of jui-jitsu was perfect. I worry when the simple aspects get lost in too much advanced technique and I am always happy to return to the basics to make sure these foundations are still intact. Or at least close to it.
As I've alluded to before, rust can form quickly, and bad habits may easily return.
I also feel intensity is a great aspect of training--going hard after what you want can be amazing--but burn-out is never far behind without a pendulum shift. I think last week, this burn-out was getting close.
But today I feel ready for more.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I was browsing through a book on ancient Greek wrestling and noticed how so little has changed in basic combat techniques. i saw many wrestling moves, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kick boxing. I guess while weapons may change, the human body is still proportionately the same today as it was over 2,000 years ago.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Oh yeah, for the record, I was only two-weeks-old when the fight took place ;)
Friday, August 27, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Two Montreal boys--UFC's Georges St.Pierre and former National Hockey League enforcer Georges Laroque settle a friendly score in a grappling match. More interesting than the footage itself is the comments made by each athlete during and after the match. St. Pierre is about 5'10" and 170 lbs. while Laroque is about 6'3" and 245 lbs.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
I was given some pointers from a retired military boxer recently.
We went over stances, guards, strikes, etc. He told me his theories on fighting in the ring versus self-defense on the street, and we then went over some good martial arts strategies for facing a boxer. Namely, don't let him break my ribs and take minimal damage while I moved inside his striking range. However, the full details of these points I will not go into right now. Rather, I want to point out one of the most important things I learned from him before even a friendly sparring punch was thrown. Namely, that I knew his power and intent were there before we even took a step towards each other. His guard was tight, his face was mean, and he showed an inherent awareness of why I travelled so lightly on my front foot. He narrowed my options and had no problem with forcing the action. He was more interested in striking my ribs first than my face, claiming if "I can't breathe, well... I can't fight." And believe me, while qi studies may not be a usual component of boxing, the qi was definitely there.
In this instance this was certainly the case.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Anyway, it was with these thoughts that I found something in Tedeschi’s book that I had never before noticed. It was a dedication, at the beginning of the book, to none other than Professor Wally Jay, praising him as “a generous and innovative teacher who helped me perceive the common threads that run through all martial arts.”
Apparently, my thoughts weren’t far from the mark.
Here’s a bit more about Small Circle theory from Professor Leon Jay, Wally’s son, and second grandmaster of the style:
“Small Circle has been brought to kung fu, karate, martial arts of all styles and people with no martial arts background. We’re not just stuck in one place – Judo, or Ju-jitsu. It works across the board; there’s Aikido and Savate and Silat – it transcends stylistic differences.
“One of the key elements is about not having to use massive amounts of power to control people – we control them with as little effort and, therefore damage to them, as possible.
“Students take on board the 10 principles that Dad drew up and apply them to their own systems. There’s balance, avoiding head on collision of forces, mobility and stability, mental resistance to an attack, concentrating the maximum force to the smallest point, energy transfer, the two-way action of the fulcrum and lever and making a base, sticking to your opponent and feeling what he’s doing, rotational movement, and transitional flow – where you can flow from one technique into another effortlessly.” (from an interview at Smallcirclejujitsu.com)
Monday, July 26, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
But taken a step further, the concept of hard and soft can be embraced and benefited from at an even higher level: the balance between the physical and the mental. It is not by chance that many experienced external artists at some point in their journey begin to explore the path of the internal arts such as meditation, qi gong, or tai chi. I think at some point, after proficiency is achieved both technically and physically, the external art is complemented by an understanding of the inner workings.
Here is a good summary of the idea:
“‘….Some years ago, (A Sensei) chose two students who were as evenly endowed with natural talents as possible. One he trained purely on calisthenics and work-outs, taught him all the tricks. The other he gave less physical training, but made him do zazen religious meditation every day for half an hour when he awoke and again before his evening work-outs, squatting like Buddha, forcing all his internal organs into proper alignment, breathing “right down to his toes” and clearing his mind. After six months, both came up for their black belt test and he matched them.… The thinker made mincemeat of the muscle boy.’ (Jay Gluck, Zen Combat)
“The same point of view was expressed by a high-ranking instructor of (aikido)…when he warned against qualifying as “lazy” those students who devote a greater proportion of their time on the mat to sitting or standing in evident concentration, as compared to those who are busily engaged in techniques, physical exercises, and so forth. This instructor had also realized that the former could often perform better under stress than the latter because they had been working to develop those inner factors of stability, control, and power which are considered to be the necessary foundation for correct outer technique.”
–(Secrets of the Samurai, Ratti/Westbrook)
Monday, July 19, 2010
Anyway, the book just sticks with you in a haunting yet positive way. It gives real insight into the hardships of a modern-era warrior monk. A monk who realizes the value of peace over violence.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
So here’s the thought: which techniques are my seven-iron and putter? Which are my fastball and overhand curve?
....I get this ridiculous image in my mind of testing these options out by doing free-practice in a fairway bunker or on a lush tee box.
My training partner yelling “fore” as I go hurling through the air.
Friday, July 9, 2010
I didn’t know the two people, nor was I in an irrational state from alcohol consumption. It was just about enjoying a nice evening on the patio when some inebriated twenty-year-old took offense to some another guy. It ended up being nothing, as myself and an acquaintance quickly intervened and talked the pair down. We were merely passing along the first concept of self-defense: avoid physical entanglement.
Anyway, the evening returned to a pleasant tone and everyone went home none-the-worse except for a few hangovers that seemed to be inevitable by some of the patrons--Oh well.
I guess I write about this with no real reason except to reflect upon how much nicer the evening was without a violent eruption casting a shadow on everyone’s mood. As for my training, it was nice to see that I reacted quickly and without thought--and in the proper manner--to keep the peace.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This is from The African Origin and Meaning of the Belt in Martial Arts by Nijel BPG, author of Nuba Wrestling--The Original Art. To me, the concept is consistent with the Asian schools of Chi cultivation and the non-duality theory of Zen.