Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heaven and Earth Throw -- Tenchi Nage

Never mind how hard this one is to perfect (not that I have). It's name is a metaphor for training. One hand reaches up to Heaven while the other hand drives the opponent down to the Earth. It is a merging of Mind (sky) and matter (body). As I said, a metaphor.....

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This, to me, is the beginning of learning. Dismissing what you think you already know and becoming as a blank sheet of paper; becoming as a vessel hollowed out, ready to contain something of sustenance.
Perhaps emptiness itself.
Those who practice mediation may refer to the state of No Mind. This is a space of calm where new insights are achieved without the influence of external sensory. This state is similarly used in the martial arts to achieve unison with both the attacker and situation. Explains Journeyman over at Japanese Jiu Jitsu (see Randori):
“This state of no-mindedness is called Mushin in Japanese and it is a state we should all strive to attain. When the mind is empty, it is free to respond instantly to any attack.”
This resonates with the teachings of Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba, who is quoted in his manual The Art of Peace:
“Cast off limiting thoughts and return to emptiness. Stand in the midst of the Great Void. This is the secret of the way of a warrior.”
He continues to say that a warrior of peace contests nothing and that “Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbour within.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Budo and the Tao

My first real lesson in the martial arts was when, at 16 years-of-age, my father handed me a dog-eared copy of the Chinese Tao Te Ching.
I had learned some very basic judo when I was about nine; attended a karate class and was shown a few joint locks by a family friend. Later, I would do Taoist Tai Chi for a bit. But although I loved the martial arts, no one teacher or dojo had captivated my mind. However, when I began studying the Tao, or the Way, an entire new philosophy revealed itself to me. The theory of water breaking down rock. Force creating resistance.
The text contain lessons to incorporate into life and the philosophy reflects wondrously what I now know of the martial arts, which I began studying seriously in my early thirties (What can I say? The teacher appeared when the student was finally ready).
In traditional ju-jitsu this concept of softness overcoming hardness is crucial. And to me, in many ways, the concept of energy (chi), is comparable with that of the invisible but discernable Tao.
Currently, my sensei melds aspects of Qi Gong into our jiu jitsu training, and I can say this much about his technique: the transfer of energy is strong. But, as he says, if you’re relying on strength to accomplish your goal, you’re not doing proper jiu jitsu. And this is the crux of the Tao.
Says Wiki: “The idea behind this meaning of Ju is ‘to be gentle’, ‘to give way’, ‘to yield’, ‘to blend’, ‘to move out of harm's way’. ‘Jutsu’ is the principle or ‘the action’ part of Ju-Jutsu. In Japanese this word means science or art.”

Likewise, the Tao overcomes by yielding.