Friday, December 23, 2011
Sometimes a break is good... to heal injuries, ponder one's progress, and relax a bit with family. I'm looking forward to these things, as well as coming back refreshed and with a clear mind. It represents yet another cycle--or circle--of life and training.
Time off, it seems, can actually make one better at what one does. It's strange but true.
So Happy Holidays everyone, and I'll try to write a bit more during the break!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
In Taoist terms, being like a valley is to place yourself humbly beneath others around you. By doing so, even the persona of water--arguably the most powerful and adaptable force on earth--will be directed to your feet by the passive use of gravity. It is a great metaphor in terms of slaying the ego.
In terms of physical application, the valley is symbolic of letting one's opponent come to you. Stillness overcoming force. Gravity, as all martial artists realize, is a powerful tool, and is the root of many a valuable technique.
In fact, it reminds me of my sensei who I've often heard teaching students, when sparring with a taller opponent, to bend down even farther, and slowly lure the opponent into lowering him/herself to reach you. Then when you feel ready, the trick is to pop back up and execute your attack.
This is from the same teacher who insists, somewhat in jest, that the most balanced position the human being can find themselves in is lying flat on his/her back.
Likely some brazilian jiu-jitsu guys might appreciate this comment.
Monday, November 28, 2011
This was a passing comment from a sensei at a recent seminar I attended at another dojo. I knew what he said was valid, and have thought about it before, but it resonated with me this time more than ever. In our style of jiu-jitsu we are taught to immediately move in towards our opponent, so the risk of getting hit--even while blocking--is definitely there.
"I rather take 40 per cent going in and then give 100," explained the instructor. "And the day you aren't afraid is the day you really get hurt."
During the two-hour session we learned and practiced many solid techniques, from joint locks to punch counters. But it was the words such as those above that made the bigger impact on me.
Another comment had to do with the practical nature of low kicks. "Up high is fine for tournaments and practice, but on the street it's foolish." This, too, I've heard before (even in the writings of Bruce Lee), however, there are many respectable individuals who disagree that I've met as well.
Regardless, sometimes it's the little comments that make one really think.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
And, touch wood, it held up wonderfully.
Don't get me wrong, I still fear a recurrence of the muscle pull (tear?), but I did some light sparring exercises for the first time since the injury occurred and walked away intact. For those who recall, it was such exercises that were involved in the initial injury. I also used my full weight for other techniques and even kicked the heavy bag full tilt again (this felt good--a lot of pent up tension).
But here's the catch. I took my four-year-old ice skating and felt a twinge by merely doing slow laps of the rink with him. This reinforces caution, of course, but hey, at least the dojo time went well.
So hopefully the injury reports are finished for now and some serious (and not so serious) training can get back under way.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
A friend, and competent practitioner of the martial arts, was walking down a city street at night with a friend when he was attacked. Two men jumped them and put the one friend into the hospital with pretty bad injuries. My friend was beaten, too, but not nearly as severely.
Since that night, about three years ago, my friend has completely stopped training as he felt his skills didn't 'kick in' when needed. He has become disillusioned and cynical when it comes to the art form he used to love.
Now, I don't want to write a post about how he should resume training and how it could have happened to anybody etc. Nor do I want to comment on his teacher or his style--as I don't think that was the issue anyway.
Instead, I just think about why he feels the way he does and how I would feel
if that happened to me. Are we allowed to 'lose'? Are we allowed to have 'doubts' and weaknesses'?
It reminds me of how real violence can be, and how instincts differ from person to person.
I know there is a gap in my friend's life to this day.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Many ancient texts and thinkers of the West incorporated a less linear approach to the Natural world, the cosmos, and humankind, including the Gnostic Christians who were wiped out en mass in the early days of the Universal Church. Later, the emergence of Hermetic thought echoed more abstract ideals (claiming lineage from Egypt), and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno were martyred for philosophies that may have rivaled the innovation of Galileo. (Bruno claimed the sun was, in fact, a star, and was one of an infinite number in the Universe).
While I'm not suggesting these thinkers had personal ties to the East, I am asserting that there was more simultaneous and similar thought processes apparent in the West and East throughout history. (Even alchemy can be linked, albeit different in expression, to both China and Europe).
Here's some quotes from some of the more influential and occulted texts of the past centuries in Europe:
"In a sense, the Cosmos is changeless, because its motions are determined by unalterable laws.... Its parts manifest, disappear and are created anew... Even the present does not last, so how can it be said to exist...?" -- the Hermetica
"The All creates in its infinite Mind countless universes... The infinite Mind of The All is the womb of the universe." --the Kybalion
What happened, historically, is that much of the Western thought that did not toe the party line went underground or became protected by secrecy. A good example is alchemy, whereby under exoteric terms it was a science to do with transforming metals, esoterically it was a guideline to transform one's soul into purity. This, to me, is not unlike seeking enlightenment through contemplation and/or physical training.
So the merging of East and West is just like using both sides of the brain. Each contains knowledge of the other, yet expresses it in varied ways.
But the blending is far from a recent phenomenon.
Friday, October 21, 2011
I feel pretty good. the tightness following the injury is slowly decreasing and mobility increases every day. however, certain movements seem to make me think it could easily pull again, and so, although i've been on the mats a few times this past week or two, i am being very careful. (i am exempt from too much kata which is a nice break).
movements to avoid include: kicking while being supported or pivoting with the bum leg; sparring and/or fast weight transfers; going up on my toes; or any sort of jumping or big breakfalls.
still a bit lame, but much better than before.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
But my leg still hurts. I hobble and cringe every few steps. There is, however, improvement. It's slow, but it's there.
And now my silver lining is this: that it's not a lot worse. I've suffered several kinds of long-term pain in my life, and I am glad this injury is temporary and relatively minor. And it's only been a week, after all.
But the challenge with injuries like this is to not prolong the pain by getting eager and hitting the mats prematurely. The second injury is usually worse than the original.
So back to being patient. Or trying to be.
Here's a good post by Sensei Strange regarding sitting on the sidelines: http://tomikiaikido.blogspot.com/2011/09/saturday-shiai.html
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Although the drawings were printed for the readers' benefit, one cannot help but thinking the originals were notes to himself. It makes me think of many-a-sensei who encourages his/her students to write down what they are taught after class. It may not be so much for future reference as the process helps clarify and commit to memory the technique in the present.
I have been meaning to use sketches this way for awhile now. I feel the process of analyzing the technique--posture, stance, etc.--even as stick figures will help form a better understanding for myself, as a visual thinker, as opposed to a written, linear form.
I will hopefully post some of these in the near future, if nothing else as a good chuckle at my artistic abilities.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Watch for anger of words: let your words be self-controlled. Hurt not with words, but use your words well." -- The Dhammapada
The first part, not using unnecessary violence, is well known to most practitioners of martial arts. The second, I feel, is a beneficial outcome of a martially disciplined mind.
Words can damage as much as a fist; they cannot be taken back--just like a punch thrown at a target. Most people think this means aggressive, rudely phrased words--yelling and screaming. But in truth, subtle quips, negative comments, and frequent jests can erode another's self worth over time.
A teacher must be aware of this; a student, a friend, a parent, or a spouse.
In a dojo setting, for example, this does not mean giving endless praise to one's students. Nor should a training partner have only non-critical words for his/her partner. However, I have known many individuals who have stopped doing something they loved because of words either said or not said.
"Speak the truth, yield not to anger, give what you can to him who asks..."
Saturday, August 13, 2011
When we spend too much time breaking down techniques, analyzing details etc., a partial atrophy of intuitiveness can take place. I think technique is a tool of intuition, not the other way around (or at least it's equal).
In this way, perhaps, no mind can be looked upon as a link to intuitive mind. An open gate to the flow of emotive power; an over-riding of gut feeling over the analytical.
But how is it practiced? Perhaps just by listening to it on a regular basis. Not just in a martial arts perspective, but in daily life situations. By quieting the part of the brain that keeps nagging you with too much data regarding outcome and probability. Intuition, tied to instinct, can save you from hesitation. And hesitation in daily life can be as damaging as hesitation in self-defense.
Of course, there is time for intellect. No one should argue this fact. It's just that most of us practice this on a regular basis, while the other aspects often get silenced by the voice of "reason."
Monday, August 8, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
What I mean by this is that if you have to search for the right response to an attack, it could be too late. Better to make a quick strike as a reaction and get away, than to fumble around for something specific and get laid out by your attacker in the process.
No-Mind, after all, could be in the form of a slick and smooth martial arts counter attack, or it could be in the form of a quick spit in an attackers eyes and a kick in the shins in order to run. You would be no less of a martial artist if that were the case. Whatever works is the right technique.
That said, one has to remember that an attacker, if motivated, can also run. This is a good reason to bring your No-Mind reactions up to a more substantial level. One also has to prepare for an attacker who may not let go at the first distractionary technique. For example, a kick in the groin may not drop a man who is full of adrenaline right away, or you may miss. You may sustain an injury during the scuffle that will not allow you to run.
The scenarios are limitless.
This is why we attempt to bring our non-conscious skills up to a degree that can cover the broadest range of situations.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
- self-mastery depends on self-honesty
- seeking to please others is a perilous trap
- events don't hurt us, but our views of them can
- learn to apply basic principles to particular circumstances in accordance with nature
- start living your ideals
- all advantages have their price
Not to shabby. As any practitioner of traditional martial arts would recognize, or any contemplative individual in general, is that nothing changes when it comes to truth. The environment may change, the culture may increase in size and its technology, and the population may feel superior to the previous one; but in the end, as Robert Plant said: "The Song Remains the Same".
Monday, June 6, 2011
Reflecting a lot upon small-circle theory lately, especially with the passing of Wally Jay (see post below), I have come up with a few reasons why I think the small-circle concept holds water.
*small-circle jiu-jitsu is a style of MA where traditional japanese jiu-jitsu is used with a focus on quick, tight, circular movements (as opposed to larger, looser motions).
Here is a list of some of the positive aspects I see for myself regarding this style:
- pain and/or control comes on very fast
- very few telegraphing motions
- little effort required to achieve big results
- surprise factor (movements often shoot in at an attacker, which few thugs expect)
- sets up variety and/or flow (small techniques can readily be switched up as the commitment is less... ie. a big forward stance strike may be harder to reset into a throw, whereas a tight wrist lock can be turned into a throw or a dojo favourite where I train, the lock stays on during the throw. it'll make you feel sick, trust me....)
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
In many ways, it seems his life's work was focused on the transcendence of pain in the modern world, a theme well understood by Buddhists and other spiritual followers alike.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
It's a simple survival mechanism, built into our biological makeup, allowing us to maintain a balanced and symbiotic relationship with our natural surroundings.
And it works well.
However, for some reason, there are many in our midst who have mental faculties that bypass empathy. And many of these have become our political and business leaders.
As a result, younger generations grow up believing that success and compassion are incompatible. Unfortunately, in a material driven society, this has become true.
In turn, a cycle of consciousness is created that narrows progressively, on both a personal level, and as a species.
Perhaps, in reality, it is our humanity and our lack of empathy that have become incompatible.
And this will be any culture's undoing.
"When men lack a sense of awe, there will be disaster." -- Tao Te Ching: 72