Tuesday, January 22, 2013

oh yeah...

*art by fernando Degrossi

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I am happiest when there is diversity in my training.
While repetition is important, it can be done by revisiting the same techniques over time, rather than two hours each class just hammering the same lesson over and again (there is a time and place for this, don't get me wrong).
The past week is a good example of  what I like doing. Class One: stretches, kicks, strikes, once through all katas, and a fairly lengthy lesson on swords. Class two: stretches (with push ups, sit ups, etc.), focus mitts, light sparring, blocking drills, joint locks/take downs, and a session with the sticks. It was a great mix, and my brain feels like it worked out, too.
We all know that martial arts takes years of repeating a concept, not just specific classes where one technique is repeated endlessly. For example, I have likely done thousands and thousands of wrist throws over the past five years alone, yet never have I spent a whole class just on this one technique--not that I wouldn't. I just think diversity helps, keeping things fresh, and thus allowing greater focus on learning.
Maybe this is just me and my attention span. However, the repetition, if I look for it closely, is still there, just over years instead of hours...
I repeat, instead of hours.... hours... hours...

Monday, January 14, 2013

too much violence...

A high school hockey teammate—who I haven’t seen in years—made a friend request on my Facebook page just days ago. It was a nice gesture. It made me summon up the faces of people that hadn’t entered my mind in years.

On the weekend I learned that he was beaten and stabbed with a broken beer bottle on the street. He was found lying in his own blood. He’s now on life support; I think he will likely recover, though.

Aside from the coincidence of the Facebook contact, I am writing this because it just won’t leave my head. It makes me think of so many things--namely his family and friends. It also reminds me that there really are people out there that will do something this violent. I guess I am sheltered; I live away from the city where there is some crime, but enough time in between events to forget that horrid pit-of-your-stomach feeling that accompanies tragedy of this magnitude.

And moral questions arise. Speculation about the nature of evil creeps into the thought process. (Should we truly pray for those who inflict such harm on others? Should we desire revenge? Is evil just a result of maladjusted emotions? Is evil only  to be seen as evil because we fear the pain ourselves?)

Too much in my head. It seems we often turn these things into being about ourselves. Human nature, I suppose.

But the world, at times, seems twisted and the path shaded by dark actions. I normally focus on the good; on the Spirit.

But shit, this experience can be heavy some days.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

...Just thought this fit well today, don't know why...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

the broken buddha....

Years ago, a friend of mine was going through hard times. We were young. He left the city where we lived and went to stay with his folks for a year before he moved away once again for some further education.
He lived in a basement. He wrote a book of poetry. He met me sometimes for a chat or to throw around the football.
Pain is a strange thing, as most of us know. Enlightenment can truly arise from its depths. Don't get me wrong, any of us would trade away the anguish in a second for some calm and joy. And his trials would pass, in time.
Anyway, one of my best glimpses of Zen came from those days--in the shadowy basement of a suburban bungalow--in a city just like any other. I guess my friend had ordered Chinese food, not wanting to cook one evening, and the food had arrived with one of those cheap scroll calenders that most customers throw out. You know, the ones that say it's the year of the tiger or whatever and then have a calendar beneath this info with a giant business card ad... i.e. the true motivation for giving the calendar in the first place. (Phew... I'm out of breath now). Well, this calendar hung on the wall for the whole year in my friends room.
Yup. The words and images faced the wall. And in tiny writing, barely discernible on the otherwise blank back of the scroll, was a barely legible sentence. It read: "Time does not exist."
And to this day I am sure that my friend was right.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A cold January evening...

Sitting here tonight, looking out the window at newly fallen snow, my mind leads me to places I have been over the past year. It was more eventful than I thought; I trained with some good people who I can definately call my friends.
A highlight was a wickedly hot summertime seminar. I was too broke to go. I said I wasn't going to make it. But my buddy decided I was meant to go and paid my way. It ended up being mind blowing, and it, to this day, has expanded my mind in countless ways when it comes to martial arts. I took part in classes on close quarter clinch work, traditional swords, traditional karate, chi work, joint locks, and a really horrible bo form. (I find it amusing now... in a way). It was so damn hot I can hardly describe it now, sitting, as I said, amid the frost of a January night in the north.
Then there was a seminar on come-along techniques. Good stuff, although I questioned at the time ever having to use any of it, that is, until I was in the pub afterwards and some guy--drunk--refused to leave the place after being asked many times by the lone female bartender. Oh crap, I thought to myself. What are the chances... is this a test? Really? (As it turned out the guy finally left on his own accord, and I received no post-seminar review... phew!).
But mostly the year was about the insight attained at regular classes. A lot of hours and a lot of work. While sometimes I felt like my wheels were just spinning in the mud, I think if I am honest with myself I can consider it to have been a solid year of training and honing my technique. And the friendships, as I mentioned above, are always key.
As for resolutions.... I don't think I'll make any formal obligations. I just look forward to the little insights and improvements that I hope to achieve in the upcoming months. The good classes and/or seminars; the further understanding of an old technique or the discovery of a new one.
Who's to say what's to happen, really...?