Short Stories

  • Fear and self preservation :  fear

Fear and self preservation where never the mindset of the samurai. They believed to have fear in combat would get your killed. This quote from the book of the samurai HAGAKURE explains it very well.

The Way of the Samurai is found in death. Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one’s master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead. This is the substance of the way of the samurai.

This quote was to dismiss fear in battle and not to be taken literally. I would encourage students to study the samurai and not just turn up for class to train. A full understanding of the source of your art is crucial to your training I feel.

Ultimate Fitness Through Martial Arts :     fitness

Power is a combination of strength and explosiveness. It is created by releasing maximum muscular force at maximum speed. To increase power, you must increase both speed and strength. By exerting strength with speed, you take advantage of both the force generated by the muscles and the momentum created through the speed.
Power can be described in three ways:
Explosive power – Explosive power is the ability to exert maximum force in one or a series of dynamic acts. Example: Breaking a board with a punch.
Static power – Static power is the maximum force a person can exert for a short period. Example: Bench press.
Dynamic Power – Dynamic power is the ability to exert muscular force repeatedly or continuously over time. Example: Heavy bag workout.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Power is derived from muscular ability. The human body contains over 400 muscles that can be broken in two classes: smooth and striated. Smooth muscles are those that perform the involuntary functions of the body like circulation and digestion. Striated muscles are those that can be voluntarily contracted, such as the muscle groups in the arms and legs. These muscles are the source of power.
Slow and fast twitch muscle fibers
Striated muscles are made up of two types of fibers: slow twitch and fast twitch. Slow twitch fibers are designed for activity that must be sustained over a long time like distance running. They have a high capacity for aerobic energy production and can remain active for a long time while producing relatively small amounts of lactic acid. This is important because lactic acid build-up in the muscle tissue causes the muscle to fatigue and eventually renders it unable to continue working. Low levels of lactic acid mean more capacity for work. People who have a high percentage of slow twitch fibers excel at endurance activities.
Conversely, people with a high percentage of fast twitch fibers excel in explosive strength activities. Fast twitch fibers have a great capacity for anaerobic energy production, which allows them to produce intense power and speed of contraction. This intensive work also causes them to accumulate large amounts of lactic acid and fatigue quickly. (For a definition of aerobic and anaerobic, see “Chapter 9: Endurance”)
Based on this, the answer to developing power seems obvious – increase the percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers in your body. Unfortunately, this is not possible. The ratio of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers is determined early in life and cannot be markedly changed. Studies have shown that distance runners have high percentages of slow twitch fibers and sprinters have high percentages of fast twitch fibers. Yet it has been concluded that the activity in which they participate is not responsible for this phenomenon. Instead, it is believed that distance runners take up endurance sports because they naturally excel in this area. In the same respect, others are naturally fast and gravitate toward the speed and power oriented sports in which they excel.
Although you cannot change the ratio of muscle fibers, you can improve what you have. In the average person, slow and fast twitch muscle fibers are generally intermingled, with a higher percentage of fast twitch fibers present. Through training, you can improve the metabolic efficiency of either type of muscle fiber. By training for explosive strength you stress the fast twitch muscle fibers repeatedly, causing them to become stimulated and teaching them to work more efficiently.
 My Viewpoint :           viewpoint
As martial artist i think my expectations for myself are much more severe and much more direct. You can’t train in jujitsu  for twenty years without being your own toughest critic if you want to reach your full potential. So you should try not to be  distracted by the expectations based on your previous performance.
Your previous performance should however be used to evaluate your learning curve to reach your next goal, belt or competitive match so your are able to reach your full potential.
The fisherman and the Samurai        jap fisherman

A long time ago during the reign of the Tokagawa Shogunate a samurai set out on an errand. Precisely one year ago to the day he had lent 10 koku to a fisherman in a small coastal village nearby, and today was the day the fisherman had promised he would repay the debt. The samurai arrived in the village at noon and upon inquiring at the fisherman’s home he was told by the fishermans wife that he would find the man down at his boat working on his nets. Upon seeing the samurai coming up the beach the fisherman threw himself to the ground and bowed his head to the sand. “Get up” said the samurai, “As agreed it has been one year and I have come to collect the money you owe me”. “I have not forgotten my debt to you” said the fisherman, who now stood but with his head still bowed, “but it has been a very bad year for me and I regret that I do not have the money I owe you”. Hearing this the samurai, who was not a man known for his patience, flushed with anger and quickly drew his sword, preparing to kill the fisherman then and there. “Why should I not simply slay you instead” shouted the samurai as he raised the deadly blade above his head. Fearing that his life was at and end and having nothing to lose the fisherman boldly spoke out. “For some time now I have been studying martial arts” he replied, “and one of the lessons that my master teaches, is never to strike when you are angery”. “I beg you” said the fisherman, “give me one more year to pay you what I owe”. Thinking about what the fisherman had just said the samurai slowly lowered his sword. “Your master is wise” said the samurai, “as a student of the art of the sword I too have heard that lesson many times, but sometimes I get so angry I act without thinking”. Putting away his sword the samurai spoke in a voice that was use to being obeyed. “You shall have another year to repay your debt to me” he said, “but when I return if you do not have all the money you owe me I shall not hesitate to take your life instead” and without another word he turned and walked away. Having left the village later than he intended to it was already dark by the time the samurai arrived home. Seeing no lights on in the house he crept in quietly not wishing to wake the servants or his wife. As he entered his bed chamber he notice that there were two persons lying on his futon, one he recognized as his wife and the other from their clothing was unmistakeably another samurai. Swiftly he drew his sword and as his anger quickly grew he moved in to slay them both. Just then, as he was about to strike, the fisherman’s words came back to him, “never strike when you are angery”. This time I shall follow the lesson he thought to himself, pausing he took a deep breath and tried to relax, then on purpose he made a loud noise. Hearing the sound both his wife and the stranger immediately woke up and when his wife had lit a candle he found himself face to face with his wife and his mother who had dressed up in his clothes and another set of swords. “What is the meaning of this” he demanded, “I almost slew you both”. His wife quickly explained that when he had not returned by night fall they decided to dress his mother up in his clothes so that in the event that an intruder entered the home they would be frightened off at the sight of a samurai in the house. A that moment the samurai realized that his habit of “striking without thinking” had almost cost him the life of his wife and his mother. One year later the samurai again walked down the same beach towards the fisherman. After exchanging the proper formal greetings the fisherman said, “It has been an excellent year my Lord, here is all the money I owe you as promised, and with interest”. “Keep your money” replied the samurai, “you do not know it, but your debt was paid to me long ago”.

 

In the blink of an eye.         blink

In Feudal Japan a great General led his army in battle against a small village. Knowing the General’s reputation all of the citizens in the village fled, except for an old Monk, who refused to leave his beloved temple. Upon hearing this news the General decided to go to the temple and see for himself just what kind of man the Monk was. As he rode through the gate and onto the temple grounds he found the Monk standing there waiting to meet him. The Monk greeted him warmly, as he would any other guest, and he offered the General all of the hospitality his temple had to offer. Realizing that the Monk did not fear him at all the General said, “Do you not realize that you are talking to a man who could kill you in the blink of an eye”? To which the Monk replied, “Do you not realized that you are talking to a man who can be killed without blinking an eye”?

 

A Hungry Old Man :   masatakataketsuru

One day a hungry old man entered a small village and noticed a sign proclaiming the name of a local iaido (sword) school.

Knowing that it was customary for a dojo’s sensei (teacher) to accept all challenges the old man decided upon a very dangerous plan.

If he could entice the sensei into a duel and be defeated but not killed, he would then by tradition be offered food and drink, as well as a place to sleep for the night.

Summoning up all of his courage the old man approached the dojo and then walking boldly in he proclaimed his intention to challenge the sensei to a duel. In response a senior student stepped forward, introduced himself, and said that his sensei was at home resting but that he would gladly accept the challenge in his place. The old man refused and instead asked that a student be sent to the sensei’s home to tell him of the challenge.

Upon hearing his students report of the events that had just taken place the sensei immediately put on his swords and hurried to the dojo. When the sensei arrived he and the old man politely bowed to each other and in turn introduced themselves, after which the old man re-issued his challenge, but explained that it was not his intention to challenge for ownership of the dojo as was sometimes the case, this duel was merely to be a test of each man’s skill with a sword. The sensei accepted and because of the nature of the challenge and they agreed to fight using only wooden bokken (practice swords) so that if a customary fatal cut was made neither man would be killed.

The old man in truth had no skill at all with a sword, he was simply seeking a meal and a place to rest and this plan had seemed to offer the best prospect for success and so as he stood facing the dojo’s sensei across the tatami mat he just held the wooden sword very casually at his side. The sensei upon observing how open the old man was to an attack and how unbelievably foolish his defensive posture appeared, suddenly began to believe that this duel might not have been such a good idea after all. Slowly in his mind he began to wonder about the old man’s skill and in turn he began to doubt himself and his own chances for victory.

He knew, however, that his own reputation and that of his dojo was at stake and so he took an aggressive posture. For what seemed a very long time the two men just stood there facing one another, neither of them made even the slightest move. The old man for his part could not understand what was taking so long, but he knew he had no choice in the matter, all he could do was wait for the sensei to attack and claim his victory. The sensei on the other hand had by now thoroughly convinced himself that he did indeed face a true iaido master, but even so he knew that he must do something very soon and so he started to move towards the old man, determined to press home his attack with all of his skill even though he felt sure now that he had no chance of winning.

The old man seeing the look on the sensei’s face and sensing that he was about to be attacked in full force quickly dropped his sword and falling to his knees he broke down and confessed that he in fact had no skill at all with the sword, going on to explain that he had not eaten in days and that he had hoped merely to survive the challenge and then be offered a meal and a place to sleep for the night.

Upon hearing this the sensei was suddenly overcome with the realization that by allowing his own doubts to fill his mind, and by fantasizing about his opponents abilities, he had almost defeated himself.

He decided then and there to change the name of his sword style to “Mu Nen Ryu” – “The School of No Thought”.

 

The Samurai Tradition of Bushido Jujitsu-do: bushido

Shortly after the Meiji Restoration (1868) the samurai class in Japan was dissolved because there was no longer any need for them since all of Japan was now unified under the Emperor. However, the values of the samurai were not lost, but instead they were handed down to the lower classes as the inheritance from the warriors.

In 1882, the “Imperial Decree to Soldiers and Sailors” was issued to the military. What this did was to codify the values of bushi-do (Way of the Warrior) and apply this samurai code of honor and strict social behavior to the modern military training. This document advised all soldiers and sailors to practice loyalty, obedience and bravery; it stressed that the modern warrior was in essence the same as the samurai of former times and so the the tradition of the samurai class were thus given to the modern Japanese army.

The first article held

Loyalty was the essential duty of the soldier. This reflected the long tradition of a samurai relationship with his Lord which held that in truth a samurai’s life indeed belonged to his lord. In the modern army this meant that the soldiers life belonged to the Emperor and his country.

The second article held

Courage was essential since the trait of a fighting man is his spirit to win. Without courage there is nothing, especially on the battlefield during hand to hand combat.

The third article held

Valor as a trait to be admired and encouraged in the modern warrior. Reckless behavior in the face of the enemy was not desirable; the soldier should be able to control his emotions and act discriminantly and correctly in battle. The article further advised that performance of duty was one of the more valorous acts.

The fourth article stated

Faithfulness in keeping one’s word. Always bearing in mind that righteousness in fulfilling one’s duty was to be honored.

The fifth article held

Simplicity was a samurai value.

Luxury and extravagance were considered effeminate and would not add to the performance of a warriors duty, rather, they would turn the soldier into someone who might seek material things at the expense of his duty.

In addition to these basic articles, there was concern over sincerity, a sincere effort by the soldier would allow great achievement and satisfaction. Another element the soldier-samurai realized that was necessary to follow the precepts was perfection in everything he undertook and of course there was always the strict teaching and enforcement of courtesy and respect to higher ranks in the military which was part of the Japanese culture.

It is clear that bushido with it’s code of honour and social behaviour followed by the samurai class almost a thousand years ago is the same as our dojo kun practiced in Jujitsu-do today.

 

Living National Treasure :   katana1

Jujitsu and the Sword

I have always enjoyed “good” television programs.You know the kind I mean.PBS shows, National Geographic, the History Channel, the kind of programs that not only inform you, but also make you take the time to think about what you have just seen.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like a mindless action flick now and again just as much as the next person, but when it comes to wanting to increase my learning curve on a particular subject that interests me, there is nothing like a good book, or good television program on the topic at hand to really set my mind in motion.

Not long ago I was watching just such a program, as I recall it was a National Geographic program entitled, “Living National Treasures of Japan”.

The program in essence revolved around a very select group of individuals to whom the Japanese government had awarded the title of “Living National Treasure”. Currently only 75 people hold this honour.

This great honour had been awarded to these individuals, who are famous throughout their homeland, in recognition of their having attained the highest possible level of skill in their chosen discipline, and for their unselfish contribution to that particular aspect of Japanese culture.

For example, one lady was a Master famous for her dyed cloth.One man was a Master potter, renowned for the beauty of the delicate objects that came from the fires of his kiln. Another man was a Master of the art of paper making, and his paper was in tremendous demand by those who practice the art of calligraphy, and on it went.

Now I must say that while I marveled at the skill of each of the honorees, as a student of the martial arts I was most fascinated by the skill of the Master sword maker.From raw material, to a finish sword, the process was truly a thing of beauty.

The Master first took the raw steel and heated it in the fire of his forge until it glowed red hot. He then withdrew the heated metal and placed it on an anvil, where it was rhythmically pounded time, and time again, by his two assistants until he was satisfied with the result, at which time the metal was returned to the fire.

While this process was shortened for the benefit of the program, this can in fact go on for hours, even days. Often when he brought the heated metal from the forge to the anvil, the master would have his assistants cease their hammering, at which point he would cleave the metal almost in half across it’s width, and then he would fold the metal on top of its self, only to have his assistants once again resume their relentless hammering.

It has been said that the steel in a sword of the highest quality will have been folded more than one thousand times.

Finally, when the sword obtained the size and shape that the Master had envisioned, he would heat it one final time, then, when he felt the moment was right, he quickly withdrew the blade from the forge and immediately plunged it into cold water. This had the effect of rapidly cooling the sword into its final form.This, however, was only the first step in a very orderly process of creation.

When the program ended I found myself thinking back to how the Master had forged the sword. He had such a passion, and an eye for detail that seemed to allow him to “see” the finished product long before it materialized in his hand.

I could not help but compare this process of hammering, tempering, and repeated shaping, to the art of karate-do, and the overall development of a student, from beginner, to black belt.

The student is the raw material.

The Sensei the fire, and the hammer.

Over hours, days, months, and years, the Sensei like the sword Master hammers away at every little flaw he or she sees, shaping the student through the standards and techniques of their individual style, until that day arrives when they can finally begin see the result of their efforts, in the emerging form of a Sho Dan.

Just as there are many Dan levels in Jujitsu, there are also many levels in the process of creating a finished sword. The sword Master may make the blade but essentially there his task ends, and he passes the sword into the hands of another to work on from there.

The sword first goes to the polisher who is himself a Master of this particular art. He works over the rough surface of the blade time, and time again, removing every last visible imperfection until the blade shines like the noon day sun.

In terms of Jujitsu I liken this step to the student being once more moulded through further training, only to emerge several years later in the form of a Ni Dan. Better than they were, yet still not all they can be.

The next step in the process sees the sword leave the hands of the polisher and pass onto the hands of the Master sharpener. Once more an man dedicated to the perfection of one singular task takes his place in the process. He will hone the sword time, and time again, until a perfect cutting edge is created along the entire length of the sword. An edge that is capable of cutting through an amazing amount of material.

In terms of Jujitsu I liken this step to the student rising to yet another level, the rank of San Dan. Here their skills are no longer generated solely by premeditated thought alone, but instead after more than a decade of training, the students techniques will by now have become much more instinctive in nature, as well as extremely well controlled. A sure sign of progress, but a long way from perfection.

The sword now makes another journey in its search for final perfection, this time being placed in the hands of the Master engraver. With keen eyes, a skilled touch, and the patience of a saint, the Master will engrave upon the polished, and sharpen sword, an image or perhaps some kanji, worthy of the sword it’s self. The engraving may have been selected in advance by the sword maker, or left to the discretion of the engraver, or perhaps it was requested by a specific client for whom the sword was being made.

In terms of Jujitsu I liken this step to the creation of a Sensei or teacher. One who has been moulded, sharpened, and polished, and who is now ready with the consent of their own Shihan (Master) to open a dojo of their own, while still remaining under his guidance and association. This then is a student who has reached the rank of Yon Dan. A qualified teacher in their own right who still continues to train on a regular basis, keenly aware of the fact that the need to continually polish their own skills is a never ending task.

At last the sword is returned to the Master sword maker, who can at last see in the finished sword, and the image that for so long was visible only in his mind’s eye. A true thing of beauty, begun by the vision of one man, yet truly created only through the combined efforts of several Masters, all of whom are “National Living Treasures”.

In terms of Jujitsu I liken this step to the student passing their newly awarded rank of Go Dan, from here on out what the student learns and what they teach to others, will be a by-product of the hands and minds that created them.

For like the sword, we are all, at any stage in our Jujitsu development, the total sum of all that has been given to us, and all that we ourselves have put in, by way of time, effort, energy, and spirit.

Remember Never judge anything by its appearance,in truth it is the content that matters.

 

Can You Drink From An Empty Cup :    cup

Refills are free

In the beginning, in order to correctly perform all of the physical movements required in a new kata, you will undoubtedly need to devote a high level of mental concentration to the task at hand.

This of course is only natural, since the movements, stances, techniques, timing, and other aspects of the this kata will be new and unfamiliar to you. Over time, however, this will change as the kata starts to take on a physically comfortable familiarity.

In due course you will find that your “muscle memory” will become more prevalent, and at about the same time you may also begin to notice another subtle change taking place, as you sub-consciously switch from “thinking of what the next move is”, to simply “doing the next move with proper thought”.

It is probably fair to say that by now you will in all likelihood have practiced the particular kata in question at least one hundred times, and having done so, it is at this juncture that you should begin to understand that the real difference between “thinking of what the next move is”, and “doing the next move with proper thought”, is the real difference between simply “doing the kata” and starting to “know the kata”.

Now if you can truly say that you have arrived at this point, then whether you know it or not, you are now at a very important juncture in your kata training, and in all likelihood you are now probably ready to move up to what many call “the next level”.

It is here that you may come up against a very old martial art saying that is often voiced, and that is, “in order to do kata well, you must first empty your mind”.

But lets face it, to truly empty your mind of all thought is impossible.

So what exactly does “empty your mind” mean?

Does this mean for example that we are now expected to sort of sleep walk our way through all of our katas without thinking, as if in some kind of trance, while at the same time using the katas to seek spiritual enlightenment, or Nirvana?

I think not.Here in the West the expression “empty your mind” really takes on a whole different connotation than in does for those students who are born, train and live in Japan, and other parts of the Far East. In truth “empty your mind” is one of those expressions that really does not seem to translate very well, I suppose primarily due to the cultural and philosophical differences that exist between East and West.

Many Westerners for example might look upon the expression “empty your mind” as meaning, “to think of nothing at all while performing a kata”. While in fact exactly the opposite it really the case. You should always be totally involved both physically, as well as mentally in all aspects of any kata that your are performing.

As for me, after more than twenty years of practicing jujitsu “empty your mind” really translates into “control what enters your mind”. The real goal as I see it, is not to “empty your mind and to think of nothing at all while doing your kata”, but instead to “empty your mind of everything but what’s need to do the kata”. Trust me, there is a big difference between these two approaches. You must “be in the moment” so to speak. Your mind must not let in what your eyes see, and your ears hear. You must truly focus only on the kata.

Can other students in the dojo tell when you are working on a new kata?

Definitely.

For example, take a moment when the opportunity presents it’s self and watch one of the more senior students in your dojo perform a particular kata. Just by observing their stances, techniques, pace, posture, and balance, even if you are a mid-level kyu belt with only one, or two years experience, I would bet that in most cases you would be able to guess correctly whether or not your senior was practicing a kata that they are very familiar with, and that is fairly well integrated in to their muscle memory, or that instead they were “thinking” their way through a kata that is relatively new to them, and one in which “thought” is still playing an obvious role.

The difference is all in the mind.

The mind as we all know is a marvel of nature, capable of performing a countless number of conscious, and sub-conscious thoughts, while at the same time processing a wide range of sensations, and mental images in less than the blink of an eye. So the “control” part is where your jujitsu training must come in. Proper repetition, proper focus, and a proper mental attitude, are all need at each and every step of the way if you ever expect to perform your kata in harmony with your body and your mind.

 

I know, a lot easier said than done. I asked at the beginning of this narrative if you can drink from an empty cup.

Well can you?

How you choose to answer this question I think in the end says a lot about you, not only as a person, but as a martial artist as well.For me the answer is, no. Part the clouds – see the way.

Empty is empty.

The Importance of Kata and How to Practice:  KATA

The practice of kata is the culmination of a practitioner’s individual training. A significant advantage of kata is that techniques can be practiced full force without the risk of injuring partners. Kata practice also develops fighting spirit and fighting rhythms. It simulates an actual fighting situation because it allows the practitioner to feel and experience the coordinated movements at full speed and full power without having to “pull” the technique to avoid injuring one’s training partner. There are many techniques in kata that are simply too dangerous to practice with another person. Another advantage is that one can practice kata alone when partners are not available.

A key idea when performing kata is to imagine that one is actually fighting one or more opponents as the kata is executed. This visualization transforms the kata from a series of strictly mechanical movements into a meaningful and realistic training aid. One of the highest compliments one can receive after performing a kata is that it looked like an actual fight. This is the goal to strive for in kata practice.

When done correctly, kata practice also teaches the development of a clear mind. At the highest levels of practice, practitioners often feel that their bodies are performing the kata without the direction or interference of the conscious mind. The kata is simply expressed through them. This mental state is referred to as mushin or “no mind”.

In an actual encounter, mushin is the mental state the practitioner strives to maintain because it enables the practitioner to respond instinctively without the delay or interference of conscious thought. Not only is this type of response quicker, it is also more effective because it draws on the intuitive knowledge of the entire being. This response without conscious thought is the realization of body knowledge. Kata practice teaches the practitioner how to enter into this mental state at will, thereby enhancing the practitioner’s ability to enter this mental state in an actual encounter. This is one of the reasons why traditional Okinawan Karate-do teachers have always emphasized kata practice.

In order to get the maximum benefit from kata, one should work separately on “The Seven Ways to Practice Kata”. The Seven Ways are: Form, Power, Speed, Eye Contact, Breathing, Fighting Rhythms, and Kiai. Each of these will improve one’s ability to execute the techniques in the kata in the most effective manner. By focusing on only one Way at a time, one will improve more quickly than if one is trying to concentrate on a number of Ways at the same time. As each of the different Ways is isolated and improved, a natural integration occurs creating a synergistic effect which makes the techniques substantially more effective.

The Seven Ways to Practice Kata

1. Form

a. Form is the first Way that one learns and is the most important. If one executes techniques with correct form, one is doing them in the strongest and most efficient (and therefore quickest) manner. Form is something that one is continually refining and perfecting. One never masters a particular technique. Rather, one continually improves and moves closer to perfection.

b. Poor form causes a “corruption” of the principles. When one corrupts a principle, one loses power and effectiveness proportionately. For example, if one’s elbow is not behind the fist when punching (and the elbow is allowed to flare out), one will lose power and strength. For every incremental degree that the elbow moves out to the side when punching, one loses more and more power. This is true for all the principles and is why one must continually strive to execute techniques with the correct form.

c. To improve form, practice the kata very slowly and concentrate on doing each technique with the proper checkpoints and correct application of principles. At the same time, visualize yourself doing the technique perfectly.

2. Power

a. One key to increasing power is to utilize more of the body. The legs, hips, shoulders, and arms (for punches) must work together to produce the maximum amount of force. The correct timing and sequence of the motions comprising the techniques are critical.

b. To improve power, concentrate on doing each technique as forcefully as possible with the correct sequence of body parts. It helps to pause slightly between each technique because this allows time to concentrate on generating the greatest amount of power.

3. Speed

a. Relaxation equals speed. One of the biggest barriers to increasing speed is excessive (and unnecessary) tension in the muscles. Unfortunately, tension often increases when one trys to do a motion faster. This is because the “trying” gets in the way of the “doing”. Less effort is better than more effort when it comes to increasing speed.

b. To improve speed, concentrate on staying “loose” and relaxed while avoiding trying too hard. Do not worry about the amount of force generated by the techniques. The techniques should be light and quick when practiced for speed.

4. Eye Contact

a. Eye contact emphasizes the visualization of opponents as the kata is executed. Without this visualization, kata practice cannot simulate the feeling of an actual fight and practice will not be as beneficial as it could be.

b. To improve and practice eye contact, look sharply on each turn and actually “see” an opponent in the mind’s eye. Try to feel each block deflecting an attack and each strike making contact with an opponent.

5. Breathing

a. The idea is to coordinate breathing from the diaphragm with the execution of techniques. This helps to control one’s respiration rate and may be used to augment power. To breathe from the diaphragm when inhaling, the lower belly (and not the chest) should expand first as air is brought into the lungs. To breathe from the diaphragm when exhaling, the lower belly should pull inwards to force the air out of the lungs.

b. To practice coordinating breathing with the execution of techniques, inhale on the blocking techniques and exhale on striking techniques. The exhales should be short, focused, bursts of air done with the teeth together. This is sometimes described as “spitting” out the air.

6. Fighting Rhythms

a. The timing and rhythm of attacks and counters in an actual fight is erratic. It is therefore important to train oneself to adjust to varying speeds. All blocking techniques are ineffective if they are done too fast or too slow. The timing needs to match exactly the speed of the attack.

b. To practice kata for the development of fighting rhythms, break the kata down into series that seem logically connected. Each series should represent an encounter with one or more opponents. Try to simulate the rhythm of an actual fight by varying the speed and pausing between each series. If kata is not practiced for Fighting Rhythms, the kata may become blurred and a purely mechanical repetition of choreographed movements.

7. Kiai

a. Kiai means to unite the spirit or internal energies. The idea is to coordinate all of the entire being’s energy into the execution of the techniques. A kiai is frequently done by forcing the air out of the diaphragm while executing a punch or kick. The forced exhale is what produces the loud shout one normally associates with a kiai.

b. When done properly, a kiai unites one’s internal energies with the physical energy produced by the contraction of the muscle. This makes the techniques incredibly powerful.

c. To practice with kiai, imagine all of the energy of the entire being is being unified and projected outward as the technique is executed. There should be a feeling of intense focus. It helps to add the loud shout to some of the punches, kicks, or strikes in the kata.

 

Seven stars and martial arts :    seven stars

I,m asked on occasion the meaning of the seven stars within the stance and preying mantis kata so here goes,

Seven-Star

Although the original meaning of seven-star is “plough,” the phase in traditional Chinese martial arts usually refers to the seven key acupoints on the body. These points are very important for martial arts practice. They are: the “head star” at Baihui point (on the top of the head); the “shoulder star” at Jianjing point (on the Yang-side shoulder); the “elbow star” at Quchi point (on the elbow of the Yang-side arm); the “hand star” at Laogong point (on the Yang-side palm); the “hip star” at Huantiao point (on the Yang-side hip); the “knee star” at Yanglingquan point (on the knee of the Yang-side leg); and the “foot star” at Yongquan point (on the ball of the Yang-side foot).

In Taiji Quan practice, each side of the body is considered separately. The Yang side is the active and insubstantial (unweighted or empty) side; the Yin side is the quiet and substantial (weighted) side. Each side includes one leg and the opposing arm. The Yin and Yang qualities are exchanged whenever movements involve weight shifts. This changing of Yin and Yang sides is the source of all Taiji skills.

The Yin-side leg is the leg that holds most or all of the body’s weight, while the Yang-side or empty leg bears none or only a relatively small amount of weight. The arm on the side of the body opposite from the Yin leg is considered to be the Yin-side arm and, likewise, the Yang-side arm is on the opposite side of the body from the Yang leg. When, for example, the right leg is weighted, this leg is the Yin or Yin-side leg, and the left leg is the Yang leg. The right arm is the Yang arm, and the left arm is the Yin arm.

Because the Yang side is the active side, the focus of the mind during a stationary posture such as seven-star pile standing is always on this side. In seven-star pile standing, six of the seven stars on which the mind will focus are on the Yang side arm and leg. Baihui, the head star, is also called Ding Pan Xin or “criterion” star. It is of primary importance for maintaining Zhong Ding or central equilibrium. Because it never changes, it is not associated with either side of the body. One of the foremost goals of seven-star pile standing is to increase the smooth, free-flowing movement of the internal components along the seven key points.

Two Dogs  : dogs

Feeding time

Since the beginning of time man has struggled not only with nature, but just as often with himself.

You see inside all of us it is said, there dwells two sides of the same coin.

For the lack of a better term we might refer to this duality as, “our good side” and “our bad side”.

In keeping with that thought, when asked to describe himself, a man once said …”Inside of me there are two dogs,one of the dogs is mean and evil,the other dog is good,the mean dog fights the good dog,all the time”.When asked which dog wins

he reflected for a moment,

and said …

“the one I feed the most.”

 

Life Lessons :  lessons

Looking beyond the words

It has been said, and I for one have found it to be very true, “that the simplest lessons in life are not only the hardest lessons to learn, but they are also the most difficult lessons to put into practice”.

Keeping things simple it would seem, is often a far more complex concept than it first appears.

I am sure you have probably hear the old expression, “read between the lines”. That too is something that is much harder to do than it first appears. With that thought in mind I offer you the following words, and in each case I ask you to read between the lines.

I hope that in doing so they will help you as you journey down life’s road.

SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF SELF HEALING

Health is inner peace

Practice love

The mind has no limit

All minds are joined

There is only “now”

Learn to listen

Practice forgiveness

*ON BEING WATCHFUL

Watch your thoughts – they become words.

Watch your words – they become actions.

Watch your actions – they become habits.

Watch your habits – they become character.

Watch your character – it becomes your destiny.

 

*THE MOST IMPORTANT WORDS

The 6 most important words : I admit I made a mistake.

The 5 most important words : You did a good job.

The 4 most important words : What is your opinion?

The 3 most important words : If you please.

The 2 most important words : Thank you.

The 1 most important word  : We.

The least important word is : I.

 

*A MODERN SAMURAI CODE

Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

Make all your friends feel something special.

Look for good in everyone.

Think only of the best – work only for the best – expect only the best

Be as happy about the success of others as you are about your own.

Give everyone a smile.

Be to big for worry and to noble for anger

Spend time improving yourself – then you will have no time to criticize others

 

Loa Tuz Quote :   tuz

Peace is easily maintained;

Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.

The brittle is easily shattered;

The small is easily scattered.

Deal with it before it happens.

Set things in order before there is confusion.

A tree as great as a man’s embrace springs up from a small shoot;

A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;

A journey of a thousand miles starts under one’s feet.

He who acts defeats his own purpose;

He who grasps loses.

The sage does not act, and so is not defeated.

He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.

People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.

So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;

Then there will be no failure.

Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.

He does not collect precious things.

He learns not to hold on to ideas.

He brings men back to what they have lost.

He help the ten thousand things find their own nature,

But refrains from action.

 

Buddhist Quote :   buddhist

The greatest achievement is selflessness.

The greatest worth is self-mastery.

The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.

The greatest precept is continual awareness.

The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.

The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.

The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.

The greatest generosity is non-attachment.

The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.

The greatest patience is humility.

The greatest effort is not concerned with results.

The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.

The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances

 

 

I’ll Be Back :    download (1)

Those lazy days

More than any other time of the year, it happens in the summer.School is out.The days are longer.

The beach, the parks, and the obligatory family vacation all beckon.

Each one calling loudly with promises of fun and adventure under the warm summer sun.

It is inevitable therefore, during these warm and pleasant days of summer that the dojo will often echo with the sound of fewer feet.

This is, we are told by those who are departing, only a temporary situation, for as they bow out the door in search of “some time off” they all do so with a common pledge, “I’ll be back”.

Now all of us at one time or another have felt the need to take a break from those events in our lives that occupy so much of our very limited time. Whether it is from work, university, the city in which we live, the people we hang out with, or even from the dojo that we hold so dear, sooner or later we all crave a brief change of pace.

The question in the mind of the sensei, however, as he listens to those quickly fading feet, is not so much, “when will you be back” but more often than not it is, “at what level will you be when you come back”?

Now for those students above the rank of Ni Dan, I think it is safe to say that a few days off, or even a week or two away from the dojo, will usually not make a great deal of difference to their fitness level, or to the quality of their techniques. This is primarily of course because students at this level will usually have eight to ten years of dedicated training behind them. For them it is often a case of being able to “switch on” and “switch off”, with most likely only a minor number of adjustments in order to get back up to speed after taking some time off. Any longer than two weeks, however, and yes, even these senior ranks will also see a distinct difference in all aspects of their karate upon their return to the dojo.

But what about everyone else?

It has been my experience that students below the rank of Ni Dan, will find that they are in for a bit of a surprise when finally returning to class after those lazy days of summer.

More often than not they will find that compared to those students who remained and continued to train, their stance will seem somewhat higher, their timing will off, and their blocks for some unknown reason will not seem quite as crisp as they use to be.

As for kata forget it.

It is not uncommon for brown belts who thought they “knew” all of their kata to discover much to their dismay, that first blocking and second blocking kata have for some unexplainable reason now blended together in both their body and their mind, making even the thought of completing either kata an impossible challenge.

All of this of course is not unusual, since any significant time away in a relaxing setting has a tendency to diminish both our mental memory, as well as our body memory. Fortunately for most students there is a cure for this softened mental and physical state, and the remedy is very simple. It is getting back to into the dojo and getting back to the basics as soon as possible. Hours of hard work, countless repetitions, a large dose of self-determination, and a strong desire to “make up for lost time” are the only means by which a student will recover their position within the dojo society.

To do an less means risking the prospect of being passed in rank by those students who remained and trained.

There is an old saying, “time and tide wait for no man”.

The point being that some things wait for no one, under any circumstances.

If I was to look for a similar analogy in terms of Jujitsu I would suggest, “that a missed class can never be made up”.

My point being that in your life you have a finite number of days, and you can never make up for lost time, or a class missed, both are gone from your life forever. Oh sure, you can go to class on Friday to make up for the one you missed on Wednesday, but no matter how you justify it in truth the classes you miss, for whatever reason, can never be made up for.

So by all means listen to the song that Summer sings in the hope of luring you to play at other past times, and take a break if you feel the need. But, always be prepared to come back to the dojo a few paces behind those students who remained and who continued to polish the dojo floor with their feet and their sweat while you went in search of “some time off”.

On your return to the dojo turning up the heat once again is entirely up to you.

Remember

In order to start where you left off,

you must first get back to where you use to be

 

Fluidity in Training :           fluidity

The scientific fighting system of JuJitsu utilizes natural physiological function as its basis. Through integrating scientific principles of physics and geometry with natural body mechanics, JuJitsu becomes a fluid science based in practical application.

Our techniques aren’t trained the same ways as traditional martial arts. There are no individual moves and counters. We don’t imitate animal movements or break boards. We also don’t place too much emphasis on form training. Although we do incorporate drills in our training, these drills must flow from one to the next in no set pattern. Drills that have no fluidity become rigid, repetitious patterns that lack the flexibility to deal with an ever-changing combat situation.

Relying too much on form training or repetitious dead drills is like trying to follow a script through life. Things just don’t go the way you’d like them to go. There’s no time in a violent encounter to think about what to do next or what’s next. You must train yourself to instinctively react.

Effective combat techniques must be spontaneous and instinctive and must be trained to become a reflex. They aren’t choreographed like a dance or an aerobics exercise. Fluidity in training means you train with “aliveness”. Technique is nothing without fluidity. There are no dead techniques that can’t adapt to sudden changes. Drills must seamlessly flow from one to the next.

The end result is learning how to combine our own natural reflexes with martial arts techniques. When you do this you develop your own “style” and aren’t bound by any particular technique. Instead, you learn to use these techniques in the right context as they’re meant to be used.

 

Street Fighting, Sports and Self Defence explained :street

What’s the difference between street fighting, combat sports and self-defense? Aren’t they all pretty much the same?

Most people confuse these terms all too often. Please read through this short article in order to understand the difference.

Combat Sport
A combat sport or a sports fight is a competition between two fight contestants. The fighters agree to a certain set of rules which ensure relative safety. Determining the winner of the match depends on these specific rules. For instance, in many combat sports a contestant wins by scoring more points than the opponent or by disabling their opponent.

Street Fighting
Street fighting is hand-to-hand fighting in a public place, between two people or even groups of people. A street fight has no rules. No techniques are off limits. Street fights may very well involve weapons or multiple opponents. The venue is usually a public place and the fight often results in a serious injury or even death. A street fight is consensual between both parties. Therefore it is an ego-based match. A typical situation might involve two men arguing in a bar, then one suggests stepping outside in order to fight. Therefore, it is often possible to avoid a street fight altogether by backing off.

Self-Defense
In self-defense, there is no agreed upon contest or rule set. The person defending themself has no ego involved. They are defending themselves against an immediate threat of violence. Their goal is escaping the situation and assuring their own safety. They’ll use force if necessary. Their success depends on a large number of parameters, related to the severity of the threat on their mental and physical preparedness.

So these are the differences between sports, street fighting and self-defense. Knowing the difference is key to understanding the implications of your training methods.

 

You have Taught me enough: know it all

I know it all.

It so happened that on a warm Spring day, the Lord of the castle received a message stating that a very important visitor would be arriving in three days time.

Knowing how important this visit could be to the future of his family, and anxious to make a very good impression on his guest, the Lord asked his eldest son, who considered himself to be a master of calligraphy, to make a special scroll to commemorate this very important occasion.

The scroll was to be a translation of his guests name, which meant “to live one thousand years”.

The Lord of the castle knew that while his son was enjoyed calligraphy, he also knew that his son’s education was greatly lacking in many other ways. So it was that he decided to send the most learned teacher in his kingdom to assist his son, and to make sure that the translation was flawless.

That afternoon the teacher sat down beside the young man and taking up a fine brush he dipped it in the wet ink, and then he drew a single vertical line on a clean white piece of paper, “this is the number one”, the teacher said. Dipping the brush once again in the ink he then drew another identical line beside the first, “this is the number two”, the teacher said. Dipping the brush in the ink for a third time he drew another identical line beside the first two, “this is the number three”, the teacher said. “I understand completely, you have taught me enough, leave me now”, said the impatient young man.

Ignoring the teachers plea that the lesson was not yet finished, the young man quickly ushered him out of the room, and then locked the door behind him. For several days the door remained locked, and there was no sign of the young man. On the appointed day the Lord of the castle knocked loudly on his son’s door, “our guest will be here within the hour” he shouted, when will you be finished the scroll? “You have given me an impossible task, I need more time” shouted his son. Unable to control his anxiety the Lord forced open the door. There before him sat his son, the floor of his room covered in paper.

“I have been writing for two days and two nights” he cried, “and I am only up to the number 793” he exclaimed. “I need more time, and more paper, why does our guest have to have such an unbelievably long name”!!? Had the impatient young man not been so sure of himself, and had he waited but a few minutes more, the teacher would have taught him that the number 1000 in the guests language, was written using only four stokes of the brush.

 

Walking Zen:        walking zen

Putting down your burdens.

A long ago time ago in the hills of Quong Zu province, there once lived a revered old monk who was a master of Zen Buddhism.

One day he decided that he would make a pilgrimage to a neighbouring monastery, and not wishing to make the journey alone, he decided to take along one of his young disciples.

They started their journey early the next morning and in the true spirit of Zen each walked along engrossed in his own thoughts, and so they journeyed for many hours without speaking. By mid-day they had come to a small stream and it was here that they noticed a young girl dressed in fine silk, obviously contemplating how best to cross the stream without getting her precious clothes wet.

Immediately the old monk walked over to the young girl and in one smooth motion, he picked her up in his arms and walked out into the stream, then after carrying her safely to the other side, he gently put her down and walked on without having said a single word.

His disciple having watched this whole incident was in a state of complete shock, for he knew it was strictly forbidden for a monk to come into physical contact with another person. Quickly, he too crossed the stream, and then ran to catch up with his master, and together they once again walked on in silence. Finally at sunset they made camp and settled down for the night.

The next morning after prayers and meditation the old monk and his disciple once again continued their journey, once again in silence.After many miles, and no longer able to contain his curiosity, the disciple called to his master and said, “Master may I ask you a question” ? “Of course you may” his master replied, “knowledge comes to those who seek it”. Respectfully his disciple said, “yesterday I saw you break one of our most sacred vows when you picked up that young girl and carried her across the stream, how could you do such a thing” ? His master replied, “That is true, and you are right it is something I should not have done, but you are as guilty as I am” . “How so” asked his disciple, “for it was you who carried her across the stream not I” ? “I know” replied his master, “but at least on the other side I put her down”. “You, however, are obviously still carrying her”.your journey through life will be much easier without it.

 

The gates of paradise:   Nobushige

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin, and asked: “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”

“Who are you?” inquired Hakuin. “I am a samurai,” the warrior replied.

“You, a soldier!” exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.” Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued: “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”

As Nobushige drew his sword Hakuin remarked: “Here open the gates of hell!” At these words the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

“Here open the gates of paradise,” said Hakuin.

 

The present moment:present

A Japanese warrior was captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and executed. Then the words of his Zen master came to him,
“Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only reality is now.”
Heeding these words, the warrior became peaceful and fell asleep.

 

Transient: inn
A famous spiritual teacher came to the front door of the King’s palace. None of the guards tried to stop him as he entered and made his way to where the King himself was sitting on his throne.
“What do you want?” asked the King, immediately recognizing the visitor.
“I would like a place to sleep in this inn,” replied the teacher.
“But this is not an inn,” said the King, “It is my palace.”
“May I ask who owned this palace before you?”
“My father. He is dead.”
“And who owned it before him?”
“My grandfather. He too is dead.”
“And this place where people live for a short time and then move on – did I hear you say that it is NOT an inn?”

 

Looking Good :monk
A Zen abbot went dressed in rags to the door of a rich man and was turned away with an empty bowl. So he returned in his formal robe of office and was invited in and served a sumptuous meal.
Removing his robe and folding it, he placed it on front of the feast and departed with the words, “This meal is not for me; it is for the robe.”

 

The Great Crossing :baggage
The Buddha said: “A man beginning a long journey sees ahead a vast body of water. There is neither boat nor bridge. To escape the dangers of his present location, he constructs a raft of grass and branches. When he reaches the other side he realizes how useful the raft was and wonders if he should hoist it on his back and carry it with him forever. Now if he did this, would he be wise? Or, having crossed to safety, should he place the raft in a high dry location for someone else to use? This is the way I have taught the dharma, the doctrine – for crossing, not for keeping. Cast aside evey proper state of mind, oh monks – much less wrong ones – and remember well to leave the raft behind!”

Vast emptiness :vast

The emperor, who was a devout Buddhist, invited a great Zen master to the Palace in order to ask him questions about Buddhism.
“What is the highest truth of the holy Buddhist doctrine?” the emperor inquired.
“Vast emptiness… and not a trace of holiness,” the master replied.
“If there is no holiness,” the emperor said, “then who or what are you?”
“I do not know,” the master replied.

 

The Thief and the Zen master:   thief


One evening, Zen master Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras when a thief entered his house with a sharp sword, demanding “money or life”. Without any fear, Shichiri said, “Don’t disturb me! Help yourself with the money, it’s in that drawer”. And he resumed his recitation.
The thief was startled by this unexpected reaction, but he proceeded with his business anyway. While he was helping himself with the money, the master stopped and called, “Don’t take all of it. Leave some for me to pay my taxes tomorrow”. The thief left some money behind and prepared to leave. Just before he left, the master suddenly shouted at him, “You took my money and you didn’t even thank me?! That’s not polite!”. This time, the thief was really shocked at such fearlessness. He thanked the master and ran away. The thief later told his friends that he had never been so frightened in his life.
A few days later, the thief was caught and confessed, among many others, his thieft at Shichiri’s house. When the master was called as a witness, he said, “No, this man did not steal anything from me. I gave him the money. He even thanked me for it.”
The thief was so touched that he decided to repent. Upon his release from prison, he became a disciple of the master and many years later, he attained Enlightenment.

 

ACHIEVING BLACK BELT:black_belt-400x242
remember your very first Jujitsu class?

I do

Do you remember that feeling of putting your white belt on for the first time?

For most people, recalling the first time they stepped into the dojo undoubtedly evokes mixed feelings: Nostalgia. Fascination. Curiosity. Sometimes a bit fear.

I mean, Jujitsu isn’t just “any” activity, is it?

It’s actually pretty weird when you think about it from a beginner’s point of view: Funny-looking techniques. Japanese words. Strange rituals. Unfashionable clothes. And to top it off, there’s often a dude in front who everyone bows to and calls “sense-eye”.

Pretty unlike any other physical activity you could have chosen, right?

(And that’s exactly why you chose it.)

Yet, here you are, years later.

Still training.
Still pushing.
Still getting bruises
Still learning.
Still getting the occasional ego check.
(And perhaps even teching others.)
Many people would consider this a miracle of sorts.

And indeed, the fact that you even started training Jujitsu is pretty awesome, considering all the other things you could have taken up.

(Like chess boxing.)

But… when you think about it, it’s actually far from a miracle that you’re still training Jujitsu. In fact, if you ask me, it’s probably only 1 percent miracle.

The rest?

99 percent evil conspiracy – from your sensei.

You see, there’s a whole bunch of stuff your sensei NEVER told you about Jujitsu. And rightfully so. Because, if you were told these things when you started out, you would probably have slammed the dojo door shut and sprinted the heck away from that god-forgotten place faster than a speeding bullet.

You know it.

And if you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, you’re living in denial.

You just haven’t admitted it to yourself yet.

So without further ado, allow me to present one Thing Your Sensei NEVER Told You About Jujitsu (Luckily).

Listen up:

#1: “You Will Probably Not Get to Black Belt”

Sounds harsh?

Sure.

Is it true?

Damn right.

But no matter how crushing it might sound, the statistical, mathematical, scientific, logical, proven, reality is that most people who join a Jujitsu dojo will never get to the legendary black belt.

Is it possible to get a black belt?

Of course.

But probable?

Hell no.

Thousands of new students pass through dojo doors around the world every minute. How many of those even get to the second belt? How many get to the third belt? Fourth? Fifth? Sixth?

Black?!

Do the math.

(Answer: “Not many.”)

It’s just simple statistics. Nobody is trying to discourage you or anything. It’s not a plot. Nobody is out to get you. But let’s keep it real here: Just like most businesses fail within two years of starting, most Jujitsu students don’t get to black belt. They just don’t have that time, dedication, willingness or spark.

It’s not that it’s “impossible”.

It’s just pretty improbable.

And thankfully, your Sensei was sensible enough to never tell you this.

 

Martial Arts Philosophy:    med

Lessons from the Dojang*

The Philosophy Behind the Martial Arts

* One of the most priceless gifts of martial arts practice is to get to know yourself internally and externally.
* Our main goal is to use the body to reach and learn to master the mind. Once you have mastered your mind you will have no desire to ever fight.
* “The years teach us much the days never knew” Ralph Waldo Emerson
* In real martial arts, even when faced with the situation, you can stay calm and centered and make the best choices in that moment.
* Martial arts training helps us learn to deal with adversity. That is what sets it apart from doing things like yoga.
* Through the practice we become aware of what we think and why. What shapes our values and beliefs, then we can step back and look at it with more of a pure mind.
* Consistent effort over time is needed to achieve greatness in anything.

About the Practice

* After class, visualize what was done – mentally perform the physical movements. This will help you to remember and also help you develop your ability to visualize.
* If you use your body to learn movement, particularly complex movement, your mind will develop. If you use only the mind, the body does not develop. That is why we call martial arts bodymind training.
* Practice makes habit. How you practice will become habit. Practice sloppy – that becomes a body habit. Practice with focus and precision – then that becomes your habit.
* Strength is a skill – both physical strength and mental strength. It takes practice.
* How do you absorb learning a lot of new things in class? Always fully engage your mind and body. Meditation will help you learn focus. Repetition will help body memory. Knowing the purpose or intent of the movement improves your ability to focus, understand, and remember. Be willing to repeat beyond boredom.
* Learn to control your internal environment, not by holding it in and creating tension, but by learning to control and slow the breath for example and see what that does for you. Can you bring yourself down from a feeling of high alert or tension? Recognize your thoughts.
* The point of the practice is the practice. The rest will take care of itself. Just practice!

Frustration & Low Points

* You will get out of the practice what you put into it. If you are not satisfied with your progress, look inward first. What is missing? What are you not doing enough of?
* Repetition is the mother of skill. Again, be willing to repeat beyond boredom.
* When you are able to see and identify a weakness in your practice, consider that a gift.
* We practice for the sake of practice – not for trophies or tournaments. You will automatically develop if you practice mindfully.
* Want to improve your practice? Practice what gives you the most trouble.
* Can you learn to practice without judging yourself?
* What is your biggest reason for practicing? We must know the reason, and keep it in mind, especially during those times when you want to give up.
* Be unconcerned with results, sashes and belts. Just practice.

Dealing with Challenge

* “Good timber does not grow with ease. The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”  Douglas Malloch
* Practice the things you struggle with the most.
* Your body will meet the demands (or lack of) that you put on it.
* “The easy way is the hard way; the hard way is the easy way.”  The Dalai Lama

Inspiration in the Martial Arts

* Can you practice to the point where you become a flicker of light for someone else?
* If you get lost and quit practicing, you will never know what you missed experiencing. Nothing worth having is easy.
* Those who come to class consistently, even when there are so many other demands on their time or when they just don’t feel like it, those are the people on the path to self discipline and mastery. Those are the people who will really get to reap the benefits from their practice.
* Martial Arts is about developing the will. If you can develop your will you can do just about anything.
* We help shape the world of those around us.

On Confidence

* If you think you can, you are right; if you think you can’t you are also right.
* Martial Arts teaches us to challenge our previously held beliefs about ourselves and our world.
* Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t worry about who is better than you or who you think you are better than. Just work on yourself – that is what the practice is for.
* Let the practice be a way for you to break through your limitations and your comfort zone. You create the opportunity to try new things.

On Martial Arts Etiquette

* Bow with gratitude and sincerity.
* Bowing to others is not about a sign of submission but about recognizing “the spark” in another fellow human being.
* Practicing etiquette teaches us to be mindful – from making sure we are lining up straight to bowing correctly and at the appropriate times (even when tired). It is all designed to teach us to pay attention – to keep that “bright mind”.
* Once ritual becomes habit it is useless. The point is to practice it mindfully.
* Seniors set the example for juniors. Juniors will watch what seniors do and follow suit. The senior student has a responsibility to set a good example.

On Meditation

* “Meditation is the foundation of all true martial arts.” Shifu Robert Brown
* When you can still the mind, you can control the mind.
* When you see the world differently, you experience it differently – same world, different mind looking at it.
* At the highest level the martial artist’s mind must be quiet.
* Make an appointment with yourself everyday. Then just do it.
* Too much meditation without physical practice is not good for you; it can leave you unbalanced and spacey.
* Meditation is the hardest thing that we do.
* “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Blaise Pascal

*Same as the Japanese “Dojo”, written properly as “Dao Chang” in Chinese Pinyin, and meaning “Place of Enlightenment (Self Realization, Self Awareness, etc.)”

 

The Four Flies:   fly-chopsticks_large

A Samurai was calmly eating his supper in a small inn, ignoring four flies, which kept buzzing round him. Three Ronin (masterless samurai) came in: they looked enviously at the two magnificent swords which the man had fixed in his belt, for these weapons represented a small fortune, A look of intense satisfaction came over their faces: the man seemed to be defenseless and alone against three.

Sitting at a nearby table, they began to make to make fun of him in raised voices in the hope that he would be provoked into a duel, As the man remained completely indifferent to them, they got more and more acid.

Slowly raising the chopsticks with which he had just eaten his rice, the samurai effortlessly struck each of the four flies in four quick, precise actions, after which he delicately put down the tools, and all without so much as glancing at the three boors.

A heavy silence followed. The three Ronin looking at each other realized that before them was a man of formidable mastery. Frightened, they fled.

Much later, they learnt that this man who had so shrewdly spared them was called Miyamoto Musashi.


The Moral of the Story

Sometimes a confrontation can be avoided without resorting to violence. With practice, one can develop the calmness of mind required to catch flies with chopsticks. With that degree of focus, can you imagine the skill in Martial Arts?

– Study this