A Few Notes on Training and Learning, Part II
As we strive to raise our level of training – a good story can often aid use in seeing our challenges in a new way and thus help us over come them. They can assist us on making positive change in our lives and in lives of those around us. I hope that the following may be of assistance in your journey.
The attack comes – you lock into stance – block and punch – not bad. The energy level goes and the number of uke attacking you does the same. At some point, like the willow tree you find you must bend or break – you access your taiatari skills and guide one uke by and into another then block and punch the third. “Wow, that was easy” and you didn’t just blend or just meet force head one. When it was time to use uke’s energy you did, and when it was time to move thu uke you did that as well – attached to neither but aware of both. You smile and there is joy in your heart. Yes you are learning.
There is hard in soft and softness in the hard.
You don’t need to act on your emotions
The attacks come – faster, stronger. You get tired and one lower ranking practitioner’s punch gets thru and you feel the anger rise, your body stiffens, your mind stiffness and you get hit again by someone you didn’t see. Sensei calls a stop and asks if you are alright – you are. He says “You stiffened and seem to get angry when you got hit.”
“I know I shouldn’t get angry but I can’t help it” you say.
Sensei says “It is ok to get angry, but not to have to act on it. You are giving up control of yourself. Also when you unleash your anger, it inspires anger in others resulting in conflict. So start with not denying there is anger only don’t allow it to dictate your action. You might say ‘Yes I am angry’ and move on. Great martial artists understand that if we cannot control ourselves, how can we expect to control others?”
Clarity of Vision
There was a fairly good marital artist who stared the arts in his early 40’s. After 15 years of training he said that before he did martial arts he was easily intimated by false images of strength. Aggressive tones, uncompromising people, well muscled athletes, haughty waiters, arrogant intellectuals, etc. His responses was exaggerated, either too meek or too angry. Inappropriate responses and ones that didn’t make him ever feel good about himself.
It took a while for the self defense and kata to bring a sense of inner peace. One piece that he said helped was that Sensei drew a circle around him – the radius was the length of his leg. Sensei, well outside the circle started doing punches and kicks toward him – he got tense. Sensei asked him – can I hit you? Am I a threat to you? No, sensei was outside the circle and couldn’t reach him! It was like a spark went off inside his head – he got it! Then sensei moved into the circle – he back off. Sensei praised him – I moved into your circle and was a threat – you retreated and make me no a threat, very good! This is the beginnings of seeing just what is! If I throw a punch that is too wide do you need to go over and block it? Understand what is really a threat and what is not. This is the beginning of Clarity of Vision.
The Essense of Martial Arts
Ginchin Funakoshi said, “You can train for a long time but if you merely move your hands and feet like puppets – you are no better than dancing. You are not reaching the heart of matter. You goal is to find the essence of the martial arts in what you do.”
Let Your Mind Go
Bruce Lee once said if attacked and he hurt the person and was brought into the courtroom that he would respond “I didn’t do it, IT did.” His unconscious did what was need to do. For us this is true, but the IT is controlled by how we train. Train with anger and revenge then the response in your heart will come out full of anger and revenge. If you train with self defense and yet compassion then your response will be appropriate.
This raises the question about mushin = non-abiding mind. Takuan, the Zen Priest who was said to have taught Musashi and Yagyu Mineyoshi & Minenori, put it this idea forth…
“The mind must be a state of flowing for when it stops at any one place it leaves the others places vulnerable. In the case of the bugeisha, this means death. Thus the swordsman, when he stands against his opponent, things not of himself, nor his sword, nor his opponent. His mind is not in his hara, nor in his hands, nor in the sword tip. His mind is everywhere and nowhere. The swordsman stand just is, forgetful of all technique – and in this way allows all the training to be accessed and flow forth. When he strikes it is the non-abiding mind that does the cut.”
When you seek it, you cannot find it.
Next Technique Please
There is a sense of ‘more is better’ in the US. This shows itself in our desire to know more kata rather than do the kata we know better. We continue to want new techniques to comfort us instead of learning to take our techniques to a higher level.
In the Kurosawa movie The Seven Samurai there is part where they are looking for skilled samurai to accompany them to the village that needs to be saved from the bandits. The samurai are tested by having a young samurai stand out of sight next to the door and attempt to hit the samurai as he enters. The first samurai gets hit on the head (he is drunk and no samurai is every truly drunk). The second blocks the strike and in anger hits the young samurai (anger is not a good response). The last samurai notice the trick and refuses to enter, laughing at the trick (he joins the group).
In Shoshin Ryu we too need to take this story to heart. There is more to martial arts than just technique. We need to train more to access these other parts of martial training and growth. Train, read/ study and train some more. We need to have the tools to work with then take them higher level. We need to stop being simple technicians and become martial artists.
If you don’t understand yourself, you will lose 100% of the time.
If you understand yourself you will win 50% of the time.
If you understand yourself and your opponent then you will win 100% of the time.
Think on these things and make them part of your training!