Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do Dis

Last evening I was teaching a class on Self-Hypnosis for our Community Education Services and afterwards one of the ladies came up to me to discuss simplicity and meditation. She is a Quaker and has similar practices of quietude as Zen. We were discussing how too many words get in the way of real learning as it creates too much chatter for the mind to really experience reality directly.

This reminded me of how Shihan Dean used to teach us. He rarely would tell us what the name of the technique was, let alone tell us the Japanese translation. Rather than tell us we are going to practice defense against a rear bear hug or use a pre-emptive strike he would simply say, "Do Dis." And then we do, "Do Dis" for most of the training time.

Now, those of you who do not know Shihan Dean, he is originally from Chicago and has served the Rhinelander, Wisconsin community for almost 50 years as a police officer and now County Board member. So, his speech patterns were a combination of Chicago dialect and Fargo accent.

Well, to get back to the focus of this post. He rarely gave indepth explanations of what or why we were doing this. Mostly we got , "Do Dis" and then when were done with that, we had another 'Do Dis' to do, but only after he was convinced we had the first 'Do Dis' done.

As a beginning teacher I found myself talking way too much...and totally confusing the students...or you get the student who understands the explanation and think they now 'know' the technique...and then want a new one to do. I discovered 'Do Dis' works very well and allows the student to find there way through the technique....telling them they will only 'know' the techique until after 5000 repetitions.

While attending Sesshin at the Nebraska Zen Center, Nonin Roshi, would also be very non-descriptive or explanatory in what we were to do. During Samu, or work period, he would hand you a broom and say, 'Basement'...or a rag and bucket and say, 'Bathroom'. Then you just went and did what you thought you had to do. Often times, he would join you with his own broom or bucket and work beside you. No talking, just action.

Shihan Dean's 'Do Dis' is a very Zen-like way of teaching, pointing directly to the reality of what you are doing, without excessive chatter. You will find many of the older teachers teach this way. Any of you who have had the opportunity to work with Aikido Master Ken Purdy will see the same thing. He starts you off on a technique and that's what you do for an hour. He will correct you...but with little explanation of what or why. You must get the feel of the action...not the chatter.

So, that's all for now.

Be Well,


A side note...I might be a bit inactive blogging for awhile as I am making final revisions for my book...coming to you from Tuttle Publishing. My deadline is April. I will keep you posted on this as well.


  1. A book with blank pages is worth a billion words. ;)

  2. Yes...Thank You...oops, I said too much!