Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why is a mouse when it spins?

Why is a mouse when it spins is one of my favorite Zen koans. Koans are those illogical riddles that send your intellect into a tizzy...or in martial art terms Kuzushi. We use Kuzushi in Zen Goshindo Karate alot.

Kuzushi is the art of unbalancing your opponent to take the advantage during conflict. Kuzushi can be a push, a pull, a combination of a push/pull or pull/push, a flick of the fingers to the eyes, a trip or even just screaming at the top of your lungs. Anything to make your attacker go 'oops.'

When you can get your attacker to go 'oops' in his mind you then have taken his focus and 'root'. He is more easily thrown, hit, kicked, or run from. We practice these things as they give us the advantage in a street situation, especially when you are the smaller person.

But what about when you get 'oopsed?' How do you recover? What does your mind do? Do you panic? What happened to your mind when you read the title of this post...Why is a mouse when it spins?

It is important to practice not only 'oopsing' your opponentt, but you yourself getting 'oopsed.' Why? Well, to state the it is not foreign territory when it happens to you. You want to have fast recovery time from losing your balance, especially your state of mind. Your state of body can still be off-balance, but your mind can stay on-balance...but just like any good martial technique, practice is essential.

A good training tip is to simply practice mindfulness throughout the day and be aware when your mind wanders away from what you are doing. When you are aware it has wandered, gently bring it back to what you are doing. Even before this, establish a daily meditation practice to discover and establish a good 'center of stability' so you can be more sensitive to your mind wandering away. This is what Zen practice can do for you as a martial artist. Zen practice can be about responding to why mice spin without engaging the intellect, which we all know, can get us screwed in a self-defense situation.

Even in the midst of the chaos of getting 'oopsed' you can pull your mind back faster and establish your center in a fashion fit for survival in an attack. Think of the times you have to deal with a disgruntled customer or an pain-in-the butt co-worker. This is a good time to maintain your calm and be aware how easy it is for these types of people to 'oops' you. As you practice in your daily life, if you ever have to stay focused in a self-defense situation, your chances of staying balanced or recovery from imbalance is increased.

Just some random thoughts from my corner of a cold and rainy day in Wisconsin.


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