Friday, June 25, 2010

Sacred Swords of Zen Goshin-do Karate

Zen Goshin-do is the style of Karate that we practice at the Broken Bokken Dojo. We love all things Samurai and in Zen Goshin-do there are three swords that represent our soul and practice of the Way.  These three swords are Zazen, Kata and Kumite.

Now, many styles practice these three, however, as usual we take a view that might or might not be classical or traditional. It is just how these three swords have 'spoken' to me over the years. Swords are the soul of the Samurai...and these three swords are our Sacred Swords.

Zazen is the sword that teaches us how to be here and now. It is the practice of seeing directly into our true nature without words and a bunch of b.s. We practice Zazen to practice Zazen...and allow the benefits of calmness, centeredness, self-knowledge and healing to flow.

Kata is the sword that puts zen into motion and teaches us how to be here and now while in the midst of the principles of Karate. In terms of life, it shows us how everyday activity, like brushing teeth, driving to work, making love...are we behave. Parts of Karate...and everyday life...have certain ritualistic features that we can pay attention to and reveals our true nature, when we pay attention to what is going on. It helps us develop the skills we need in Karate and to support our life.

Kumite, or Jiyu Kumite, is Free Sparring. It is the sword of action and flow. No pre-arranged structure. Here you must be in the flow of activity with discursive thought in the background. Being here and now is paramount or you get a fist or foot in the face or a bokken across the knucles....heck, even being here and now these things can happen, but at least you are dealing with it directly and not with a bunch of bruha. You keep moving despite comfort or discomfort. It is the flow of life, unstructured, unscripted and at times extremely chaotic...yet you remain unmoved and centered like the bodhisattva, Fudo.

All three swords are intertwined and give us the skills to master the art of karate...and of living. To be an artist of life direct knowledge of yourself is important. Paying attention to our routines, rituals and practices of everyday living allows us to enter into a place of deep mindfulness. This serves us well when we need to flow with life when it is unscripted.

Let's say you have a job interview. Prior to it you have to prepare a resume and cover letter describing who you are and your skills...sort of some self knowledge and introspection needed...prior to meeting a prospective boss you have practiced in your mind questions she might ask...and how you would answer...then there are the unscripted questions you need to be able to respond with fluidity...and the answers come easily because you have prepared yourself and practice in the basics.

I will let you sort out the elements of zazen, kata and kumite in this job interview...mostly cause I gotta get to work.

Hands palm to palm,

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