Jiyu Kumite, for my non-martial art readers, is free sparring. No prearranged techniques like kata or one or two step Kumite. It is mostly for us an exercise in adapting our 'eye' and mind to fight speed. Fists and feet come at you very fast and you have to act upon the action swiftly or get a good thumping. There are rules we use for safety purposes, but you will walk away with bumps, bruises, scrapes and tears.
Jiyu Kumite also has much to teach us, not only in the martial arts, but outside it as well...mostly in the realm of present moment awareness and dealing with life's difficulties. For instance, when you get your ribs bruised by a side kick it is not a pleasant experience. Even when kicked hard and out of breath, Shihan Dean would yell at us to keep moving...don't stop....even in the midst of pain...be here! Stay in the moment of engagement...you ain't dead yet.
Life will always throw unpleasant experiences at us that we don't like. Life is beyond our likes and dislikes. It is indifferent...just like a side kick. When you get hurt, either physically or emotionally, stay here and now and keep moving. Stay in the game, stay in the Now of what is going on cause, just like your opponent in Kumite, Life is gonna keep on coming. After it kicks you, it could be following up with a flurry of strikes...or running away. You don't know. You have to stay alert even though you hurt.
The hurt will go away. Kumite gets us in touch with Transiency of phenomena. Every thing changes. This too shall pass. Staying in the game, eyes open, alert and mindful, your pain diminishes and you realize you are okay and can keep moving. You begin to feel empowered and soon realize that the hurt and pain is a wonderful teacher...if you let it be.
Kumite also teaches us how to keep the mind calm in the midst of all this turmoil but always having to stay now. When your thoughts race into the future with fear or past with regret you have to bring it back to the action...or once again pain will wake you up to now, whether you want it or not.
As you go about your daily life, maintain this Kumite mind of being in the game, in the now. Know your intentions, but stay focused with what is at hand, neither projecting too far into the future or visiting the past. These are just ghosts in your mind.
Kumite teaches us how life can come at us fast and furious. But, if we maintain our calm mind, our now mind and trust our training, it becomes a fun event. Most students love to Kumite. It becomes a joyful experience despite the discomfort. And so is life. As you stay connected to now of now...the flux and flow of life as it arrives, your life becomes more joyful, more fun and inspirational....even when it side kicks your ribs.
Thanks for visiting. My Dharma name is Shinzen. I began studying Goshindo Karate under the watchful eye of Shihan Paul Dean in 1969. Yes, I now have gray hair. I am also Lay-ordained in Soto Zen under the tutelage of Rev. Nonin Chowaney of the Nebraska Zen Center.