Thursday, December 30, 2010

Congrats to Verna & Rick

Verna throwing Rick
 Congratulations to Verna Micik and Rick Micik for earning their Intructor Certificates in Zen Goshindo Karate! Rick has been a Budoka for 12 years and Verna 10. They are a mother/son team that bring great energy to the Broken Bokken.

In fact, Verna named the dojo after she broke my bokken during practice one day. The name stuck!

She will be taking over as head instructor of the Broken Bokken after I move to Madison in the spring of 2011.  Rick is off to culinary school...he likes sharp knives.
Rick performing Sanchin

Again, congrats! I am blessed to have two wonderful Yudansha!

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Warrior Sage is...

A Warrior Sage is....(please fill in the blank)

What are the qualities of a Warrior Sage?

Who do you consider to be a Warrior Sage?

I am curious to find out people's impressions.

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, December 27, 2010

My New Year's Resolution: Slurping Gruel

Yun-men, a noted Chinese Zen Master, from the Tang Era (late 800's) was approached by one of his students.

The student asked, "Please, Master, show me a way in!"

Yun-men said, "Slurping gruel, eating rice."

I have decided to make this my New Year's Resolution. Slurp gruel and eat rice.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Eating Tips!


1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare... You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Have a Happy Holiday Season!

Hands palm to palm,

(thanks to my office manager for sending this to me...thanks Rose)

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Zen Priest's Ass

THE ZEN PRIEST’S ASS     (rated pg-13)

The local zen priest entered his donkey in a race and it won. The priest was so

pleased with the donkey that he entered it in the race again, and it won again.

The local paper read:


The Zen Temple’s Head Monk was so upset with this kind of

publicity that he ordered the local priest not to enter the donkey in another race.

The next day, the local paper headline Read:


This was too much for the Head Monk, so he ordered

the priest to get rid of the donkey. The priest decided to give it to a Zen nun in a

nearby temple also overseen by the Head Monk.

The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the

following headline the next day:


The head monk fainted.

He informed the nun that she would have to get

rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10.

The next day the paper read:


This was too much for the head monk, so he ordered

the nun to buy back the Donkey and lead it to the

open country where it could run wild.

The next day the headlines read:


The head monk, totally losing equanimity, was hospitalized the next day.

The moral of the story is……. Being concerned about public opinion can

bring you much grief and misery & even shorten your life.

So be yourself and let your ass run free!

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Got Sole?

Getting down to basics today...Your Footwork. In Karate we have many stances to learn: Sanchin Dachi, Kiba Dachi, Zenkutsu Dachi, Kokutsu Dachi and so on. Some look funny, some feel funny and some just plain hurt when you stand in them for a long time...spend some time in a low Kiba...ouch! But I digress.

Why so many stances and why the importance placed on proper foot positioning, etc?

Your ability to stand properly and use your footwork to drive power is why. All of your hand techniques derive their power from your feet. If your feet or stance work are not proper you will not have power in your hands. Pure and simple.

All power to deliver a punch, a block a throw are born in the soles of your feet. Think of your soles as your soul of power. Without a soul of power your techniques have no umpha! chi!  It comes up from the sole/soul.

Get in touch with your soles. Practice kamae...stance standing and feel the energy of connecting to the ground or floor. Move your feet across the floor and feeeeel them. Get in touch with them. Be soulful! :)

Come to think of it...maybe this is another way of connecting with your spiritual soul as well. See the connections of sole power and soul power. Something to ponder.

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ryokan and Winter

Thanks everyone who gave me feedback on a title for my next book proposal.

It's been snowing a lot the last few days with 4-5 foot drifts around my house...and in my driveway. Funny how it works that my neighbor one door down has almost zero snow in their driveway and mine looks like I could go downhill skiing.

But, I won't complain. Back in the late 1700's Zen recluse, Ryokan wrote some poetry about his winter experiences. I will share.

"No begging in town today.
The snow falls and falls.

I lie down near the hearth
and stretch out my feet to the fire,
But still the cold pierces my belly."

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Need help with title of next book.

I am in the process of putting together a proposal for my next book.  I have some working titles I want to post here...and get some feedback from readers. Even if you aren't a martial artist, let me know which title grabs your attention or piques your interest. If you want you can rank them. Give me the top three.

The book is going to be on how I see Sanchin Kata and how it has spoken to me over the last four decades. It will have some philosophy and applied self-defense situations based on my insights. It is sort of a new twist on an old kata...but maintaining the historical integrity of the form. I 'see' things in Sanchin I have not seen in other books. So here are some working titles with subtitles following the colon (feel free to mix and match if you want) Again, just go with your first impression:

1.The Sanchin Code: Ancient Secrets of Self-defense

2.Contemporay Applied Sanchin: Breathing Life Into an Ancient Kata

3.Sanchin Speaks: Life Lessons from Karate's Most Venerated Kata

4.Wake up to Sanchin: Re-Discover Karate's Ultimate Combat Kata

5.Emptiness Becomes Form: Zen & the Art of Sanchin

6.Zen & the Art of Sanchin: Emptiness becomes Form

7.Cracking the Sanchin Code: Breathing Life into Karate's most venerated Kata.

8.Cracking the Sanchin Code: Unlocking ancient secrets of creative combat

9.Neo-classical Sanchin: A new twist on an old form

10. I am a Sanchin Slut: (no subtitle...this just popped into my head...must be the cold medicine)

So...rank order your top 3 or suggest something...or rearrange...just wanting some feedback...if you have questions, put them in the comments...

Hands palm to palm,

Friday, December 10, 2010

What is your Original Nature?

Received a couple inches of snow last evening and so was shoveling a bit this morning. Got to work and my Zen Calendar has this little saying by Natsume Soseki:

"What is your Original Nature, Snowman?"

And now Calvin & Hobbes:

Click on the comics to enlarge,
Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scabs are Good!

One thing I have learned over the years in working with emotions, not only others, but my own specifically (I suffered panic attacks as a teen), is that there is nothing wrong with having anxiety, panic, depression, sadness, loneliness, even anger...

Emotions, when viewed as the healing scab, give them a new flavor and become less of a problem. Look at this way. So many people pay large sums of money using pharmaceutical and street drugs to drown out their emotions. This is like picking a scab. It only makes the matter worse.

When you get a physical cut, perhaps a deep gash in the arm, a scab forms over the wound. The scab is itchy, ugly, irritable and you want to pick it off. But, you know to pick the scab before the wound heals is to make the healing take longer and you run the risk of infecting the original wound and making your situation worse. In fact the scab will have to grow thicker and larger to cover the wound.

So, if you have sadness for an example. Sadness is the emotional scab that has formed to protect the original wound done to your psyche. If you try to get rid of it with drugs, prescriptive or street, the original wound is in danger of becoming infected and your sadness turns to depression...a thicker more irritable scab.

It is imperative, just like a physical scab, to just let it itch. If you learn to just watch sadness, you will see how the sadness changes and eventually you will feel better. The sadness falls away and you are healed from the original wound.

Zazen helped me see this. I also used to get depressed quite a bit during the winter, but after years of winters are filled with, well, just winter as it is. I highly recommend a regular meditative practice that allows you to 'just watch'. It is a lot cheaper than prescription drugs or street drugs...and no side effects!

Be Well.
Hands palm to palm,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Beyond Likes & Dislikes

The great Zen master, Seng-Ts'an, wrote, "The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised."

So true, especially when you can see how this works in self-defense. When being attacked you have to suspend like or dislike and deal with the situation NOW!  It goes beyond whether you like it or not. Your life depends on you being in the moment and flowing with the action. Get caught in mental discourse of like and dislike you can kiss your ass goodbye.

So, addressing this in life. Same thing applies. Basic life is beyond your likes and dislikes. Life throws stuff at you and presents you with many situations. Some desirable. Others not. But to be caught between like/dislike... these preferences you lose your way. It causes suffering and you become reactive to life rather than flow with life.

Today, as I type this, I am a bit run down with a cold. It is beyond my likes or dislikes. Just flow with it and allow it to take its course. I will flow with it...and the snot. It is all part of the big cosmic dance of life. It is beyond our likes and dislikes...afterall, think about this...

...When someone is trying to beat your brains in to rob you do you think they are going to stop just because you don't like it? Neither will life stop because you feel like 'bad'. It is beyond likes and dislikes. Make sense? You gotta be tough and face the moment. When you Seng-Ts'an says, "..everything becomes clear and undisguised." The Now or Tao or Void or whatever you call it, opens up to you and you will be free! You are only trapped when you choose...

Hands palm to palm,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

All Is Provided

The longer I am in the martial arts, the more I see how what you need is always there. When during an attack, the assailant actually gives me what I need in order to defend myself. This is difficult to put into words, but let's say my assailant attempts to push me straight back with both his hands. When his hands come at me I have a variety of ways to work with this and will take the one that 'feels' and 'flows' better. I don't have a pre-set method of dealing with this attack. What is there I use and the answer is provided. Even after I disrupt his initial attack and begin to 'mess him up' with either joint locks, hits, kicks or all depends on what he provides to me. This dictates the next movement.

All is provided when I need it.

This goes for life as well. Everything I need is already here. It is provided. But just like an attack I need to keep my center...and flow...and smile. Life will provide me with I need to do next. I don't have to pre-think or worry or have anxiety. I just have to trust.

In the martial arts, I trust my training. Defense and movement with another being is natural and no real concern. I am learning the same goes for life in general. Just gotta trust that no matter what life throws at me, I have the skills needed to flow and smile. On my journey this is about growing into my Dharma name of Shinzen...Trust Zen. I trust zen...I trust this moment...I trust that, just like an opponent, life provides exactly what I need to do next. Ahh...freedom!

Leap and the net will appear.

In Gassho,