Friday, July 30, 2010

Go Internal

Chakras & Subtle Energy
As martial artists we do a lot of physical training. We hone our punching, kicking, throwing and weapon skills with sweat and precision.  This physical training is essential as it does exercise our vital energy or Ki/Qi.  However, the focus of physical training is still what we call 'external' training and to get the most out of your workout, and yourself, it is important to practice 'internal' training.

Internal training, such as meditation (zazen) and various forms of Yoga and Qigong, are excellent for this.  Getting in touch with your subtle energies will enhance your martial skills as well as your health overall. It is this energy that supports your life. It is just as important as breathing. Without Ki/Qi you're dead.  To keep it flowing with proper exercise, nutrition and meditation is life itself.

So, don't neglect 'internal' training. As you learn more about energy and its impact on your overall health you will wonder why we don't emphasis it in our educational systems. In future posts I will discuss more about our chakra system and its role in martial arts.

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Nothing left to do? Laugh!

My Zen calendar today, "Nothing is left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh!"

Good advice. Grouch Marx was known to have said, "A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast."

So...A man went to his doctor complaining of painful headaches. After concluding his tests, the doctor said, "There's only one solution, but it's extreme: castration." The patient said he could never resort to that and he walked out.

As the weeks went on, his headaches go so painful he couldn't take it any longer. He went back to the doctor and agreed to the castration. The operation was a big success, and the patient couldn't believe that his headaches were finally gone. He felt like a new man. He was so excited about his new life that he went to a tailor and bought a whole new set of clothes---suits, socks, shirts, even underwear.

In jotting down all the appropriate information, the tailor finally asked, "What size underwear do you wear?"
"Forty" replied the man.
"Oh, no," said the tailor. "You're a 44 if I ever saw one. If you wear underwear that tight, you'll get terrible headaches!"

Oh, well...nothing left to do but laugh.

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Train like you mean it...for life.

What the ???
In my last post I discussed martial art training and the necessity to train hard, pay attention and give it your best effort. Training like you are on the street prepares you mentally and physically for a street attack/defense situation than being too lax and just srewing around.

But what about basic living?  How do you train for your everyday activities? Do you give it your best or do you do it half-assed?  But what are the basics? How do you train for everyday?  Well, pay attention to what you are doing first of all.

What is the most basic aspect of daily life that we must train?  Hmmm...I am going to say Breathing. Yes, breathing. Without it you're considered dead. Do you practice any formal breathing exercises, rituals or mindful activities that connects you with your breathe? In the martial arts, if I an take your breathe...I have your mind...I have you.  We study how the body moves during relaxed breathing and anxious breathing...what your body looks like exhaling and inhaling. Did you know you are weak when you inhale? This is when I can attack you. Studying my breathing and others breathing gives me insights into the mind of myself and another.

Just the basics. What other basics of life are you not training? Think about it. Eating is a big one. Not to be too crass, but pissing and shitting is another. Are you managing these areas of your life well? If not, your health is gonna stink!

I suggest you make a list of what you consider basics of attention to them and take some time to train in them like you mean it....after all...your life could depend on it. Just some thoughts. I gotta go,
Hands palm to palm,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Train like you mean it.

Ernie Paulson & Rob Shepard/Goshindo Karate  
When you are in the dojo are you training or jawing?

I tend to see, yes, even in my dojo, too much talking and not enough training. I am all for having fun during the workout, but it must also be vigorous and have adrenalin pumping intensity. It must simulate real life as much as possible while ensuring safety. Why?

If you have sloppy habits in the will have sloppy habits on the street. Sloppy on the street gets you hurt, if not killed. Train vigorously in the dojo with intensity of mind, body and spirit helps you shape yourself for the rigors of a street defense situations.

Injuries will happen in the dojo, but those will heal. Injuries on the street could be crippling if not death inducing. Endure the dojo dings and your mind and body will have a better chance of street survival if need be. Facing your fears of injury in the dojo will help you face the fears of injury on the street...but only if the practice in the dojo pushes you to your limits and makes you question what the hell you are doing.

So, get ready Broken Bokken Dojo....especially the've only just begun. Get the ice packs,jow and bandaids ready.

Hands palm to palm,

How do you eat?

How you eat is as important as was what you eat. 

Your thoughts and attitude towards your food determines its impact on your body, mind and spirit as much as the bio-chemistry of the food itself. Think about it. Food eaten in thanksgiving, joy and mindfulness versus food eaten in distraction, anxiety and non-caring.

Do you eat watching tv or do you eat watching the meal?

Experiment for yourself...notice the difference in your day when you eat your breakfast with mindfulness and thanksgiving versus the day you watch the early morning news and scanning your facebook account.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Have you ever noticed that nature has a pace and a rythm?  It is neither fast nor slow, hurried or dawdling, anxious or calm. It is always 'moving' (this from a human perspective who is stuck on a fixed self).

How can we harmonize with this pace, this rythmic beat of wind, sun, moon, stars, water, fire, rain, tornadoes, floods, droughts, etc?  Not really sure....all I know is that when it is hot, I sweat. when it is cold, I shake...when it tornadoes, I go to my basement....when my butt itches, I scratch it (hey, I am part of nature too!)

Nature is neat. We've been having lots of rain this summer. Last year hardly a drop. I wonder what the fall will bring...I know my garden is thriving, except for the corn being flattened by 60 mph winds a few nights ago...and shattering my glass topped patio table by lifting it and shoving into the rails of my deck. Ah..nature. She is so gentle :)

Nose tickles...

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No Sh*t

No shit. You are perfect just as you are. Right now. Right here. All you need is here, sitting in the place you are, reading these words. Nothing is lacking. Nothing to seek. All is well. No shit.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Amnesia for Discomfort & my next book

For the past week I have been experiencing some rather intense discomfort in the metatarsal region of my right foot. I figured it was from wearing some new sandals while on vacation, but the darn thing won't go fact, it has progressed in its discomfort. Two evenings ago I dreamt I was walking on a gravel road in my barefeet and when I awoke the bottom of my feet felt as if they were burning. To get them to stop burning I used some visualization techniques to cool the sensation and fell asleep. (you can read more stuff like this in my book by the way).

Well, just this past evening my right foot woke me up with once again a severe burning sensation across the pad of my foot but also shooting into my toes. I tried a new technique using hypnotic amnesia.  I simply told myself to remember to forget the discomfort and then focused my breathing into my hara (remember the red rubber ball technique?). That's all I did and I feel back asleep and had a good night's rest.  I had to do this twice during the evening and it worked both times to get me back to sleep.

I know I am improving and will get better soon...I have a martial art seminar/camping retreat this weekend and will be on my feet all day. I bought some special shoe inserts so I hope this can give me the support I need to facilitate comfort. I am curious to see how it works.

Also, for those who are interested, I have started writing my next book and will have a co-author, Teri Nehring. If you remember back in November of 09 I had asked the 'creative spirit' for seeds for my next book. This led me into the world of shamanic studies and meeting Teri, a healer trained in Andean Shamanism. Well, the seeds have finally sprouted.  It involves warriorship, healing, sacred swords of the samurai, shamanic journeys and wherever inspiration leads us.  I will keep you posted.

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Let the opponent cut your skin...

This past Tuesday, the Broken Bokken Dojo was playing in the park once again, and we primarily free-sparred with weapons. One of my Yudansha, Mariah, cut my index finger at the middle knuckle with her bokken's tip. It was a clean cut. One I admired. She understands the concept of embracing the fight and moving inside.

Her actions reminded me of an old Samurai saying, "If you intend to capture the tiger's cub, go inside its den."  This means you never back up, charging forward regardless of where your opponent's blade is and staying a fraction of an inch away from the blade itself.  For Mariah, this is very important, as she is only about 4 foot 10 inches tall and weighs less than 100 pounds.  She has to live on the inside of a fight.

She moved inside my blade and got the finger with a real nice motion resulting in a slice. The sword is a slicing tool and she did it well...I stopped for safety purposes...because as she did a nice job cutting my skin, I have learned how to let the opponent cut my skin so I can cut their's like taking a punch to give a punch.  Once you learn how to do this fear tends to this point the samurai would also take a cut to the flesh in order to give a cut through the marrow of the bone. (I'm not ready for that yet)

This requires determination, perserverance and practice...and courage. Most of us do not like to be cut on the skin, let alone the flesh...but take this lesson and look at from a deeper psychological and spiritual way. What lessons can we learnd from this to help us grow. Let me know what you find.

Hands palm to palm,

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Lesson from my Weeds

A lesson from my weeds in the garden.

Life isn't to be measured by time or fact it isn't to be measured at is meant to be lived...embracing both the comfortable and uncomfortable with a big shit-eatin grin.

Hands palm to palm,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How many lives...

"There's a stream, and there's bamboo,
there's mulberry and hemp.
Mist-hid, clouded hamlet,
a mild, tranquil place.
Just a few tilled acres.
Just a few tiled roofs.
How many lives would I have to live,
to get that simple."

Yuan Wei

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jiyu Kumite

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 here! Stay in the moment of 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.

Hands palm to palm,