Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Indra's Net

Indra's Net
Indra's Net is a Buddhist metaphor to show the interdependence of all things. The Net of Indra is a jeweled net, each reflecting upon each other. Each jewel representing a single life, or teaching or being. We are reflections of each other. All the world's great teachings are but a reflection of each other. Touch one jewel in the net and you have touched them all...reflected in them all.

This became so apparent to me a few years ago. I was preparing to facilitate a Men's Wellbriety Group with my coworker, Gina. When I walked into the group room she had already posted the 7 teachings of the Grandfathers. Gina is an addictions counselor and a member of the Mohican Nation. As she had them listed on the white board and we began discussing them, it flashed into my head, "This the Bushido Code of the Samurai." Almost the exact same 7 Virtues.

A few days later as I was reading about the energy systems of the body, more commonly known now as Chakras. This term borrowed from the yogic traditions shows 7 chakras each with a set of qualities...and you guessed it...they were almost identical to the 7 Teachings and the 7 Virtues.  Chakras were not only known in India, but have been referenced in the cultures of the Andean shamans, the Navajo, and even the Jewish traditions...the 7 Stars of David. Even the ancient Greeks knew of the 7 energy centers as evidenced in the medical symbol the caduceus.

Everything is a reflection of each other. Indra's Net. I found this interesting and provided some fun popcorn for my brain.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Recieved a Cool Honor!

My new job has kept me pretty busy and my writing time for the Broken Bokken has been I am also working (almost done) on my next book proposal.

This post I would like to share some fun news about a cool award I received from Master Farouk Gibbs of the Yudan Sila Bela Close Quarters Defense Academy out of New York.

He wrote "There is much in my heart that I would like to say about Master David Nelson. He is a gift to the martial arts world. When I reached out to him for advice he did not hesitate to provide me with great information. Master Nelson, please continue to spread your wealth of knowledge."

I am honored by his words.

Thank you Mr. Gibbs. I invite all of my Budo friends to check them out on FaceBook. This is a cool bunch of Budo-brothers and sisters.

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Being Nobody, Going Nowhere

Lao Tzu, the famous Chinese philosopher accredited with writing the "Tao Te Ching" wrote how the life of a sage is one of daily diminishing, not adding. Bruce Lee also spoke of peeling back non-essentials of the martial arts in order to reveal 'the truth' of self-defence training.

Looking at ourselves, as a people, we love to gather certificates, diplomas, trophies. We accumulate things, like cars, houses, books, and so forth. Why? For most of us it is a sense of security through identity. Deep down, we don't know who we are or why we are here on this planet. In an attempt to find this security or identity we try to find it through 'outer things' such as titles, materials possessions and relationships.

As martial artists, most of us have studied about five to six different art forms looking for the 'the truth' or ourselves. And, guess what? They do satisfy, but for only a short while, because as you know, all things are temporary. So we keep searching.

If we would really listen to Lao Tzu, we can see we are like an onion. If you begin to peel back the layers of who you think you are, just like the onion, you will find when you get to the middle, that there is 'nothing' there. Yes, you are nothing, going nowhere! (LOL here!)

Being nobody, going nowhere is our truest is Ku or Emptiness. We are emptiness in form and form in emptiness. If you remember, Ku is the unfolding field of limitless possibilities only waiting for a thought to manifest into form. At your truest inner self, because you are No-body you are All things. You are infinite with unbounded potential. How cool is that!

So, as you look at yourself, Peel back the layers of who you identify as you. Throw away the labels, the security, the diplomas, the sense of importance and just watch. Meditate. Learn to just be and your inner self of Being Nobody, Going Nowhere is there. Then you can have a great laugh and play in this wonderful universal field of 'energy'...which is what I am off to do now.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Got Gusto?

The impetus for this post comes from a conversation of mothers I overheard while at a coffee shop. In fact, as I write this I am at the coffee shop. The mom's had all just dropped off their young kids at school and were talking about how to achieve Zen calm, Zen happiness or this was 'zen' and that was 'zen'. 

I got to asking myself, "Do they really know what zen is?"  Well, actually, that is a loaded question, for zen can't be known, only experienced...which brings me to my point.

Zen is usually equated with calmness and serenity...but that is for those who see from the outside of zen practice and have not engaged in it directly. In the middle of Zen practice is angst, painful knees, doubt, suffering, peace, quiet, heaven, hell. The insides are always churning, while an outsider will see people just sitting 'peacefully' not knowing that perhaps this person is grieving the loss of loved one and in the midst of great turmoil.

Zen is about entering into where you are with 'Gusto!' Now, sitting on a zafu doesn't look like an activity full of gusto, but it is. When your asshole is burning cause you have been sitting on and off the zafu for six hours into the second day of a sesshin, the only way 'out' is 'in'....and with gusto. You must lose yourself only by pushing yourself in.

It's like training in Karate. You must enter in and embrace the battle. It is easier with an opponent in a dojo...more difficult when it is your own mind, body and emotions. In the dojo you push yourself to the limits till you 'lose yourself' go past the point of what you can endure and run on adrenalin and spirit. 

Same in zazen. Push yourself, Enter in till the self is lost and all there  In Karate we attack and defend with Gusto! Lotsa of screaming and grunting and laughing. In is quieter without physical movement...but the Gusto! must be there. Push, push, push till you can't push get to that point of letting go...this is Zen. Leave no trace of the Self...burn yourself out!!

When you cross 'the gap' in Karate to defend yourself it is an all or nothing adventure. If you go in with hesitancy or reserve or half-assed you will lose. You must give it all. You must die and leave no trace. Same in Zen...give it all! Give it Gusto! Leave not trace of the self....burn it to the ground. 

Gusto! Give all of your life's activity Gusto! Leave no trace. Zen looks calm from the outside...and it can be on the inside, but first there must be Gusto! The gusto of fire in the belly.

Wow...those Mom's sparked a fire in my brain. 

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Self-Defense Tips

Sensei Dean and me (with black hair)
Sensei Dean always told me to keep my Karate and Self-defense simple. He gave some good pointers, like: The only time to turn your back to your opponent is when you are running fancy spinning kicks or punches.
He always emphasized movement. When you get hit, don't stop! Keep moving.

Overtime I discovered my own.

1.  Embrace the fight...
2.  Never back up...
3.  Hit hard and fast
4.  Always assume 3,
5. Don't hang around too long with one guy...drop him fast.
6.  Look and be psychotic with lots of Kiai!
7.  Use a weapon, like a chair, pen, ruler, knife before you use your hands/feet.
8. Cause I'm a small guy...get in close with knees, elbows and headbutts.
9.  Have big friends!
10.  Keep training everyday
11. Kick a guy in the head after he's on the ground...(a groin kick is a high kick on the street)

That's just a few of them...
Hands palm to palm,

Verses on the Faith Mind

Hsin-hsin Ming:

Verses on the Faith-Mind


By Seng-ts'an, Third Chinese Patriarch

Translated by Richard B. Clarke

The Great Way is not difficult
for those not attached to preferences.
When neither love nor hate arises,
all is clear and undisguised.
Separate by the smallest amount, however,
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.
If you wish to know the truth,
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the fundamental nature of things is not recognized
the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect as vast space is perfect,
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting
that we do not know the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in ideas or feelings of emptiness.
Be serene and at one with things
and erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve quietude,
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain attached to one extreme or another
you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the Single Way
cannot be free in either activity or quietude, in assertion or denial.
Deny the reality of things
and you miss their reality;
assert the emptiness of things
and you miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it
the further you wander from the truth.
So cease attachment to talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the essence,
but to pursue appearances or "enlightenment" is to miss the source.
To awaken even for a moment
is to go beyond appearance and emptiness.
Changes that seem to occur in the empty world
we make real only because of our ignorance.
Do not seek for the truth;
Only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not remain in a dualistic state;
avoid such easy habits carefully.
If you attach even to a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities arise from the One,
do not be attached even to ideas of this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
there is no objection to anything in the world;
and when there is no objection to anything,
things cease to be— in the old way.
When no discriminating attachment arises,
the old mind ceases to exist.
Let go of things as separate existences
and mind too vanishes.
Likewise when the thinking subject vanishes
so too do the objects created by mind.
The arising of other gives rise to self;
giving rise to self generates others.
Know these seeming two as facets
of the One Fundamental Reality.
In this Emptiness, these two are really one—
and each contains all phenomena.
If not comparing, nor attached to "refined" and "vulgar"—
you will not fall into judgment and opinion.
The Great Way is embracing and spacious—
to live in it is neither easy nor difficult.
Those who rely on limited views are fearful and irresolute:
The faster they hurry, the slower they go.
To have a narrow mind,
and to be attached to getting enlightenment
is to lose one's center and go astray.
When one is free from attachment,
all things are as they are,
and there is neither coming nor going.
When in harmony with the nature of things, your own fundamental nature,
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
However, when mind is in bondage, the truth is hidden,
and everything is murky and unclear,
and the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from attachment to distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way,
do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to embrace them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise person attaches to no goals
but the foolish person fetters himself or herself.
There is one Dharma, without differentiation.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment, attachment to liking and disliking ceases.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams, phantoms, hallucinations—
it is foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong; finally abandon all such thoughts at once.
If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things
are as they are, of single essence.
To realize the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen without differentiation,
the One Self-essence is everywhere revealed.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state of just this One.
When movement stops, there is no movement—
and when no movement, there is no stopping.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate state
no law or description applies.
For the Realized mind at one with the Way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and the Truth is confirmed in you.
With a single stroke you are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to you and you hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no need to exert the mind.
Here, thinking, feeling, understanding, and imagination
are of no value.
In this world "as it really is"
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To know this Reality directly
is possible only through practicing non-duality.
When you live this non-separation,
all things manifest the One, and nothing is excluded.
Whoever comes to enlightenment, no matter when or where,
Realizes personally this fundamental Source.
This Dharma-truth has nothing to do with big or small, with time and space.
Here a single thought is as ten thousand years.
Not here, not there—
but everywhere always right before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small: no difference,
for definitions are irrelevant
and no boundaries can be discerned.
So likewise with "existence" and "non-existence."
Don't waste your time in arguments and discussion
attempting to grasp the ungraspable.
Each thing reveals the One,
the One manifests as all things.
To live in this Realization
is not to worry about perfection or non-perfection.
To put your trust in the Heart-Mind is to live without separation,
and in this non-duality you are one with your Life-Source.
Words! Words!
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is no yesterday,
no tomorrow
no today.

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Be Dead

Imagine for a moment you are on your death bed. Death is imminent...soon your body will be a corpse.

Will your mind be full of 'how to become wealthy?' or 'who am I?' or 'I am going to get revenge on so and so?' or 'Tomorrow I am going to go on a diet?' or so on and so on?

Allow your mind to take the composure of a dead man or woman. You recognize the uselessness of struggle.

Now live your life from this point and see what happens.

Hands palm to palm,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Underground Zen Combat: Sanchin Dachi

Sanchin Kata is my staple. It is the Kata that speaks to me like no other. In this post I am going to share with you a very exciting lesson that inspired me greatly. Now, if you don't do Sanchin, this is going to be a 'so what' moment. But if you practice Sanchin and are really into combat, this will crack your cosmic egg.

The first pic is an Enso. It is the circle of Zen that points to completeness and the unlimited power of your pure nature/mind. Quantum physics uses this to display the vacuum field of unlimited potential...same thing. This is the Ku/Kara of Karate.

Now...take a look at Sanchin Dachi. Super-impose this stance over the Esnso. Take the left foot and put into the center where the dot is. Take the right foot and place upon the circle. Done correctly the circle will travel from your right toe to the right heel.

Sanchin Dachi is a Living Enso. It represents unlimited power and potential. It is the 'emptiness is form, form is emptiness' of Zen. With over 40 years of doing this stance, I 'feel it'...and it is awesome. From here, I feel I can defend myself easily. The Ki, or energy, that flows up from the feet and through my body and hands is...well, no words capture it other than 'cool'.

Remember the post on Sanchin with the number 3, for 3 Battles? Three also represents infinity. It is more than two and stretches forever...Combining these two you can see, hopefully, how Sanchin shapes up to be a Kata of unlimited power and defense. You can't get it with your thoughts or feelings, only practice. So practice, practice, practice.

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Heretic & A Saint

I've posted on Ikkyu before, but he deserves to be revisited. He is one of the most significant (and eccentric) figures in Zen history and one of my favorites as well.

To Japanese children, he is a folk hero, mischievous and always out-smarting his teachers and authorities In Zen traditions, he is both a heretic and saint. Ikkyū was among the few Zen priests who argued that his enlightenment was deepened by consorting with ladies of the evening. He wandered into brothels wearing his black robes, since for him the act of sexual intercourse was a religious rite. He was adamant against what we call fundamentalists of his day. He warned Zen against its own bureaucratic layering of useless ritual and rites.
Usually he is referred to as one of the main influences on the Fuke sect of Rinzai zen, as he is one of the most famous flute player mendicants of the medieval times of Japan. 
He is also credited as one of the great influences on the Japanese tea ceremony, and renowned as one of medieval Japan's greatest calligraphers and sumi-e artists. Ikkyu was also renowned for his poetry written in Kanbun style of Classical Chinese.
My hand, how it resembles Mori's hand.
I believe the lady is the master of loveplay;
If I get ill, she can cure the jeweled stem.
And then they rejoice, the monks at my meeting
Ikkyu is my 'hero'...he keeps me from getting too wrapped up in 'right' or 'wrong' and allows me to just enjoy where I am at. I don't plan on emulating his behavior as I don't think my wife would approve :-), I am not much of a beer drinker...but on these hot summer day, ah, they taste good. Thank you Ikkyu.

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Underground Zen Combat

1977 Shodan
Shortly after I was awarded my Shodan in 1977, Sensei Dean told me to now go and 'steal' from everybody and anybody all the martial knowledge I could. I was 21 years old at the time and he knew I was going to be transient. He was right. 

From there I went and studied and stole from other forms of Karate, Tai Chi, Aikido, Kung Fu, Kempo.....anybody I could learn from I was there. I also began developing my own vision and ideas about Budo as I also explored traditional Soto Zen Buddhism.

So, here I am. An older Karateka (42 years of experience now) with a firm base in traditional Karate, but also full of my own ideas, insights and visions. I am not so much interested in starting another 'style' but simply putting out there, as a friend once told me, my unorthodox ways of understanding budo.

I have decided to document some of my ideas and concepts in "Underground Zen Combat." Maybe you as a reader might be interested. Maybe not. Either way, that's what I will do. Underground Zen Combat are my understandings and may or many not line up with tradition in Budo or Zen or Qigong or TCM...they are just how I see things and more importantly feel things. I am planning on turning this into an e-book as well. (It's almost done)

There is an energy (ki, chi, prana) that courses through us and that I have been able to tap into. I credit one Kata for this. Sanchin. My one steady companion throughout Karate has been Sanchin Kata. It has 'taught' me so much and my ways of seeing and doing self-defense, especially close quarters combat, comes from Sanchin. Sanchin is not only full of insights, but practical hardcore self-defense...Sanchin is about savagery on many levels.

So, here is one of my first Underground Zen teachings via the Broken Bokken Blog....

Sanchin literally means "Three Battles"...many practitioners speak of the battle of Mind, Body, Spirit (breath) and you can find three battles in turning energy in qigong as well. But for me, you have to look Underground and 'see' that the number 3 represents more than 2...this implies Infinity. Three is a number that gives way to unlimited numbers and unlimited the Kara of Karate that I have posted on before (another one of my Underground teachings)

Sanchin means Unlimited Battles. It is a Universal Kata that teaches you how to move and handle everything! It is rich with symbolism that points the way...and does more as provides unique insight into handling battle itself, with others and yourself. Karate is not so much about kicking somebody elses' ass as it is about kicking your own.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review from World Martial Arts Magazine

  • Check out the book review from Martial Arts Magazine by Master Richard's great!


    Black Belt Healing: A Martial Artist’s Guide to Pain Management & Injury Recovery by David Nelson, PhD.

    EDITORS NOTE: I have one great regret about reading this book... that I did not have it over 30 years ago when I first began learning martial arts. I am so impressed with the insight and usefulness of this book that I have added it to the Required Reading List for our Black Belt candidates at my martial arts school.

    Below is some information from the website. My only additional comment about this book is: BUY IT! You can thank me later.


    Pain can be one of the most devastating experiences a martial artist will ever go through, both physically and emotionally. It robs you of training time and fills you with uncertainty about your life and your ability to ever train again. As difficult as this time can be,
    your best strategy is to educate yourself and approach your pain with well-informed information and preparation.

    In this essential guide for anyone suffering from long-term chronic pain, martial artist and psychotherapist, Dr. David Nelson, shares his years of experience working with martial artists, and non-martial artists, in conquering pain. Filled with the information you need to harness the power of your mind, Dr. Nelson has taken proven mind-body healing strategies, simplified them with easy-to-use metaphors and action plans and made them available in this step-by-step guide.


    Knowledge of mind-power based on martial art metaphors and strategies can make a world of difference in your recovery. You will learn:

    • How your mind is your dojo equipped with all the weapons you need to conquer pain
    • The ability to stop pain quickly with simple and easy techniques
    • The amount of time you need to devote to your recovery
    • The natural weapons your mind has to conquer pain
    • The difference between pain and suffering

    Many martial artists find out too late that they could have gotten back into the studio faster and stronger if they had better information about pain management. So, it’s in your best interest to prepare well and apply sound healing strategies early in the process. Avoid costly mistakes and take charge of your recovery.

    Healing isn’t rocket science, but you do need guidance. Black Belt Healing is your manual for success…not only for healing, but for seeing the possibilities your mind has to offer for peak performance, health and staying strong in the martial arts.

    This book will not replace your physician, chiropractor or herbalist, but provide valuable information you can bring to them to enhance overall healing and get you quickly back into the dojo…and that’s what it is all about, right? Dojo Time!

    World Martial Arts Magazine gives this book our highest ranking, 5 Stars. Visit today.
    Your source for natural health & healing

    Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When the Stars Align...the Power of Positive Intention

My family's long seven month journey of living in two cities is coming to an end thanks to the Power of Positive Intentions. My wife, Jean, has been living and working in Madison, WI while I was back home with my son in Shawano, WI. Madison and Shawano are two and half hours away. Jean and I made a commitment to see each other every weekend till school let out for my son in June.

We put our home up for sale in January and waited. I am a firm believer in positive intentions create your reality. In many ways this is what Karate is all is about manifesting your reality...(see my posts on this subject) With meditation and prayers from my friends and family, our home is now sold. The timing was perfect.

We put an offer on a home near Madison months ago and set the closing date for July 22nd. At that time our house had zero offers or serious lookers. Near the end of June while we were preparing to rent out our home an offer came through and they wanted the house on July 29th. Wow! One week after we buy our home we will have sold ours.

To top it off, my wife was worried about the job market for me. I had zero hits for interviews then on the same day we got an offer to purchase our home I got a call  for a job interview. Well, I will be employed with a new clinic after Labor Day. This gives me a few weeks to get Jacob settled in school.

All of these events happened so synchronistically it was eerie...a cool eerie.

Well, tomorrow morning the movers drop off our belongings at our new home and Jean and I can resume a married life under one roof. Thanks for all the prayers. They do work.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Words do Shape Your Reality!

Last week, in my office, one of my pain management clients came in to tell me how the advice I gave her reduced her discomfort tremendously. She was amazed how a simple change in how she describes her pain could actually make a difference in her perception of the pain.

She has severe jaw pain and finds it difficult to talk, eat and drink. Opening her mouth wide is extremely painful and she reports being in chronic pain 24/7. She hates pain medications and uses them sparingly, stating she would rather have the pain and feel clear and sharp than dulled by meds.

Well, the change in words she used is something I have posted before and she isn't the first person to report a change in their perception of pain by doing this. What this woman did was stop using the word 'Pain.' She substituted the word 'Discomfort.' She stated that after only three days of doing this she was talking to a friend who made her laughing usually causes her pain to escalate, but this time her mouth opened and she was laughing without care. Her friend noticed it and made the comment on the wonderful change.

My client was ecstatic with delight.

So, how does this work?  Discomfort has an imbedded hypnotic suggestion of Comfort. The Subconscious Mind which is responsible for your healing can't pick up on the Dis in Discomfort. It can only see and respond to Comfort. One of the prime examples of how a negation, like Dis, or Un or Not, can't be picked up the subconscious is for me to ask you right now..."Do Not think of a Blue Monkey with a big red butt".

Yep...Blue Monkeys...Big Red Butts.

So, be mindful of the words you use. They do shape your reality. Now, don't think of Blue Monkeys tonight when your head lies down on your pillow...

For more info on Pain Management make sure you check out "Black Belt Healing: A Martial Artist's Guide to Pain Management & Injury Recovery" can buy it at

Hands palm to palm,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Changing of the Guard

Sensei Micik receiving the Broken Bokken
Last evening I turned over the Broken Bokken Dojo to Sensei Verna Micik. She has been a student of the arts for 10-11 years now. She is one of the most dedicated students I ever had. Even when she blew out her knee last year and was in a lot of pain, she still showed up at the dojo. She is tough...period.

In a brief 'ceremony' I turned over our Dojo's symbol, a Broken Bokken to Sensei Micik. It is so appropriate that she recieves the bokken since she and her son, Rick (also a Shodan) came up with the name of the dojo.

Sensei Micik

Verna broke the first bokken at the was funny. When the bokken broke, she thought she was in trouble and felt so bad. When I told her it was a good sign that she was training hard and rejoiced, I think I unleashed a tiger.

Sensei Micik is going to do real good!

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

If Only...

On my journey through this life I was blessed with receiving the Dharma name, Shinzen. Trust/Faith Zen. This is my path. To trust zen. For many years I have pondered what this really means to have faith. I am learning that faith and trust are not intellectual endeavors for philosophical discussion, but a deep practice of being centered here in this moment...this moment of my typing and yours now in your reading.

One theme that has jumped at me as of late is "There is no, if only"...I was reading an article from the Dharma Rain Zen Center on "Living in Vow" and the author, Alison Shin'ei Brown had this one sentence. "There is no, if only." Wow, what a powerful statement.

How often do we say to ourselves, "If only I had ___________". Insert whatever you want. Perhaps it is a job, a car, a partner, a black belt, a whatever. It is not so much the object of the If Only, but the intention and longing behind the If Only. To live in this state of If Only is to suffer. It is living for the future, not being here now.

Begin to notice how you live your life in this manner. As you notice it more and more you can learn to step out of it. Don't try to stop it or you will increase it..."if only I could stop if only" is a trap of the mind. Stop and just watch...this is the Zen Way. This the Shin Zen's Way. Faith Zen. Trust Zen.

No more If Only. Feels good. Then we can be like Basho:

"Fleas, lice
The horse pissing
near my pillow."

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Samurai Warrior's Creed

A Samurai Warrior's Creed

I have no parents--I make the heavens and earth my parents.
I have no home--I make awareness my home.
I have no life or death--I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power--I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means--I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets--I make character my magic secret.
I have no body--I make endurance my body.
I have no eyes--I make the flash of lightening my eyes.
I have no ears--I make sensibility my ears.
I have no limbs--I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy--I make "unshadowed by thought" my strategy.
I have no designs--I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design.
I have no miracles--I make right-action my miracles.
I have no principles--I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics--I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents--I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends--I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy--I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor--I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle--I make immovable-mind my castle.
I have no sword--I make absence of self my sword.

Anonymous Samurai, fourteenth century
Found in The Book of Runes. Ralph H. Blum, St. Martin's Press, NY, 1993 

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are you guilty of the 3 F-ups?

Are you guilty of the 3F's, or F-ups, as I call them?

Under attack we go into the well-known Fight, Flee or Freeze syndrome. These 3 F's will get you knocked on your ass! These are reactions based on lack of training and vision.

A Warrior has the ability to not act on these 3 F's, but responds to an attack based on vision and training....and lots of practice. This is what I call being Response-able.

A Warrior is Response-able. He/She is "able to respond" to an attack, not react. A response is more intelligent and in accord with natural ways of the Tao or flow of the Universe. With proper vision a Response-able Warrior evolves into a Warrior-Sage  and is able to manage 'attacks' not only in the seen world, but in the unseen world of emotions, thoughts and spirit as well.

Keep on training.

Hands palm to palm,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grit, Guts, Gumption...A Warrior's 3G Network

While driving to work this morning Grit, Guts, and Gumption kept running through my head. I knew I hadn't had that much caffeine yet, but it dawned on me this is a Warrior's 3G Network.

Looking up some definitions of these words what I found was that Courage strung them together. It is the wireless connection of the 3G Warrior's Network.

Grit is unyielding courage in the face of danger. It is firmness of both mind and spirit.

Guts is fortitudinal courage. It is perserverance, nerve and audacity.

Gumption is about taking initiative, being resourceful, full of spunk and courage.

Grit, Guts, Gumption. A Warrior's 3G Network.

Could add another for a 4G Network...Glory..distinction for courage on the battlefield.

Just rambling thoughts for the day...Do you have a 3G or 4G Network?

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Warrior's Path

I've been writing a book about Warrior's and have had some thoughts. I noticed that the martial arts, the real ones, require a long time (a lifetime or two) to master. There are no short cuts to the deeper levels Budo has to offer. To begin to "see" these deeper teachings of wisdom involves a great deal of discomfort and pain.

As a counselor working with people who are addicted to substances like alcohol, pot, crack, pain pills and what ever they can find to get a buzz, I have noticed they are looking for convenience and comfort. They are no different than most of us, except their path is more dysfunctional in our society. Most of us, however, are always wanting the fastest most convenient method to get what we want. After all, Time is Money in our society and we have to have comfort.

In fact, a few years ago, when I was researching to set up a private counseling practice, the research stated people will visit the counselor who has the most convenient and easy parking! What's up with that? People don't care about your credentials, just that they can park easily and it be convenient for them.

The Warrior's Path is a lonely one. Take a look at ancient times when a student of martial arts or Zen wanted to study with a teacher. The teacher usually rejected, humiliated and scorned the student. Gave him/her impossible tasks to do and basically demean the student. The student who kept coming back, over and over, was finally accepted.

Don't have that now...I ask myself now after 41 years as a Martial I do what I do because it is easy, convenient and comfortable? If it is time to move outside my comfort zone. Why? Growth only comes about through struggle...and nothing makes you squirm like pain and inconvenience. These two allies, when embraced, lead you to dig deep within yourself and find resources you never knew you brings you to a great inner the ceasing of the struggle...ah! Budo: To Cease The Struggle.

I am moving to Madison in a few months. Perhaps I should just set up an old school will be inconvenient and uncomfortable...any takers?

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Believe not...

From time to time I am asked what drew me to Buddhism and the practice of Zen...I remember reading this quote from the Buddha when I was a teen:

"Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because it is your national belief, believe not because you have been made to believe from your childhood, but reason truth out, and after you analyzed it, then you find it will do good to one and all, live up to it, and help others live up to it."

This spoke to me immensely. Maybe because the Viet Nam War was raging and we were questioning a lot of beliefs during that era.  I was also growing as a teen with lots of 'rebellious thoughts' going on anyway...either way, this quote made me investigate more of the Buddha's teachings. I liked what I read and eventually went on to practice Zen and receive the precepts.

These wise words have always been dear to my heart. I hope they speak to you as well.

Hands palm to palm,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Let's Dance!

Let's Dance!
One of the greatest lessons my Sensei, Mr. Paul Dean, taught me was how to 'dance'...He used to always tell me it was important to dance, and or blend, with your opponent. This keeps your opponent off balance and easier to lead.

To be honest with you, I never really understood this when I was younger. To me fighting was about getting in fast, furious and full of flurry and loud noise...well, add a few decades onto my body and now "I get it"...

A Warrior knows how to have what I call 'blended engagement'...this is what Sensei Dean calls 'dancing'....In Budo, it is about 'Ceasing the Struggle"...the Struggle contains a combination of fighting and running. When we struggle we want the situation to end and so we tend to either fight it or run from it.  It's the basic fight or flight syndrome....sometimes you win sometimes you lose...mostly you lose, though.

I see people on daily basis who struggle with anxiety, depression, addictions and life in general. They are fighting and running all the rest. This leaves them feeling out of control and generally very tired and more depressed than before.  Teaching them how to do zazen, qigong, daily mindfulness and hypnotic techniques takes them off of fight and flight. It suspends it long enough so they can Dance!

When you Dance, you are full of life. Blended engagement is neither fighting your opponent (whether in the seen or unseen worlds) or running from your opponent. It is about embracing your opponent and embracing the situation, pleasant or unpleasant. Embrace it and begin to harmonize and dance. Smile.  Blend and float...and lead your opponent.  Aikido is a great example of this philosophy.  It exists in Karate and most Martial Arts...Tai Chi is another great example...Kung Fu for sure...I have had many of my Fu Chen bros 'dance me around' quite well.

Working with your opponent takes 'getting a feel for it'...sort of like riding a bike. You can talk about it but you don't know it till you do it. Watch the older masters...they 'know it'...

We can do this with our emotions and thought processes as well...even physical pain. There are many great ways to dance with pain and reduce your suffering...(read my book Black Belt Healing).

Like most good things, practice is paramount...but it is Fun! Dancing,blended engagement and/or harmonizing brings forth the joy inherent in our spirit...bring it forth!

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Zen Master Bee

A beautiful spring day today. Went for a walk and enjoyed the sunshine, the birds flying, bugs buzzing and hearing children playing in yards. My mind wandered onto the subject of how nature doesn't measure success by profit or loss. Everything is just as it is. 

Nature doesn't measure period...yet, we has humans live lives of quiet desperation (I love Thoreau)...we live in fear and fear is a by-product of measuring our lives in terms of profit/loss.

And then just as I was getting lost in this thought a huge bumble bee buzzed by and broke my trance! Fear raced through my body. I am seriously allergic to them...ahaaa!...Nature testing my thoughts and insights...I was in fear of life/death from a bumble bee! Thank you Zen Master Bee for waking me up!

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Embrace the Fight!

Take a moment and look at a coin. A penney, dime or quarter. Doesn't matter. Notice it has a heads and a tails. Two sides. Now ask yourself, "Which side is the true and real coin?

Now that might seem like a weird question as the answer might seem obvious...but let's look at another coin.
The Coin of Life. It has two sides as well. It has a heads and tails, but let's call them 'positive outlook' and 'negative outlook' 

How do you perceive this coin? Which side is the true and real coin of life?

To look and grasp at life with either a positive or negative outlook is to not see the total coin. To choose one over the other is to deny the reality of the other. Both outlooks are in many ways 'deluded'. Both are ghosts. To grab at one and reject the other is to live in suffering...even tho the positive feels is still a trap of the mind and will continue your suffering...especially when negative shows up and you don't want it.

Zen is about seeing the Coin in its totality. No thoughts of one side better than the other. It is a Coin...just as it is. You use both sides all the time.

In Budo this is also very important. To grasp and hold onto only certain 'techniques' as good or bad disrupts your ability to flow with what is needed moment by moment. You are trying to use only one side of the coin...dumb! It is important to embrace the fight and use the coin in its totality. It is there. Use it. To reject one side for the other will get your ass handed to you.

Hope my morning rambling makes some sense...I have to get to work and maybe will edit this later or wait for comments.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Zen Doesn't Work!

Many of us are drawn to Zen for its qualities of calmness, serenity and peace of mind. In it we are looking to find relief from pain and suffering. What is weird about the process and practice of Zen is that if you try to get these things from it you actually chase it away. To use Zen to achieve any goal is to not practice Zen. Zen is Zen as it our attempts to make Zen work for us we defeat ourselves, get frustrated and stop practicing.

Zen is one of those practices that can't be described by what it is or by what it is not. Zen is actually useless in accomplishing anything. Yet, its practice has many 'benefits'....but to try and get those benefits you actually lose those benefits.

So, how do you not practice Zen? Practice it...but don't practice it with an end in mind. Just sit. Watch the breath. When the mind wanders return to breath. If you feel comfortable or uncomfortable, scattered or focused, happy or sad...just acknowledge these sensations and return to breath.  Each day, each breath is different. Be with it as it chasing after pleasant sensations or running from unpleasant. Be and now....and watch. All is perfectly managed.

That's it.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

10-Breath Zen

I have to admit, some mornings I run short of time to formally sit Zen...or I am just too damn lazy to get out of bed.

Well, what I do from time to time that actually keeps me in the meditative habit and my Zen-groove is 10-Breath Zen.

I do my ceremonial lighting of a candle and incense, then sit in seiza or on my cushion...then simply focus on breathing, but count down each exhale starting at 10. By the time I get to one I am feeling more settled and calm. It is like doing a hypnotic deepener feels good.

From here I give thanks for my many blessings and go about my day. 10-Breath Zen. A great way to start your day and keeping in the routine of sitting practice.

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Playing Ball on Running Water

Many years ago I had the opportunity to meet with the founder of Constructive Living, David K. Reynolds, PhD.   He was presenting his work at the University of Nebraska in Kearney at the invite of Dr. Yozan Mosig, a Professor of Psychology and noted Martial Artist. Many of you old time martial artists would know him as Dirk Mosig. He is also now a Zen Priest and uses the name Yozan.

Well, to get to the point. Dr. Reynold's wrote some 6 Key Points about Constructive Living. Constructive Living is a combination of two Japanese psychotherapies, Naikan and Morita. They are Zen-based teachings which I found very helpful...and I hope you can too. Constructive Living contains practices that are helpful in journeying our way through life a bit more, well, constructively.

Some of Dr. Reynold's work is now out of print, so here is Constructive Living principles in a nutshell:

1. Observe, acknowledge and accept feelings and thoughts without necessarily expressing or acting on them.

2. Pay attention to the details of reality in the present moment and bring attention to whatever you are doing when the mind wanders elsewhere.

3. Distinguish between what is controllable (your own behavior) and what is not controllable (just about everything else).

4. Identify purposes and establish realistic goals.

5. Co-exist with unpleasant feelings and still take appropriate action based on the needs of the situation.

6. Examine your behavior in relation to others and assess the impact of your behavior on others.

Take some time and reflect on this. See how following these principles can help make your life flow more evenly.

I invite you to read some of his works or Google Constructive Living. There are some good websites dedicated to his teachings. Over the years I have found his teachings very helpful...and I have fond memories of eating lunch with him and Dr. Mosig.

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Squishing Frogs

Have you ever squished a frog? I am going to say, "yes. you have squished lots of frogs in your life." I know, because I have too. Let me explain with an old Zen story:

A very young and devout Zen priest needed to relieve himself during the evening. He went out into the dark night, did his business and upon returning to his quarters stepped on something extremely squishy. The thoughts went through his head that he had stepped on a frog...and not just a frog, but a frog full of eggs. He felt really bad as he had taken a vow of not killing. Not wishing to disturb anyone he vowed to return in the morning to clean up the mess.

All night long he tossed and turned in bed, worrying about breaking his vows of not killing. He even had a horrific dream of frogs chasing him and wanting him dead. Upon the break of dawn he rushed out to where he squished the frog only to discover he had stepped on a rotten eggplant! His eyes were opened and now he "understood."

Can you see you how have squished frogs? I've done this so many times in my life as well. The biggest frog I ever squished was when I needed a job 8 years ago after getting laid off from my previous job. We had lost a major contract in our agency and I had least seniority, so I was given a severance and let go. The job search wasn't easy, but a job for a child therapist opened up on a nearby reservation. My wife encouraged me to apply but I told her my specialty is not working with children and plus I am not sure if I would even like working on a reservation. I was imagining a whole bunch of negatives.

My wife, in her sweetest kick butt voice said, "You need a job. Fake it till you make it" So I applied. During the interview I discovered it was the wrong ad in the paper and they were looking for someone with my skills....ah, eggplants. What a relief. To make a long story short, I got the job and have been there ever of the longest and best jobs I have ever had.

If I would have not applied due to my squishing frogs delusion, I would have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to work in a great community and meet some really fantastic people. How many of us live in these delusions without ever going into the daylight and seeing that all along we have just been stepping on eggplants?

So, ponder how you squish frogs. Be here is where the sunshine is.

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Unseen Toxin is Killing You!

Spring is the time of year many naturopathic healers educate their customers on the value of detoxification. Over the winter we tend to be a bit more cloistered and less active...and, at least in colder climates, crave warm fattening foods. Much of this food has been raised in toxins that overtime can effect your health. Come spring, toxins have built up in the body and need to be cleansed for optimum health.

Well, there is one toxin that if left to build will erode your quality of life slowly over time, then kill you. It makes your life miserable and snowballs very fast into a variety of medical conditions, such as heart disease, ulcers, back pain, migraines, irritable bowl syndrome and a host of other diseases.

What is this toxin? It is Negative Thinking.

All things are created with Thought. Look around the room you are in right now. Everything in there is a result of one thing. Thought. The chairs, tables, computers, clothes, shoes, books, cats, your own body. All a thought at one time. This includes your health.

Negative thinking breeds negative health, events and circumstances. Positive thinking breeds positive health, events and circumstances. The best way to purge yourself of negative thoughts is simply to be mindful of when you have them. Know what our enemy looks like so you can defend yourself. Many times, negative thinking is like a Ninja sneaking in at night to assassinate you. You don't know it's there until it is too late.

Once you are aware of when, where, and how you think negatively...just accept it...give thanks and then think positive thoughts and image positive results. Be aware of the unseen toxin of negative thinking and defend yourself with gratitude and positivity. It works. You will be healthier, happier and live a life of joy.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The 84th Problem

One of my favorite Buddha Stories: The 84th Problem

A man seeking help went to see the Buddha. He told him he was a farmer. "I like farming," the man said, "but sometimes it doesn't rain enough, and sometimes it rains too much. One year we nearly starved." The Buddha listened.

"I like my wife," the man said, "but sometimes she nags too much, then I get tired of her...We have kids too. Good kids, but sometimes they don't show enough respect, and..."the man went on and on like this.

After the man finished, the Buddha sat, thought, then said, "I'm sorry, I can't help you." "Everyone has problems. In fact, we have 83 problems", and he enumerated them, from birth to death, but as he talked the man grew more and more furious until he questioned the very premise of the Buddha's teaching.

"Well," the Buddha finally said, "I may be able to help you with the 84th problem."
"The 84th Problem? What's that?" the man queried. 
The Buddha said, "The problem of wanting to not have any problems."

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dim Mak for Anxiety & Depression

My life is going through a lot of transition lately. My wife took a new job 3 hours away in Madison, Wisconsin and my son and I are waiting to join her when school is out. We are facing the pressures of selling our house in a slower (but getting better) housing market, so we can purchase a home in the Madison area. I face the challenges of joining a private practice or starting my own. I also have lots of writing to do, not to mention a full time job and the stress of managing a lot of multiple competing demands.

So, some times my emotions swing back and forth through anxiety and some depression as life presents itself to me. I had a "aha" moment a few weeks ago after Master Tim Vocke and I began talking about Count Dante, the controversial '60's martial artist who proclaimed himself to be the most dangerous man alive...he claimed to be the master of Dim Mak...well, he isn't. ..I am now!!!

I discovered the Dim Mak, or Death Touch, for difficult emotions!

It's Gratitude.

Now, I've always known and have practiced gratitude and counted my blessings when times get tough, but when I realized it acts just like Dim Mak, I got excited.

Remember, Dim Mak, doesn't necessarily kill your opponent immediately (even tho it can), but mostly it has a bit of a delay to it. Gratitude does as well. While counting my blessings and being thankful, my mood doesn't shift right away to glorious hallelujahs, but slowly transfers the chi of blessings to kill the anxiety, the worry, the depressed mood. Over time, the uncomfortable emotions have been 'killed' and I am feeling better.

Practice more emotional Dim Mak...practice gratitude all day long. Gassho to all things in thankfulness for supporting your life. Your clothes, bed, sink, floor, doors, pots, coffeepot, driveway, garage,...everything supports your life. Give are Dim Mak-ing negative forces entering your life...and it feels good!

Research Dim Mak and see how it works...practice Gratitude. You will soon see what I see. It's fun too...and then you will be the most dangerous wo/man on earth!

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Satisfaction

Good old Mick Jagger had it right when he sang, "I can't get no satisfaction."  When you look deeply at life and how it changes, how it ebbs and flows and nothing remains constant, how can we ever get real satisfaction?

Just when you work your ass off to get that job, buy that dream house, enter into a wonderful all changes. It seems to go down the toilet. What once was fantastic loses its high, is no longer. The job either gets boring or where you work goes out of business or you are asked to transfer. The honeymoon period on relationships, houses, in fact anything, eventually wears off.

Now, don't get too depressed or bummed by this, because in the midst of all of this is peace. Tranquility and equanimity do exist, but not when you rely on conditions or circumstances...or even your idea of self (which is also a set of conditions)....Conditions and circumstance are always in a state of constant flux. Change is always happening...or at least appears to be happening when you are hanging onto an idea that you have a fixed 'self'.  Your 'self' is also part of the whole equation of no satisfaction.

Satisfaction is only temporary...The good news is that you are not 'you'...Once you look deeply into who you are and who you call you, you can 'see' that there is no-thing there. All that is simply is as it is. Any grasping to make it different, to bend it to your ego's desires will end you up singing with good old Mick.

Learning to see into the transient state of all 'things' is to feel the peace of eternity. You can then see the illusion or delusion of chasing after conditions for eternal happiness or longstanding satisfaction. Once you catch a glimpse of this it is easier to live 'here and now' eternity. No self. No chasing. No satisfaction.

Henry David Thoreau once stated, "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." He knew the human condition and folly of chasing conditions for satisfaction. He saw the transiency of existence and could rest in "being".  Finding our way through the illusion of this chase is in each of our journeys and is an easy trap to fall into...but once you are aware of the trap it also makes life more fun and joyous. It is a freeing event that you don't "need" anything...that all peace, all tranquility is right here, right now. No chasing required. caffeine high is wearing off..

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unseen Mai-ai

A few posts ago I talked about the distance between two opponents, or Mai-ai. My Sensei simply called it "the gap" and taught us that whoever controls the gap wins. He emphasized the art of being able to dance with your opponent so you can enter and control the gap. This takes an ability to flow, harmonize, disrupt and control while on the edge of the gap and/or in the gap itself.

I am a firm believer that whatever we see on the physical level of karate is a pointer to an internal unseen world. This internal unseen world includes our thoughts, intentions, feelings, moods, etc. So, whatever we have in the Seen World is also in the Unseen World.

So, where is the Unseen gap? Well, one that I am aware of is the gap, or distance between your actions and your thoughts. Most of us can be aware of this one quite easily. I am sure you have had a thought you know you should not act on and so you censor the action. People with impulse control issues have a very difficult time being aware of it and of course managing it.They have no awareness of the gap...and of course lose to impulsivity.

Another gap of the Unseen world is the gap between your Intention and the actual Thought. This is one that takes a little more practice to become aware of. Prior to a thought coming forth is the spark of intention...and there is a gap between them. A good exercise to become aware of this is zazen. Seeing how the mind wanders and feeling the intention to wander before the thought shows up begins the process of seeing the gap...and consequently controlling the gap. In many ways, just to 'see' the gap between intention and thought is to manage it.

Now, when I became aware of this I said to myself...So What?...well, the longer I am in the martial arts and have become aware of the gap between intention and thought....and thought and became easier to defend myself. Being able to feel another's intention is faster than reading their thoughts through their behavior...if you only act on their behavior your odds of self-defense are 50/50 in my book. But reading and feeling intention puts you on the edge of and entering your opponent's unseen gap. You may be able to move faster and harmonize with their intention without anyone? Your odds of defending yourself just shot up to 85/15 or better.

Just some thoughts.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Read an excerpt from Black Belt Healing

From time to time, for those of you who have not purchased my book, Black Belt Healing: A Martial Artist's Guide to Pain Management & Injury Recovery, or for those who want to remember key items, I have decided to post a few excerpts. Perhaps, those of you who have not read the book will be enticed to picking it up, and for those who have purchased it...Thanks! Please continue to spread the word.

In Chapter 7 I go over the rules of your mind, especially the subconscious part of your mind. Just like a dojo has rules to adhere to for training, so does your mind have rules for healing. So, here is Rule 5.

"Rule 5: Create rather than resist.  Did you know your subconscious mind cannot see the negation or absence of something?  For instance, right now, do NOT think of a blue monkey! An image of blue monkey crossed your mind, didn't it"

Think about this: "Not" is a word that has no image. Blue monkey is an image. As you recall, words are in the realm of the conscious mind and joined with ego and willpower. Images are stored in the subconscious. So, think about this: When pain flares up and you resist the image and feelings of pain by saying you wish you did NOT have it, the subconscious mind only "sees" you telling yourself to "Have Pain."  It cannot see the word NOT. And because the subconscious mind creates a physical reaction based on what it sees you will continue to have pain. In fact, you are sending direct messages prompting more pain. Ouch!

So, to prevent yourself from experiencing more pain, imagine comfort and healing instead. In your imagination, see and feel vigor and vitality. Your subconscious mind will then create physical and emotional reactions for comfort and healing. A hypnotic trick for this is to use what is called an imbedded suggestion. Here's how it goes.

Rather than say "pain", use the words "discomfort" or "uncomfortable" instead. Why? Remember blue monkeys? "Dis" and "Un" are not recognizable by the Subconscious Mind, but "comfort" is. This is an example of an imbedded suggestion to produce comfort whenever you feel pain...excuse me, discomfort."

Once you know the rules of the mind, it is easy to harness its power to create health, healing, vitality, peak performance...the sky is the limit.

If you have any questions about this just ask. Make sure to visit my other blog over at It is "Black Belt Healing with Dr. Dave" and is written weekly for health & healing in the martial arts.

Now, the next time you brush your teeth...Don't think of a Blue Monkey, especially one with a big red butt!

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yang's Ten Important Points (part 2)

Here's is Part 2 of Yang's Ten Important Points in practicing Tai Chi...with short commentary by Chen Wei-ming. These ten points can also be applied to Sanchin Kata of Okinawan may not be obvious at first, but practice Sanchin with Tai Chi principles and it is amazing what comes out. Unorthodox...yes...but that's me!

6.  Use Mind and not Force. (The Tai Chi Chuan Classics say  "all of this means use mind and not force." In practicing Tai Chi Chuan the whole body relaxes. Don't let one ounce of force remain in the blood vessels, bones and ligaments to tie yourself up. Then you can be agile and able to change. You will be able to turn freely and easily. Doubting this (not using force), how can you increase in power?)

7.  Upper and lower mutually follow. (The Tai Chi Chuan Classics say "the motion should be rooted in the feet, released through the legs, controlled by the waist and manisfested through the fingers." Everything is the same. When the hand, waist and foot move together, the eyes follow. If one part doesn't follow, the whole body is disordered.)

8.  Inside and outside coordinate. (In the practice of Tai Chi Chuan the main thing is spirit. Therefore it is said, "the spirit is the commander and the body is the subordinate." If you can raise the spirit, then the movements will be naturally agile.)

9.  It is mutually joined and unbroken. (As to the external schools, their chi is the Latter Heaven brute chi. Therefore it is finite. There are connections and breaks.During the breaks the old force is exhausted and the new force has not yet been born. At these moments it is very easy for other to take advantage. Tai Chi Chuan uses mind, not force. From beginning to end it is not broken. It is circular and is again resumes. It revolves and has no limits.)

10.  Seek stillness in movement. ( The external schools assume jumping about is good and they use all their energy. That is why after practice everyone pants. Tai Chi Chuan uses stillness to control movement. Although one moves, there is also stillness.Therefore in practicing the form, slower is better. If is it slow, the inhalation and exhalation are long and deep and the chi sinks to the tantien.)

Hope this expands your mind on how to look at Sanchin Kata...and practice it. I am an artist and love to play with my colors...when you play you create wonderful works of art. Sanchin is endless in its expression.

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Karate Kids

Contrary to popular belief, the Mohicans are still alive. Here's a photo of some of my Karate Kids at the Mohican Family Center...along with Sensei Verna Micik. The kids were thrilled to get there gi's.

We are working on warriorship values, kata and basic techniques. Come spring a few of these great kids will be wearing yellow belts.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yang's Ten Important Points (part 1)

From the Essence of Tai Chi Chuan:

Yang's Ten Important Points with commentary by Chen Wei-ming

1.  The head should be upright so the spirit can reach the headtop. (Don't use strength or the neck will be stiff and the chi and blood cannot flow through. It is necessary to have a natural and lively feeling. If the spirit cannot reach the headtop, it cannot raise.)

2.  Sink the chest and pluck up the back. (The chest is naturally depressed inward so the chi can sink to the tan tien. Don't project your chest: the chi gets stuck there and the body becomes top-heavy. The heel will be too light and can be uprooted. Pluck up the back and the chi sticks to the back; depress the chest and you can pluck up the back. Then you can discharge force through the spine. You will be a peerless boxer.)

3.  Relax the waist. (The waist is the commander of the whole body. If you can relax the waist, then the two legs will have power and lower part will be firm and stable...It is said, 'the source of the postures lies in the waist. If you cannot get power, seek the defect in the legs and waist.")

4.  Differentiate insubstantial and substantial. (This is the first thing of all in Tai Chi Chuan. If the weight of the body is resting on the right leg, then the right leg is substantial and the left leg is unsubstantial and vice versa. When you can separate substantial and insubstantial, you can turn lightly without using strength. If you cannot separate them, the step is heavy and slow. The stance is not firm and can be easily thrown off balance.)

5. Sink the shoulders and elbows. (The shoulders will be completely relaxed and open. If you cannot relax and sink, the two shoulders will be 'uptight.' The chi will follow them up and the whole body cannot get power. 'Sink the elbows' means the elbows go down and relax. If the elbows raise, the shoulders are not able to sink and you cannot discharge people far. The discharge is close to the broken force of the external schools.)

Observe these principles of Tai Chi Chuan when performing your Sanchin. Feel how accurate these teachings are. I will finish this in some upcoming posts.

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tai Chi & Sanchin

Many years ago I picked up a tattered and torn copy of "The Essence of Tai Chi Ch'uan" by Lo, Inn, Amacker and Foe. As I was reading through this classic, it appeared to me that the advice they are giving to the Tai Chi practitioner also applies to those of us who practice Sanchin Kata.

Looking at Tai Chi and Sanchin from the outside they definitely look different. Most styles of Tai Chi are soft flowing movements, with perhaps a few sharp ones thrown in, whereas Sanchin is done with intensity and at times a seemingly maniacal manner. They are different in outer form, until you can see how they are the same internally. Once you can capture their inner essence, then you can see how their outer forms aren't all that different.

In this post and those that follow I will provide excerpts from the above-mentioned book. For my Sanchin friends, as you read, see how this Tai Chi advice is similar to what you have learned in Sanchin. Now, not all Sanchin practitioners will get this advice from their teachers, but find it later through practice.

So here is Yang's ten important points in practicing Tai Chi. I will provide Chen Wei-ming's commentary in later posts.

1. The head should be upright so the shen (spirit) can reach the headtop.
2. Sink the chest and pluck up the back.
3. Relax the waist.
4. Differentiate substantial and insubstantial.
5. Sink the shoulders and the elbows.
6. Use mind and not force.
7. Upper and lower mutually follow.
8. Inside and outside coordinate
9.  It (qi) is mutually joined and unbroken.
10. Seek stillness in movement.

Ten very important points in the practice of Tai Chi and Sanchin.
Hands palm to palm,