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,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why Zen is like Sex

Nonin, my Zen Teacher, posted something like this back in the mid 90's in his newsletter. Laughed my ass off!  It showed me a whole new way of thinking about zen masters. Now, I can't remember all 10 of them, but here is what I can recall.

Why Zen is like Sex

1.  It's okay to do it by yourself, but it is better with other people.

2.  You can dress up in funny clothes to do it...or not.

3.  Those who talk about it the most, tend to know the least.

4.  You can study it all you want, in fact you can get a PhD in it, but it doesn't mean you really know it.

5.  You can do it in different positions.

6.  Being flexible is a bonus.

7.  You can do it anywhere, but quiet natural surroundings are the best.

That's all I have right now. If I remember anymore, I will put them in the comments. If you know more, please comment. Not sure why this popped into my head, but I always had found them funny.  Well, gotta go.

Hands palm to palm,