Finding Your Limits

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Training notes
0

“If the body is the limit,
the spirit can go even further
.”

Shigeru Egami

There are dangers in learning to control your Self.  As Martial Artists we strive to control our physical, mental and spiritual selves.  Obviously this is a perpetual journey since to be in total control of those three aspects of your life is first impossible however it’s pursuit requires never ending practice.  Religious beliefs aside, even the Dali Lama must practice everyday is disciplines, ironic for those with wit, yes, but never the less it makes the point that practice needs to be a way of life if we are ever to approach perfection.  But as I stated there is a danger, one I know to well.  With every skill we gain comes responsibility, to others and to ourselves.  In learning to control our Self in any or all of the three areas that control can be used for good or for bad purposes.  The bad purposes for personal gain by harming others seem pretty self explanatory so I will skill that discussing.  Let’s face it if you don’t get that part then anything I write surely isn’t going to dissuade your misguided life.  But what bad purposes can we apply the skills we gain to controlling our Selves that could cause personal harm?  Simply stated by using them to facilitate self-abuse.  I am speaking from personal experience now.  I have used what I have learned in the Martial Arts for a lot of good but I have also used much of what I have learned to compensate for some of my personal weaknesses.  In my case physical (health) weaknesses.  This is something that I am just now acknowledging though I have known it for a long time.  My purpose here is to ask you to reflect on your own actions in perspective to mine.  Currently I am healthy and have been for a long time now, however I have bad habits from when my health was less than good.  During that time in my life my body was very limited in what it could handle but my mind and my spirit wanted more.  I learned through self-control that I could use my mind and spirit to override my body’s weaknesses.  I learned to push myself well beyond it’s natural limits, obviously this came with a price.  For me, five major surgeries, 28 weeks *in* the hospital and countless more time recovering at home.  That life is fortunately behind me and with Jesus’ blessing it will stay behind me yet I know how to push my body to extreme exhaustion and through significant pain.  Some might think this a great thing and in the short term they might be right.  I imagine that is the ability that Silvester Stallone envisioned when he created the Rocky character.  But what if Rocky applied that ability to every aspect of his life?  Whether out of necessity or not it could become a detrimental habit. And as we Martial Artists know all to well it often takes far longer to overcome a bad habit or incorrectly learned technique then it does to just learn it correctly the first time.  I’m happy to say that I’m living proof that you can succeed and in doing so learn to use your skills for the good of yourself and others.  But like everything else it takes practice, perseverance and self-awareness.

Now I know that is not what Shigeru Egami meant in the above quote but the truth is that while the spirit can go further than the limits of the body, the body can easily be driven past its limits by the will of the spirit.  As I’ve outlined there is a danger in this however it is also a necessary ingredient in the life of a Champion, my goal is to turn my focus on improving my life as a Champion not a chump!

You Need to Show Up…

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, For Kids, Training notes
0

It is pretty easy to become complacent during the course of your life and this comic reminded me of just that fact!

showup

Here is the question: Are you giving Life your all?
When you are training, how do you feel when you are done?
Did you show up or just sign up?

Attitude

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
10

By Charles Swindoll

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Meditation Point #126 – Good Motivates…

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
2

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
— Steven Weinberg, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999

At first glance this seems to make sense, but the more I ponder this quote, the more apparent is becomes that it is a total load of horse5#!7.  It amazes me how intelligent people can say some of the stupidest things…and believe them.  That does not mean that my views are beyond question as I am sure some will assert.  But this statement relies on facts that are not present or demonstrable.  First the above statement predisposes people to either do good or evil things, hence the “good” people do good things and those “evil” people doing evil things.  Hmmm if this is true than we should be able to determine who is good and who is evil, perhaps with the help of Santa Clause, and then round them up and eradicate them from society.  Then you would only have good people doing good things!  Is that realistic?  No, it isn’t very realistic, the good people would probably view this type of behavior as evil…no?  In reality, the evil people left unchecked will consume the good people until the evil people far outnumber the good people leaving the good people helpless for perpetual victimization. A good person is one defined as someone who is “good to other people”.  While an evil person is “somebody whose selfishness and perceived inhumanity or vicious behavior terrifies and disgusts people”!  But in this world without religion would people be inclined to do good?  If so why?  Without religion you would be much more prone to only be concerned with your own needs and desires.  By definition this would make you a candidate to be labeled an evil person.  This has to lead to the understanding that Steven Weinberg’s “without religion” is incorrect.  Since he knows religion exists this quote must en a dig at religion indicating that only through religion can good people do evil things.  There is that presumption that we can discern good people from evil but let’s let that slide for now.

Examining with his caveat, good people do evil things when religion is involved, we should first define religion.  For simplicity let’s leave God out of this for right now.  So this argument stands first we should define religion: “A set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos …”  The “often centered upon” text means we do NOT need a God to have a religion so we can continue.  If we look at this from a non-God centric view we again will quickly see that evil will most likely win over good since the tendency will be toward selfish goals.  Notice I am not putting a time line on how long this transition will take.  Giving the “good” people the benefit of the doubt and assuming we start with more good than evil people the outcome will eventually lead to evil people being the norm.  This shift will occur because the secular religion is subject to the whim of it’s parishioners, what feels good today may not tomorrow and hence lead to a morally acceptable shift over time.  This happens even with God centered religion involved so there is no reason to feel secular religion would fair any better.  Some will argue that Godless does not always equate to selfish and I will agree with the “not always” part, however, this is an exception not the norm.  Want proof?  Look at divorce, fidelity rates, drug use, pick your poison.

What if we put God into the mix?  From Steven Weinberg’s view this would provide the excuse for good people to do evil things.  I am sure he would site the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition among his reasons for such a statement since we all know that the only atrocities in the world were motivated by religious teachings!  Religion is to often used as an excuse of those without any for the problems of the world.  There is a term for that, self-justification.  Since religion is practiced by humans who are imperfect there will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing leading the flocks of the world to do wrong.  The real problem is not with the religion but with the complacent and sheeple that follow blindly when diverting from the teachings of the religion.  There again the real problem is that people often do not even understand their own religion much less what is acceptable.  This is further exacerbated by the current culture of personal morality where people feel they can select which aspects of a religion they accept or deny to follow.  If you don;t like the rules, simply change them!  Christianity is perhaps the best example of this problem.  In reality religion leads people to more selfless acts if a person truly believes and is part of a peaceful religion.  Interestingly I would say that he only got the last part wrong, meaning ‘for evil people to do good things, that takes religion’!

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for evil people to do good things, that takes religion.
— Sensei Mitch, February 4, 2009

Meditation Point #125

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
4

wayne_john2“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway” —  John Wayne

I have a magnet with this quote on the Refrigerator and it is probably the most useful quote I’ve ever heard.  As men, that is what we do when we have to.  John Wayne was/is a great role model, to bad their aren’t more men in Hollywood, by that I mean on screen and off!

Do you have real Courage?

The Cost of Freedom

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
0

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands of those who feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you. May posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
— Samuel Adams

As Martial Artists this quote should have special meaning to us because our practice of the Martial Arts pays tribute to those who developed the arts in order to defend themselves from unjust servitude. Yes I know that is a broad interpretation but it is the spirit of the Martial Arts that I am speaking to, the spirit to be free despite the outward bent of society.

Faith

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, Quotes, Reviews
2

I am reading Give Us This Day – The Classic Memoir of the Bataan Death March for many reasons but mostly because I grew up knowing one of these men and what little he told me had a great impact on my life. In reading this book I am discovering something about myself as well, especially the things I take for granted like my freedom.
The following passage really struck a cord with me as we to often tend to blame God for our problems. The following passage takes place a few days before the American soldiers were forced to surrender…

We had lain the whole day in the foxhole, fearing to raise our heads. The fury of death raged above us and as the night drew on, we huddled together. I could hear a man in one of the foxholes near us praying.‘Oh God, don’t let me die. Take care of me. Don’t let me die, God. Please God, don’t let me die.’

Side by side, Rass and I listened to the man’s words. We were used to our own prayers, seldom audible, but prayers nevertheless and fervent. Rass spoke up, speculating.

‘You know Sid, I don’t believe I’ve ever heard you come right out and pray to live. I know that you want to live, but I have never heard you ask God to let you live.’

‘No, Rass, I never have asked God to let me live, and I’ll tell you why.’ I looked over at his puzzled face in the faint light. ‘When I was a little boy, at home in Watonga, there was a hardware store that was giving away a little red car. You got tickets on this car with every so many purchases at this store. I have never seen a little car like that since. It had bicycle tyres and it was big enough for three kids to ride in it. It had a real gasoline engine, like a washing machine engine, I guess, because it went “pop, pop, pop.”‘

‘Dad and Mother saved up the tickets they got. I never in my life wanted anything like I wanted that little red car. For a month before the drawing I didn’t think a bad thought. All day long I kept thinking, if I’m real good, God will let me have that car. I’d pray every night for an hour down on my knees beside the bed. I’d pray that I’d win that little car.

‘Oh, the dreams I had of driving around in that little red car. It’s funny, but my mother was running around forcing tonics down my throat. She was sure I was sick because I was so darn good. And as the day came closer, I was more careful for fear I might even think something bad, or do something bad, and then I wouldn’t get that car.’

‘I’d go down in the afternoons and look at it and run my hands over it and her the sound of the motor going “pop, pop, pop.” The I’d go home and pray for that car.’

‘Finally the day of the drawing came and I stood with all the other kids and their folks. My dad had the tickets all laid out. I waited as a blindfolded little girl ran her hand down in a cage and drew out a number. When the number was announced–why dammit, Rass! I didn’t get that car. One of the meanest little kids in town got that car. And he never did anything good. I felt cheated. I felt that God had cheated me, Rass, because I didn’t win that car.

‘As I got older I used to think about it. The worst thing that could have happened to me was if God had let me win that car. I learned right then that a man hasn’t got a right to ask God for little red cars, because that’s not what we’re here for. God doesn’t go around giving little boys or grown men little red cars just because they ask for them. Men get little red cars because the work.

‘Since then I’ve seen so many die. Good guys too, Rass, guys that believed in God stronger then I do. When I see those guys die, I think, well, life is a luxury. Even if it isn’t a luxury I haven’t got the right to ask God to live. I’m not going to ask him for a little red car. With all these shells bursting around me I’ve got the feeling that my life is just like that little red car.’

My mind flew back to the day the war started and the prayer I had made after seeing the wounded lying in the hospital yard. God had given me what I asked for and Rass knew about that prayer. Things in my personality too weak for my control I had begged God to help me with. But life, no. It was a tangible, precious thing that I wanted with every breath. But hadn’t better men then I died praying to live? And God is great and I knew He wept for them and suffered their pain.

‘I do ask God to give me strength to take all this, to be a better man and to help me make myself a better man. If God wants me to live, if He’s got anything He wants me to do with my life, He’ll help me do it. If He wants me to live, He’ll let me. But I’m not going to ask for any little red cars.’

In my mind, Sid demonstrates a much stronger faith then he gives himself credit for. In ever battle, in every struggle, in every pursuit, if we can understand that we are not truly in control, that we cannot be, we will be more able to cope with fear. We can only control our inner self, to try to control more then that is futile and a waste of energy. We can choose to be one of two men who falls from a boat in deep water. One man struggles and splashes about in the water in a fearful attempt to not drowned only to exhaust himself and seal his fate. The other man, relaxes and does a back float accepting his state and waiting for what comes next, rescue or land. A proper faith in God helps us to accept those things which we have no control over. Faith is a formidable force.

I highly recommend this book: Give Us This Day – The Classic Memoir of the Bataan Death March. It is told in the first person with vivid details that capture your attention and make real this period of history. If you are at all interested in history or in the Japanese culture at that time this book is a must read!

Where are all the children?

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Articles of Interest, OffTopic
8

Today I had to visit the DMV.  For those of you not in America, that stands for Department of Motor Vehicles, or as I like to call it Department of the Mentally Vacant.  But I digress, while I was standing in line I spent about 20 minutes next to the free brochure rack.  This rack contains all of the useful tips and information that every bureaucrat thinks you need.  As I looked over the selection I realized something.  There were three tri-fold glossy brochures dealing with pets, how to make your driving vacation comfortable for your pet, the dangers of leaving a pet in the car during periods of heat, and, pet auto safety.  There were zero brochures on child safety. This gave me pause but it wasn’t until a little earlier when I was driving on the highway and I saw a bumper sticker that I felt compelled to blog about this.  A car had to bumper stickers that read “choose life, adopt a pet”.  It all crystallized at that moment.  Where are all the children?

Today if you suggest a woman should “choose life” you are vilified. You regularly hear about pet-issues.  People take their pets to daycare centers and spas, their kids are left to wander the streets.  We hear about animal rights and humane treatment but little about nurturing our children.  I recently found out that there have been 48,000,000 legal abortions just in America since 1973.  Yet there are animal shelters in almost every major town, for fear the animals will be put to death.  Where is the humanity in that?  I bet most people reading know where there is an animal shelter, but do you know where there is an orphanage?  Perhaps that is because unlike our animals we deal with our orphan problem differently.

I know there are still children, I know school populations have risen, so what.  The point is, where are the children in our thoughts and our media and our actions?  Count the bumper stickers and brochures you see and then answer that question.  Perhaps then we will begin to understand the problems we face with our youth, why we face 25% high school graduation rates in Detroit and Baltimore, a 35% graduation rate in New York.  Those are typical graduation rates nationally in case you are wondering.  How can our children succeed or care about themselves if we put them on a back burner, if we value them less then we value our pets?  The message is clear, “choose life and adopt a pet”, and our children are listening all to well.  Think about that the next time you are wondering how we are failing our children and why they have such little self-worth.

Useless Men

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes
4
Meditation Point #127
It amazes me who we choose to lead, regardless of party, but it is better said by a much better man…
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
John Adams
US diplomat & politician (1735 – 1826)

We should all reflect upon our history and the intent of our founding fathers however daunting a task that may seem.

Gaining Perspective

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Video
2

This video may be a little sappy for some people but it makes a great point about perspective and compassion.


[zdvideo]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/GainingPerspective.flv[/zdvideo]

More info on video clip available here.

We could all learn a little more about ourselves and others by simply taking the time to be more observant to those around us. It is amazing how a simple smile or common courtesy can change a persons day. Too often we forget the good times and focus on the bad, some become consumed by the bad moments, a moment of kindness could break that cycle for them. As we train we need to consider the perspective of our fellow students, people we meet and even our enemies. The more we master (equals defeat) our egos the more second nature this state of being becomes.

But the guy with the cookie, him I’d give a quick hit to the kidney, collapse his knee and then say excuse me…but that’s just me! 😉 I say that because, sometimes even people down and out need to be reminded to offer common courtesy and use decent manners.