Study to Train

ktadmin Posted in Articles of Interest, Control, Karate, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , , , ,
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Why do we train?  Why do we study the Martial Arts?  Why do we do all these forms?  Why don’t we just fight?  Why? Why?

It is the classic question posed in hundreds of films like the Karate Kid.  The answer isn’t as crystal clear and the payout isn’t as dramatic in real life.  In real life Daniel Larusso (played by Ralph Macchio) would have probably lost.  That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t learn the same lessons, but it wouldn’t be a box office success!  This is something however you can’t read about, you have to experience it, even then very few look past the failure to learn anything.  If you are one that does than I commend you, you are on your way to Mastery of, well anything.  Where am I going with all this?

Why do we say study instead of train with respect to the Martial Arts?  Because we train to learn basic skills and physical movements.  We study so we can learn to extend, to go beyond what training alone can teach.  Kind of like the difference between Po and Tai Lung (in Kung Fu Panda), Po studied where Tai Lung trained.  Tai Lung was limited by his physical self.  Whereas Po went beyond his physical self, allowing him to push beyond his physical limits and succeed.  I know that is kind of deep and to some it will sound like rubbish, take from it what you will.

The point is, the martial arts teaches us to look within; evaluate our motives, behavior, beliefs, mindset, in total, our self.  Unfortunately for some this becomes a religious experience, it is not, nor should it be.  The martial arts can exist harmoniously with religion but using it to replace religion is to train without studying.  Ultimately the martial arts teaches us control of the Self.  This is similar to Self-Control but not the same.  When you are angry you demonstrate self-control by not hitting or screaming at the person who angered you.  When you are in control of the Self, you see the anger but are not affected by the anger, you are calm, cool and collected.  Think about a situation, which is more frightening, an opponent who is red in the face with anger or one who is calm, cool and collected?  That is what I thought.  What is it about the calm, cool, collected that you find so unnerving?  When you attain it you will understand that there is nothing and everything to be feared.  Bruce Lee was known for his control of Self.

The Martial Way is not easy.  First come training, which leads to Self-Control, more training opens the mind to Study, which if pursued, leads to control of Self.  Sounds easy enough, just five “simple” steps!!  But the way is hard; the way we live our lives; the society we live in makes it even harder.  There is to much noise in most of our lives, even if we don’t engage it, the noise is all around us (in Western Societies).  The Martial Way is quiet, reflective and simple.  Quiet the opposite of the way the world around us suggests we should live our lives!  Self-control is the first major hurtle and honestly our society and values of instant gratification and worldly pursuits make it a difficult hurtle to master.  Do you have what it takes?  Will power and focus?

What I am describing is not the Martial Arts of the MMA or UFC.  That is not to say those are dishonorable pursuits or lacking in any way, honestly I admire their training and dedication.  But they where the trappings of the world, lots of noise and little control of Self.  Could you see Bruce Lee in a MMA or UFC commercial?  Perhaps.  Regardless of the path you choose, the path always starts the same…Training!  That’s right, get up, stop reading now and Train. (but when you finish training come back to read some more)

First comes Training, so Study to Train!

The Eleven Proverbs of Mas Oyama

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , , , ,
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  1. The Martial Way begins and ends with courtesy, therefore, be properly and genuinely courteous at all times.
  2. Following the Martial Way is like scaling a cliff – continue upwards without rest. It demands absolute and unfaltering devotion to the task at hand.hiji_oyama
  3. Strive to seize the initiative in all things, all the time guarding against actions stemming from selfish animosity or thoughtlessness.
  4. Even for the Martial Artist, the place of money cannot be ignored, yet one should be careful never to become attached to it.
  5. The Martial Way is centred in posture.  Strive to maintain correct posture at all times.
  6. The Martial Way begins with one thousand days and is mastered after ten thousand days of training.
  7. In the Martial Arts, introspection begets wisdom. Always see contemplation on your actions as an opportunity to improve.
  8. The nature and purpose of the Martial Way is universal. All selfish desires should be roasted in the tempering fires of hard training.
  9. The Martial Arts begins with a point and end in a circle. Straight lines stem from this principle.
  10. The true essence of the Martial Way can only be realized through experience. Knowing this, learn never to fear its demands.
  11. Always remember: In the Martial Arts the rewards of a confident and grateful heart are truly abundant.

Meditation Point #133 – Good v Evil

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , ,
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The best way to fight evil is with small acts of kindness.  — Gandlaf, The Hobbit

The actual quote is “…what I have found it is the small everyday deeds or ordinary folks that keep the darkness at bay.” but I like my version better.  And it holds true more often then we may like to consider.

It really is the little things in life that stay with us.  A sunrise, a smile from a passing stranger, someone stopping so you can cross the street in the rain, a kind word, a display of common decency, all of these thing recognize us and connect us as human beings, as equals.

Let me know what you think…

 

Results – Get Some

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, Questions, State of Mind, Training notes,Tags: , , ,
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The image says it all.  Think about it and then truly ask yourself if you are doing the work to get the results you want?

The Magnificent Exterior

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , ,
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The brothers praised a monk before Abba Anthony. When the monk came to see him, Anthony wanted to know how he would bear insults, and seeing that he could not bear them at all, he said to him, “You are like a village magnificently decorated on the outside, but destroyed from within by robbers.”
— St. Antony The Great (Anthony of Egypt is the Patriarch of all the Desert Fathers and of all Monks.)

I Love this quote, it demonstrates that Abba Anthony was a tough character who could not stand for fake people and people who did not know who they were. Sticks & Stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you, that is the point being made in this quote, words are harmless to those who know their worth. That last part, “words are harmless to those who know their worth” is a slight play on words, there are two ways to read it, both are correct.

I leave the rest for your reflection and comments.

Board Breaking

Sensei Posted in Fun Stuff, State of Mind, Technique, Training notes, Video,Tags: , , , ,
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Let’s start with a laugh, I like to say I’ve never met a board I didn’t like…
[zdvideo]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/terry-gantner-family-workout.flv[/zdvideo]

Well anyone who has attempted to break a board has experienced this at least once!  Lose your mental focus, feel fear or uncertainty, lose your physical focus and that will probably be you jumping around screaming!

Focus, this is the real trick in the Martial Arts or any fighting art, to much focus (see above) can be a bad thing.  While you may gain power you lose your situational awareness.  Instead of focus you need to train to stay relaxed, aware of your situation and fluid, this will give you the ability to react without the time delay of planned movements.  When I spar I rarely look at my opponent, in other words I do not focus on the person I am fighting.  Instead I relax my focus and heighten my awareness of the entire sparring situation, taking in their whole body or multiple attackers.  This is almost the opposite of what most students are taught when breaking boards.  Yet relaxing your focus can accomplish the same thing with the benefit of not getting tunnel vision.  You are simply putting your fist or knife hand strike to a defined spot, past the object, regardless of the object.

However I’d like to end by saying I have never met a board I didn’t like…

Perhaps I need to rethink that!

Body, Mind & Soul

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Religion, State of Mind,Tags: , ,
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When a Wise man thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, “Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?”

He heard a voice answering him, “Keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.”
— From The Life Of St. Antony The Great (Anthony of Egypt is the Patriarch of all the Desert Fathers and of all Monks.)

How does this help us as a Martial Artist?  As a Christian it always amuses me how God gets blamed for everything yet credited for little.  We see things from our own perspective and assume omnipotence.  The funny thing is most of us don’t even know ourselves and what is in our own hearts, let alone to be in a position to judge the justness of a given situation.  Instead we should be focused on our actions and the state of our soul.  How often does a student look with envy at the abilities of another student thinking they are naturally better than themselves.  Unknown to them are the countless hours this student with “natural ability” practices.  What St. Anthony was driving at is, in focusing on things we can not control, we take away from time that could be spent in perfecting ourselves.  That is not to say we exclude thoughts of others, but that we do so without envy, we take lessons from the world around us without letting the events distract us from perfecting ourselves.  Instead, we to often use lessons from the world to justify our current selves.

This might sound a little high minded but it is the essence of Martial Arts training, perfection of ones self.  Unfortunately unlike the above passage, Martial Arts training deals with the perfection of your mind and physical self.  Many mistake Martial Arts training and this sense of perfection for religion.  The broadening of our senses through training can give us a feeling similar to that of a higher connection, it is a false connection.  Unfortunately many are willing to deceiving themselves as this false religious feeling elevates them to the station of God, even though they believe it a connection with some larger Universal force or power.  This is the trap of many pursuits, Martial Arts, Higher Education degrees, any practice which expands the powers of the mind and body, yet neglects the soul.

I will leave you with that to ponder, to comment upon, and hopefully, to stimulate awareness.

Master of Distraction

ktadmin Posted in State of Mind, Technique, Video,Tags: , , ,
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This video will blow your mind. It very well demonstrates how to maintain control of a situation and your opponent. But it’s most important point is in the use of distraction.

[zdvideo]http://karatetraining.org/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/martialArtsExpert.flv[/zdvideo]

Enjoy!!

Happy Thoughts

ktadmin Posted in A Zen Thing, Awareness, Quotes, State of Mind,Tags: , , , ,
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To think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral down into ever increasing unhappiness.
To think good thoughts, however, requires effort.
This is one of the things that discipline – training – is about.

James Clavell, in his novel “Shogun”

I read this book as a young man and have to say it is still one of my favorite novels.  At the time I was training very hard in Karate and this novel steeped me even further in the history and culture of old Japan, brutal, savage yet elegant.  Today I teach students in the art of Karate and hopefully Life.  I am an avid observer of the world and I see increasing negativity in general.  One of the aspects of how I train my students is control of themselves and their minds.  The above quote goes to the root of my teachings (though I never connected the two) in that we control nothing in the world without first controlling ourselves.  Negative thoughts are destructive to yourself, your world and those around you, it is like a disease.  Our thoughts are ours to do with as we please.  Yes our thoughts can be influenced by the things around us.  That is why it is a bad idea for an Alcoholic to hangout in a bar with his/her friends.  Ultimately though we have ourselves to deal with, the environment or situation we are in are only as influential as we let them be.  This all sounds so easy but it is a lifetime of work and practice and failure to become proficient at.  The world is dynamic but our inner world’s are infinitely more dynamic, to infinity and beyond!  But like any lesson it starts small, baby steps, with awareness.  We cannot change or control anything we are unaware of, become and observer of the world.  First we need to see the small things most people never see.  We can find perfection in the small things, the cut of sunlight through a cloud or the beat of a butterfly resting on a flower, or even the silence of being totally alone in a room.  Some of the things you will notice may make you uncomfortable in a strange way, that is your body fighting awareness the way you fight waking in the morning (if you are like me!).  What does this have to do with not being negative?  Everything.  You could start by focusing on not thinking negative thoughts, however your success would be short lived.  You have to have something to fill the void left by the negative thoughts you eventually will banish.  Why?   Because your brain never stops, it is always churning away, in the computer world we call that paging.  Paging is moving information into and out of usable memory, if you page to much you can’t do any useful computations or make any useful observations.  Observing the little things in the world require you to stop thinking so much, to quiet your mind or in computer terms to limit or stop paging so we can take in new information.  As you do this you are increasing your positive memories and thoughts and reducing your negative thoughts without trying to force it.  You will eventually get to a point where you will be able to control what your brain is processing positive or negative and more importantly know when you are paging negativity because you are more aware.  Awareness is one of the keys to good thoughts with its byproduct, happiness.  As an observer you often find yourself in a calm state of acceptance like someone watching a play…but that is a topic for another discussion.
‘Stop and smell the roses’ are words of supreme wisdom which few of us ever understand until it is to late.  Stay positive, train hard, train often.

To Serve & Protect??

ktadmin Posted in Awareness, Control, Law Enforcement, State of Mind, Technique, Training notes,Tags: , , , ,
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Here is a story that will make you feel safe…unfortunately it is an all to common event.
In ENFIELD, CT (as reported here)

Two female officers were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries Tuesday afternoon after responding to a reported domestic violence incident, police said.

One officer was struck repeatedly in the face and the other’s arm was injured while she was trying to protect herself, police said. Both were taken to Johnson Memorial Hospital, treated and released.

The two officers were at a house on Garden Drive around 5 p.m. when the altercation began, police said.

One person, a 15-year-old male, has been arrested. His charges have not been released because of his age.

There is very little discussion about cases like these because the violate the politically correct environment society wants.  In the comments on this article someone mentioned that there was no mention of the size of the 15 years old assailant, his size shouldn’t matter.  Police Officers are well equip and even if they are not should be sufficiently proficient at defending and subduing someone, especially two to one!  Any Martial Artist or self-defense instructor can show multiple ways for any situation to over power bigger, stronger opponents.   Of course experience counts for a lot, you can practice a technique all your life but until you try it in a live or realistic simulated environment it is untested.  The biggest problem with the above story is it demonstrates that the officers lost control of the situation, a luxury no Police Officer can afford.

Another commenter stated “Police Officers DO NOT receive hand-to-hand combat training.  They have not for almost 25 years, since a female officer was injured in training and sued over her injuries (and won).  I love what the public is willing to believe about those elected or hired to protect them, based on common sense yes, facts…no.”  Most people will not believe that first statement it is true, (which proves the third sentence), at least in Connecticut.  Some Officers seek their own training however while they should it is no replacement for training common to all Officers, where they can test and challenge each other.

Perhaps the next time you think about your safety you’ll remember this story and realize you are on your own more then you realize.  Perhaps it is time to get back to that Karate Class and hone your skills!?