Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Butcher

"A good cook goes through a knife in a year, because he cuts. An average cook goes through a knife in a month, because he hacks. I have used this knife for nineteen years. It has butchered thousands of oxen, but the blade is still like it's newly sharpened.”

The butcher then goes on to explain how little effort is needed to be effective, and how by following the natural structural patterns within the animal—that of the tendons, bones etc.—no resistance is met by the blade.
"The joints have openings, and the knife's blade has no thickness,” he adds.
The observer is elated and leaves the butcher having learned a “principle of life.”

*see journeyman's blog Yielding in the Martial Arts.

Monday, May 24, 2010

If you want to become whole,let yourself be partial.

If you want to become straight,let yourself be crooked.

-- Tao Te Ching

Monday, May 17, 2010

The culture in which we currently exist throws an endless amount of spiritual sand in our eyes. It encourages us to focus on the external. It discourages self-mastery and rewards hard work with financial gain alone. Yet our traditions were all forged in the ways of the spirit. These were paths often difficult to tread; paths that were both quiet and introspective.
Says Nicklaus Suino in his book, Budo Mind and Body:
“There are few places left in our society where we can examine life without it being reflected through the lens of some television producer or ad agency’s idea of what might sell a product. Alone in the dojo with a two-hundred-year-old kata and the limitations of your own body, there is little room for romantic notions of short-term gain, yet what you take with you when you leave the dojo has value in a way nothing you can pay money for ever will.”
Perhaps many people avoid confronting themselves in such an up-close manner. Maybe there is comfort in the external distractions of the real world. After all, as Suino suggests, we are not just building strengths but facing our weaknesses in order to do so, “even when it makes (you) uncomfortable.”
But the key word I have repeatedly heard in regard to traditional arts is cultivation. It is a word that describes not only growth, but dedication and patience as well. And we cultivate ourselves upon the foundations left by those who came before us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Judo Unleashed by Neil Ohlenkamp

I find myself, when I have any questions about a throwing technique, returning to this book: Judo Unleashed. It is clear, shows variations, and best of all, illustrates proper foot placement.

(these feet are not paired with above technique, but it is meant as an example)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Chronic injury was a major reason why I did not follow through with martial arts training over a decade ago. It was the reason I took up Taoist Tai Chi for a while, as I was looking for a low impact style that would promote healing. Meanwhile, an ex-kickboxing roomate of mine spent time with me discussing blocks and strikes--and lending me Bruce Lee books.

When I finally committed to training more recently--more seriously--the injury reappeared and I was crushed. The last time it occured it had lasted almost two years. But I decided I was going to continue no matter what. Fortunately, the injury healed within about a month. Since then I have had others, some of which have healed and others are still nagging. A lot. However, this time I have realized that most people who train hard go through similar issues--especially adults--and that while focusing time and energy on healing and avoiding techniques that will prolong the injury is important, that fighting through these imperfections of body is for many just part of the gig.
My training partners are good at remembering to be mindful (for the most part) as am I with any injuries they may have. And in truth, the days following a visit to the dojo, I usually feel better than the day before. I guess adaptability becomes paramount. And the goal to transform any weaknesses into strengths.