Monday, November 28, 2011

getting hit on the way in....

"I never told you that you wouldn't get hit."
This was a passing comment from a sensei at a recent seminar I attended at another dojo. I knew what he said was valid, and have thought about it before, but it resonated with me this time more than ever. In our style of jiu-jitsu we are taught to immediately move in towards our opponent, so the risk of getting hit--even while blocking--is definitely there.
"I rather take 40 per cent going in and then give 100," explained the instructor. "And the day you aren't afraid is the day you really get hurt."
During the two-hour session we learned and practiced many solid techniques, from joint locks to punch counters. But it was the words such as those above that made the bigger impact on me.
Another comment had to do with the practical nature of low kicks. "Up high is fine for tournaments and practice, but on the street it's foolish." This, too, I've heard before (even in the writings of Bruce Lee), however, there are many respectable individuals who disagree that I've met as well.
Regardless, sometimes it's the little comments that make one really think.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Judo joint locks...

Not being a sport judo historian per se, I found this quote intriguing:

"Attacks against all joints were permitted in early judo contests...(but) have gradually been restricted in tournaments to elbows only. In 1899, locks of the fingers, toes, wrists, and ankles were banned (knee entanglement or twisting knee locks were banned in 1916). Joint lock attacks were limited in contests to the elbow in 1925..."

-- Judo Unleashed, Neil Ohlenkamp

Elbow locks, the book's author says, allows more opportunity to "tap before injury can occur." It also says that further locks are explored in judo kata. I can't verify this, as I am not a full-fledged judoka, but I am sure some of my readers can definitely speak to this.

I just like the notion of how people today debate the merits of point sparring, grappling, MMA etc., when judo seems to have been analyzing safety vs. realism for so long now. Although I understand certain other techniques have been banned in judo over the years, I'd be very interested in discovering what more recent adjustments have been made in sport judo, and the pros and cons of such decisions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

final report...???

Well, I finally gave my leg the full test.
And, touch wood, it held up wonderfully.
Don't get me wrong, I still fear a recurrence of the muscle pull (tear?), but I did some light sparring exercises for the first time since the injury occurred and walked away intact. For those who recall, it was such exercises that were involved in the initial injury. I also used my full weight for other techniques and even kicked the heavy bag full tilt again (this felt good--a lot of pent up tension).
But here's the catch. I took my four-year-old ice skating and felt a twinge by merely doing slow laps of the rink with him. This reinforces caution, of course, but hey, at least the dojo time went well.
So hopefully the injury reports are finished for now and some serious (and not so serious) training can get back under way.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

gallery images....

I stumbled upon the above images at

The artists are, in order, Bai Xiojun, Quan Handong, Zhou Xiao, and Luo Yanan. The gallery is located in Edgarton, MA, in the US.

Monday, November 7, 2011


This story has been in my head for awhile.
A friend, and competent practitioner of the martial arts, was walking down a city street at night with a friend when he was attacked. Two men jumped them and put the one friend into the hospital with pretty bad injuries. My friend was beaten, too, but not nearly as severely.
Since that night, about three years ago, my friend has completely stopped training as he felt his skills didn't 'kick in' when needed. He has become disillusioned and cynical when it comes to the art form he used to love.
Now, I don't want to write a post about how he should resume training and how it could have happened to anybody etc. Nor do I want to comment on his teacher or his style--as I don't think that was the issue anyway.
Instead, I just think about why he feels the way he does and how I would feel
if that happened to me. Are we allowed to 'lose'? Are we allowed to have 'doubts' and weaknesses'?
It reminds me of how real violence can be, and how instincts differ from person to person.
I know there is a gap in my friend's life to this day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

the zen of the west....

The modern merging of eastern and western thought is not actually new.
Many ancient texts and thinkers of the West incorporated a less linear approach to the Natural world, the cosmos, and humankind, including the Gnostic Christians who were wiped out en mass in the early days of the Universal Church. Later, the emergence of Hermetic thought echoed more abstract ideals (claiming lineage from Egypt), and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno were martyred for philosophies that may have rivaled the innovation of Galileo. (Bruno claimed the sun was, in fact, a star, and was one of an infinite number in the Universe).
While I'm not suggesting these thinkers had personal ties to the East, I am asserting that there was more simultaneous and similar thought processes apparent in the West and East throughout history. (Even alchemy can be linked, albeit different in expression, to both China and Europe).
Here's some quotes from some of the more influential and occulted texts of the past centuries in Europe:
"In a sense, the Cosmos is changeless, because its motions are determined by unalterable laws.... Its parts manifest, disappear and are created anew... Even the present does not last, so how can it be said to exist...?" -- the Hermetica
"The All creates in its infinite Mind countless universes... The infinite Mind of The All is the womb of the universe." --the Kybalion
What happened, historically, is that much of the Western thought that did not toe the party line went underground or became protected by secrecy. A good example is alchemy, whereby under exoteric terms it was a science to do with transforming metals, esoterically it was a guideline to transform one's soul into purity. This, to me, is not unlike seeking enlightenment through contemplation and/or physical training.
So the merging of East and West is just like using both sides of the brain. Each contains knowledge of the other, yet expresses it in varied ways.
But the blending is far from a recent phenomenon.