There are no men with two souls or two minds. Some are broken and some are scratched by events and time but we are still on an even plain in heart and mind. Our bodies all go up and down and need a mother and father to raise and introduce to the world.
The more we are proud, the more we are away from this plain within our thoughts and feelings. The more we judge a person on a scale, the more we are blind to the lessons they deliver at our doorstep.
All of us are people carrying the same torch and trying to do our best though it varies in perceived success and affect.
Pride keeps you away from the world by a guarded set of ropes you climbed and it does not allow you to continue to climb the rope with honesty and awareness. If you think, you are a Master than you stop learning. If you think you are right than you stop listening, If you think you deserve something you stop working for it and your life will be less rich and plentiful from that moment on.
Be yourself. Not proud, just yourself.
The purpose of a white belt in the Asian martial art is to signify a beginner student. Both the first lesson and the leader of a system wear a white belt. Please consider this in your own choices.
It is easy to rely on the support of the bottom in the shallow water but once you are deep you must learn to swim. We rely on deflecting, guiding and manipulation in conversation physical fights and in our own heads and hearts. That works great as long as everything is under control and logical but the second the universe stops playing along with your perceptions and inner constructs your martial art and inner world will not work anymore.
By offering no resistance to the world from other people’s opinion of you and your loved ones and by not trying to control others movement you will release the freedom that is locked behind fear and it’s doppelganger aggression.
A drill to make things relevant.
Someone comes to attack you with a fist holding the butts of a few screws in the nooks of the fist (between fingers and in the palm) or both fists as awareness is released. You move only toward him or her allowing your body and limbs to make contact but only traveling with the contact and not stuck on a point of contact. Continue to move very slowly at first and faster as you gain the difference between moving someone else and moving yourself.
Ideas to make the work more rewarding:
walk through a thorny growth without pulling or pushing on the thorns (avoid poisonous growth 🙂
Close your eyes and allow the contact to come to your body and just move your body to avoid discomfort without relying on barriers made of your limbs or tools to understand the beginning of movement.
Allow the partner to approach you from different directions so you learn to start moving from where you are.
Avoid insisting on keeping the contact within your eyesight. It is simply another leverage.
Fear of the body of any switch from the status quo. The body has no knowledge of hospitals or medical help. Any injury can prevent producing progeny and thus logically should be avoided. Any unknown range of movement for example belongs in this unknown and if we made it to this day without it, it is not a must.
Fear of the unknown as a risk that cannot be estimated. What is behind door number two? What lies beneath me in the dark?
Fear of the imagined unknown. How will the limb coming my way augment chances of me eating solid foots in the near future and so on. This usually results in us acting on those imagined futures and missing out on what is happening now.
Fear that comes from our genes: fear of loud noises and heights and mothers in law if you are of Polish decent. Trying to overcome it instead of accepting it will result in ulcers cancer and the like. Listening to these fears openly and honestly will result in being a reasonable person who can put them in the right place when needed.
Fear of the mind from any switch from the social status quo. The human animal survives in groups and must therefore abide by the laws of the group. Any chance of ostracizing by the group may result in death and lack of progeny.
We walk with our feet on the ground. We crawl with our belly to the earth and we roll side to side no matter which gave contact first.
Sometimes and working honestly with unstable structures such as sticks with round ends or people you can find support you can use from what others consider resistance or obstruction. For example your knife strike was blocked by a forearm which is supported by the body (working the movement gives more than you may consider) so you can use the pressure not as an obstacle but as a drive to the other side of the body to come in. On the other hand, forgive the pun, you can add to the pressure of the forearm by pulling the defending arm to you and by doing so removing the emotional defense the person in front of you has and allowing him to either ingest the blade if need be while working or learn and become a humbler more aware person.
Another example is working solo with a sturdy stick with a rounded end. You sit or lie on the ground and while holding onto the stick you move your hands from the body to the stick to lift you to the upright and then descend again down gently. Learning to give just what the moment requires, no more and no less. Getting one thing right and sticking to it is a sure way to failure. Do no cling to success or your study will be fruitless.
In the west it is considered heroic in many cases to loose your temper and go berserk. You hear about acts negating reason and consideration that succeed once in a while and those who perform them and live are considered heroes. An experienced soldier would care little to a heroic person in his fox hole as those tend to get themselves and others killed.
Most babies are born with the same attributes including mental and bodily feelings of fear and pain. In society we are pressed to suppress and ignore those feelings and when they come out as violence or the breaking of social rules we are judges and punished for them.This outlook is supported by the governing religion which also judges us for the negative thoughts and actions in the balance and considered those negative acts as influence of some evil being or some evil that is borne within us.
When you juxtapose this treatment of our nature to conflict we view the blade coming toward us with fear and prediction of pain and try to avoid it. Since the fear and pain reside in the back of our heads and constricted in our social body movements (sit straight, don’t make faces, suffer in silence, be a man) they affect us without our awareness to it and cause to anything within the range of freezing out of terror to acting out of control as a berzerker.
As teachers, friends and family we all have this inside us and being honest about our fear and pain in speaking of ourselves and others and in our movements.
Examples of putting things to practice:
Have a partner place his fist on your face or other sensitive spots and apply twisting pressure inward. Keep breathing and place your fists or hands and your lower limbs on his body to see and feel all the open spaces left beside the path of the fist. Repeat the drill with your partner moving toward you with the fist raised already and you using tension in the body, breath holding and eye closing to make all the emotions and feeling come alive and manifest and as the contact is made release the holds and start moving freely. Have a partner hold you tight with his limbs and body and resist with your muscles opposing the feeling of constriction until you tire and then allow yourself to move where you are free. Have a few partners each hold to a limb and raise you in the air. Have them move you and turn you with you tensing against them and once you had enough follow the initial movement of breathing and move using small and then larger movements out of them to find the already existing opening.
In your home close your eyes and perform by touch and sound daily tasks such as cleaning and cooking. Close your eyes and hold your breath and travel without making a sound from one end to another of your house or your place of work if this is possible. Remove your shoes and walk barefoot over natural ground while looking forward and up and paying attention to the signal your feet are giving you before placing any of your mass on your foothold and pay attention your expression when under pressure. Avoid putting on a mask of calmness as it just forces the fear beneath the surface and accept yourself as human. There lies the true wholeness of acceptance and from that you will be free instead of bottling things inside you until they either explode or harm you in other forms.
In one sentence: Smile at your follies as they happen and they will be your tools. Scowl and hide them and you will be a tool to them.
“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
What can we learn from this:
See everything with new eyes as it is and not as something held at the back of our heads
Hold nothing in excess and let emotion come and go leaving no worries to dwell on
Every moment brings us a chance to learn something and grow. Do not waste
Smile simply because you are alive
Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired and listen to yourself. Lead yourself from a point of being in the moment every moment
I am not a religious person but I try to see the good in everything and share what little I have. A student asked me what is the connection between martial art and religion and I say decide for yourself.
If you need to motivate yourself to do something it means you are not paying attention. Take for example the push up. On your fists, on a stick, from ropes, legs in the air, on a wall and so on. Inhale going down, no breath at all, one arm at a time, of a partner and so on. When you make something seem one dimensional it loses it’s functionality to you and so there is no dire need to do it. When you are cold and do push ups to warm up or keep limber in the sub zero desert it serves a purpose and there is movement from within without any of the silly I need to do this or that.
To me all things are breathing drills, paying attention drills, humility drills. All essential to my survival and well being. I don’t need to do push ups. I am someone who pays attention when doing push ups.
And nothing beats slow push ups in the tide 🙂 Gives a real sense of the importance of breathing and your own perception of time…
If your training does not humble you then what is it you are training ?
Letting go of tension and resistance to change is easy to illustrate but the work must be done on all planes of being. Mental, body and heart. Addressing all of these will enable you to keep moving and find a way to get the job done no matter what is happening.
Start with the emotional body by sitting down on your behind and letting a partner push your face with his hand toward the ground. Exhale and avoid resisting but add to the movement after you blend with it to avoid injury when the need arises. The face is very delicate so the partner needs to keep himself in check when he stands up and starts to push the face and head with his feet or shoes but this is an excellent drill once the student is ready for it!
Continue to squatting down and letting yourself be shoved and pushed without letting any resistance rise and in this consider each touch to a blade being shoved into you so avoid fighting and find a way to keep breathing and moving. Once this is done for a while repeat the drill as the squatter is holding his breath with increasing shove count and this will help him or her to release more emotion out and act instead of react. again pay attention to each other and remember to help each other learn rather than break them.
If the squatter is resisting to the point where the standing partner can lean his foot or hand on the partner and lean have them tense up on contact to become aware of it so later on they can shorter and then discard the unneeded tension and just move toward the solution.
Here you will find a good drill for the squatter in continuous movement letting the breath lead you back to the squatting alignment and whenever your partner finds you fall rather then move he will encourage you with a swift but gentle contact to the rear…
Repeat the drill standing and then walking toward each other and once you feel you can let go of the resistance to contact start to move yourself through the partner again without letting tension pass from him to you. This is a more involved drill were you both move through and allow others to move through the space you are currently taking and it will allow you to move in crowds and work with several people at the same time once you allow it to seep humility into your heart mind and body.
Start with the basics and when things become easy make them more simple and you will get where you want to go.
Before striking the wall relax in the static push up and walk on your fists and feet.
Before you roll from standing to ground to standing start by flipping up and down on the ground and sitting down and getting up.
Before you start talking strikes learn to walk in all directions and in all heights from a squat to a full standing height.