Tuesday, March 9, 2010

judo is a puzzle

I got the judo bug bad right now. It is a challenging chaotic game. The lines are energy are not clean like in aikido practice. Nothing ever seems to work out like I plan it.

I was reading a judo book a while back and the author phrased a certain judo attitude interesting. He talked about solving the opponent. Interesting idea that, to solve an opponent. Not defeat, not overcome, but solve. You see each engagement on the mat is a puzzle.

Words are useful tools for changing our understanding and results. So let's look at the word puzzle and see how it relates to our budo practice. Perhaps 'puzzle' is a useful word to retool our attitude of the problem at hand.

puzzle - a toy contrived to test one's ingenuity

I think that is a lovely alternative definition for Judo.


1. To baffle or confuse mentally by presenting or being a difficult problem or matter.
2. To clarify or solve (something confusing) by reasoning or study: He puzzled out the significance of the statement.

Judo mind is a walk down yin and yang. It confuses and frustrates, while later enlightens. The problems that judo present me are a gift. I find that if I meditate on any particular problem long enough I can overcome it.


1.To be perplexed.
2.To ponder over a problem in an effort to solve or understand it.

To ponder. Yes that describes my relationship with judo well. I am often astonished at how ineffective I can be with my hard trained technique. Every obstacle is a gift. Indeed like the old Zen phrase goes, "the obstacle is the path." Like a koan, or zen riddle (a form of puzzle) a judo problem rattles around the brain and infects the judoka. The drive to solve the puzzle is what makes the judoka grow.


1.Something, such as a game, toy, or problem, that requires ingenuity and often persistence in solving or assembling.

Yes persistence in solving. Puzzle indeed.


  1. In the June 2007 Smithsonian Magazine, there was a good article on the difference between puzzles and mysteries, and the importance of knowing the difference.


    Puzzle have answers and can be solved. Mysteries have no answers and can only be framed. Sometimes, with new information or technology, a mystery can become a puzzle, but that's not the point here. Sometimes I unhappiness comes from not quite understanding the difference.

  2. Off topic post (question) Sensei Strange, but do you use any particular brand of brush in your painting? i am beginning in sumi-e brush painting . i am certain that my technique is lacking but the brushes i am using have a lack of "spring" don't know how else to put it. thanks for your consideration.

  3. I have bought a lot of lousy brushes. I generally favor sheep hairs brushes. Don't be shy spending money on brushes. Often you will get what you pay for. If you are looking for spring you might want a mixed hair brush.

    Here is a start for the eternal search for better brushes.


  4. "Solving a puzzle"! Wonderful! Thank you very much.

    And I don't know anything about sumi-e, but speaking as an artist with some experience painting, yes, you get what you pay for when it comes to brushes. Fork out the money and you will get a much nicer experience.

  5. Thanks Sensei Strange!