Monday, September 19, 2011

Saturday Shiai

Saturday I got invited to join an informal judo tournament between the major Austin clubs. Most were from Kokoro dojo's team, there was a judo/BJJ guy and a few from the old Round Rock martial arts.

My first three matches were uneventful. It ended being the mutual fall over to ground work sort of affair. I controlled my opponents fairly quickly. I scored an arm bar, pin and a choke.

The fourth match was with the BJJ/Judo guy. He was young and strong. He felt like a statue of rigidity. I slipped on a lovely standing choke and his face went purple. It took him about all he had, but he got out at the last second ad commented that he had never felt that before. After some balance breaking back and forth I drove him into the ground, and we entered the briefest ground work session I have ever been part of. He snapped in a arm bar that was pure art. It is lovely experiencing technique that clean. Hats off. It never bothers me losing to good technique.

The fifth match I found myself outclassed. He moved in a beautiful entry and lifted me off the ground. Sadly as I came down all of my weight was driven into my shoulder. I felt the snap. Shoulder separated. Damn.

No training for at least 2 months. Likely I am going to be feeling it for far longer. I have been on an odd emotional ride, knowledge that I will not be training along with sleepless nights have me feeling a tad off. I might not be able to take my braille final that I have been studying for since June.

But I am open to the new lessons. Time to learn to use my left hand. Time to see what life is like as a non-martial artist is like. A different path opens up as another one closes. Adventure ahead!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kung fu lives in how we treat people

The one gem of knowledge that came through in Jackie Chan's version of Karate Kid is found in the line "Kung fu lives in how we treat people." Good stuff.

I first joined the martial path as an 11 year old. I was tormented at school by a pack of bullies. Bullies by their very nature have power and use it to oppress and attack the weak and defenseless. I was an innocent child with no fighting spirit. I simply had no anger, I had no desire to hurt another. All I felt was fear. I was a punching bag for the other kids. Children outside the gaze of authority can be every bit as cruel as adults, maybe worse.

The past year has seen an interesting rise in aggressors in my life, from people who have never met me. I have weathered a storm storm of insults. But I am not the innocent child who will live in fear. My thoughts will not be hidden away. I have a voice and I have opinion. Despite how I am treated I will always treat everyone with courtesy and respect.

Following is an clip verse 27 from the Tao that has greatly influenced the way I interact with my fellow man.

Thus the Master is available to all people
and doesn't reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
and doesn't waste anything.
This is called embodying the light.

What is a good man but a bad man's teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man's job?
If you don't understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
It is the great secret.

So despite being treated poorly, why would I not attack back? Like the 11 year old self I have no desire to harm another. Further I have no desire to waste my energy on people who treat me poorly. After a lifetime of experience I am not that defenseless 11 year old any longer. I have no need to feel fear. I will not be bullied again.

Jackie reminded us in his movie, kung fu lives in how we treat people. I choose to have good kung fu. I choose to treat people well. I choose to have positive kung fu where the world is full of friends, not enemies. I choose not to engage in battles where there is no positive outcome. My kung fu is to help protect the defenseless and never to attack and insult another. I choose to have a kung fu of creation and protection, not destruction.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Pink Sticker

I first wrote this on Thursday September 13, 2001

When I was 17 I used to borrow my mother's car. It was a 1986 Ford Taurus with a big pink sticker on the back that said "visualize world peace." To my 17 year old world nothing was cool about it. I used to carefully peel off the sticker from the bumper and attach it to the dashboard. I did not want anyone catching me driving around with such a lame sticker on the back of an already lame car.

In college I studied forensic anthropology under the professor that worked both the Oklahoma City bombing and the Branch Dividian fire. He said that whenever he worked a case the blood and bodies would never affect him. He could work on the body of a child that had been crushed by a bus and he would be OK. However, when he saw the crushed frame of a bicycle he would burst into tears.

Terrible things are unfolding in the world right now. I have been watching the news with shock and disbelief with the rest of the world. The images of planes and burning buildings are haunting. But when I watched it I was OK. Then on the news they showed a scene from Palestine. Old women were dancing and celebrating in the streets because they had heard the news of the attack.

I openly wept.

I wept for these people so full of anger and pain they relish in the misery and destruction of others. I wept because because this is the cause of the tragedies that humans purposefully inflict on one another. I wept because they are lost children. I wept because the this joy they felt was the reason so many others were hurting.

When a society makes enemies with another society an interesting process called dehumanization starts. Basically one group transforms the other group in their minds. They demonize them or make them less than human. During World War 2 the allies painted the Japanese as robots. The Japanese believed the Americans to be demons. The Nazis likened the Jews to a disease. This happens in every war.

It deeply saddens me to see another society viewing mine as demons.

Dehumanization happens because it is easy to kill a robot, demon, zealot, or animal. It is not easy to kill a human of equal value.

In the Tao De Jing:

"When it comes time to pick up the weapons of war, one should do so with a heavy heart."

...and so the kharmic wheel turns and the old hate creates new. Many people have died and many more will. The weapons of war are being readied, hopefully with the most heavy of hearts. I see the things that must be done, but I pray I never see in the streets of America what I saw in those streets of Palestine - celebration of the misery of others.

Now I wish to God I had never taken that sticker off my mother's car that said "Visualize World Peace." I don't just visualize it. I pray for it, I scream to the heavens for it. I feel a great sadness in its eternal absence. Maybe world peace is an impossible dream, but if we don't visualize it we never stand a chance of even tasting it.

Visualize World Peace

Walk In Peace

Friday, September 9, 2011

I wear a rope

Although I had announced it several weeks ago on facebook, I had not gotten around to talking about it on the blog. Looking around the martial arts world I have become tired of people's politics over belts. It really is a silly game. The politics are not even my own, nor concern me, but I see how they make people all goofy. I decided to shed the politics of rank on the mat - I now wear a rope. Actually I wore no belt for a while, but people got tired of seeing my belly. So a rope it is, unless the gi covers my flab. Here is a photo of me at a workshop last weekend among judo, aikijujitsu and aikido practitioners. I am the ugly guy in the middle wearing a rope. My gi had just been torn off and shredded by the old guy to my left so I had to grab my old kendo one from the back room.

Why do I wear a rope? I give everyone who shares the mat with me the right to grade my according to whatever system they see fitting. While many teachers have granted me rank in the past few decades, that is between me and them. I don't expect anyone else to respect or care about that. I invite you to grade me according to your own system as we play. I have no intention of lording rank over you, that you probably don't respect anyhow. If I have something to offer I will teach. I you have something to offer I will listen. Likely I will listen even if you don't think you have anything to offer. I am done with the politics game, let's hit the mat.

In other news, and timely with my disgust in rank issues, Bullshido has gotten around to giving me the stink eye. I invite any of my readers to join in the fun and flogging me. I believe it is under the thread labeled - So American Judo doesn't totally fellate equine genitalia. I believe I was used as a counter argument to that thesis. I have little ego in the game, so have at it kids. I would especially like the guys who I work out with to take a look, as the fighters at Bullshido seem to have a serious problem with our methods. Listen to the criticisms and take a serious look at your training. Get a new workout group if you have questions about your training at all.

Patrick Parker sent me the following cartoon.