Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hataya Mitsuo Sensei

Hataya Mitsuo Sensei demonstrates Tameshigiri at the East Coast Takai on August 30, 2015 (video by Gary Price)

 That's the way you do it...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pali Canon Structure and indexation

As a Zen practitioner I am not really supposed to be interested in the Pali Canon -  some think I am not even supposed to be interested in any scriptures. But, whatever they say is not really going to help me... So as I was investigating dependent origination, I came to realize that you cannot really be serious about it without delving into it.

The Pali canon is huge. The Pali Text Society's edition of the Tipitaka (English translation) fills over 12,000 pages in approximately fifty hardbound volumes, taking up about five linear feet of shelf space. Moreover, a few of the more obscure books in the Tipitaka are simply still unavailable in English translation, so that if you really must read the entire Tipitaka, you'll just have to learn Pali.

The PTS has for over a century been the leading publisher of the Tipitaka, both in romanized Pali and in English translation, but many of their translations are now badly out of date. Much better translations of several portions of the Canon are now available from other publishers.

These new translations are also often commented in very interesting ways.

Most of the texts are available online. One of the difficulty for a novice is to navigate between various texts. The way these texts are referenced in articles may differ depending upon the translators

The Pali Canon is composed of 3 main branches.

... to be continued...

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hello everyone, 

Here is the update on the Miura Hanshi Mosaic. As per this Monday morning, April 24, 2015, the project has collected a total of $1,436.00 of a total goal of $5,500.00. Pledges have been coming mostly from United States and France.

For those of you who did not read my last post, here is what it is all about : 

I launched last week a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to realize a mosaic portrait of Sword Master Takeyuki Hidefusa Miura, Hanshi. Miura Hanshi left this world in 2012. He was the 20th Grand Master of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, the style of Sword I practice, and I would like to realize this mosaic as a tribute to his life of dedication to the transmission of this Art. 

The mosaic model.

The portrait I want to make of Miura Hanshi will be of him practicing "Tameshigiri": the actual cutting of targets with a real katana. Miura Hanshi was well know for his almost supernatural ability to cut rolls of papers with his sword.
Without men like Miura Hanshi, invaluable arts would be lost to humanity, and I want to realize this mosaic as a tribute to his life and dedication to transmit to us the Art and Spirit of generations of Samurais before him.  When this mosaic is complete, I will donate it to the Headquarters of the KNBK – the organization that carries on Miura Hanshi's teachings.

Here is the link to the project : The Miura Hanshi Mosaic Portrait.

Miura Hanshi cutting rolled paper

If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, this is how it works : 

There is a period of 30 days to raise the money (5,500.00). If you think the project is worthy and want to back it, please pledge some money. This is very easily done on the front page of project's Kickstarter website. You get rewards depending on the amount you pledge. This is also well described on the project's Kickstarter website.
When you pledge, the money is kept by Kickstarter in a special account. 

At the end of the 30 days (September 15, 2015) if the total amount has been pledged Kickstarter sends me the money and I get to work. If the total amount is not raised, you get fully reimbursed. 

I hope you find this project a valuable one and that you will participate to the cause. 

An other way to help would be to share this post to your facebook page and/or Twitter account, or any other social network you use. 

If you have any questions, please ask them, preferably through the Kickstarter site, so everybody can read them, and my answers.

Thank you

When I do not practice Karate, Iaijutsu or other Martial Arts, I am also a modern mosaic artist with a deep admiration for ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Arts. You can see my own mosaics on my site at mosaicblues

If you are interested by my mosaic work or would like to drop me a line 
please contact me by email at frederic.lecut@gmail.com  
or by phone at (334) 798 1639. 
   You can also
(and I recommend it !)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Raising Money / Mosaic Portait of Miura Hanshi

Some of you may know I am also a Mosaic Artist. 

I have just launched my first fundraising Kickstarter campaign to realize a mosaic portrait of Miura Takeyuki Hidefusa, Hanshi, 20th grandmaster of Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu (MJER) Iai Jutsu. 

This is the style of Japanese Swordsmanship I practice and teach. 

Here is the Link to the MIURA Mosaic Project.

If you are not familar with Kickstarter, this is how it works : 

There is a period of 30 days to raise the funds (US $ 5,500.00). If you want to back the project, you pledge money. Depending on the amount you pledge, you get rewards after completion of the project. These rewards are described in details on the project's Kickstarter website. 

When you pledge, your money is kept by Kickstarter on a special account.  At the end of the 30 days (September 15, 2015) if the total amount of money was pledged, Kickstarter sends it to me and I get to work. If the total amount was not pledged, you get a full refund of your money. 

I hope you find this is a valuable tribute to the memory of Miura Hanshi and will participate to the cause. 

If I can, with your support complete this project, I plan to later realize mosaic portraits of other Martial Arts Masters, beginning with Shimabukuro Hanshi.

Please ask me all the questions you want, preferably 

through the Kickstarter site, so everybody can read 

them, and my answers.

This project is a way for me to pay tribute to a great man. I never could meet Miura Hanshi, but many of my friends and instructors did. Without him, I would probably not be practicing Iaijutsu today.
When I do not practice Zen or Martial Arts, I am also a modern mosaic artist with a deep admiration for ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Arts. You can see my own mosaics on my site at mosaicblues

If you are interested by my work in mosaics or would like to drop me a line please contact me by email at frederic.lecut@gmail.com or by phone at (334) 798 1639. 
  You can also
(and I recommend it !)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Natural Selection

A classical story about the birth of a Traditional Martial Art goes this way :

A young lad's father or family are killed by people from another clan. The young lad wants revenge, but he is not strong enough. So he gets into a sort of mystical training quest - in Japanese "Shugyo". Gets alone in the mountains, trains hard during the day. Prays or meditates at night. Finally one day, a supernatural creature (God, Demon, Tesshu...) appears to him and grants him his wish : he teaches him a wonderful technique, or a set of them, that will allow him to overcome all his opponents.

We have multiple examples of these  : Hayashizuki Jinsuke, Founder of Hayashizaki Ryu and Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu, secluded himself in a Shito shrine to train and pray.

Ittosai Kagehisa. Founder of Ono Ha Itto Ryu. secluded himself in a temple to train.
Closer to us, Katsuoh Yamamoto, Founder of Yoshukai Karate, travelled to some mountains and woods to practice by himself...

We could go on for a long time. It is a common story , many people founded their own victorious way by secluding themselves, getting a fantastic idea, coming back to the world and winning everything.

But... We do not hear about the other ones, those who also secluded themselves, had (what they thought was) a fantastic idea, came back to the world, and died when they tried their (not so fantastic) idea. 

This is Natural Selection. Bad techniques, and those who invented them, do not survive the battlefields.

It does not matter what kind of great idea you have. You need to test it, against an opponent. If you win, good, find a mightier opponent to test it further. If you lose, well, it was not such a good idea. 

You can also train with a master, someone much more advanced than you, who will tell you how he feels about your ideas, in a non-lethal way. This is why we get teachers and masters. To help us on the road. I recommend this way...

And THIS is true for everything. It is true for Martial Arts, for Cuisine, for Ballroom Dancing and for Zen. The other day, this brilliant guy was explaining on Facebook how just Buddha had found enlightenment by himself so would he do the same and not rely on any master. Just that ! Arrogant prick ! Even Buddha trained under several Yogis before he went on his own.

Today, there is no shortage of Self appointed Martial Arts Masters, 9th degree black belt in numerous styles - some of these styles do not even grant Dan levels... There are also quite a few Roshi's - Zen Masters, with very questionable lineage... And this is regrettable.

Whatever you want to learn, find a good master, someone with credentials from an established, reputable lineage. Short of this, you might get hurt... 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Buddhist Humour

A monk once gained a vision of devas while meditating. The monk asked them, “Do you know where the end of the physical universe is?”
And the devas said, “No, we don’t know, but there is a higher level of devas. Maybe they know.” 

So the monk continued meditating and he got to the next level of devas. He asked them the same question, and he got the same answer: “There’s a higher level. Maybe they know.” This goes on for ten levels or so.
Finally, the last level of devas said, “No, we don’t know the end of the physical universe, but there is the Great Brahma. He must know. If you meditate hard enough, you may get to see him.”
The monk kept on meditating until the Great Brahma appeared in a flash of light.

He asked his question of the Great Brahma, and the Great Brahma answered: “I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be.”  

And the monk said, “That’s not what I asked you. I asked you where the end of the physical universe is.”
Again, the Great Brahma said, “I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma,” etc. Three times. The monk was not amused and kept asking...

Finally, the Great Brahma pulled the monk aside by the arm and says, “Look, I don’t know, but I have all these devas in my entourage who believe that I know everything. They would be very disappointed if they'd learned that I can’t answer your question.”

And Brahma sent the monk back to the Buddha, who answered the question after rephrasing it, pointing to where the physical universe has no footing in the mind. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tai Chi better than stretching.

Some self appointed specialists tend to believe - and are vocal about it - that all forms are exercises are beneficial. 


Some exercises can be detrimental to people; some exercises are more beneficial than others.

Since 2004 The Oregon Research Institute has been running an evidence-based fall prevention program for community-dwelling older adults. 

A study was carried out on a sample of 256 physically inactive, community-dwelling adults aged 70 to 92 recruited through a patient database in Portland, Oregon. The participants practiced either Tai Chi or a routine of Stretching exercises three-times-per-week for a period of 6 months.

At the end of the six-month program the risk for multiple falls in the Tai Chi group was 55% lower than that of the stretching control group. Compared with the stretching control participants, the Tai Chi participants showed significant improvements.

Read the Full article here.

My name is Frederic Lecut and I have been teaching Tai Chi and Iaido in Dothan, AL. since 2000.

If you would like to learn more about Tai Chi or come try it for free for one week, please contact me by email at frederic.lecut@gmail.com or by phone at (334) 798 1639.