Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wide is the Heaven of Boundless Samadhi,

Wide is the heaven of Boundless Samadhi, Radiant the full moon of the fourfold wisdom.

These two lines taken from The song of Meditation by Hakuin, express enlightenment and the perfection of the fourfold vision.

The word "Samadhi" is Sanskrit, and can be translated as "Right thought" or also "Evenness".
The meaning being a state where the mond is one and undisturbed, with no distracting thought.

The Samadhi of Repose we reach through sitting in Zazen.

Then we also have the Samadhi of Action.

There are times when you practice a Kata - a FORM - and reach that state where your mind and body are totally immersed. I do not perform the form, the form flows through me At that time, there is no me, there is no form, IT is just happening.

What is this IT that is happening ? The only thing I can say is that as soon as I am conscious and aware of IT, IT is gone. There is subject and object again, and IT is lost.

How do we get there ? Practice, practice, practice.

Once the form is known through your body and does not require any thought, it begins flowing through you. This is when your mind start playing tricks on you. You perform the form alright, but thoughts arise about anything, bills to pay, things to say...

Here are here a few tricks : Focus on your breath - Kokyu. In the case of the Short Tai Chi Form, which was designed with emphasis on breathing, make sure you breath In when your feet come together, Out when they get apart.

And focus on your feet. Put your weight on the front of the feet. Ideally the weight should be over K1, the 1st acupuncture point of the Kidney meridian, located on the sole of the foot, approximately one inch behind the joint between the 2nd and 3rd toes. You need to walk with little weight on your heels, as if one could slide a sheet of cigarette paper between the floor and your heel. Actually, your heel can be on the floor, but very little pressure should be on your heel bone. In order to do so, you will have to slightly bend your knees, and grab the floor with your toes.

It sounds easy to do, it is not. Just try it ! It is worth it. When it happens, you will always remember.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


We need 20 Volunteers Score Keepers help to keep score at the Yoshukai Karate Tournament held next Saturday, October 31st at the Dothan Civic Center.

Scorekeepers will get into the tournament free, a tournament T-shirt and we will feed you lunch.

If you are interested please let me know, and come to the Yoshukai Karate Dojo this Thursday October 29th at 6:00 p.m. for a meeting during which the process will be explained to you.

We will also go over the scorekeeping again Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Monday, October 26, 2009

MJER Seminar in Pensacola

This week end seminar in Pensacola was a great success, Ron and I arrived Friday and we spent the evening practicing Shoden Waza. Fred and Cody joined us Saturday, we spent the whole day cutting mats under supervision of Carl Long Sensei.

We learned a lot !

Sunday morning Sensei taught us some execises to practice Ono Ha Itto Ryu stances, and we went through all technics of Okuden Tachi waza and Okuden Suwari waza...Way above my head, nevertheless very interesting as some of the suwari waza explain other waza of the shoden and batto ho.

It will also be a good source of inspiration to practice our basics (thinking of Sets of various Nukitsuke after the Moniri pattern, forward, backward...)

Cody and I demonstrated our Kendo Kata in front of the whole group of participants who enjoyed it. A good warming up before next week end Yoshukai tournament in Dothan.

Went home Sunday afternoon, tired with lots of knowledge we now need to put into application...
I will soon publish my notes on this matter, mostly about Tameshigiri.

Thank you to Long Sensei for his precious instruction and to Patty Sensei and all the other members of the Big Green Drum Martial Arts Center who helped make this event a very fruitful and friendly one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Selecting a Katana for Japanese Swordsmanship - Weight and Balance

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the benefits of heavy and light katana. Light katana can feel unsubstantial, but can make long practice sessions easier, specially if you have developed elbow problems. A heavy katana can help build up strength and may feel more like a Shinken.
I do not believe however, that Iaido is meant to build up strength. If you really want to build up strength, use a heavy Suburito (Super heavy Boken) to practice repetitive cuts (Suburi).

Balance should be considered as well as weight. Your sword will feel heavier if it has a forward balance.

Balance is the measure of the balance point of an iaito in inches from the tsuba (guard). A larger balance point with a heavy blade will make the iaito feel very heavy. A heavy tsuba will make an iaito heavier, and improve the balance. A light tsuba will make the iaito feel more tip heavy and more like a shinken.

There are various ways to determine the balance point of a Sword. Below is an illustration of the unusual Scythian way to simultaneously determine the balance of 2 scimitars.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Search for the Mighty Pillow

Last night my dog Mugen escaped to go visit with his friends...
Awaken early this morning by the chickens squaking at him I got up to let him back into the house, then decided to get back to sleep.

I got in the bed, and there, Rage and Despair ! Could not find my pillow.

I looked everywhere around, under the blanket, on the floor around the bed. I just could not find it!

Puzzled by this disappearance, trying to think about what could have happened, I realized it was just there lying behind my head.

For all this time I had been searching it far from me, even out of the bed, I had not let my neck relax and was unable to feel it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tai Chi and Chi Gong Class at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center

I will teach a Tai Chi and Qi Gong class on Saturday, October 17 at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center from 11:00 to 12:30.

It is said that when the first Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma came from India to China, he taught 2 sets of Qi Gong exercises to enhance the monks physical (Yi Jin Jing) as well as spiritual (Xi Sui Jing) abilities.

Qi Gong literally mean Energy exercises. They are designed to improve generation and transportation of energy – physical as well as mental - within us. You could say in fact that any kind of exercise is a Chi Gong. Chinese people practice many different ones. Some are aimed at relaxation, some at developing strength or speed, some at healing physical or psychological ailments.

Tai chi is a form of Qi Gong that uses martial arts moves performed at very low speed to also enhance flexibility and balance.

During this Saturday class, we will practice moves from the Yi Jin Jing taught by Bodhidharma, breathing exercises and we will begin to study the short Tai Chi form of my 4 Winds system, which main purpose is coordination of breathing with body movement.

The class is free and open to everybody from the age of 7 to 87. Bring friends and family. Wear Natural fiber clothing, short or long pants and T-shirt, no shoes are necessary.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nihon Ju Jitsu

I could not resist posting this video. I had the honor and pleasure to train under Master Rolland Hernaez, Hanshi, founder of Nihon Tai Jitsu, and am myself a 2nd degree Black Belt in this Art.

I hope you enjoy the great variety of throws (Nage waza) and joint manipulations (Kansetsu waza) displayed in this video. Reminds me of my 30's when I would bounce back from the mat as if I were made of rubber....

Because Nihon Tai Jitsu is strictly about Self Defense, numerous techniques are aimed at very sensitive parts of the body (eyes, throat, groin, spine and joints...) which are potentially dangerous. No Fighting competition are organized, only technical challenges during which competitors are judged based on prearranged self defense demonstrations.

The drawback of such a situation is sometimes a lack of realism in the use of certain unusual waza, and the fact that students may not be used to being actually hit. This is why the study of a full contact art such as Yoshukai Karate combined with Tradidional Ju Jitsu is an excellent mix. Full contact fighting provides a real experience of how a punch or kick can really hurt, the acceptance of this risk, and the DEEP willingness to avoid them by only using safe waza that minimize that risk for ourselves.
On another Hand, Nihon Tai Jitsu provides a variety of wazas and target usually not used in Karate, which may enable a lighter person to get out much safely out of situation where they are attacked by more powerful individuals. (It also looks really cool !)

What did you say ? This is what MMA has been doing for several years ?

Well, not exactly, for one thing, as MMA is mostly focused toward competition, a number of techniques used by Traditional Ju Jitsu are also banned. Then MMA has usually lost contact with the Traditional Part essential to Karate or Ju Jitsu. Fighting is not the ultimate goal, but a way to achieve something else...