Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Basic Sword Handling

Well some people do the work right. 

Here is a nice video about holding, drawing and putting the sword back in it's sheath.

Simple, clear, right to the point. Note how relaxed the hands are.

We always spend a great amount of energy with very tight grips on our Tsuka. Which slows us down and decreases our accuracy. 
This is true of many aspects of our practice. We should strive to achieve maximum result with minimum expense of energy. As beginners we hold to our swords way too strongly and wield it like a battle axe. Our muscles and tendons are not able to operate at their maximum speed or direct the sword properly.

But is this not a lifelong trend ? We spend lots of energy with very tight grips on lots of things, when loosening up would make us so much more efficient...

The study of Martial Arts can help us visualize other aspects of life which are not so easily grasped when we are in the middle of them. Actually it should be one of the main reason to study them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Cat Killer Samurai

A Samurai was fishing alongside a river. He caught a fish and got it ready to cook when a cat, hidden under a bush, jumped and stole his catch. That made the Samurai Mad ! He drew his sword , ran behind the cat and cut him in to halves.
The Samurai was a Buddhist, and he felt great guilt for having killed the cat.

While he walked back home, the wind blowing in the trees was singing to him : “Meeow”

His footsteps on the trail were sounding “Meeow”

The people he crossed on his way seemed to whisper: “Meeow”

Ant it got worse....

His wife and friends would now meow to him all the time !

Everywhere, constantly, he was bombarded with Meows...

He'd dream of Meows at night, and during daytime, each and everyone of his thoughts and acts would become Meow.

He himself became Meow...

It was getting worse and worse. The obsession was following and torturing him without interruption. Until one day, as he could not handle all these Meows, he entered a Temple to seek the advice of an old Zen master. 

He begged : “Please, Please help me. Help me ! Free me from this...”

The Master replied :“You are a Warrior, how could you let yourself go so low ! If you cannot get rid of all these imaginary meows by yourself, the only thing you have left is death. You have no other solution but to commit Seppuku, right here and right now.”

And he added :

“But as I am a monk and feel compassion for you, I'll be your second. As soon as you'll begin slicing your stomach, I'll chop your head off with my sword to put an end to your misery. “

The Samurai agreed, and despite his fear of death, got prepared for the Seppuku ceremony. When everything was in place, he knelt in seiza, grabbed the ritual tanto with both hands and aimed it toward his belly.

Standing behind him, the Master said :

“Now is the time, proceed !”

Slowly, the Samurai laid the tip of the blade on his abdomen.

At this very moment, the Master asked :

“These Meows, do you still hear them ?”

“Oh no, not now, not at all !... ”

“Well, if there's no more meows, then there is no need to die”

We let ourselves be worried by little things and let them ruin our lives. But our problems usually are not as important as we want to believe they are. They are just like the Meows of the story.

When we face Death, what is really important ?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another Video of the Four Winds Tai Chi Short Form

Short Form deomosntrated at the Yoshukai Dojo.

We will perform this form together for World Tai Chi Day next April 24.

The Short Form is the first one I teach. It is composed of 10 - actually 5 very simple moves, performed first on the left, then on the right. These moves are basic defenses against simple attacks.
High Block against high punch, Outside block against straight punch, Knife block against hook punch, Low block against kick, and Inside block against hook punch.

The Short Form is the entry way into the Four Winds Style. It teaches the pattern common to the 3 other more advanced forms we practice. The main emphasis is on Breathing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Video of the Four Winds Tai Chi Short Form

The Short Form is performed as a group at the Yoshukai Dojo.

This is the form we will perform together for World Tai Chi Day next April 24.

The Short Form is the first one I teach. It is composed of 10 - actually 5 very simple moves, performed first on the left, then on the right. These moves are basic defenses against simple attacks.

The Short Form is the entry way into the Four Winds Style. It teaches the pattern common to the net 3 forms we practice. Its main emphasis is on Breathing.

More video will follow...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tai Chi and Health

TAI CHI is no Magic Bullet, but it may be one way to reduce the cost of Health Care, if people would be informed about its benefits, and would decide to take responsibility for their own health. 

According to Bill Douglas, founder of World Tai Chi Day: "If you look at a Kaiser Permanente study that says that 70 per cent of illnesses are caused by stress, you're talking about a potential savings of trillions of dollars, year after year if we teach our citizens effective stress-management techniques on a massive scale."
For decades, Bill Douglas has believed that the regular practice of the Chinese martial art, meant to unblock the flow of energy though the body, can be used to treat and even prevent a wide range of illnesses.
The medical world is beginning to agree with him - The May 2009 Harvard Health Publication said that Tai Chi - should more aptly be called moving medication.
Latest Harvard Tai Chi Research Report:
Arthritis. In a 40-person study at Tufts University, presented in October 2008 at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, an hour of Tai Chi twice a week for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved mood and physical functioning more than standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. 
Sleep problems. In a University of California, Los Angeles, study of 112 healthy older adults with moderate sleep complaints, 16 weeks of Tai Chi improved the quality and duration of sleep significantly more than standard sleep education. The study was published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Sleep.

Stroke. In 136 patients who'd had a stroke at least six months earlier, 12 weeks of Tai Chi improved standing balance more than a general exercise program that entailed breathing, stretching, and mobilizing muscles and joints involved in sitting and walking. Findings were published in the January 2009 issue of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

Heart disease. A 53-person study at National Taiwan University found that a year of Tai Chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease. The study, which was published in the September 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a control group that did not practice Tai Chi.

-- Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Publication, May, 2009

Join us to celebrate World Tai Chi Day 
on Saturday, April 24, 2010
in Dothan, Alabama, USA 
Solomon Park 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day

World TaiChi and Qi Gong Day, a wold wide event, will be celebrated on April 24. This is a FREE event, sponsored by Frederic Lecut's School of Martial Arts and the City of Dothan Deparment of Leisure Services.
Join us at Solomon Park on April 24 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. to practice Tai Chi with thousands of other fans in the World.

More information to come about the detailed organization and free pre-event classes

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Uchi Mata

This is an amazing little video of a great Judo Counter - I am not sure which waza the first man is trying to throw with, on the left side, but the second man climb on his leg and throws him with a wonderful Uchi Mata, a move I really enjoy (and almost got me disqualified out of the Superfights a few years ago, but this is an other story...)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Druids and the Buddha

Around 7000 years ago, maybe a little more, a busy group of tribes located North West of India began to move South and West. Their members were speaking a language called Indo-European, which later gave birth to most antic European languages – Latin, Greek, Celtic, Germanic;  to their modern followers, Italian, Spanish, French, Gaelic, German and English and also to the Sanskrit and Pali used in India when Siddharta Gautama was teaching what was to become Buddhism, around 500 BC.

This week we celebrated St Patrick's Day.

Patrick is credited for having converted Pagan Ireland to Christianity. In order to do that, Patrick had to fight the powerful Druids.
The Druids were the priests of the Ancient Irish. Their name derives from the Indo-european root *Vid, "to know", and the intensive prefix dru. According to this the druids - Dru-Vid - were the "very wise and learned ones".

The word Buddha itself means “awakened”. It is the past participle of the verb buddh : “To awake, to know, to perceive”. This verb derives from the same Indo-European root *Vid which gave Video and Wisdom in Latin and Germanic based languages.

So on an etymological standpoint, the Druids are related to Buddha, very closely...

We try to follow the path of Gautama Buddha based on translations from Pali to Chinese to Japanese to Modern English (or French...). In the process of these multiple translations, some meaning might indeed have been lost.

Buddhism may in fact not be so alien to our Western civilization than other religions. Because it came to us all the way from the East, it is considered exotic, but it does not have to be this way.
The historical Buddha taught in a language closer to ours than to Japanese. And if we could access and directly translate some of the original Pali texts, we might in some cases have a slightly different and possibly more accurate interpretation of what he was trying to tell us.

Were there any Leprechauns in India ?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wakigamae no Tsuke

We spent a great week end in Pensacola training with Carl Long Sensei. Lots of details of basics - Shoden Waza, Ono Ha Itto Ryu, Tachiuchi no Kurai...

We have reached the point where we have memorized the waza and can now get into the details that will help us improve them !

Wakigamae no Tsuke is the 5th Waza of Ono Ha Itto Ryu school of Kenjutsu.

It is here demonstrated by Masayaki Shimabukuro Sensei, Hanshi, and my friend Joe Byers, Niddan, in March 2009 at the Big Green Drum Dojo in Pensacola Florida.

Masayuki Shimabukuro, Hanshi, hachidan (8th dan black belt) is a direct student of Miura Takeyuki Hidefusa, Hanshi, Jyudan (10th dan black belt) founder of the Nippon Kobudo Jikishin-kai, and current and 20th headmaster of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu iai-jutsu.