Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bankei on Yari fighting

Zen Master Bankei Yotaku composed the following instructions on the art of combat for his disciple and patron Kato Yasuoki, daimyo of Ozu and an expert in the use of the yari, or Japanese lance.

Here Bankei expresses the importance of Mushin (No-mind) in combat. In the middle of the confrontation,  one should not let any thought arise, actions should not be driven by a reflection or personal emotions. You should not act, but let the action simply happen through you. As soon as your mind comes in the way of action, your opponent - if he is worthy - will be able to foresee you.

In performing a movement, if you act with no-mind, the action will spring forth of itself. When your ki changes, your physical form changes along with it. When you're carried away by force, that is relying on "self." To have ulterior thoughts is not in accordance with the natural. When you act upon deliberation, you are tied to thought. The opponent can then tell [the direction of] your ki. If you [try to] steady yourself by deliberate effort, your ki becomes diffuse, and you may grow careless. When you act deliberately, your intuitive response is blocked; and if your intuitive response is blocked, how can the mirror mind appear?

When, without thinking and without acting deliberately, you manifest the Unborn, you won't have any fixed form. When you are without fixed form, no opponent will exist for you in the whole land. Not holding on to anything, not relying one-sidedly on anything, there is no "you" and no "enemy." Whatever comes, you just respond, with no traces left behind. Heaven and earth are vast, but outside mind there is nothing to seek. Become deluded, however, and instead this mind becomes your opponent. Apart from mind, there is no art of combat.

Bankei Yōtaku (盤珪永琢, 1622-1693), the son of a Ronin Samurai turned Doctor, was a very popular and influential teacher who spoke directly, avoiding sutras, koans and rituals.

He talked to huge crowds of ordinary people and advanced Zen students all the same, about what he had personally discovered through his own experience—"the Unborn" or "the Birthless Buddha-mind".

Expressed in a plain, simple and direct language that anyone can understand, Bankei's Zen is refreshingly clear and relatively simple. You don't have to be learned, live in a monastery or even necessarily consider yourself a Buddhist to effectively practice it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Older people with visual impairment can benefit from Tai Chi

Researchers from the Centre for East-meets-West in Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University designed and conducted a 16 week trial involving forty people aged over 70.  
After this trial, the Tai Chi participants showed significant improvements in knee proprioception (awareness of the position of one's limbs) and in their visual and vestibular ratios (ability to balance) compared to a control group.

Care home residents in the Tai Chi group were taught a modified 8-form Yang style Tai Chi routine and practiced this in 90 minute sessions, three times a week for 16 weeks. 

Participants in the control group learned to play the Djembe, a percussion instrument.

Dr. Tsang said: "... Our study shows that Tai Chi can be a suitable form of exercise for those with visual impairment and indeed assists with improving their balance control. ..."

Read the Full article

Monday, December 5, 2011



You are invited by the Wiregrass Soto Zen and Long Leaf Zen Centers...


Rōhatsu (臘八) literally means 8th Day of the 12th Month. It is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautauma (Shakyamuni) experienced enlightenment.

Traditions agree that during that night, as the morning star rose in the sky in the early morning, Siddhartha finally found the answers he sought and became Enlightened, and experienced Nirvana. 

In Zen monasteries, Rohatsu is the last day of a week-long sesshin - an intensive meditation retreat dedicated to meditation. Typically, Monks and Laymen stay awake all night sitting in Zazen during the last night before Rohatsu.

I would like to invite you all to meet next Saturday December 10 at 9:30 a.m. in Headland to celebrate Rohatsu by practicing meditation together. 
Our Program will be :

9:30 to 10:00 : Arrival

10:00 to 10:30 : Breathing exercises for Meditation

10:30 to 12:30 : 4 Sitting (Zazen) and Walking (Kinhin) meditation periods (25 minutes Zazen, 5 minutes Kinhin)

12:30 to 12:45 : Break and Tea

12:45 to 1:30 : Dharma talk - Discussion

1:30 to 2:00 : Zazen

2:00 : Heart Sutra Chanting

2:15 : Lunch

Attendance : Everyone is welcome to attend. You don't have to have already practiced Meditation to join.

Lunch : bring a vegetarian dish to share with other participants.

Late arrival : if you cannot make it on time, no problem. If meditation is going on (people inside are sitting on their funny black cushions) and you don't really know what to do, wait on the bench outside the dojo until they start walking and join inside right then. If you know how to sit in Zazen, enter the dojo and sit.

Fee : there is no fee – donations are welcome to help us support our instructor Michael Elliston Roshi, Abbot of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center, and founder of the Silent Thunder Order.

The Dojo is located behind my home at 610 Mitchell Street, Headland, AL 36345. Tel (334) 798 1639

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Ōmori Sōgen Roshi (1904 -1994) was a Japanese Master of Zen,  from the Tenryū-ji line of Rinzai School, Shodo (Calligraphy) from the Taishi school of Yamaoka Tesshū (another famous Zen and Kendo Master), and Kendo of the Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryū.

Omori Sogen Roshi taught a unique approach to Zen practice integrating insights from Martial and Fine Arts training with traditional Zen methods; sometimes described as a unity of Zen, Ken ("sword", referring to martial arts or physical culture), and Sho ("brush", referring to calligraphy or fine arts). This unique approach is described in the book “Omori Sogen – the Art of a Zen Master” by Hosokawa Dogen.

This remarkable video is part of a 1977 BBC documentary entitled "The Long Search - Land of the disappearing Buddha with Ronald Eyre". The parts with Omori Sogen Roshi were filmed at the Koho-in dojo in Tokyo.

Omori Sogen Roshi was the author of more than 20 books in the Japanese language. His excellent and practical “Zen Training” was translated in English by Trevor Leggett.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yoshukai Chaperones go to France

Shihan Travis Page and I traveled to France in November 2011. I had planned a few classes and demonstrations to promote Yoshukai Karate. 

On November 21, we visited my friend and previous Nihon Tai Jitsu instructor Mr Jean Luc Lemoine at his Tai Jitsu kan Dojo in Rouen.

Jean Luc had suffered a heart attack the week before, and we proposed to teach his Monday night class for him. 

We got on the mat with his students and Mr Page taught them a number of his signature street and bar fighting techniques, while I was trying to translate some of the details.

Nihon Tai Jitsu incorporates techniques found in mainstream Budo such as Karate, Aikido, Judo. Students ranged from 7th Kyu to Niddan, The class lasted about 2 hours. The enthusiasm and efficiency of Mr Page, and the practicality of his waza - chokes, throws and strikes - were highly appreciated by all. Mr Page had to come home early and we did not get the opportunity to work out with the local branch of Kyokushinkai Karate which is has been getting more and more popular in France for the past 10 years. Another trip will be needed...

On November 25th, I myself had the pleasure to train with my friend and Kendo Instructor Francis Hollier, at the Kendokai of Friville Escarbotin, when Mr Page and I gave classes several years ago on 2 occasions.

Overall, Yoshukai Karate and its Spirit are appreciated for its simplicity and efficiency. It should be kept this way. 
If it works, practice it, if it does not, drop it.