Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cane Fighting : Tanjojutsu.

Here is a short footage of a demonstration of Tanjojutsu by Donn F. Draeger - I don't know the name of his opponent. 

The Tanjo (短棒) - or Tambo - is a short hardwood staff - different styles use different length. 

Very sharp, to the point. The way things should be.


Donn Draeger (1922 – 1982) was an internationally-known teacher and practitioner of Japanese martial arts. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1943 to 1956. He was the author of several important books on Asian martialarts, and was a pioneer of international judo in the United States and Japan. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Is winning all that counts?

Ivan Fernandez Anaya is a 24 years old Basque runner. He is considered an athlete with a big future (champion of Spain of 5,000 meters in promise category two years ago)

On December 2, 2012, Fernandez was competing in a cross-country race in Burlada, Navarre, Spain. He was running second, some distance behind race leader Abel Mutai - bronze medalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the London Olympics. As they entered the finishing straight, the Kenyan runner - certain winner of the race - mistakenly pull up about 100 meters before the finish, thinking he had already crossed the line.

Fernández quickly caught up with him, but instead of exploiting Mutai's mistake to speed past and claim an unlikely victory, he stayed behind the Kenyan, guided him up to the line and let him cross first.

"I ran close to him 4 km. He was 5 m ahead of me. At 250 m he increased speed and I tried to keep up with him. [..] Mutai saw an arch made of balloons. It was something for the award ceremony. He didn't realize, he thought it was the finish line. He started to greet the public, to send them kisses. I shouted from the back that he still had 100 m to go. He didn't understand. From the sidelines they were shouting that I should take advantage of the situation because the boy already opened the champagne. How would you feel about that ?  I ran up to him and touched him but he looked confused. So I pushed him, I actually yelled at him. I am not sure what he understood, but he was the first to pass the finish line. He had won."
After the race, Fernandez added :

"Even if they had told me that winning would have earned me a place in the Spanish team for the European championships, I wouldn't have done it either. I also think that I have earned more of a name having done what I did than if I had won. And that is very important, because today, with the way things are in all circles, in soccer, in society, in politics, where anything seems to go, a gesture of honesty goes down well."

Unfortunately, very little was said of his gesture. 

This is a great example to meditate upon... Do you practice your art to win, or to build up character and a better society ?

You can read Ivan Fernandez' Blog in Spanish.

I encourage you to please share this story with your students or kids.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Zazen to the end of the year

Last night we sat for 4 hours to celebrate the end of the year. This was part of a joint effort of different members of the Mokurai - Silent Thunder Order - founded by Michael Elliston Roshi, Abbott of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center.

Wherever they were, members of the Sangha sat in Zazen til the end of the year, then celebrated. As there are different time zones, it lasted a while I suppose. 

Our program was simple : we sat 3 for sessions of 25 minutes each, with 5 minutes kinhin (walking meditation) in between from 8:20 til 9:45 pm. Then we took a short break for tea and cookies. 

After that, we sat back, facing the center of the dojo, and read the   

108 Gates of Dharma - Illumination of Master Dogen. Actually, I read part of the introduction to it, and then every minute, each one of the other participants read part of the 108 stanza. As there were 3 of them, each read 36 stanza - well actually, the last one read 37, because there are 109 stanza to the 108 gates... Every minute I would ring the bell, and the stanza would be read, living us one minute to consider its meaning. 

Finally I read the conclusion of Master Dogen's text. 

It was Midnight ! The locals having burnt all of their fireworks between 9:00 and 10:30 pm, it was rather quiet, and we enjoyed Cookies Bubbly and Company !

Picture by Carl Rippe

Happy New Year in Buddha !