Sunday, August 14, 2016


There is a subtle but important difference between being aware of a thought and thinking it.

When you are just aware of a thought it is not fully born, it is not there yet, and if you play it well, you don't have to let it take over !

Once a thought becomes fully conscious, it is much more present and becomes commending and compulsive. It will suck you in and grab control of your consciousness. 

In terms of dependent origination, your ego is born.

This difference is better experienced than said. But I will try 1 simile.

Imagine you are on a board surfing the crest of a wave. As long as you stay balanced on your board, you are simply aware of the strength of the wave. The wave and you are one.

But if you dont pay attention and fall off your board, all of a sudden you feel the strength of the ocean. 

Training is necessary to acquire the ability to be aware of thoughts without being taken over by them.

This applies, of course, to Zazen. Be aware of thoughts, emotions or other mental activities before they become powerful enough to drag you in, you can keep surfing the crest of the wave. 

Try it...

Dharma gates are boundless, I wow to enter them...

Friday, August 5, 2016

Cross Training

Practice is not just about improving skill in one discipline.

Martial Arts, Zen and Mosaics are the 3 legs of the chair I sit on. If you remove one leg, the 2 remaining legs won't stabilize your ass. If you make one leg stronger, it increases the stability of the whole chair.

That's what Cross Training is about...

Don't get stuck anywhere,  learn in one place to be more efficient somewhere else, Dharma gates are boundless, enter them ! 


Sunday, June 5, 2016

3 reasons why you should not use a shinken.

In the past 16 month I have seen in 2 occasions some high ranking Karate people cut themselves with their swords. In Public. Fortunately, their cuts were superficial, no tendon or bone were cut. But the blood spilled in front of many people. 


This is unfortunate. Cutting yourself with your sword is akin to shooting yourself in the foot with your own gun. Would you trust a gun instructor who'd do that ?

Sharp swords – also called Live Blade or Shinken in Japanese – were designed to kill people swiftly and effortlessly. The only reason to use them is to practice Tameshigiri – actual cutting of targets. This is done in a particular environment, with strict safely guidelines.

They should not be used for Iaido which is normally practiced with Iaito. Iaito have the same geometry and shape than regular katana, they may be slightly lighter to prevent stress injury, and they are dull to avoid accident. They are designed for this purpose of safe practice.

If Japanese masters use them, so should you. 

For the following 3 reasons :

A dangerous fallacy.
I have heard many people say “I like to practice with a sharp sword, because it forces me to be more accurate.” Invariably, those people cut themselves. And it's just a matter of time before someone cuts someone else. So this is a fallacy, and a dangerous one.

A bad image of Yoshukai
Unless you know what you are doing, you will cut yourself, as long as it happens in private, it is your problem, but if it happens in public, you are displaying a poor image of Yoshukai in front of students or parents.

A serious liability
An other aspect of this is that when you bring to a room, a dojo or a beach a sharp sword and leave it unattended on the ground, you are in effect letting a dangerous weapon in the open for anyone to mess with. Would you leave a loaded gun laying on an open table in a picnic area ?
People, and children in particular, are curious and can be sneaky. If anyone would grab your sword and accidentally cut themselves, or wound or kill someone, you would likely be liable, as would probably be whoever organized the event or own the venue where it happened.

So if you don't have a sword, please purchase a Iaito, there are some good ones available at Cheness. If you already have a sharp sword, dull it. Use a grinder and take the sharp edge out of it or ask someone to do it for you. If you want to keep your sharp sword purchase a Iaito.

If you have questions about sword purchasing, please contact me at

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Original Mind

One who practices Zen must put a stop to all kinds of conditions and eliminate all sorts of things -- good and evil, right and wrong, self and others, mundane and supramundane. He must abandon both the body and the mind, thinking of nothing whatsoever, letting his mind go free. If one is not bound by seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing and if one is not deluded by circumstances, then, and only then, can he truly practice Zen. 
The Zen practitioner should understand that :
  • Past things are already past. If you do not think about it, then any thought of the past vanishes; thus, there are neither any past things nor any past mind. 
  • Furthermore, future things have not yet arrived; so if you do not wish for or seek anything, then any thought of the future vanishes; thus, there are neither any future things nor any future mind. 
  • Finally, present things are already present, so if you are just aware without grasping at or dwelling on anything and never let a thought of love or hate arise, then the thought of the present vanishes; thus, there are neither any present things nor any present mind. 

If you can understand the mind without being fixed anywhere or on anything, just generate pure thought, neither grasping at anything nor dwelling anywhere - that is seeing one's own Original Mind; that is seeing one's own Original Nature. 

Dazhu Huihai - 8th century AD

When you practice Zen, sit in the lotus position, close your eyes, keep your body erect and allow your mind to become clear and still. Abandon any thoughts of good or evil. When thoughts do arise, just observe each thought carefully and become aware whence it arises. Then you can become aware of false thought as it suddenly arises and suddenly dies away, as it comes and goes, never stopping for one instant. 

You should have ni impulse to follow false thoughts anywhere nor  hold any idea about getting rid of it...

... In time, as the observer becomes very skilful, false thought gradually falls away until, without a single thought arising, there remains only still, clear voidness. While walking, standing, sitting and lying down, always practice in this manner...

From the Introduction to the 
Translated by Dharma Master Lok To 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shindo Muso Ryu Jo Jutsu

Not easy to locate good instructional videos... Here are 2 great Jodo videos with Masayuki Shimabukuro Hanshi.



Enjoy, Practice 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Zen, Budo and Flying.

Back to the Pilot analogy

You can try to learn everything about the theory of flights. You'll never will be able to fly. 

Buddhism and Martial Arts are the same.  If you spend your life trying to understand, you will become a Buddhist or a Martial Arts Scholar. You won't have acquired any useful skills and all you'll have learned won't really help you when you need it. 

On another hand, some believe they practice Zen by spending hours in a row sitting without moving or thinking at all. They are like someone who would sit in the cockpit of the plane, close their eyes, and believe they really are flying. 

Some other people practice and teach crazy things (Yes, you can become a certified light saber fighting instructor !) and believe they could actually fight. 

Buddhism and Budo first and for all are practices. 

Find a teacher, learn how to fly ! 


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Zen Monkeys

In regions populated by many monkeys, one can see them seated in a meditative posture – eyes closed and hands resting on their lap, but they are sleeping. 


Just sitting like that and thinking one is meditating is rather useless and helps no one at all...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Practice and Understanding.

If I have to fly across the desert, I'd rather be flown by a guy who's been flying all kind of birds for 30 years than by an aeronautic engineer, who knows  theory of flight and could explain to anyone how an airplane flies, but has never flown one once in his life. 

How about you ? 

When it comes to real life, actual practice and experience are more important than mere intellectual knowledge. 

However, if the plane breaks down and the pilot lands it safely in the middle of nowhere, the presence of an engineer aboard might be a blessing. After all, I might be able to fix it.
That's why in the old times of the Aeropostale, each plane was manned by a pilot and a mechanic. 

Trying to understand things has its benefits,  but - in my opinion - it should come second. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016


There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with trying to stay informed of current events, but you have to be sensitive to the effect that too much attention to the news can have on your mind. 

The basic message of the news is that your time is unimportant, that the important things in the world are what other people are doing in other places. 

This is the opposite of the message of meditation: that the most important thing happening in your world is what you’re doing right here, right now. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Knowing and Doing

There are basically 2 questions you can ask about things :
  • What can I do with this  ?
  • How does this work ? (How is it built)

As far as survival is involved, "What can I do with this" is better than "How does this work?"

You can drive a car without having any idea how it works. However, if you have a mechanical problem in the middle of the desert, it maybe handy to know how to disconnect the thermostat to make sure the fan stays on and keep cooling the engine (trust me on that one, personal experience...)

So again, it is interesting to know both about things, 

  • what you can do with them, and 
  • how they are built and work, 

And this is true for every domain. If someone comes at you and you find a stick, it is a good idea to whack them with that stick, without trying to have the perfect stance and style. You have no need to know exactly how to fight with a stick: just whack them quickly and strongly.  

If later on more people get in the habit of coming at you, it could be a good idea to learn how to use your stick more efficiently. That is what martial arts are about.

Now in Buddhism, we have a number of teachings. They are meant to be USED. If you try to understand them before you practice, you'll be in the situation of a guy who having been shot with a poisoned arrow wants to know everything about who shot it and the kind of material used to make the arrow, the bow and the string before pulling the arrow out of his thigh. Basically the guy would die before he'd know the answers to these questions. 

This story was told by the Buddha 2500 years ago,  and was recorded in the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta.

"It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored... until I know his home village, town, or city... until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow... until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated... until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.' The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him."

In the West, we love to understand everything before we act. At times, it is a good idea, but not always. 

Intellectual analysis sometimes delays or even prevents actual experience.

Don't waste your time, Practice...