Sunday, February 15, 2009

Look Where You Want To Go

He was talking about riding motorcycles - I was thinking about martial arts.
Are they really so different?

You can read Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

Here's the gist:

When riding a motorcycle, you need to look where you want the bike to go. Don't think so much about the handlebars or obsess with how to lean or shift your weight - all those things will happen naturally as long as you look where you want to go.

In martial arts it is the same. Many times I see people looking at their feet or hands as is to say "where are they?" (at the end of your arms and legs I would reckon). Looking at them does not help them go where they should. Looking anywhere other than where you want to go creates poor posture; poor balance; poor technique. As long as you look where you want to go, you will get there, plain and simple.

In life, too, it is important to look where you want to go. There are distractions all around us, and we are constantly bombarded by the media, the people around us, and even our own thoughts of negativity. LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. Focus your attention on the positive results you seek and you will get there. Not always in the way you expected; not always as quickly as you hoped; but you will get there.

These days are filled with uncertainty, and sometimes you would even think the world as we know it is over. Within a few months everything will be so different. It is what it is and completely beyond my control I must practice "letting go". However,

Now, so do you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

Most of us will never be in a real fight.
I hope I am never in a fight again for the rest of my life.
So...what's the point of studying martial arts then?

self-defense? - you could just buy a can of mace (or a gun, if you live in the USA)
health? - you could diet or exercise in the gym
socializing? - you could take up salsa dancing or hiking or bowling
philosophy? - you could read books or take a course

So...what's the point of studying martial arts then?

I would contend that martial arts has all those benefits I listed above.
But there's something more...

I have spent the greater part of my life (27 years and counting) with martial arts in one way or another being part of what I did and how I thought. What has it done for me?

Maybe the most important thing is that my training has always been there for me in times of trouble and crisis. No matter what, by training or going to the dojo, I could prove to myself that I was still in control of my life - I could make a little progress; go a little further than the day before.

  • an extra pushup
  • another few crunches
  • a little faster on the drill
  • a little smoother flow in the movement
You get the point. We live in a time of great uncertainty. It is likely to get much worse before it gets any better. It has been of enormous comfort to me throughout my life to know that I always had something I could depend on, something that would always be there for me no matter what, a constant in this sea of change - my training. Whenever my life would fall apart, my martial arts was there for me. I could go to the dojo and find peace.

What has it meant to you? Has it given you that same faith?

I promise if you stay true to your training, it will become part of your life. Once that happens, you will always have something you can depend on.

There are many times that has made all the difference. I am sure it will for you, too.