Monday, November 26, 2012

A Quick Dose of Reality


Have a look at the shocking video above.

The point I want to make here is that all the martial arts training in the world doesn't make a difference when you get attacked from behind by an attacker you didn't see coming.

In our modern world, violence we are likely to experience (outside of military service or terrorist attacks) takes two typical forms:  monkey Dance and Predatory assault.  In the Monkey Dance, violence is secondary to the emotional need to show dominance, status, offense, and the like.  It is a social behavior where the violence can usually be avoided by apologizing, conceding defeat or giving in to the social demands (saying "uncle" or whatever).  In the monkey dance, the other party is not really out to harm you; they are out to prove a point.  Sneak attacks are socially reprehensible, and the monkey dance includes unspoken rules about "fighting fair" for both sides.  lions establishing dominance in the pack is a version of the monkey dance, and lions generally are not killed or seriously inured by it.  one gives up and the "fight" is over.  Violence is not the main objective.

Predatory assault is what you see above.  It is generally an attack using surprise, superior numbers, and possibly weapons.  Lions hunting zebras is not a social exercise  and the objective for the lion is to kill and eat the zebra.  Violence is the main objective.

In the video above, the attacker doesn't seem to be after her money, her body, or anything else except violence for violence's sake.  Still, after a hit like that he could probably do whatever he wanted.  I hope this video leads to his capture and imprisonment.

This has also caused me to rethink whether or not I would wear headphones/earbuds while walking.
Hearing approaching footsteps is better than not hearing them, right?
  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

There is no way



There is no way to Peace
Peace is the Way;
There is no way to Happiness
Happiness is the Way;
There is no way to Love
Love is the Way.
- Dan Millman, Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior

I just finished a read of this excellent book by Dan Millman, and the above passage sticks with me as one of the most important in the whole read.  What does it mean??


I have maintained throughout this blog that "life is about learning to let go".  Usually, I present this as a first step, which is learning to let go of hatred, anger, negativity, guilt, sorrow, doubt - let go of everything that stands in the way of your own contentment.  One of my recent blog posts on "lifesculpting" suggests exactly that - beauty is created by taking away, not adding.  This is about revealing the True Self, hidden behind the veil of consciousness   given by the lower selves.  Exposing this True Self is the only way to achieve the higher levels of being that are essential to the grown of our humanity.


I bring the concept of "letting go" further by saying that we must let go of the ridiculous notion of duality.

"Peace", "Happiness" and "Love" are not states to be achieved.  They are simply allowing us to be in our most natural states of being, freed from base emotion, ego and logic.  Freed even from thoughts or words.  This is accepting the timeless "God-State", where we are instantly, eternally connected to the original life force.
It is not possible to fully express this concept of "oneness" in words.  It is only to give the years of meditation required to allow the single moment of transformation to origin.  Letting go of all else.

There is no way to Peace.

Stop trying to make Peace and BE PEACE;
There is no way to Happiness
Stop trying to make Happiness and BE HAPPINESS;
There is no way to Love
Stop trying to make love and BE LOVE.

The essential secret is to recognize that these are already innate aspects of your being and simply allow them the freedom to express through your every breath, every word, every action.  


The SACRED JOURNEY is no journey at all.

There is no need to travel.  The journey is simply.

Letting


Go

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Combat Aikido


Above please observe Sensei Gordon Muller performing some "combat aikido" including gun and knife disarms and handcuffing techniques.  He is excellent, and I love showing this kind of material to people who believe that "aikido doesn't work".  I surely would not want to be on the receiving end of any of the techniques he does above, especially if he were not specifically trying to avoid injuring his partner (as he is in the video).  I definitely would not want these applied on me when "excessive force" or other lawsuit risks did not apply (such as in a dark alley).

For aikido to work in a real life situation, against a determined, prepared (possibly armed) attacker, a few things need to happen:

1) YOU NEED TO BE FAST --- observe the blazing speed Sensei Muller uses and how he has no hesitation
2) YOU NEED TO BE PRECISE --- Sensei Muller is in exactly the right position, with the right grip at the right point
3) YOU NEED TO BE RELAXED --- tied to #1 above, there is no real speed without relaxation
4) YOU NEED TO BE COMMITTED --- Sensei follows through until the technique is over.  No pause.
5) YOU NEED TO USE PSYCHOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE --- Sensei uses non-threatening body posture, hands-up genstures, and other means to set up his attacks.
6) MANIPULATION OF THE FINGERS HURTS (AND HELPS SUBMISSION)
7) PAIN (not injury) CAN BE AN IMPORTANT AID IN SUBDUING AN ATTACKER

Surely there will be naysayers and "what-if" ers as I would expect in every case.  That said, I think Sensei Gordon Muller illustrates the kind of powerful, effective aikido that can be achieved with practice and strong intention.

Bravo!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Life Sculpting

"The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed - it is a process of elimination"
 - Elbert Hubbard

This quote really made me think about sculpting; LIFE SCULPTING.

To turn my life into a beautiful statue what do I need to do?  I want my statue to be made of a strong material, with a strong core, so it will stand the test of time and last as long as possible.  To me this is our moral center and spiritual education and is very important.  Otherwise, our statue will crumble at the first gust of wind or drop of rain.

Large, vulgar strokes of hammer and chisel do not create beautiful statues.  The process is one of patience, and precision.  It is delicate work, and the tools are specific to the sculpting medium.  marble is not worked the same way as basalt; wood differs from granite.  Every medium is different, as we are all different.  Every piece has flaws, knots in the wood or pockets in the stone, that must be understood ad adjusted for.  Every one of us is unique in our possibilities and circumstances, every one of us must be handled carefully with deep understanding.  Every hammer stroke counts; small mistakes can be corrected, but large mistakes cannot.  A good artist strikes neither too hard nor too soft.  Our daily training in meditation and martial arts is the patient, precise work of the sculptor to remove the excess and leave the purity.

Of course, making a beautiful statue requires the artist, the soul, to have a vision of what can be made from the starting block of material.  We must surely recognize this potential in ourselves and in others, and realize that a central mission of our lives is to help draw that special potential out - to help ourselves and others to reach our potential as human beings and collectively as human society.

It is also important to remember that this sculpting process is contrary to how modern people think, but totally in accordance with zen beliefs.  Modern people always seem to want to add more to their lives - more possessions, more technology, more activities.  Sculpting, especially LIFE SCULPTING, is about taking away the unnecessary so that what remains is beautiful.

I want my statue to be an enduring symbol of who I am.
I want it to be a testament to me hard work, discipline and perseverance.
I want my statue to inspire all those who see it.  I want it to give people hope for what they, too, can achieve.
I want my statue to appeal to everyone regardless of color, race, or belief.
I do not want it to be perfect, since its flaws will help people know it is real and was made by an ordinary man.  My small mistakes will give it unique character.

This statue is my life, and I want it to personify the essence of what I believe.

What statue will you create for yourself?
Can you sculpt your own life?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me

"The world is not to be put in order.  The world is order.  It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order." - Henry Miller

Well, that's it.  Another year in the bag.  I am now officially 46 years old.

As I usually do, let me take stock of where things sit as I turn another page in my book of adventures.  There have been many changes since last year, and yet many things remain unchanged.

I have a new job, which is interesting and exciting.  I also have a lot of new friends, colleagues, coworkers, clients as a result of this.  I am back working in Akasaka, near to where I was when I joined JP Morgan in July of 2005.  It has nostalgic memories for me, and I like how the area has changed.

All the birthday messages I received from around the world showed me that I have engaged in and interacted with a huge number of people all over.  Since I believe we are all connected, the greater the number of peoples' lives I touch, the happier I am.  This has been very rewarding and I feel truly blessed for knowing the diverse group of excellent people I know.

I started Crossfit this year, which is an awesome way to work out and think about fitness.  The coaches are smart, the workouts are savage, and it is a great community of professionals who really care about achieving their peak performance.  Crossfit motivates me to do my best.

Our Kali group has grown bigger, with many new faces.  Every Friday we have 10-12 people, which is much bigger than last year.  Our group is really a great little community of friends who train hard together and support each other.  My more experienced intermediates are well-regarded when they go to Singapore, and the new students are coming along quickly - we must be doing something right.  The KM Japan Study Group remains a cornerstone of my life and something I really look forward to every week.

George and Ray grow bigger, stronger, and more energetic year by year.  It goes so fast.  Their dialogues become more complex, but they are still at an age where we can spend time together and enjoy being a family.  I am blessed to have such happy, healthy kids.

We went from one pug to two, adding our Xie Xie as a companion to Butch.  Over the year she has settled down quite a bit and proven to be a great member of our family.  We watch "The Dog Whisperer" regularly, and I have to say we have a "good pack" at home.

I have been reading a lot, especially books about Austrian economics.  This has really turned me more toward a fundamentalist about the US Constitution and given me much more respect for the foresight our forefathers had when they imagined our government and what would be needed.  It is still every bit as relevant a document now as it was when it was written - and that says something very important.  Sadly, however, I am reminded how far from it we have come, and how my beloved country --- the Land of the Free and the Home of The Brave --- has become the Land of the Oppressed and the Home of the Apathetic.

Today we re-elected a man who will do his best to increase the size of government and our citizens' reliance on it, who at the same time will quietly take away our rights and liberties and replace them with a police state, and who will tax us all into debt slavery.  He is somehow still seen as "the better man", but ultimately our proud nation is doomed to be globally marginalized even further than we were.  This is truly heartbreaking.
I love what my country has stood for, and it is unbearably sad to see it sink into irrelevance.  We only have ourselves to blame for allowing this to happen to us.

Overall, it's been a good and productive year with a lot to be thankful for.
I am looking forward to a great 46th year on Earth and can't wait to share this journey with all of you.

John