JANUARY 2014 NEWSLETTER
Quality and Depth in Isshin-ryu Karate Do.
Each martial art is made unique by its methods of teaching. Many styles use similar structures to help students grow into the style. These areas are: basics – (kihon), stylized hand and weapons forms – (kata), self-defense and sparring – (kumite). Initially, these segments are learned as independent and separate parts of the puzzle, but in time many of the parts are joined for a deeper understanding. As the student grows into the art, each of these components of karate also helps to develop the student’s – body, mind and spirit.
1) Grounding: feeling the support of the ground through the feet. A) The feet are firmly and directly repositioned in each stance after each movement. B) The feet plant and root themselves into the ground (lifted toes or “loose” heels weaken this grounding). C) The feet are in a dynamic relationship with ground and body. This means that the energy of intent – incorporating both mindfulness and intrinsic energy (chi) – reaches from the feet into the ground and flows upwards into the whole body. 2) Centering: the understanding of the dan tien or belly in karate. A) The weight of the body positions itself appropriately in each stance. B) All movements connect to and radiate outward from the dan tien. (Reliance upon upper body strength as the primary strength negates the connection to the dan tien.) C) General emptiness in the dan tien is usually caused by a lack of intent being placed there or through the presence of tension or fear, both of which will cause the center to rise into the chest area or higher. D) All movements are supported by the slight firming or compacting of the dan tien in coordination with the movement to activate the flow of chi. 3) Flow: the ease of movement in all of its various stages and positions is the activation of appropriate body mechanics in support of each individual movement. A) Tension creates rigid or uneven movement. B) The transition from movement to movement or stance to stance needs to occur with fluidity. C) The use of individual (not meaning personal) “flavors” creates a rich vocabulary of movement as opposed to sameness of movement. Sameness arises from the tendency to want to make all movements feel strong in the same way. If the function of each movement is understood and felt, its unique “flavor” will show. 4) Power: the natural heaviness in all movement as well the impact of each strike as the body supports the completion of each extension. A) The whole body responds and supports the movement as it begins, transits and finishes. B) There is an integration of body mechanics and intent. C) Movements of the limbs do not occur in isolation from the rest of the body. D) Body habits (poor posture etc.) are corrected. E) The body supports but does not compensate (i.e., by leaning in an opposite direction) for each movement. F) There is an alignment of structure (bone, ligament, tendon and muscle) to support each movement and impact. 5) Precision: all movements have a clear beginning, middle and end point. A) All movements demonstrate their potential with detail and refinement. B) There is a sharp, vivid quality to each movement. C) Gaps in the mindfulness of a movement (i.e., lifting the shoulder with a punch) are seen and eliminated. 6) Speed: the velocity of a movement to support power and flow and to create impact. A) Speed issues forth in a manner that is appropriate to the effectiveness of a movement. B) Unequal speed in the extension and retraction of a movement is avoided. C) Too much speed in which a movement’s fullness is sacrificed is avoided. D) Too little speed in which an opponent’s body is not shocked (an important aspect of contact which allows for deep penetration) is avoided. E) The creation of an appropriate pause in the cycle of extension/retraction allows the transference of power and intent.
1) Intent: the clear commitment to a movement involving both the body and the chi. It is a summoning of all of the resources in an appropriate way. A) Each movement and stance projects and radiates the resources of commitment. B) The eyes project an intense clarity of commitment. C) There is no self-resistance (i.e., dynamic tension) or ambivalence present in movement. 2) Mindfulness: spaciousness and clarity of being. A) All aspects of the body are clearly felt. B) The body and intent is felt in an integrated way at the same time as an individual movement is also felt. C) The function of each movement is understood and informs each movement. D) The potential for change is always present in the moment. E) One is not distracted by thought or emotion. F) The mind is not “set” but flows freely from thing to thing, moment to moment. 3) Self: the body/mind experience of “me-ness.” A) One is not conflicted by self-judgment. B) Feelings of self are relaxed into mindfulness. C) One does not indulge in the pride of self-inflation and glorification. D) The bow is practiced with gratitude for the Way of Karate rather than as a formality. E) Fear and anger are no longer binding as both solo and partner work take place. They no longer manifest in the clear spaciousness of being. THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE “TRUE BEGINNER’S MIND.”
1) Martial spirit is the evidence of martial force manifesting upon the integration of mind and body. There is not simply the demonstration of personal physical prowess but the clear flow of one or all of the collective forces of the martial art. 2) There are many practitioners who change or rearrange the forms to suit their own personal needs, desires or dislikes, not recognizing that to do so effectively deprives them of the inherent understanding that can spontaneously come alive in the practice of these physical movements. Kata have been practiced by for centuries, and as the student aligns and attunes to them in right relationship, then the understanding of karate can fill each one as the movement is occurring. From this depth of foundation, each person can evolve via karate, which is the very means by which karate evolves. Isshin-ryu is a system that balances the use of each part of the body. It is effective for close range and distant self-defense situations. Its use of internal and external strength makes it one system that may be practiced for one’s entire life and after years of study there will always be something to be learned or understood at a deeper level.
Do Little Things In A Big Way – Bob Proctor, Speaker & Author
John Kanary is a good friend and business associate. He and I have worked together for years and have often shared the stage when conducting seminars in various parts of the world. A few weeks ago, I was reading something he had written and decided I would share it with you. John was writing about talented people who fail and others who appear quite ordinary are extremely successful. Quite often very talented people fail because they believe they are too big to do the little things, while the most successful amongst us are quite willing to do the little things. They truly are big people. John went on to explain how a successful balanced life is comprised of a lot of successful days put together, and each day is made of a lot of successful activities, each activity completed in an extraordinary way. Our lives are made of many small parts and we should capitalize on small victories, recognizing that extraordinary achievements come from people who are often considered to be very ordinary. Realize that nobody is ordinary; every person is extraordinary. Here are a few simple ruled that John suggests and any person can follow:
1. Stop thinking of yourself as ordinary
2. Never refer to yourself as an average person because there are no average people. Our problem stems from acting as though we are average.
3. Consider every person a very important person. Dispense with the status quo in your personal and business life.
4. Develop the attitude that there are no small parts in the movie of life; there are only small actors.
5. Do the smallest of jobs in the best way you possibly can.
6. Organize your small victory list every day and make them all-important activities. Complete each one enthusiastically. Everyone expects us to have a sense of urgency for life’s big things. Life measures us by how we engage ourselves in the little things.
A THOUGH FROM KYOSHI –
As we enter 2014 realize that one of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the desire to have dreams of a better life. Each of us has the ability to establish goals to live those dreams. We can look deep within our hearts and dream of a better situation for our families and ourselves. We may dream of better financial lives and better emotional or physical lives. What makes this more powerful is that we have also been given the ability to pursue those dreams with the cognitive ability to actually create a plan and strategies (setting goals) to achieve those dreams. Be daring and desire to never be satisfied with a static existence.