Karate Kata

9724cfea92-Karate1w-2

Most, if not all, traditional martial arts have formalized patterns, be it kata in karate, tul in taekwondo, or you name it.

Patterns are in essence crystallized containers of both attacking and defensive techniques. While some martial arts practitioners may find patterns boring, they are actually very exciting.

The only thing is that patterns need to be “unpacked” to understand their real meaning and applicability.

A good example is given by Michael Jai White in the video below. While this is just a movie, the illustation is quite vivid.

Real Martial Art Begins Outside the Dojo

That’s right.

And by “outside the dojo” I don’t mean fighting in the street to test your skills.

I find numerous debates and Youtube comments on “Which style is more effective?” futile and counter-productive. For the purpose of martial arts is not just prepare you for fighting, but prepare you for life.

Make you focused, determined, and driven. Build up your character. Unleash your human potential. Give the courage to fight for your dreams.

Let’s say you train taekwon-do and recite the tenets of taekwon-do before each class. And forget about them once the class ends. One of the tenets is integrity, for instance, which means to “walk your talk”. So the class ends, and you return to your “normal” life breaking commitments.

Or you practice aikido, “the art of peace”, and learn to never cause violence to anyone. And then you commit emotional or mental violence to the people around.

I can take a radical stance by claiming that martial arts turn an “animal-human being” into a “human-human being”. Contrary to the common misperception, all martial arts build peace both within and outside, rather than incite violence.

And if that’s the case, what’s the point of training if you become an “animal” again after leaving the training hall?

Jigoro Kano put it very nicely by saying there are three levels of judo.

The quintessential story comes down to this apex: the real test of you as a martial artist is outside the dojo. 

KUNG FU PANDA

The Best Way To Avoid Problems

Life has three rules, according to Dan Millman: paradox, humor, and change.

Indeed, life is full of paradoxes. Which are paradoxes at first sight only, but are grains of wisdom at a closer look.

We all hear that prevention is better than cure. Long-term investment is better that immediate fire-fighting. Being proactive is better than being reactive. From this I formulate one of my favorite paradoxes:

The best way to avoid problems is to create them. 

How come?

I think most of the people have a patient mentality. We realize we have serious problems once confronted with challenges we cannot ignore. And even then, we prefer quick fixes to sustainable solutions.

What is the opposite of the patient mentality? That of a student. Meaning not going to school (though that doesn’t hurt), but creating your own challenges, formulating tasks and setting goals that require high concentration and effort.

Such challenges must be tough enough to keep you focused, determined, and alert.

Build a relationship. Contribute to a community. Move to another country. Change your profession. You name it.

And here is the thing. If you consciously create these “problems”, if you keep the fire burning, life will bring less or zero misfortune. Why should it, if you’re already busy sorting out your stuff?🙂

It’s easy to “learn and grow” once life slams you into the face. It’s much harder to do so when things are shiny and rosy.

After all, this is what responsibility means: creating your own challenges and solving them creatively, rather than facing “unexpected surprises” from the world in a panic mode.

 

 

The Purpose Political Science and Martial Arts Share (part 2)

In one of the posts I touched upon the commonality between seemingly divergent fields of political science and martial arts.

I re-iterate the idea in the current post.

What is common between political (social) science(s) and martial arts?

In a fascinating academic article (these two adjectivies don’t always go together) “Security and Emancipation” Ken Booth argues that the basis of security and peace in the new times is that governments, concerned individuals, NGOs and global civil society in general act as “local agents of the world common good” (phrase borrowed from another notable scholar Hedley Bull).

In other words – act local, think global.

The highest goal of any martial art is to generate peace both within and outside. This has been claimed by many accomplished martial artists, and by the founding fathers themselves (I am sure diligent practitioners will agree with this proposition).

Just as two quick examples, consider the taekwon-do oath (“I shall build a more peaceful world. I shall be a champion of freedom and justice.”) or read “The Art of Peace” by the aikido’s founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Both traditions – those of social science and martial arts – put peace as a critical issue on the agenda. Both offer their unique ways to promote it, and strive for it.

I find this extremely interesting, inspiring, and worthwhile to walk on both ways simultaneously.8T65rg5kc

 

Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets: Indomitable Spirit

Indomitable spirit completes the list of the tenets of taekwon-do.

For me, indomitable spirti is the quintessence of human existence.

In a training hall, it means having courage to face your opponent and your fear. Always step out of your comfort zone and risk. Find strenght to go on even though everything inside you is screaming that it’s over.

Similarly, beyond the trainnig environment indomitable spirit is having courage to be open to the world, learn, and push you limits. As I mentioned earlier, in my hierachy of values courage is one of the biggest virtues.

Indomitable spirit means forcing yourself to do what you fear doing.

Indomitable spirit is running away from safety.

Indomitable spirit is have the guts to be what you wanna be.

Indomitable spirit is showing no fear,
or running away when trouble is near,
It’s knowing in life there’s some risks you must take,
and along the way some mistakes you may make.
It’s standing up proudly and thinking with glee,
I’m OK! I can do it! I beleiv in me!

©The Academic Taekwondo

Embracing Taekwon-do Tenets:

Courtesy
Integrity
Perseverance
Self-control

Incredible Asia: Back to Singapore

Everyone must travel.

It’s not a must to fly over to an exotic country. Once you step off the familiar route in your neighbourhood, you are already “on the road.”

If possible though, Southeast Asia is not to be missed.

As always, I learned a lot during the Asian trip with my friends. About new countries, cultures, and people, but above all about myself.

If you don’t have a teacher – travel. If you do have a teacher – travel anyway!

 

Rollei Digital Camera

Rollei Digital Camera

Incredible Asia: Bali (3)

In Bali it’s easy to relax and reconnect with yourself despite traffic jams, reckless drivers, enormous heat, and sometimes dirty beaches.

All you need is positive attitude, and Bali will pay you the same.

You always get what you give.

Rollei Digital Camera

Fresh watermelon juice is super tasty.

лак-лак - балийский десерт с сыром

And so is Balinese cake “lak-lak”.

20160519_164512

Local guys going to a ceremony. Bali is an island of thousand temples. Besides, there is a small temple in every house!

в храм только в саронге

Ready to attend a Buddhist Goa Goja temple in Ubud.

лувак - животное-производитель кофе

At the coffee and tea plantation: unique animal luwak that “produces” coffee beans by eating coffee cherries and defecating them. The result – “kopi luwak” – is one of the most famous and expensive coffees in the world.

кофе-лувак

Freshly “produced” coffee beans🙂.

на кофейной плантации

Time for degustation

к пляжу сквозь пещеру

To the beach through the cave

ради этого стоило приехать

Very photogenic Pandang beach popular with surfers

закат над Индийским океаном

Jimbaran beach: absolutely my favourite in Bali. Swimming in the warm Indian ocean at sunset is very soothing, almost like magic.

20160519_181557

Dinner at the beach. The airport is quite close. As the sun sets, it’s great to listen to the waves and watch the “stars falling” (planes landing) every 5 minutes.

20160519_192403

Let there be light.

вечеринка в отеле

Friday pizza party at the ESS guesthouse

мировое время в аэропорту Бали

Time to say good-bye

On the very last day, or actually night, just before the early morning plane, we went to the Kuta party area famous for its clubs. The experience was crazy, and I would like to leave it behind the scene.

For now, terima kasih, Bali. Or, as they say in Balinese, suksma!