Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Five Precepts: Dojo Kun

We learn that the burdens assigned to us whether as businessmen, warriors, friends, relatives, spouses, parents or children shift with the changing tide as accomplishments, successes and failures send us externally and internally in various and conflicting directions, tilting us to the front, back and from side to side requiring constant effort to re-center and re-balance. Kihon, kata and kumite provide training and method that allow us abilities to master forces of the universe and accept these ever shifting burdens. Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate, changed the face of martial arts by transcending the limits of its aggressive nature and reshaping it into a practice that shifted the focus inward. Aggressive and dynamic, Master Funakoshi said that karate provides methods for all ages, young and old, to participate in a healthy activity that develops the mind and body. Karate-do, translated, means “way of the empty hand,” with the emphasis on “empty.” Funakoshi’s teaching though powerful and explosive, professed that strength, like a bamboo stalk, came not from without but from within. Profound thought: The “empty” that ordinarily isn’t given much thought by the uninitiated, carries with it the secrets of the galaxies and with the right combination of focus, these secrets are ours for the taking. Funakoshi was instrumental in helping to foster in the karate-ka the type of mindset to temper the spirit and behavior. His particular doctrine not only required the individual to learn every aspect of the technique but what was in the movements. It was then when he created a mantra for students to remember, powerful words that carry deep meaning and insight and that sets a tone of inward and outward strength.
These are:


Master Funakoshi believed that, for the true karate-ka, the dojo kun should not only be considered a set of rules of conduct in the dojo, but a guide to everyday life. Everything we learn in the dojo, we should apply to everyday life.

“Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto” Seek perfection of character

This is the ultimate goal of karate. The other four principles of the dojo kun, as well as the entire nijyu kun, all tell us what it means to seek perfection of character—how we can go about pursuing this highest objectives. But this is the most important thing. We seek perfection of character from the inside out. It is something we should do every moment of every day of our lives.

This means we should never stop learning. Karate training, like life itself, is an ongoing process of growth and personal education, a process that lasts for a lifetime. It is good to set goals, but as soon as we accomplish them, it is important to set our sights on the next goal, to improve. To seek perfection of character is to always seek to improve oneself, to always endeavor to learn and grow.

“Makoto no michi o mamoru koto” Be faithful

To be faithful means to be sincere in everything you do. Here we are talking about making a total effort, all the time, in whatever you do.
To be faithful of course means that you have to be true to other people, to your obligations—but it also means you have to be true to yourself. And to do so means you have to do your best in everything you do.
When you are faithful to yourself, others will have faith in you. This creates mutual trust between people. Being faithful to yourself is essential to realizing the first goal of being the best person you can be.

“Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto” Endeavor

Try hard at everything you do. No matter what you are doing, whether it’s training, working, having a relationship—give it one hundred percent. To do anything else is to cheat yourself and others. If you don’t endeavor to do your best, you are not being faithful to yourself and others, and you are not trying to seek perfection of character.

“Reigi o omonzuru koto” Respect others

A true martial artist always shows respect to other people. And it is something you ought to feel in your heart. Showing respect is a sign of humility, and humility is necessary for an open mind, which it turn is necessary to learn, to grow. You can always learn something from every person you meet. Likewise, every person you encounter is a possible opponent of some kind, and that opponent can pose a threat to you, physical or otherwise. In either case, if you respect everyone, you will more clearly see things for what they are, and you will be able to get the most of every experience.

“Keki no yu o imashimuru koto” Refrain from violent behavior

This is a reminder to keep calm inside. Control yourself at all times, from within. Conflict within is a form of violence. It leads to violent actions, which is something you should try to avoid at all costs. A martial artist should always be in control, and that begins with an inner calmness, with peace of mind. If you are forced to defend yourself as a last resort, then it is all right to do so. But you will only be successful defending yourself when you maintain a calm, clear mind, in which case using karate technique to protect yourself will truly be your reaction of last resort.

Different dojos developed similar principles unique to their philosophies and training. Though I’ve trained in karate for many years, I did not learn these principles until a Cal Poly alumni, Alan Kandel enlightened me in the dojo kun in one of his classes he taught in Fresno his shorter version being:

1. Seek perfection of character.
2. Be faithful and protect the way of truth.
3. Endeavour and put maximum effort in everything you do.
4. Respect others and the rules of etiquette.
5. Refrain from negative and violent behavior and develop self control.

When I first heard him recite them at the end of class, I was immediately impressed by the words, the meaning and how it not only applied within dojo walls but outside its door. I can break apart each kun separately and explain how it fit in, but I decided the best way to understand their meaning is to take the time and write the five principals down and keep them with me, reviewing them every once in a while and to read them aloud allowing the meanings to sink in. This, I did, years ago and the spirit of the words helped me.

It makes sense as the kun is a study in and of itself. This is why I’m asking you to take the time to write it down and keep it with you, read and reflect upon the words as what they are.

Personally the biggest challenge in life has nothing to do with the abilities to win or lose. Our surroundings and immediate environment take sides of hard and soft, yin and yang, good and evil. With the forces tilting the balance, the ability to center appears to be worth an effort, more effort than what some of us are willing to invest, but the rewards, benefits and values make it all worthwhile. Master Funakoshi said that by practicing the martial arts, the perfection of character he instructed through dojo kun will be yours, and with it the expertise. The philosophy or ideology that has been imparted via this book’s words, are forever and although they can never be taken from you, are however, meant to be shared. There’s a difference. To become as one with the martial arts warrior and artist, an artist and warrior melded into one, is to be indoctrinated into the brother or sisterhood, people-hood if you will, who uphold the virtues of and protect what we hold sacred and dear.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kata and Logic

The term "kata" is a martial arts term, but in this blog, I’d like to introduce a meaning much deeper than kicks, blocks and punches.  

When I was in college, I took a philosophy class, a requirement that I had to work on because, to be honest, it was boring.  Hate to say, but normal people didn’t discuss philosophy while sipping beer at a local pub.  

The topic of discussion was “logic”.

The first words that came out of the professor's mouth were: “A cat has four legs and a tail. A dog has four legs and a tail, therefore a cat is a dog.”

Then he scanned the room and waited for a response.

Silence. Crickets.  Chirp.  Chirp.

I couldn’t wait, so I raised my hand and said, “I don’t think so.”

He asked me why?

I told him, cats aren’t dogs. 

He slapped his hands and screamed.  “EXACTLY!”

This professor then got on top of a soap box and, in so many words, said, the world was full of people, with power, who affected our lives; and, there was nothing we could do about it because we, as a human race, was inherently ignorant and stupid.

He stopped talking and scanned the room again.

Okay. No one said anything, so I raised my hand again.

He waved me off and challenged everyone to provide him with a 40-page, typed, term report with references to prove him wrong.

Remember, at the time, we didn't have the Internet nor word processors. It was then blood and guts, research.  Little did I know; I could use my martial arts training to provide a strong reference.  

At the time (1973), I trained in SF Chinatown and had the pleasure and honor of learning from Richard Kim, founder of the Zen Bei Butokokai ttp://www.richardkimmartialartist.com/affiliates.html, Master (Hanshi) Kim told us this story about kata.  

I remembered it well, driving the long distance from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to San Francisco.  Okay, I accepted being “inherently ignorant and stupid,” but I was, also, enamored in learning; and, I wanted to understand about so many things: Why we were in Viet Nam?  Why Kent State students got shot?  Why ethnics minorities were ethnic minorities.  Why S.I. Hayakawa was such a butt.  Why I liked listening to Jimmy Hendricks?  Why I wanted to be the next Bruce Lee?

About 200 of us sempais and gohais stood in attention between the long and arduous training to hear Hanchi Kim's words of wisdom.  Some carried small pad and pencils.  I wished I did, but my memory served me well, because in this lesson, he opened our minds to the responsibility of kata.  (For those of you who don’t know, “kata” was a set of pre-arranged techniques: blocks, strikes, kicks and punches that emulated combat, the karate way to develop skill and endurance. Breaking it down to brass tacks, it meant putting an opponent out with force but not kill.)

In kata, because we fought imaginary opponents, we could insert, should we wish, a “killing” mindset; but by doing so, must accept the responsibility and intellect behind this practice.  Training to take another person’s life should not be taken lightly.

He said that, after long hours of repetition, the intent becomes “second nature” and, in a life and death situation, the techniques would come out, automatically.  

In my report to the philosophy professor, I referenced this “kata” analogy, and he, surprisingly, agreed with my argument about how an individual without knowing was influenced to accept faulty logic.  We talked about how mainstream media, seclusion, and exclusion perpetuated a “if said enough times must be true” culture that, if not checked, affected the lives others.

Could it be true that political pundits and talk show hosts were convincing unsuspecting souls that "cats were dogs?"  

And that each day, when we watched and listened to the same words, our minds believed it (without so much as researching a paragraph of reading) because, like kata, of repetition?

Through intellect, rational thought, research and logic, I chose not to be "inherently ignorant and stupid,” and practice a kata of my own.

As a person of intellect and rational thought, I am convinced, it is the logical thing to do.

First Karate Class



A college kid in the 1970's got involved in the martial art, motivated by Bruce Lee, Kwai Chang Caine, and Lo Lei in "Five Fingers of Death," a long haired hippie in bell bottom pants, tank top tee shirt and a fu manchu mustache, I took a dive and entered a karate dojo.

I can say the first day in class was foreign, alien, whatever.

Like everything else during this time of my life, when I encountered something new, I spent more time watching, observing, emulating, saying nothing, and hoping my “wild flower” imitation not attract attention. Except for those wearing starchy white karate uniforms with various colored belts announcing their ranks, I noticed others like me, stretching awkwardly, in quiet corners, not making eye contact.

After I walked in, I sat in a chair and took shoes and socks off, tucking them neatly away in a place where I wouldn’t forget them. I stood at the edge of the dojo floor, bowed and entered. It was the first time I experienced hard wood floors on bare feet. It hurt.

Right then I realized how much of a wuss I was now that I’m taking “kay-RAH-tay”

I held off purchasing a gi or karate uniform. I was allowed to wear sweat pants and a white tee shirt. I noticed that gis worn by the students were cleaned and pressed before each and every workout.

This was the start of a strict code I was not familiar of.

A high regard for manners was a requirement; any breach, large or small, was not tolerated. Screw up and the student forfeited his membership. During my years of training, neither had I heard nor experienced a case when this code was ever broken. When I first took martial arts, I lived in an era when manners were mandatory. My family lived poorly working in the farm fields of California’s Central San Joaquin Valley. As a young child, I had few possessions: several sets of clothes: One for play or work; a set for school, and a fresh clean set for church or formal events. Though mom and dad earned a meager wage as itinerant farm laborers, we dressed in fine suits and dresses at church. I was uncomfortable spending the effort trying to appear proper-like. When I joined class, I was in college, and thoroughly not interested in wearing formal clothing. I was not interested in adding another set of rules to my confusing life. Despite this feeling, I forged forward, not much to accept the rules but more to learn. As long as I was not asked to train butt naked, I tolerated the clean gi, immaculate training quarters, etiquette and filial obedience. A uniform appearance was necessary as not to be an issue in learning: One less thing to worry about while learning something new and perfecting old. It’s like wearing pressed slacks, white shirt and red tie to an interview. Conservative by today’s standards, by wearing conservative clothes, appearance will not be a reason for not getting the job. As with the whole aspect of etiquette, manners and regimental mannerisms, there’s an attitude of respect and humility. Though the instructor didn’t have to spell it out specifically, I learned quickly that the process of learning evolved further and deeper than what was in front of me. I found that these rules developed character and made me a better person.

When I was a child, I was taught to say, “yes sir,” “yes ma’am” to elders, teachers, clergy, police and so forth without knowing why. In retrospect, prior to entering (and leaving) the dojo, and greeting the sensei, I was taught to bow and say the word “os,” short for “onegai-shimasu” (oh-neh-GAH-ee-she-mah-SOOH) which, translated, means “Will you help or teach me, please?” An act of respect, and a culture of self control and etiquette all the while learning self defense. “Excuse me and I apologize, but I must rip your eyes out with my tiger fist technique.” Peace and compassion, the foundation combines manners and killing skills.

On that first day, Sensei Willard Thomas had us stand in line with senior students at one end and beginners at the other. We waited several seconds as the dojo fell silent, silent, the experience unnerved me. I watched intently as he knelt by first dropping onto one knee and then the other. Everyone followed suit. I struggled to imitate these movements as the floor made my knees and instep hurt. As I ached and fought the urge to readjust, others around me remained frozen like statues. It was the first time I did anything like this and it was weird, uncomfortable but yet intriguing. Sensei made eye contact with me and then yelled “mokutsu!” (moh-koot-SOOH) I had no idea what it meant, but I saw him close his eyes. I naturally followed along. As the seconds ticked, I tried to let whatever supposed to happen, happen. What I remembered through closed eyes was nothing but darkness and an after burn of trailing images. I concentrated on this darkness as eyes focused on the back of eyelids, the world around me ticked by. Though among others, I felt alone and weird.

Silence.

It was so quiet I could hear my heart beat. The person next to me breathed quietly while a strange wheezing came from a young child who knelt on the other side of me.

I stifled a laugh.

My mind then wandered thinking of the roof caving in, crashing down upon all of us except on sensei who remained untouched and unaffected. I felt my breath leave me, suffocating. I needed to leave, but fought the feeling. The seconds ticked by and I screamed inward.

Then through the blackness I heard him speak, “As students of karate, leave all thoughts behind you. Your home, your school, your church. Everything. All thoughts, except karate, no longer exist.” I felt an overwhelming peace. Something happened; I did not fight it and enjoyed this strange ride. A long period of silence followed and then “Mokutsu-yame!” (moh-koot-SOOH-YAH-meh) I opened my eyes just to see what’s supposed to happen next, and everyone has their eyes opened and trained on sensei. He bowed in kneeling position, forehead barely touching the floor. Everyone bowed back in respect.

My forehead hit the floor.

Ouch.

I was in college experiencing life away from home, difficult studies, freedom, an open mind accepting the deliverance of time. Learning new skills such as dealing with adverse personalities, this new culture felt like cold ice on my feet. It was in the early ‘70s, during a time of my life when drugs and sex were supposedly acceptable, appropriate and safe. As a result, the last thing on my mind was to be disciplined, military in scope, enamored in a strange culture. Mokutsu (the Japanese word for “meditation”) removed outside thoughts and I transformed into a sponge for learning.

This training helped me, 35 years later. Though I’ve trained in other systems, Shorin Ryu and Shotokan Karate, Aikijujitsu, Okinawan weaponry, Muay Thai Kickboxing, and Taijiquan, what I learned from sensei taught me how to learn by first relinquishing all external thoughts.

I learned that in order to be good in anything, I had to be a good student, hard worker, an expert on the foundation of studies. In math, grammar, history, science or music, I found that if I mastered the fundamentals, it would be easier for me to climb the learning ladder than had I bypassed basics.

Karate consisted of three basic blocks, three basic kicks, a whole host of punches plus an assortment of striking techniques. Sensei Thomas’ curriculum was the same, no different than the last. I started awkward, stumbling. Others were like me, some better the next. Mirrors showed their determination. Senior students led by example and I willed my arms, torso and legs to mimic. Sensei stopped by and corrected me on periodic intervals. As days and months passed my form improved. I progressed quickly, partly because I was an athlete, mostly because I practiced at home and was motivated. My self-confidence soared. This helped with, of all things, college, which prior to the martial arts training suffered. It was my first year in college and I devoted part time effort to studies. The college party scene sent me reeling backwards that I needed to change. Karate training brought back “discipline,” a concept that I heard in conversations helped me. Discipline a military concept was something I didn’t practice prior to taking sensei Thomas’ class. When we stood in horse stance for the entire class duration, my legs burned and I hurt like I’ve never hurt before. Everyone else in class suffered while sensei Thomas remained in his stance punching, striking and blocking, a stoic presence. Not wanting to be outdone, I mirrored his stance, lower than most others in class, accepting his challenge to progress.

This taught me to shut up, listen, and emulate.

Martial arts is a discipline that teaches by example. On occasions, the instructor corrected through instruction, but most of the time, I just copied (monkey see, monkey do).

I can say that the most important part about life is to appreciate its intricacies, learn the basics and become an expert, and in this case, the better copy cat you are the better. When the time comes when you’ve mastered the art of copying, then you can begin designing your own path...your own destiny. Hai. Wakirimaska?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where the Mind Makes No Mistakes

I’ve been in martial arts for 40 years and through personal discovery find that the body can take so much. The "lucky" ones fly through life unscathed while the rest of us fall victim to hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis, a side bar to heredity and life long bad habits. Not to say that I’ve been a bad boy: I watched my diet, get about seven hours of sleep every night, don’t drink alcohol (at least not in excess), don’t smoke tobacco or marijuana (not even for medicinal purposes, thought at times I’ve seriously considered it), meditate frequently to combat daily stress, and exercise, primarily martial arts. Due to a back condition and blown ankles and knees from sports injuries, normal gym workout has been challenging; excruciating pain strikes at key parts of my body at the worst times, best times, any and all of the above.. Fortunate to be introduced to Tai Chi and Qigong in the mid-1970’s, I’ve adopted training that tremendously benefits in reducing blood pressure, maintaining muscle tone, and staying active as possible.

The natural progression of events has it where the body goes first, followed by the mind and the spirit everlasting; at least, that’s the theory. There is no arguing that the body has only so much it can do. Age makes it brittle, less flexible, strong and regenerative. That’s what we do when we grow old; but, with that said, we still can combat the aging process by using the strength and will of the mind to live our lives to the fullest.

As Qigong and Reiki become reasonable alternatives to health care, I’ve noticed that western medical philosophy gets in the way to those who wish learn and understand the opportunities and value of the Asian Internal Martial Arts and how they can be used to keep our bodies strong as the hands of time continue to tick forward.. My only explanation is of all reasons: Asian based. With the forces of Ying and Yang separated by the thin line of “chi” external empirical evidenced based treatment as effective it is in many cases can yield to the forces of internal energy afforded by qigong and Reiki.

In school, at least as I knew it from an American perspective, I was trained to identify and categorize my learning as what they are. Example, English is the study of…History is the study of…Math is the study of…and on and on. I could not confuse English with Math and vice versa however, reading English was a requirement for me to read Math text books. There’s correlation that makes sense. When I first took martial arts, though the commands were in Japanese; for example, “age uke” meant upward block; “oi tsuki” meant lung punch: no confusion. Now swim across into mainland China where kung fu is taught, and training takes a different angle. Styles, classes and even manners are based upon animals: Tiger, crane, eagle, monkey, snake, dragon; a Qigong form “Wu Ki Xi” or five animals frolic has the player mimic their respective movements. With that said, a different thought pattern is used to create a martial arts movement that utilizes not direct instruction but a metaphor.

In Asian martial arts that teach healing, phrases like single whip, brush knee, part the wild horses mane, cloud hands are used explain movements. Western instruction uses words like high block, low block, lunge punch, back fist a more what-you-see-is-what-you-get-less-ethereal direct approach. The metaphorical instruction asks the practitioner to be like the description, whereas the western instruction tells you exactly what to do. As the person creates the movement, the position, posture and muscular coordination, he transforms from normal to extraordinary. The Japanese regards kata, or form, the act of seeking perfection, to act not only physically perfect but to do so with a pure heart and mind. In practice which in truth is life to “seek perfection” is to be whole and alive, to achieve the translation of inner sanctum. No weakness left but the strength of character.

As stress becomes life’s norm, we’ve taught ourselves to ignore warning signals: headaches, stiff necks and shoulders, depression, trouble concentrating, loss of appetite, sense of loss, depression, chest pains; the list goes on and one. We allow this free falling lifestyle to continue without resolving. Vices such as alcohol, drugs and negativity become the shovels that dig us deeper into an abyss of self destruction (how's that for a metaphor?)

The answer lies in change: Changing our thought patterns that examine the creative mind for answers. Instead of surrendering to negative forces that others use to make money, look at the skies and breathe the cool air we take for granted; the smile from a young child; the wagging tail of a puppy; the bright petals of a flower; the grandeur of a tall tree; the wisdom of the ages; and the history of man that has survive years of painful evolution.

Anecdotal evidence verified by case accounts demonstrated health improvements after participating in qigong, Reiki and Tai Chi. Argue if this is a true cause and effect on action. What makes us believe this is true is the strength and will of the human mind, how it works for the common good. As is, we know it exists, we know it works. Do we consciously focus on the: who, what, when, where, how and why, minute details? Is it necessary? Someone throws a ball at you; you catch it and throw it back. Do you actually break each movement of this action step-by-step, by minute detail; or do you allow your mind and body to let it just happen?

One example is the test when you close your eyes and imagine. Think about two separate situations: One in which you’re running away from this huge black widow with fangs baring chasing you into a dark room, only to find yourself facing the due from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre pulling the cord activating his weapon of horrible destruction all the while laughing hideously. Notice what happens to your body. None of this is true, but your body tenses to the thought. Another example: Imagine driving on a dark country road, late at night. You’re all alone, no other cars on the road. As you wind along the road, you notice a lady in white walking on the side of the road. Too late for you to slow down and stop, you continue your trek. Still curious, you look at your rear view mirror only to find the Lady in White now sitting in the back staring right back at you. You freak, blink your eyes and she’s gone. Notice immediately what happens to you when you think about each of these scenarios. One instance is indeed horrible, but very Hollywood. The second is Paranormal believable and hits closer to home. Perhaps never to ever happen in real life, the effect is real, at least in your mind.

Now close your eyes once again, take a deep breath and release the tension from this thought and now feel your body drift away to a quiet and peaceful, safe and comfortable place where you are absolutely happy, quiet, soft as if floating in a cloud cool and relaxed.

The strength of the mind is powerful.

This is why Mikao Usui developed the five basic principles containing the words: Angry, worry, grateful, work and kindness over and over again, as it triggers a response in your mind to be in the right place. Don’t be angry; don’t worry, be grateful, work hard and be kind. By being in a state of clear positive consciousness, a Reiki practitioner can be the conduit necessary to move the right energy into the sick individual.

It was said that chi flow slowly, patient and complete, unencumbered by our wishes, personal wants and needs. It exists unconditionally without notice or validation whether we believe it or not. This reason establishes a base as to why a person who starts qigong, Tai Chi or Reiki must have a strong focus of the mind, extending any and all possibilities using metaphors, imagery, and creativity before channeling, transference, attunement and flow can be accomplished. As long as the practitioner works for good and humanity, benefits are unlimited. Example of focus – succeeding despite environment, negative influences, and bad luck has been documented time and time again. Just because someone says you’re a failure, you aren’t unless you allow it to be true; says you can’t accomplish a goal, doesn’t mean it’s true. What’s true is what you believe and in the course of healing, belief in good health goes a long way. Through training, meditation the intent of happiness, the use of creativity and imagination allows us to channel forces towards the right direction, instead of contributing to its manifestation, countering with the miracle of the mind.

Yes, I’m an old man’ my body no longer possessing the strength, flexibility nor ability to play with the young boys, but my mind has the veracity to be young and vibrant, able to tackle what's given to me and live my life to the fullest.

And when the time comes when the body has nothing left, and I know it'll happen, I’ll have the creativity, imagination and belief to move onto where it is natural and indeed perfect.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reiki and Qigong Healing through Belief, Intent and Imagination

In Reiki, the concept of imagination is the key to healing. As we’ve heard and read, the connection with mind, body and the elusive spirit requires a balance for good health and well being. In our minds we think that all we need to do is sit on a boulder on top of a mountain stare out into the valley, mediate and we’re cured, right? Well, I wish I can say it`s that easy; but it’s not: We’re a complicated bunch of insects and with zillions of variables that make healing difficult.

Conclusion: “naga hap’n.”

Most of us know what our problems are, what we need to do like diet, exercise, alleviate stress, but what we truly want to help us heal is our personal dilemma.

In my years of training, I first started listening and emulating: Monkey see, monkey do; the better monkey, the better student. Sempai-gohai relationship in Japanese training required this type of filial abeyance. Unfortunately, from an inquisitive and sometimes skeptical point of view, I had questions; the inner child “why” syndrome popped out. Why am I doing it this way? Why is it important to focus from my “hara” instead of my fist? Why do I have to kia at this moment? Why? Why? Why? Blah, blah, blah.

What resulted was conventional Asian wisdom as Bruce Lee quaintly put it in his movie, “Enter the Dragon…Don't think; feel. It's like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

As my martial arts training continued and developed for 40 years, I experienced that in order to learn and “get it” I needed a strong belief system that started with a child’s imagination, creativity and soulful intent. I remembered personal experiences from church, discussions, and research, the first from Catholic church near to where I grew up. Father Ed preached and even had them in a song, “If you believe, then you shall live.” Logically, I was already alive. Why was this so important (“Why” again); it resolve the belief of life after death in the Kingdom of God. If you don’t believe, then there will be no afterlife: Simple as that; case closed, end of story. Healing was definitely more spiritual than mind or body. Take it to another level; certain Chinese doctors of both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine practice “healing of the soul.” I’ve seen videos of them and concluded that their strength is in a strong belief system that if you use kindness, compassion and the belief in God (or an infinite spiritual wisdom) you can eliminate the manifested negativity, toxicity, and internal poison that make up the root causes of your illnesses.

Conventional Western Medicine only agrees with this precept if it is backed by science and clinical trials. I remembered reading a book long ago: The Celestine Principals. Aside from it being a good read, the final pay off was that time will come when science or basically human intellect and spirituality will be one in the same, when true wisdom does not require dogma nor religion to lead humanity towards a path of true enlightenment. As an argument, if this was to happen, will we be able to use the power of the mind from a scientific and spiritual position to heal ourselves? I’ve read articles and opinions about how prayer has helped in healing, again validating the strength of belief and imagination.

In my short research, I read that Reiki Master Miako “Gyoho” Usui was a Christian Minister and Buddhist Monk, learning the healing palm techniques from years of Qigong training in the monasteries. At the time and even up to now, some of those forms could have either been: Yi Jin Jing (tendon stretching) , Baduanjin (eight piece brocade), Wu Qi Xi (animal frolicking) , Lui Zi Jue (penetrating sounds), Zhan Zhuang (standing meditation), and finally taijiquan. What they all required was a deep commitment to internal development which required belief, intent and imagination.

Though I still use physical strength in some of my karate and qigong “iron shirt” forms I’ve learned to forget technique and instead float into an abyss, the colloquial “be one with the universe” “let the force be with you” “go with the flow.” Since relieving me the responsibility of being technically perfect -- the first precept of Funakoshi’s dojo kun, which in my defense I know I’m doing correctly since I’ve performed them about a gazillion times before and like picking up a fork and eating; forget about the details; just put it in your mouth, chew and swallow – I have the luxury of surrendering, transforming, transcending and tuning in with a force not of this real world.

Again, belief, intent and imagination.

What it’s key here is that Asian healing practices such as Reiki, qigong and certain martial arts, although strict and regimen, kihon/kata, conduct and process, must start with the mind and then fully transcending towards an absolute commitment to believing who you are and what you are administering has the power, intellect and wisdom of the universe.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Reiki: Myth or Real?

Reiki is healing method that promotes stress reduction and relaxation and is based on an idea that energy flows through us that gives us life.

Like many Asian based systems, it has undergone change taking on many identities. Some of those names include: Mikao Usui Reiki, Gendai Reiki Ho, Celtic Reiki, Siechim Reiki, Kundalini Reiki, Karuna Reiki, Western Reiki, spelled also as Rekai, Raiki, and Reke.

Regardless the name and system, the basic belief is that if a "life force energy" is low or blocked, a person will fall ill. If it is high, which is the goal, a person’s life would be fulfilled; happy, healthy, and able to work, contribute to society, and love family and self unconditionally.

In Japanese rei translated means "wisdom from the universe" and ki is “life force energy".

Applied by a practitioner using his or her hands, a treatment through energy channeling, provides a wonderful glowing radiance that treats the person as whole: mind, body and spirit benefiting through relaxation, a feelings of peace and wellbeing: The value is complete contentment.

Unlike what many believe, Reiki is safe and simple. Effective in relieving illness and malady it works in conjunction with Western medical therapeutic. Though Reiki has provided methods of healing, practitioners admonishes anyone from replacing treatment from trained medical professionals and facilities with its method.

In some Reiki schools, the techniques are not taught but passed down from one to another, a transference process. This is called attunement that supposedly allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of "life force energy" to improve one's health and enhance the quality of life.

You don’t need to be a doctor, lawyer or anyone with a high intellectual background. Anyone and everyone from different age groups and backgrounds can learn this through proper training.

While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, except a belief and understanding of true wisdom, energy flow, and compassion. With that said, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work there is a belief or not. Because Reiki comes from everywhere, the earth, moon, universe, outside us, inside us, many people find that using Reiki puts them in touch with the experience of their religious belief rather than having an intellectual perspective of it.

Dr. Mikao Usui, a Christian minister and teacher, brought Reiki into Japan after spending time in China learning healing techniques from Asian monks. From it he discovered the difference between spirituality and religion. Many have leaned towards the idea that Reiki is a religion. The Catholic Church forbids the practice in any of its facility, though nurses have used it in treating patients in Catholic hospitals. Not a religion, it is still important to live and act in a way that promotes harmony and natural healing, As it addresses simple ethical ideals to promote peace and harmony (five basic principals), this is universal across all cultures.

Ideals developed to add spiritual balance, the principals purpose is to open up the healing spirit by consciously deciding to improve oneself accepting the responsibility for her or his healing and take an active part in it and include an active commitment to improve oneself to complete the process system a live a gracious life, virtues worthy of practice for its inherent value.

As a martial artist for 40 years, I’ve trained both Japanese and Chinese systems. Reiki has precepts that I understand. The Five Basic Principals is similar to Gichin Funakoshi’s Dojo Kun. The concept of ki or “chi’s” force and channeling is similar to what’s trained in HsingI, baguazhang, zhan zhuang, qigong and taijiquan. The principals of kindness and compassion is similar to Falun Gong.

Though I’ve not witnessed anyone cured from this practice, I’ve hard stories, credible and believable.

In my years of practice, I’ve met and had the pleasure of learning from Shihan-dai’s and grand masters with their words of wisdom. Martial arts is enamored with acumens from such teachers, now available on the internet at the press of a button. Either way, knowledge is golden, and how a person interprets the information is entirely up to him or her.

Reiki with its subtleties and simplicity provides a great deal of benefit to anyone who practices as well as to those energies are pass through.

There’s this true story of one of my students. He was frustrated because he trained so long in the dojo with the intent of winning a trophy at a competition but lost three to zero very quickly in his match. He came to me complaining that his training was inadequate.

So I asked him if he ducked, bobbed or weaved away when his opponent attacked. He answered “no.”

I asked him if he shifted his weight from one position to another to avoid getting hit. He answered “no.”

I asked him if he attempted any blocks when his opponent punched or kicked. He also answered “no.”

During practice, I knew he learned the techniques in kihon, kata and kumite because I personally instructed him.

I asked him why?

He said he didn’t know why? He said that in the dojo, he relied upon my instruction to conduct his training. During a tournament competition, I was not there to instruct him on what to do.

And therein lies the problem.

In other life’s responsibilities, he was able to conduct himself responsibly, but during a competitive fight even after receiving months of training in the dojo, the conduct of action was not there.

Reiki, Zhan zhang, qigong, taijiquan, baguazhang, Hsingi, and any other internal martial and healing arts requires intent, deep and primal, starting with the willingness to go beyond creativity and imagination and evolve into a new realm of possibilities.

Channeling energy to heal requires a person to go outside a comfort zone of reality and become the universe. How can a sane person made up of skin, bones and matter become something as esoteric as the universe?

One of my instructors told me that without “chi” or the energies life force that God gave us when we were born, the actual attunement or transference of energy from our mother who brought us into this world, we would be a mass of chemicals amounting to about $15 of raw material and a lot of water.

It is this focus, as simple as giving birth, that a healer must pull from wisdom and energy before he or she can attempt channeling.

My method of practice is qigong and taijiquan. It may created the spark that puts me into that realm. At this time, I haven’t achieved that goal, though from a personal standpoint, I am at peace with the exercise.

I recommend the readings from an inexpensive download found in the internet.

You may find it in the following link.

Dr. Mikau Usui

Or cut and paste into your url:
http://www.healing2.info

Or you can surf the web and find your own source of information.

Either way, you will find the same packets of info that will lead you to conclusions that hopefully will give you the benefit your are entitled.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Study Shows Common Pain Cream Could Protect Heart During Attack


Several years ago, an article was published saying that a pain cream can be used to save a person’s life suffering from a heart attack.

In September 2009, Keith Jones, PhD, a researcher in the department of pharmacology and cell biophysics, and scientists in his lab from the University of Cincinnati published an article in the Journal Circulation indicating that a common, over-the-counter pain cream rubbed on the skin during a heart attack could prevent or reduce damage to the heart.

This opinion was formulated after applying capsaicin to specific skin locations in mice and found that sensory nerves in the skin triggered signals in the nervous system that activated cellular "pro-survival" pathways in the heart which protect the muscle.

For those who love chili peppers when they eat their food easily recognize the hot effect, capsaicin is the main component of these temperature rising herbs that is also an active ingredient in several topical medications used for temporary pain relief.

Dr. Jones teamed up with Neal Weintraub, MD, a UC Health cardiologist and director of UC's cardiovascular diseases division, and other clinicians to develop a plan to test capsaicin in humans.

"Topical capsaicin has no known serious adverse effects and could be easily applied in an ambulance or emergency room setting well in advance of coronary tissue death," Jones says. "If proven effective in humans, this therapy has the potential to reduce injury and/or death in the event of a coronary blockage, thereby reducing the extent and consequences of heart attack."

It was their belief that the skin, the largest organ and main sensor on a body, has learned powers of protection that responds to preserve and protect the heart. He said the hot pain cream acts like acupuncture treatment but without the needles.

Both warn against using this treatment of rubbing pain creams with capsaicin on a chest or belly during a heart attack as their studies have not undergone FDA approved clinical trials; but then, if a true emergency does occur, calling 911, taking aspirin and maybe some pain cream on the chest could mean the difference between life and death.

I am not a doctor nor do I have a medical background, but as a lay person, this article makes sense. As a modern society, we have developed methods to treat the sick, ill and injured using findings and techniques based upon Western science, analysis, and opinions. These techniques unfortunately provided treatment plans that entail prescription drug therapy, body manipulation, and surgery. As stated by many doctors, their job is not to heal, but help the body heal itself. Utilizing the tried and true methods that have legal implications (can you say law suit?) doctors are forced to stay within an approved protocol to treat.

Suggesting the use of hot sauce rubbed on a person’s chest to treat a heart attack is farfetched, but the great Louis Pasteur, late French chemist and microbiologist was considered a laughing stock for suggesting doctors wash their hands and instruments before treating their patients. By today’s standards it would be horrible to think a surgeon work on a patient with rusty instruments and soiled hands.

Ideas, as creative as they sound, could possibly find cures to such dreaded diseases as tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. It is this type thinking that could turn the tide and save many lives.

Traditional Chinese Medicine have for years practiced acupuncture, cupping therapy, massage, qigong, herbs, meditation and strict diet with tremendous results. For instance qigong, the practice of “energy cultivation” is exercised by a lone individual. Some practitioners or grandmasters have developed their skills powerful enough to channel their energies to others as part of their healing techniques.

With that said, placebo effect or not, if after reading this article you feel motivated keep an extra tube of pain cream with your aspirin in the medicine cabinet for such emergencies, be sure to check the expiration dates as these products do have a shelf life.

If you’re going to put a hot pain cream on a person’s chest, you may as well make sure it’s got the kick to do the job.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Being Happy


From a purely selfish point of view aside from adequately and comfortable surviving and succeeding in life, a fundamental goal is to be happy. I remembered watching this television program an episode devoted to answering the question, “Are you happy?’ The main character ran through the course of the show facing back to back annoying challenges holding off answering the question till the very end of the show which he finally admitted to being happy. The lesson here was the fight to come to grips with a truism. Happiness with variances and degrees different with each one of us, the goal of happiness from a core level is satisfying and worth all the crap that makes up the rest of whom and what we are. With that said, we want to be happy, need to be happy but then how do we reach this goal? Where do we start? How do we know that we chase after is what we need? What determines the factors and criteria that puts smiles on our faces and warms the heart?

“Yes, of course, I’m happy. It could be better, but all and all, I’m good.”

Truth is that if you believe in happiness, happiness is yours. Smile!!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'll Remember You



When Jim Croce was alive, he wrote, sang songs, ballads. From my point of view they survived the test of time, a style reminiscent to who he was, unmarked by electronic manipulation, a-what-you-see-is-what-you get interpretation. Even when I lived near the labor camps in Delano, I'd play my radio and hear Elvis sing to his new wife Priscilla, Kui Lee's ballad, "I Will Remember You" lyrics that still give me goose bumps.

 

 Musicians at the time represented raw talent created life within their minds, bodies and spirits trading experiences. Some were handsomely rewarded; others just played their music. It was a time when Vietnam, civil unrest, corporate greed, and inequality filled the newsstands. As a baby boomer (sensei) who listened to Elvis, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Supremes, Temptations, Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, Wilson Picket, Sam Cook, Canned Heat, Santana, Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, Jimmie Hendricks, Janis Joplin, Cream, Deep Purple, Neil Diamond, and of course The Kingsmen who sang “Louie Louie” I remembered how each individual and group represented a specific niche, sound, personality, spirit, inner strength and core.

At 50 years old, I talk, dream, and (like what I’m doing now), listen to the “Oldies But Goodies”, and if motivated enough, write about it. I am not the person I was, rightfully so: Abused, battered and tortured, my strengths, weaknesses, intellectual pursuits, developments: The sum parts of a whole that builds this statuesque monument of universal presence (huh?). As a karate sensei, I don’t practice karate or kickboxing anymore; at least not like I used to: How weird is that? I can’t even run a quarter of a mile without my knees and back screaming “STOP YOU FREAKING IDIOT!”.

The story is that the mind is willing but the body says, “If you do something stupid like play a game of basketball with the young kids, you’re gonna hurt, and you’re gonna hurt big time.” For those of you hard core kick boxers and MMA cage fighters, I’d love to fast forward to when you’re my age and lets’ see how well you’re able to do something simple like getting out of bed, huh? Oh, by the way, I’m not even going to address you crazy skate boarders that for some intellectual reason need to have your balls crushed “ollying” down a stair rail so that you can impress the chicks. Trust me guys, if you somehow for some unfathomable reason do impress the chicks, you’re going to need healthy balls.

Free advice from the Baby Boomer Sensei.

In future blogs, I’m going to share with you how Qigong and Tai Chi were able to replace the “No pain, no gain” mantra with a “no pain…no good” workout that allows us baby boomers a way to stay healthy.

What do you think???

Stay tuned.

There’s this thing called DNA telomere. Basically it means that cells don’t regenerate like it used to when we took high school Geometry math classes from Mr. Roberson. Even then, way back when bell bottom pants ruled the world, we knew that 45’s and LP’s had a "scratch-life."

It’s the way it was.

God invented physics.

Who are we to argue with God?

This tells the story of one Baby Boomer Sensei. Pictures, videos, letters, old newspapers, and yes even high school yearbooks provide reminders of the who that walked the earth and contributed when sex, drugs and rock and roll were actually (perceived to be) safe (well, that’s what I thought). With that said, since I cannot sing nor dance my feelings, life’s treasures and scenes captured in these humble electronic pages are meant to teach, entertain and possible resolve some wounds of mediocrity and despair. The goal of this blog is to show that within an unorganized mind, organized and provocative thoughts and ideas.

Yes, indeed, they do exist.


Right on, groovy, Peace, love and Soul Train.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How To Grow Old Without Feeling Old

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit



As you sit in the hospital waiting room, waiting for the baby to be born, you think back to the day when you had your first child. Now, here you are, looking forward to your first great-grand child. It's amazing how time flies by, and looking back can leave you feeling old! But just because you've got several decades behind you doesn't mean you have to feel old. Here's how to stay young in mind and spirit.

Steps

  1. Keep age in perspective. Never think of age as being anything but just a number. There are some things in life we have no control over, such as when we were born. Age is no more than a circumstantial detail, like the color of your eyes, or the names of your parents; it does not define who you are. There are other things that do--those things we do have control over, such as how we think and what we do.
  2. Live and enjoy each day. There is always something positive or something to look forward to each day. Enjoy the sun shining on your plants, or movies you are going to see. Look forward to reading a good book, or meeting with friends for lunch. If you feel lonely, go to the library. It is a great place to meet and talk to people who have a similar interest. Surround yourself with people, even if you might never see them again. You can do this at a supermarket, or even a department store or coffee shop.
  3. Don't waste your time thinking that you're too old to do this or that. As long as you have your health, you can do just about anything you find an interest in doing. If you have never used a computer, buy one! Learn how to use it. If you find it interesting enough, learn how they work and how to fix problems or to program them! You will find you have brought the whole world into your room, and maybe some knowledge that will save you from spending money and make you feel younger. Just learn new things that you haven't learned before, don't worry if it's too "young," nothing is.
  4. Take care of your body. Take vitamins and eat healthy. Exercise at either a gym or at home. Dance to the music on a CD, as moving your body is great exercise. Get a full physical and visit your dentist at least once a year.
  5. The exercise aspect is vital. Our bodies need to move. They need to be used to their full range and ability every day. Tai Chi is a good form of movement that will provide this whole body activity but it's not for everyone. Explore physical activities to find one that you enjoy, makes you feel good after practicing, and that you can do every day. Hiking and swimming are also excellent options.
  6. Don't look back. Don't worry about what happened in the past. Live just for today. The one thing that no one can change is the past. What has been is over and done with. The future has not yet come, so all we have is today. So enjoy today, let the past go, and plan for the future.
  7. Keep your mind alert. Do crossword puzzles, learn a new language, or take up a hobby you were always too busy for. Exercise an Open Mind. Become a volunteer editor on a website like wikiHow or Wikipedia. By volunteering time to a wiki you will meet other contributors online and keep your writing ability sharp, while helping others receive free knowledge.
  8. Keep up with the news. By doing this, you always will be able to converse with most people. Be up to date on what is new in politics, fashion, and/or in computers. Learn about the new methods of treatments and the new drugs available so you can advise your family members, who might need the information.
  9. Find ways to interact. Even with no close friends or family around, there are many opportunities to talk to new people. Strike up a conversation with people you meet in the supermarket. Greet people you pass on the street, and ask them how they're doing. You'll be surprised at how refreshed offering a kind word to a stranger will make you feel.
  10. Be Optimistic. Try to avoid thinking negative thoughts as it will get you no place except sadness. For example, trying to figure out why a mate died and left you alone will only bring tears to your eyes. Instead, remember all the wonderful years you shared, and how you both brought such wonderful children into this world. Go out with a smile on your face, and enjoy the rest of your life as best as you can. There may even be a new mate on the horizon. You never know!
  11. Do something different every day. The local newspapers usually have a weekly schedule of activities. Find one that you would enjoy and go for it! Perhaps the museum or a flower show might tickle your fancy this week.
  12. Join a group, club, or volunteer at a library or senior center. Take dancing lessons. Ballroom dancing is back, and just think of how great you would feel dancing the Cha Cha once again, as you did in your youth. Go to bingo night at your local community center. Meet with like-minded people, and help those less fortunate than yourself. Most of all, have fun doing it.
  13. Follow your dream. Look at something you always wanted to do or did on the side and love doing, ask whether it can become a new career. Many great painters didn't start till their sixties, seventies or eighties. Retirement income can become starting capital for a new independent business. The arts are a good direction in many ways because retirement income can support you while you learn the trade but there's no age discrimination involved.

Tips

  • Continue to do things you used to do -- biking, camping, swimming, dancing, or canoeing. You can still do them!
  • The difference between a spry "oldster" and a non-spry "oldster" is phenomenal. Stay flexible and sprightly by walking 20 minutes a day and re-think that elevator. Stairs are a wonderful thing. So is yoga class.
  • Select one character trait to work on for the year, for example, overcoming a short temper, becoming a better listener, etc.). Then, next year, when you look back, you'll feel really accomplished; you're not the same person!

Warnings

  • See your doctor at least once a year. If you don't, you may regret it. Preventive testings are available, but you can't get them if you do not visit your doctor for a check-up.
  • Visit your dentist at least once a year, more often if needed. Gum disease and cavities can cause physical illnesses, so take care of your teeth, floss daily, brush twice a day, use a water pic for stronger gums. Every thing you do to make yourself healthier will add one more year of good health to your life.

Related wikiHows


Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Grow Old Without Feeling Old. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to Meditate

How to Meditate in Qigong Safely and Effectively

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Most people can't wait to practice Chinese Qigong, but they don't know meditation is just a prerequisite of any Qigong. If they fail to reach a state of meditation before the practice, they will get hurt, more than it will strengthen your body.
Here is the way to meditate safely in Qigong. Better late than never.

Steps

  1. Find the Blance point of your body
    • This center usually lies in between the navel and heart. Sit or stand up straight. Keep the body aligned along a center line: head in line with the spine, bodyweight over the hips. Find one's stable center and stay balanced when moving the arms overhead, forward or backward. Feel rooted in the earth with your body sunk and centered, and both of your feet solidly in place on the earth. Strive to be relaxed, soft, and supple as you align and center your whole body. In yourself, in your practice in your body, make Heaven and Earth one, connected, aligned.
  2. Focus your Eyes Inside your body
    • Keep your eyes active and focused on Qigong practices, or just concentrate on one single thought. In order to achieve a perfect state, you have to make full use of your eyes during Qigong practice. Your eyes will lead your thoughts, while your thoughts will build your mind. You may as well cultivate the Third Eye to discover (feel)the 1001 Eyes of All the Sensory Gates of your own body, spoken mind, senses, experiences, and the Tao. Dive into your true self, and light every darkness inside you.
  3. Head Up
    • Keep your head up. Keep your head high and in line with your spine. You can do certain exercise to help you make your head, neck, and upper back muscles stronger, coordinated and flexible. Listen up, and perk up the head and ears. Lift the top of the head to the heavens, square the head over the neck and back, and allow the shoulders to relax and fall. This will help your Chi get gently tuck. Then you need to look forward, try to stay fully present here and now, be alert, show a soft smile, keep your head up, stay focused, concentrate as needed, and hold the asana of The Dignified Head of the Buddha.
  4. Balance Your Mind
    • Settle down your mind, cast off unbalanced and irrelevant thoughts, and find its spiritual Middle-Chi. Draw your vital energies (Qi, Prana, Ki) towards that balance center.
    • In meditation, get down to the Qigong now.

Tips

  • These 4 steps will help you find the way to meditate.
  • IF you still fail to get rid of all distractions, I feel obliged to recommend you go to Howto Achieve Meditationto Find you Chi and Meditation to get the detailed info.
  • The main goal of Qigong is to produce a state of Qi harmony and a stability that embraces spirit and body, so keeping your peace of your mind is the key.

Warnings

  • Try to be alone when practicing Qigong except in a Qigong class.
  • If a friend pushed on your shoulders while doing Qigong, would you remain stable, balanced, firm, rooted, upright, and in full control. Don't become unbalanced.

Things You'll Need

  • a Qigong book or supervisor

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Meditate in Qigong Safely and Effectively. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.