Archive for the Fighting Category

Martial Arts Time-LARP

Posted in Cults, Fighting, martial arts, Paganism, Religion, self-help, Shintoism, taijiquan with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by wizardsmoke
Something to note about Japanese martial arts is the CEREMONIALISM. For instance, what really is the difference between the presentation of Japanese koryu (samurai-era schools) and sport arts like judo? Mostly the ceremony. And between those two groups of arts lies modern gendai budo like the Bujinkan, Genbukan, Jinenkan, Iaido, Aikido, involve pseudo-free-form small patterns that are derived from ritual. Unlike Systema or Taijiquan where you have basic fundamentals demonstrated on their own, in koryu-derivative arts, you have symbolic patterns, which are neither specific techniques, nor are they extended kata or forms.

To me this feels like a culturally distinct Japanese process, where much of the transmission takes place in the subtler cues and the practitioner’s ability to read between the lines or perceive the information along cultural lines. But I guess that’s the gist of EXISTENCE eh? That’s how you figure out anything, no matter how seemingly clear-cut the language. My problem is that I don’t understand cultural cues from Japan! So everytime I find myself in these totally sweet Shinto-esque training environments, I don’t really know how to bypass the ritual itself. Ah, but that’s the game I guess. It just sucks when I don’t get it and I get straight rude injured by the practice. SO IT GOES AHAHA

But the truth is, I find martial arts to be kind of lame and nerdy. Not nerdy in a geeky sense, but nerdy in that there are a lot of people who obsess over the stuff without any bigger use for the material, save for their ego. I find myself TOLERATING a lot of the people I meet in the martial arts, rather than really enjoying their company. HEY HEY not that I’m some great company myself but… the issue is that with annoying nutjobs, crazy or angry people, etc. their presence comes with a higher price. You have to actually physically fight with these people, even if only an exercise. Not as much of an issue in music, business, academia, etc. where you generally just deal with the stupid non-violent status war shit that all groups have.

And that’s the other thing: sparring, fighting, etc. When are you going to get in a dirty streetfight, save for someone surprise assaulting and destroying you? When will you need to use your god-given right to firearms, except to commit a crime? I don’t know, I guess if it happens, the training is worth it. And good survival/martial training will certainly show you WHEN you’re coming close to those situations, since you lookat them more directly (if you’re not retarded), but when do you walk into those things? Very rarely. Time is an expensive commodity, and I would imagine most people don’t have that to spare for this survivalist shit.

To me martial arts ends up being a kind of “violence ritual”. This is something along the lines of what Scott Philips talks about. I just think it’s a way of warding off the negative emotions and fears that come with thinking about violence without first-hand knowledge of it. So, by exposing yourself to it on a regular basis in a safer environment, it’s easier to tame within one’s psyche; it is not as much of a severe control factor in dictating one’s life.

Baseless

Posted in Asceticism, Buddhism, Fighting, genius, God(s), karma, martial arts, Monasticism, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Religion, society, tai chi, taijiquan, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , on January 21, 2010 by wizardsmoke

So, the big question on everyone’s my mind is whether or not martial arts teachers, yoga instructors, and their religious gurus are “enlightened”. In stuff like Tibetan guru yoga, you are supposed to view your teacher as enlightened — sometimes even if they aren’t. It’s part of the practice. I don’t do it, but it makes sense as a practice, in order to discover your belief is malleable and useful to that end. There is no god(s) if you don’t believe in them, and vice versa.

Although Taijiquan is my big psycho-physical investment at the moment, I am willing to believe it’s not the same spiritual ace-in-the-hole for other people. How could it be so? People need to be unique, independent. But at the same time, the big problem of human existence is social friction. How do we deal with other people? This is a big portion of Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy: the existence of another creates a new perception of oneself and one’s surroundings. They are no longer a portion of selfless existence, but exist in contrast to oneself.

Amidst others, we seek to validate our own views, yet for what reason? There is opposition to all views, and human reason and rationale is endless. It is supremely difficult to co-exist with others in peace. And peace is a difficult subject to address, because the moment it is broached and given our conscious attention, it ceases to exist. It is simply the absence of conflict, and the absence of selfish views. But that’s too often misconstrued as being a doormat.

The other strange thing is that, although Taijiquan or dream yoga or Alexander technique or Zen or Sufi or Benedictine chant or whatever else may work for some people, these practices are not guarantors of ability or insight. They are more like rocket boosters that can change one’s mental, physical or spiritual trajectory, but the original trajectory for real insight has to be there in the first place. Those are prior causes, the manifestation of which is natural genius. But then for some reason, hard work seems way more important.

Open heart forgery

Posted in Fighting, martial arts, meditation, Mysticism, Philosophy, Powermongers, propaganda, Reality Bites, self-help, The Arts, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I am a fan of Hatsumi’s books. He is a good writer — an artist; he is able to make you think existence has a purpose. Cool stuff, I admire his work.

I remember I showed his books to a friend and then took him to a Bujinkan class, to which he responded like a real wise-ass: the Bujinkan that can be spoken is not the true Bujinkan. Hatsumi writes beautifully and shares his dream narrative with you; he can make himself desirable to others; he is an artist. But the budo he teaches does not bestowe the same skills as his ability to appeal to you, or yours to accept him.

In social status, and especially in business, much of what makes a person successful is their self-presentation. The rock star’s charisma is what makes them a success, not the music. The music is the background canvas that works once people are receptive to the personal spectacle. In society, talent alone does not create status or ensure survival. What is more useful is ambition, energy, the ability to make people comfortable and laugh, and to speak to their heart.

The bodily arts are interesting, for they take root in the heart immediately. They quickly effect our social presentation.
Martial arts is a discipline which, like dance, is kinesthetic. And the kinesthetic learner is the genius of the arts. And martial arts have mostly become arts, rather than trades, in danger of dying out for lack of necessity.

And so I have seen tons of great artists (martial and otherwise) without the clever endearing qualities in which they can sell themselves to the masses. How strange, that the ability to successful endear oneself to others is an artistic quality, and has no bearing on one’s actual talent or skill in the field being extrapolated. But people without a desire to sell themselves are less likely to seek financial gain from your interaction.

The entertainer does not merely entertain, but rather creates an illusory personality for the world to desire. And like in the world of business, where a compromised upbeat persona is created to angle profitable transactions, the conjured entertainer becomes a necessary function of the art, and soon one loses track of where their own identity lies.

But, whateva.

Survival Game

Posted in Fighting, health, Reality Bites, Relationships, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , , , on September 16, 2009 by wizardsmoke

After work, I was talking to a friend who regaled me with enchanting tales of his investment portfolio. Basically the (young) dude made a handsome little chunk on the stock-market before the whole thing fell apart a year ago. He gradually reinvested tends of thousands of US dollars into a comfortable nest egg for him to coast on while he spends some money to get into the career of his dreams over the next decade. 

After talking to him for a while, I realized the reason I was drooling in a blind rage was not because I didn’t do that, or didn’t understand or was dumb. It was because his parents had actually raised him with survival skills whereas mine had given me… what exactly?

Let’s see, my parents did not teach me:

(A) how to fight
(B) how to talk to or appeal to girls (in a sleazy or non-sleazy way)
(C) how to cook, farm, etc. 
(D) how to organize one’s finances or investments

In other words, all of the important survival skills on the physical, mental and material planes were not prepped by my parents. All of the other impending necessary survival skills of my life were left out of that list because they still haven’t even popped up on my radar. Well, that’s nice and comforting. Don’t mind me, I’m just groping around blindly in the dark with my ethical radar to lead the way into the jaws of misery.

Who are these genetically deficient parents that don’t care enough about raising their kids to even have their bloodline advanced? If you don’t teach your kids survival skills, what do you expect to happen, besides victimization, depression, solitude, or *shudder* mediocrity? In some ways I think that’s why I’m terrible with kids — I’m not harsh enough in what I teach, because that’s the kind of emotional response I’m trying to exorcise from myself. 

Ah, but at the same time, the utter amount of total narcissism that most people invest in their kids’ personalities really creeps me out and never ends or ceases to amaze. So maybe empathy isn’t a bad trait to bequeath after all.

A Humbled Pos(t)er

Posted in Cults, Fighting, martial arts, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , on August 30, 2009 by wizardsmoke

As a martial artist, I’m nothing special (err… probably not as a wizard either, come to think of it). This is something I think about in a sober frame of mind. I consciously think of my limitations — not obsessively, as some self-esteem issue, but so that I am aware of what I am capable of and where I can develop and grow as a person. This thought process is why I like effective self-deprecating humor because, when done effectively, it actually reveals the person’s self-awareness and comfort within that awareness. A person aware of — and comfortable with, their own limitations is socially attractive.

Now, in society, a lot of people think martial arts means something other than it does. To describe them objectively, martial arts are mostly an aerobic method of maximizing body efficiency in movement, balance and physical contact (not violence). This kind of training leaves out a lot of emotional, environmental and sociological variables that are involved in real conflict and violence. Controlled sparring, even at fairly high levels of physical contact and danger of injury, is still radically different than sudden violence in any other situation. Most of us should be wise to this by now; it’s Animal MacYoung 101!

To use an analogy: sparring is like jamming on guitar with your friend, whereas real conflict/combat is playing a live concert. You can certainly get really good at jamming with your friend and gain high levels of ability, but when playing a concert there are so many variables that could mess up your show and mess with your confidence and performance: the electronic equipment, the crowd, the venue, the way your bandmates perform, your physical or mental health, your actual preparedness with the material being performed, and so on. And because of all those variables, each concert is different in it’s own way. The stuff you practiced with your friend is only a sized portion of the concert, but it is the part over which you have the most immediate or consistent control.

When around people who are more learned on a conversational subject, it is courteous to defer a temporary conversational authority to that person. But in certain situations, such as people who are irresponsibly physically violent or sexually manipulative, it’s better to abandon the situation or confront it. These are people who are seeking to establish complete control over the situation at hand — it’s a bullying control mechanism.

I know people who are violent criminals who, out of their own insecurities, need to blatantly establish their imposing physical dominance over every social environment they are in. They will not become involved in a social environment unless they feel they are the supreme physical dominant (not to mention such people feel it necessary to receive a vocal affirmation from others). These people are dangerous, because inevitably their irresponsibility and narcissism will lead to a situation in which their fragile psychological needs will engage in violent activity and override the group’s safety. For instance, such a person would be an ineffective bodyguard or soldier because their personal issues mean they would engage in violence at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons.

One important thing to learn in life is humility. Religions and martial arts groups parrot on about how important humility is, but don’t give a full explanation of the subject, while also ironically expecting an inappropriate amount of subservience from the individual. Humility is simply being subservient to those who deserve your respect and walking away from those who do not (this in lieu of confrontation). Subservience is feigning much personal responsibility, whereas arrogance often creates the exact kind of violent criminal I mention above. This approach includes dealing with your own teacher(s) sometimes. If someone insists on being “right” or dominant in a situation, you have three choices: you walk away, you confront them, or you submit to their authority. Teachers are certainly to be socially deferred to within the realm of their expertise, but as soon as someone seeks to dominate your position outside of the area you have agreed to allow them authority — it’s time to confront it or walk away.

Fangsong 4eva

Posted in Exercise, Fighting, health, martial arts, meditation, New Age Baloney, Qi, tai chi, taijiquan with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2009 by wizardsmoke

I’ve been busy and haven’t had much I care to write about lately. Society has had its way with me. But I have been practicing a lot of Taijiquan (TJQ). That’s the only thing in life that doesn’t seem like a complete waste of time — it levels up the soul as well as the physical body all at once.

The principle you hear superior TJQ bloggers talk about these days is maximum use of relaxation, specifically the Chinese term fang-song. The principle of using the waist efficiently in movements (“waist is the commander”) is the core of most martial arts; pretty much every martial art does that at advanced levels. But in TJQ and “internal” martial arts, the key unique principle or secret above all else, is total softness and the ability to relax muscle while fighting.

But even if you don’t practice TJQ or any other macho head-games, fang-song is a beautiful concept to work with. It literally means a combination of “relax” and “unclench the muscles”. It’s pretty much the idea that all meditation teachers are trying to point to, but don’t usually have the vocabulary or practice methods to elucidate. Whenever I am sitting somewhere with nothing to do, or lying in bed drifting off to sleep, I just fang-song my whole body. Sure, sure, you could sit and “be mindful of the breath,” but a lot of people do that without taking heed of their levels of tension. Fang-song is a lot like meditation-class body-scanning-for-tension, but it’s a method that was developed to also function when confronting extreme violence or threats to one’s life.

Most tension starts when the back isn’t straight, and immediately ripples to the shoulders and hips. When the shoulders and hip joints are tense, there is a parallel effect on the elbows and knees respectively. The other big issue is the verticality of the spine, which is a whole additional TJQ principle in of itself (all the principles are co-dependent upon one another). Ideally, one wants to tuck the coccyx until the whole spine, from the bottom (or top of the ass), up to the neck, is one straight line (as when viewed from the side).

It’s also very important to unclench jaw and facial muscles. The reason to wear sunglasses in on bright days is to keep your face from scrunching up and becoming incredibly tense. Excess jaw and facial tension can lead to migraines, headaches and other kinds of annoying pains. Shoulder tension can do this too, and practicing TJQ-related fang-song is practically a miracle cure for chronic back pain, myofascial muscle issues, etc.

As far as qi and issuing energy goes — without total relaxation, the amount of qi a person can circulate and issue in strikes is pretty minimal. I’m not entirely sure what the energy programming instructions are in external, muscular styles like Karate, Shaolin, Silat and so on, but in TJQ and internal styles, it’s the total relaxation which gives you the qi explosion. A lot of beginners are always interested in qi circulation and bringing it out in striking energy, but once you get somewhere in practice, you realize the qi naturally appears and soaks into everything when you relax really deeply.

Anyway, I have a feeling that Taijiquan will get super big in a martial way soon, right before the world implodes. Considering that there are a large number of MA teachers pitching TJQ efficiently now, I don’t see how it could go any other way. Especially since TJQ is the best.

But what difference does it make if TJQ becomes commercially popular in a martial way? Is that really better than the current trend of it being popular as a New Age healing tonic? I guess I don’t care either way.

Warner Smoke

Posted in Buddhism, Fighting, health, martial arts, meditation, Religion with tags , , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Looks like I’m going to go see Brad Warner on his book/talk tour thingy. I don’t really know what kind of turnout he’s going to get, but the booking joint near my town is very random and out-of-place, so there’s a chance no one will show up. At the same time, I’m sure the most random spots can get tons of visitors. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a total cattle herd or maybe no one will show at all (we’re truly godless and savage where I live) and I can freak him out with some chit-chat. Hahaha!

I actually don’t want to hear more talks on zazen and Vippasana/Shamatha meditation though. So sick of that! And not just from him. Yet I’d rather hear Brad ramble about it than the New Age hippie Buddhist teacher that leads a bunch of yuppies in meditation every week at the church across the street from my house. Of course, what do I know? I’m just some punk.

Anyhow, I got injured sparring the other day. A nice facet of martial arts training is the ability to deal with injuries, and in turn, avoid them. In other words, you get injured and learn how to deal with it. This skill comes the same reason any skill is developed: practice and experience. But other bonus points: I never roll my ankle over anymore (haven’t twisted my ankle in ages), I never get jostled in crowds, I never fall on ice or in the rain, etc.

But from the way the MA stuff is presented in pop culture (or shall we say, marketing), you wouldn’t know that almost every serious martial artist has experienced serious injuries. The only time you hear about it is in weepy stories about how a person couldn’t practice anymore, or in cases like Bruce Lee, where they hype up his injuries to make it seem like only one such Herculean man-god could still practice after being wounded. These are most of the stories people regurgitate to one another, like dopey myths. And my question is similar, myth or otherwise — why not just do that stuff yourself? It’s only magical because you haven’t put forth the effort to do it. Most people float around like driftwood, giving little thought to the direction of their lives — like me and this blog post.

But hopefully there’s an end to this physical means. Hopefully one day there will no longer be any sort of fear with relation to any thing — be it future inhibitions, physical pain, mental and emotional anguish, fear of damnation and so forth. Really all you need to train into yourself is a firm disposition to keep going. I know a lot of guys who are super tough badasses that can plow through all sorts of insults and threats and violent scuffles, but as soon as they get really depressed because their girlfriend left them — they’re cooked! What the hell kind of willpower is that? Perseverance and willpower get shifted around to be useful in every possible medium of expression and experience. Even if you have to start from scratch again and again in everything you do, if you master that ability then you won’t be afraid to let go of things when the time comes. Or something.

Anyway — Brad Warner! We’ll let you know how it goes.