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Killer Apps

Posted in Exercise, Fighting, martial arts, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The idea of martial art forms and applications… forms are just a method of meditation and ingraining solid body mechanics and physical movement into the practitioner. Forms in karate, gongfu, whatever — they’re always wider, exaggerated movements than when the “moves” are actually being “used”. But the funny thing about forms is how they, like any position the body finds itself in, can have “martial applications”.

What MA nuts love about fighting gurus is the way they can make offensive/defensive use of every physical situation they get into. In other words, for an experienced fighter, every physical position that exists becomes one with martial applications. In that sense practicing the forms are just like practicing musical scales and exercises — they appear over and over everywhere, and thus are re-emphasized. They just appear more subtly in the gist of actual movement (melodies and harmonies).

This is why it’s so funny to watch super-tough bouncers show “applications” of Taiji/Tai Chi movements. Because experienced fighters could show you the application of any movement — opening the refrigerator, turning on a lamp (the titty-twister!), throwing a frisbee, clapping your hands, drinking a beer, and so on. Destruction is available from any angle at all times — it just takes the right intent and structural coordination. A deeply experienced fighter can pull it out of anywhere. A person who is an expert with one move can pull it out of almost anywhere if you aren’t paying attention.

So on this level, everything in existence is a form that can be utilized to one’s advantage. So I suppose in practicing MA, this is what one learns — not killer death moves or street fighting talent — but a nuanced, complete understanding of the patterns and ways our bodies move and connect to each other. In this regard, I like the adage at Weakness with a Twist — that we should cultivate weakness. The weaker we are, the more perfectly we move. Everything is an application in progress.


Magical Musical Miasma

Posted in Mysticism, Occult, Philosophy, Poetry, Tantra, The Arts, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

As a serious initiate on the musical path, I use music to illustrate a lot of mystical/creative/magickal ideas analogously. You know, stuff they don’t teach you in music theory.

In a great Leonard Bernstein concert series back in the day, one he held for children in New York City (Radio City?) in the 1960s, the conductor demonstrated how the pop hooks of the Beatles song “Help!” were actually the same simplified chord progressions behind a small segment of an orchestral piece by Brahms. Not that I remember the name of the video or the Brahms piece, oh no! But Bernstein got his one moment of applause from the young audience when he transitioned into “Help!” on the piano.

But Bernstein was pointing out that what pop songs do (as opposed to orchestral pieces or other kinds of music) is drill a simple pop hook or melody into your head until it is jammed in there. A good pop song gets stuck in a person’s head, like a commercial slogan. Pop music is like good propaganda and is often utilized as such by businesses (and very poorly by political campaigns, har har).

Okay, that’s nice and obvious. What interests me, though, is how the energy or inspiration behind the original compositional idea is communicated when one repeats the melodic idea or “hook” in one’s own conscious mind. That is to say, the spirit of the song-writer can be moderately transmitted to the listener, particularly as one repeats the work or continuously surrounds oneself with the music. Angry music will transmit an angry flavor, sad music a melancholy sentiment, etc. It also comes down to the integrity and ability of the composer and performer, but the spirit of the original moment is captured in the music — like in any other thing they produce (writing, film, art, whatever). In fact, if I had one criticism of classical music, it is that sometimes the energy of the composer is hidden by the fact that they are not often performing the music!

So, the reason a pop hook is more “malicious” (or functions like brainwashing sorcery) is ‘coz when a person consciously retraces the steps of another individual’s spiritual or creative output, the listener/viewer begins to recreate that energy within their own mind. This is why religious mantras are useful — they function as ways of influencing the mind to take on a certain disposition. The more one repeats something, until it is second nature, it seeps into one’s psyche.

This seems to be how spells and magic work with verse and such things. By creating a poem that both appeals to the subconscious with veiled intentions and yet is simultaneously is “catchy” at face value, sticking in the mind for its clever phrasing, alliteration, or whatever. I feel like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Doors and a bunch of other hippies were trying to play with this stuff (musically, visually, lyrically) when they were young (and overrated — ahahaha!) but I don’t think this method can really do much for you unless you’re a real big deal in the underworld.

Furthermore, I think most people seem to not consciously be aware of why they like or dislike things, why they are attracted to some flavors of experience or energy, why some music is good or bad (there are 5 factors that make up musical potential in my system of reasoning), and so forth. But even if you can find the most profound, blissful music in all the cosmos, people still like the same things for different reasons. And have I not repeatedly said that all people have the same emotions and poetic sensibilities, but with different capacities? Weaker music can still evoke deep emotions from someone with a lower capacity for musical depth.

That’s enough for now. I was going to discuss hand seals, mudras and so forth but more pressing business awaits! Stay tuned.

Innocence Faded

Posted in Beauty, Fighting, Happiness, health, love, martial arts, Reality Bites, Relationships, society, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Most of us, in our youth, are in pretty good health. But our bodies fall apart as we age. And this is another reason martial arts are so stupid — they speed up the injury process. Everyone who really invests something in the martial arts gets some kind of permanent injury. It’s really dumb.

As our bodies age, so do our perceptions of life, the world, society. Hormones, man… In our pristine youth, we see various aspects of our community — firemen, policemen, doctors, garbagemen, construction workers, teachers, etc. as these pure bastions of social well-being. They represent some upstanding portion of our community. They are our friends — people to be trusted.

But with age we see the frail humanity inherent to every person. Our community is made up of people, who are subject to emotions, corruption and disease and bias. It may not all be bad, but should we get caught in the jaws of the system, usually due to an absence of money or opportunity, the tide of society works against our favor. This is something that is hard to grasp for the wealthy, who may not understand the despair felt by those who are continually looked down upon by the society they live in. The disenfranchised of society are jaded very quickly.

This emotional despair is much like the melancholy and hopelessness felt when our bodies are first permanently damaged or injured. Injury is very upsetting, and in some ways I wonder if this isn’t the point of the martial arts: to injure you and then teach you how to keep practicing regardless of this injury. A perverse conscious idea, but a prevalent theme nonetheless! Anyway, it’s a matter of still living as a good person despite the terrible misfortunes that fall upon you. This is not possible for some people.

And perhaps worse, or just as bad, is the pain we feel when hurting another. Injuring another person is a terrible feeling and excessive damage to others creates a terrible catatonic state in oneself. In ways, this is like when people become corrupted by the corruption they see in society. Or when people become like the things that have abused them: parents, gangs, fraternities, cults, etc. I would like to think that I have devoted my life to not becoming like those negative people or things which shaped who I am. I could never write off hurting other people.

I don’t know if people are inherently good or bad, but some people have very big problems. Greed, anger, lust, laziness, anxiety and aversion — these things overtake the mind and isolate us from others. I really wonder if loneliness isn’t just a result of an emotionally consumed mind.

Rungs of Violence

Posted in Buddhism, Cults, Fighting, martial arts, Reality Bites, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , on October 19, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I’ve noticed that a lot of young men waste their time trying to be tough. Yet obsession with fighting and toughness and all that junk is actually holding you back from moving up (or surviving) in modern society. All the time spent learning to fight, all the nightly training — how much better would it be to simply learn some lucrative skill? A rhetorical question, because it would be much better.

Yet those folks who are not inherently aggressive psycho assholes, how could they possibly expect to climb over the mountain of bodies that leads to the ivory tower of success? No, it takes an aggressive character to do that. So those of us who are naturally less aggressive might need some direct exposure violence in order to co-exist with the turbulence caused by ambitious egos. Or to meet our social needs.

At our (MA) school, the sparring situation is a purposefully intense experience. We do a month or so every year of extremely intense, full-contact fighting. To some degree, the most violence me and my classmates will ever experience happens in that class. And compared to other schools we’ve seen or invited to train with us, our training is pretty rough. So it makes me think that this isn’t even just training for a violent confrontation, but that our training itself is a violent confrontation. It isn’t training for the real thing, but it actually is the real thing.* And while that seems insane initially, like we’re just some stupid fight club (and maybe we are!), that’s how all skills should be practiced.

With practicing this stuff, I’ve come to be somewhat skeptical of romantic ideas about martial enlightenment, Budo and so forth. The whole imagery of the valiant samurai and so forth — it’s mostly a romantic fantasy. It’s like talking about policemen or military men romantically. They’re just doing their job and a lot of the time it sucks and they’re just as weak and easily corrupted as any other group of humans. While some people may happen to become “enlightened” by martial arts practice, the martial arts are so easily and constantly perverted by aggressive macho nonsense. You could even say that’s what has propagated the arts. And so it makes me wonder whether I’m not just another nutcase who secretly loves the lifestyle.


* Yes, I know all about how martial arts don’t prepare you for the street and how it’s a foolish mistake to think the dojo/dojang/daoshang is at all like a real-life confrontation. I’m only illustrating that we take training seriously.

Bag o’ bones

Posted in Asceticism, Beauty, Buddhism, Monasticism, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, sex, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Old Man Smoke’s got a nasty sore throat today. I suggest you stand back several feet (or a couple of metres, for you non-Yanks) as you read this post. You don’t want to catch what I’ve got… *gurgle* (insanity) *gurgle*


At random moments, like today when I was walking up some steps, I am overwhelmed by direct awareness of the coarse nature of the human body. The human body is so… icky. It’s all slimy with its mucus membranes, full of gelatinous and soggy liquids, smelly organs, dry skin, tepid hair, and so on. It’s raw and globby (not a real word, but the onomatopoeia works, doesn’t it?), lacking any real solid substance. Objectively, the body is so unflattering.

And the body is so ephemeral — in a constant state of decay. If you really listen, you can feel your cells shedding, splitting and regrowing. You can feel that the body actually sprang forth from the earth. It’s totally wild that we look at some creatures, like insects or animals, as being dirty or disgusting.

In fact, aren’t animals just a more pure manifestation of beauty? Not that they’re perfect; animals are funny in that they represent some kind of pinnacle of aesthetic beauty and then possess no reason (for better or for worse). Animals are like the purer manifestation of mimbos/bimbos. That’s why people love animals so much — they want a stupider creature to feel sorry for. That’s what it means to call something cute — to condescend towards it as its “protector.” (Hrmm… I wonder if people have sexual relationships based on these condescending perspectives…)

Viewing the body in this way, I am reminded of a meditation (and chant) from certain Theravada forest traditions of Thai Buddhism (students of Ajahn Chah and so forth). It involves meditating on the “32 parts of the body” — the various individual organs and so forth. It’s sometimes prescribed when a student has trouble overcoming sexual lust and desire for the human body. I’m not sure if there is ever a complete remedy for that, except the arising of wisdom and the developed will to give up sexual desire. As they says, when we identify with defilements, it is just the defilements talking. But all thoughts that sail through the mind can be dropped.

Certainly there are folks who are not remotely bothered by the disgusting objective nature of the body. The body is attractive for all due to inherent, violent, exploding cosmic drives — given a doorway through the alignment of the physical sense and mental worlds. I have a different problem though. I admire certain insect bodies too much. Because some insects have mandibles!

Ah… to be a spry, young, mandible-laiden imago in the springtime of his youth…

Fortune favors the bold (and all that good stuff)

Posted in death, Fighting, karma, Mysticism, Paganism, Philosophy, society, Uncategorized, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2008 by wizardsmoke

No matter whether life is painful, pleasurable, boring,or exciting, one idea that has always stood out to me goes something like this: “a man not sacrificed is a worthless man.” It’s an idea that strikes me as being somewhat “pagan” in its grasp, this idea that one’s self-sacrifice is one’s greatest reason to live. In pagan cultures it seems like people are/were the children/food for their gods, and so their self-sacrifice is a completely natural goal. It is a foreign concept to us, as it does tread on all of these sensitive boundaries of self-righteousness and crazed self-attachment which most contemporary people abide by. Yet in nature, isn’t the male the one who is only temporarily necessary (via fertilization) for life to go on?

It’s a bit cheesy to be specific like this, but sometimes it’s all as Ogami Itto says at the end of one of the Lone Wolf & Cub films: [the purpose of a samurai’s life is] “to live to die.” Cheesy and extreme, but that’s kind of it, really. What right do the living have to be alive if they are not willing to give their lives? Another conundrum of the ego: one lives to give one’s life. One seeks to escape oneself but lives in fear of doing so. I think the message is a good one, though the application in traditional samurai-era budo is rather… dramatic.

A while back I mentioned an interview with the Japanese film director, Masahiro Shinoda, where he explains his perspective that the real losers in war are those survivors who have to go on living with blood on their hands. It’s an interesting world-view in the modern world. In embracing war (and life, and romance, and sex, and violence, and everything) comes a deluded, necessary sense of purpose or finality. It is frightening, because often one’s purpose, particularly in war, actually has nothing to do with survival. Often people who are devoid of a purpose, or are continually enamored of one, have not sacrificed themselves for something any greater than their fleeting personal desires. And that brings to mind some things I’m always thinking, like how it is sometimes more painful to live in shame than mere physical pain. Goals and living are not necessarily synonymous.

These ideas are not particularly lucrative in a free-market economic system. But honestly, if the more common denominators of the populace could handle considering these things more often, maybe our common goals would be more meaningful. Not necessarily more organized or efficient — that’s what crazy fat-cats are already trying to achieve. But I mean to say, by living with a willingness to die, some of the important things in life reveal themselves.

It’s funny. In a country like China, those top-dogs for the AIG and all those morgage firms — those guys who almost single-handedly destroyed the world economy through their cult-like, childish, Ayn-Randian arrogance — they probably would’ve been shot in a show of public faith and party-line routine. I’m not a party-line proponent, but I don’t know if that would be horribly extreme given their criminal goals. After all, if someone beats another person nearly to death, don’t they go to jail for 5+ years in the USA? Might it not be worse to financially ruin millions of people because of your own deliriously sick private interests? Indeed, only the rich misunderstand these things. “He who has been harmed by you, knows you.”

Because their acts were so shameful, it would be deceitful to demand of them to go on living in the aftermath of their actions. Truly, their shame should have gotten the best of them. They are the losers of their own hand and should be punished by that. And yet, not only is there no punishment for them, they fail to be consciously affected by the ugly shame they’ll live with from now on. The emptiness that comes from greed seems to render one impervious to shame.