Archive for martial arts

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.
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Forever real

Posted in Asceticism, Buddhism, love, Magick, martial arts, meditation, Mysticism, New Age Baloney, Occult, Religion, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2009 by wizardsmoke

What’s the best thing to do with your time? To become real. But what does that even mean?

Well, as my friend pointed out, it’s the process of making the story you tell yourself — the idealized you, a tangible reality, where there is no delay or separation between your perception of self and the objective self that interacts with the world around oneself. This is the real goal of studying and practicing magic, martial arts, or a religion. They all have different means of achieving this, stimulating different paths of awareness through the body or the mind, but they aim to get to this point. A crappy curriculum of path is one that does not actually have this in the syllabus.

But just because the aforementioned methods are ways of reaching this, they are no guarantee. Most folks practicing these things are floating around helplessly just like anyone doing anything in this world. Plus, what is the ultimate point of enlightenment, or total cessation of attachments and cravings? Well, there is no point in the tangible sense, because it is the place where points are dissolved entirely. And I think I heard Ajahn Brahm say, enlightenment is actually very boring.

When people create the causes for enlightenment, as they describe in Buddhism, by laying down good karma — a good rhythm, to attaining nirvana in this life or the next, they are effectively embedding the rhythm toward that experience or dissolution of enlightenment into the intrinsic fabric of their being and mental developments. Thus the desire becomes inherent to the self-clinging being taking birth and the enlightenment is no longer such a blatant desire. If the drive toward enlightenment is buried deeply enough and forgotten (made automatic), one begins to simply manifest it, now and forever. It will sneak up on you, create an innate moral quality, guide you from beyond your intellect.

Desire is blatant and therefore must be sublimated to the subconscious to really become effective in one’s life. If one can burn out the desire for enlightenment by going in the right direction towards that experience, they are creating good causes. They are pushing enlightenment into their mind until they manifest it fully. But it has to happen subtly — big enlightenment experiences are usually the stuff ambitious crackpots or intermediate students. You don’t go to heaven, you grow into heaven, to borrow a phrase from the old-school New-Ager, Edgar Cayce. Enlightenment comes to you throughout your whole life, like the expanding, full-on deafening roar of water crashing toward you through a tunnel. Every kind of understanding happens like this, until we’re floating in the water, which is our experience made reality.

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.

Five, six, pick up chicks

Posted in Fighting, love, martial arts, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by wizardsmoke

The other day, I found myself on some Pick-Up Artist blogs. I think I got there via some links on Open Your Heart to the Love, a nice blog that links to mine. Pick-up Artistry sells for the same reason anything does: false mystique built on basic insecurities/needs. But social advantage is all built on basic principles: good presentation, clever first impressions and social deceptions, taking advantage of the lulls in social interactions (using one’s will to overpower another), consistency and camaraderie, etc.

The tips Pick-up Artists give are nothing new or special (though their open embrace of sexual manipulation is a little questionable). The same rules apply in all contexts of social presentation, most notably when confronting potential predators or romantic partners. So here are the rules to dating and survival in a nutshell — the tenets of social presentation:

  • Rule #1 — people will determine whether they are physically attracted to one another within the first few seconds of meeting just as two people (or animals) will determine who is the more dangerous predator within seconds (it’s largely intuitive)
  • Rule #2 — present yourself well; don’t immediately reveal your weaknesses or give in to neurotic behavior and don’t rely on others to guide you
  • Rule #3 — do not get emotionally involved in the social situation; maintain a persistent, persevering attitude, but only say half of what you want to say — be “professional”
  • Rule #4 — maintain good posture; back straight, head up, knees/shoulders relaxed — stay somewhat sober
  • Rule #5 — Be a real person: be genuine about your likes and dislikes when necessary, and have healthy (social) hobbies to pass the time in life.

So of course, since many people have monogamous relationships, and people who know how to fight are not all psychopaths looking for rumbles, most of us ignore these factors in our social scenarios except for those times when we’re on the prowl.

But none of this matters anyway, because the most important things in life are finding food and shelter. New Agey magical crap is for rich people with too much time on their hands, and on some level, the same goes for romance, haha! And even if you disagree with me, you gotta admit, the modern notion of free-choice romance and marriages (as opposed to fixed marriages and so forth) is only for people with extra time.

Wizard’s Blues

Posted in Future World, Political Science, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, The Arts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Mammalian birth is a very strange act. As you become more aware of your body and organs, you realize that you were actually nurtured and born from a womb. All these organs were once physically attached to a mammalian mother. And those were attached to a mother as well, and so forth back into the earth itself.

Then when we’re born, we naturally attach to the attitudes and habits thrust upon us within our first environment. So, naturally, a child thinks everything a parent does is wise or worth following. But then you age and realize your parents are just people too. And then people you know start having kids and you realize that it doesn’t take any special qualifications to be a parent. The worst authority figures in the world, the most irresponsible people ever, will often become parents and have children who thusly admire them.

I guess that’s why child abuse is so disturbing, because children have such one-pointed needs to look up to someone. Strangely, there are different strands of child abuse. I sometimes think giving birth is an abusive act in general, especially considering the overpopulation issue these days, but hey — what can you do? Be a despot? Nah — too much competition in that field!

What shocks me is when people who have no curiosity about the world or anything at all. They grow up, get married young, never read many books, never pursue any personal interest, watch shitty movies, have kids and live off of their parents’ money or stay within some religious cult or group. For all purposes, they are completely isolated — like medieval villagers in the cyber-age. It doesn’t really matter to my life, so you’re probably wondering why I care about anyone else’s prerogatives, so long as they don’t directly effect me.

The truth is that eventually, when it all falls apart, will I have to step on other people? Will I have to be nice and let people walk all over me? It’s all fine when the economy is okay and there’s not that big of a problem when the economy is good. In fact, you could say economic output represents a nation’s self-esteem, well-being, directly tied to their “spiritual” concerns. I mean, who is generally into taking Yoga and martial arts super seriously? Upper-middle class people, for the most part (a generalization, and generalizations are bullshit, but hey). But when the money goes away, who really cares about lofty spiritual ideas and democracy?

There’s no need to worry about me, though. I don’t plan on being an evil jerk. And you know why: it’s because I’d rather die than live in a sick world, where there aren’t any tigers or bears but it’s overpopulated by people who use crappy computer stalking applications like Facebook.

I remember as a teenager, believing that stupid nonsense about ignorance being bliss, about intelligence alienating people, and so on. But now I think a lot of mental suffering is a choice (as opposed to physical/environmental suffering). I wouldn’t say people necessarily like suffering, because that implies that all of our behaviors are based on positive or negative choices in the psyche. Not true. People simply become obsessed with ideas to greater and lesser degrees (or not at all). That’s why when your friend is continually obsessed with the statistics and stories of serial killers, it’s a little creepy. It’s not like serial killers just decided to do bad things — they generally became obsessed with desires or exploring dangerous ideas that eventually possessed them to act it out.

So more and more I think that morals are naturally arising internal laws of group survival, whereas all obsessions are pretty equal of being just those: obsessions which lead to more of the same. In any case, I am worried because “democratic art” (capitalist media + culture) often ends up betraying a “weak spirit” — and what is art but the most direct reflection of cultural health?

The Life of Qi

Posted in Buddhism, Daoism, Fighting, health, martial arts, Mysticism, Qi, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Full-body movement is very interesting. When using the entire body to move at once, as in Taijiquan or a variety of other martial arts, there is no place where the movement originates. Sure, it’s seemingly POWERED by the legs and the waist, and you keep your mind-intent in the dantien or hara, but the movement does not originate anywhere specifically on the body. Which connects the intent to the mind, rather than any telegraphed isolated point in the limbs or whatever.

As a result, the individual gains a subtler awareness of the body’s relationship to itself and its surroundings. Full body movement generally takes place as one eliminates unnecessary tension from the muscles — tension which is the result of excess stress from thoughts, worries and other typical mental baggage and metaphysical funk. Upon releasing tension from the muscles, one’s structure becomes naturally stable and strong (held up by the skeleton), and the qi begins to fill the dantien and then move throughout the structure of the body, strengthening the bones.

Strange things can be done with qi. Qi is, of course, difficult to define or pin down (preaching to the choir here!). And why don’t Buddhist masters talk about qi? Surely many of them knew about it, and Hindu religious practices emphasize prana. Tibetan Buddhism has it’s own set of definitions about bodily energy which are fascinating, but most Buddhism emphasizes all personal energy or ability, health and whatnot as coming from the mind alone.

Yes, Buddhism and even Hermetics focus upon the mind/breath as the object of meditative practice. I’ve heard people claim that meditating upon the qi is missing the point or somehow allows people to get lost in ideas of power or energy or trance. Yet in my experience, qi meditation is merely a means, and is never explicitly described to be an end. Qi meditations are not the only ones I use, but in certain cases, such as in the martial arts, it leads to an increased subtle awareness which makes one’s practice much deeper.

Anyway, everyone is sensitive to the qi meridians. Just run your finger along the sensitive, ticklish spots on the inside of your arm or the back of your legs and ankles. I found I could follow the qi meridians right away because the qi flows where a person is naturally sensitive/ticklish. For what it’s worth, although I had already read about the qi meridians in books before being “transmitted” the meditation process in person, I did not actually recognize or follow the qi until someone showed the process to me.

On that note, qi transmission is problematic because it is hard to make sure someone else is learning it properly. I know folks who have been practicing longer than me who still claim not to feel anything qi-related, and quite advanced meditators who claim to have no experience with qi. This lends to the skepticism of many empiricists who do not trust qi to be a valid experiential medium. But in my experience, qi is verily real. One teacher of mine had the strange ability to undo tension in other people by using his qi. Whether or not it’s actually qi, he did it by extending his energy into you through his hands, at the point on the upper palm, and the personal result is a hot stream of energy in your body where he sends his intent. Wild stuff. Sounds like reiki or shiatsu or whatever, but I’ve felt those things and this was something else.

Everything that exists has qi, but it differentiates from the concept of mind, in that qi is limited to the dynamics of being a life-force medium which is unknowable. The mind is itself perhaps unknowable as well, but the mind is the very intangible fabric in which all things are reflections. Qi does not have reflections, but is the subtly tangible, yet unknowable, essence behind all existences.

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.