Sunday, November 13, 2011

Training with Sickness or Injury.

Soke often councils to train even when injured. The logic in this is clear. You may be forced to deal with a mortal threat when you are injured; you may have to perform when you are not at your best. What may not be so clearly defined is how you deal with sickness. Obviously, the polite budoka will refrain from training in the dojo when his presence may infect others with an illness. But, what should you do regarding strength and endurance training, rutai undo, or your personal budo studies? 
Recently, I fell ill and was confronted with a training dilemma. Should I maintain a consistent training regimen or should I rest and wait out a minor illness?  I think it’s more important to maintain consistency. Generally, if you can maintain a behavior for two weeks it becomes ingrained as a habit. Therefore, consistency and desirable habit formation are keys to long term success. Minor illnesses, a flu, cough, or sore throat should not constitute a sufficient impediment to interfere with the momentum built in daily practice. The warrior’s path is challenging and demands the pursuit of excellence. Dedication demands consistent effort. Soke says, “The repetition of daily training leads to the way of a great warrior.” 
In my own life, I have found that when I think I cannot, I discover that I can. Often, training will make one feel better when ill. Often, training will speed a recovery. However, judgement must be exercised and one would be ill advised to train when struggling with a serious illness. Recently, I struggled with a persistent cough and I waged an internal battle over wether to push myself physically. Thoughts immediately arose, whispering that I was too tired, that I would make myself worse, that I should just rest for one more day. I chose to go on my routine endurance run and discovered that I was stronger than I thought and even felt better during my run and suffered no ill effects afterward. Life will always present you with a multitude of reasons as to why you can’t. But, you have the ability to choose. You must decide, are the ends worth the means? If the answer for you is yes, then conquer the obstacles of the moment. You need only defeat the dragon in the moment, the immediate is all you need control. Bufu Ikkan.       

The above painting is by Soke Masaaki Hatsumi "Bushin wa wo motte tootoshi to nasu" (The martial heart holds harmony sacred) 

"Hatsumi Soke always says that one must not act for 'personal reasons' or 'based on one's own thoughts'. The next important thing is the 'heart of persistent training". The essence of the martial arts is to have no "openings'. Thorough the training, one learns how to eliminate one's physical and mental vulnerabilities. However, human immaturity means that over the long period of training, uninvited thoughts and selfish ideas creep in. Finally, there is the important 'heart of endurance'. The natural world is blessed with seasons: nature does not give us any flowers or fruit until the right time has come. Nature also changes - it is not always fine weather. Walking a stony path is the destiny of anyone who trains."

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today has been set aside as a time of reflection. Many of us will fill this day with activities involving family, friends, the back yard grill, and maybe a parade. Surely, these are all good things. Indeed, those who we commemorate on this day died so that we may enjoy this day and every other under the banner of a free republic. There are those that remain on the battlements and guard us in the dark night against the predations of wicked men. Civilized society is insulated from the brutality of evil men and the ravenous appetites of despots. But they are there, prowling on the other side of civilized society's keep, ready to burn, pillage, and do murder. Soft men in tailored suits, ensconced in the delicacies of urban society have been bred to effete manners and assume that the role of the warrior is obsolete because they live within a sterile cocoon, blind and ignorant like hatchlings given their sustenance and defended. Left to themselves, they would go blundering from safety and be rent into bloody shreds, amid their meager flapping and piteous shrieks. Today we must remember the naked reality that evil will run wild if left unpunished by warriors and that noble men have gone before to man the wall against the barbarians and have died for their brothers-in-arms, for their wives and children, for their countrymen, for the golden dream of a free republic. We owe them the homage of our thoughts and our respect. We owe them the honor of fame and the glory of monument. Let the insipid metro-man give place. Let us honor the noble warrior today and shower their memory with the laurels of our deepest gratitude.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama isn't Barack Hussein Obama's trophy kill

The death of Osama Bin Laden has ignited an orgy of self-congratulatory bloviation from the left. This orgasm of adulation is jarringly strange coming from the anti-war, anti-military left. It seems that even Joy Behar has been caught up in the breathless Obama worship, remarking that the 2012 elections should be cancelled. Barack Hussein Obama’s statement regarding Bin Laden’s death contained at least 10 references to the personal pronouns “I” or “me.” Amidst all the democrat back-slapping, I’m reminded of Harry Ried’s infamous statement, “this war is lost.” Barack Hussein Obama and the democrat party opposed the prosecution of the war on terror and subverted efforts to bring Bin Laden to justice. Interestingly, Gitmo detainee and waterboard subject Kahlid Shaikh Mohammed provided key information which led directly to the death of Bin Laden. Gitmo, water boarding, and rendition were all tools utilized by the Bush administration, receiving withering criticism from Obama and the democrat party.

Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) is located in Cuba and is staffed by approximately 9000 U.S. Marines and sailors. The Guantanamo Bay area was offered to the U.S. Government as a perpetual lease in 1903 by Tomas Estrada Palma, who became Cuba’s first president. Gitmo’s current significance is associated with prison facilities located within the naval base. Within Gitmo’s state-of-the-art detention facilities are some of 9/11’s most notorious war criminals. The democrat party characterizes Gitmo as part of a complex of “secret” prisons in which, it is supposed, political prisoners are secreted, interrogated, or tortured. Oddly, Gitmo is notorious and hardly secret. The monolithic media are allowed regular access to the facility and have documented the impeccable nature of the detention facility and permissive accommodations that detainee’s enjoy regarding religious practice, exercise, and access to every modern convenience. Despite statements from B. Hussein Obama that he would immediately close Gitmo, Obama has continued the Bush policy of continuing to use Gitmo to house terrorism war criminals.

The practice of waterboarding was met with howls of protest from the left. Waterboarding is an enhanced interrogation technique in which the subject experiences simulated drowning. The technique results in no lasting physical or psychological injury. And, a physician is always present during the administration of the technique. Despite the benign nature of the technique and the overwhelming national security interest extant, B. Hussein Obama instructed his Department of Justice to investigate CIA interrogators for alleged criminal violations. The Obama administration attempted to classify the practice of waterboarding as a crime. However, Obama’s leftist witch hunt was thwarted by the thorough legal vetting conducted by the Bush administration. Information acquired through the use of waterboarding led directly to the death of Osama Bin Laden, which B. Hussein Obama directly authorized. Following his logic, Obama authorized the death of a foreign national based on information obtained by illegal means. So much for remaining true to the sacred principals that make our nation so respected in the international arena.

Obama has also been an outspoken opponent of the practice of rendition. Rendition involves the abduction and incarceration of terrorism suspects. It seems that Obama has lost his enlightened disdain for this practice. Since Barack Hussein Obama personally authorized the death of Osama Bin Laden, I assume his liberal sensibilities would not be offended by merely perpetrating an abduction.

In the end, the death of Osama Bin Laden is the inevitable result of Bush administration policies. Obama is merely a poacher. Obama presides over the worst economy since the great depression. Unemployment remains at staggering levels. Obamacare is a disaster. Obama’s Marxist policies have wrought catastrophic damage. Bin Laden’s death doesn’t change any of this. Bush led this country through the dark day of 9/11, provided principled leadership, and inspired the nation to act. Who will ever forget his 9/11 bullhorn speech: “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you. And, the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

To Persevere

"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."

Sir Winston Churchill

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Fear and Failure

"The essence of warriorship, or the essence of human bravery, is refusing to give up on anyone or anything." Chogyam Trungpa

I set goals and fail to meet them; my work schedule is onerous. Finding time to train is thwarted by circumstance at every turn. I am tempted to give up. I want to quit, to dropout.

Circumstances make me feel defeated and it is this feeling of failure and not the true nature of failure that causes many to succumb and surrender. The truth about discrete events of failure is that the derivative negative perceptions are merely a function of a lack of perspective, delusion, not perceiving the true nature of things.

We often suppose that the path to success is one of consistent forward progress. The reality is that success and accomplishment are achieved only in the face of successive failure. It is not a straight and smooth path but winding and difficult. Indeed, the proper response to defeat is a key to achievement. "He who will not be defeated, cannot be defeated." This is a Navy Seal maxim which admits of no defeat. But note, implicit in this maxim is the presumption of adversity and temporary set back. For where there is no challenge of defeat, there cannot be the exercise of bravery. This is also the ethos of the ancient Ninja, whose creed was survival begotten of endurance. You are only defeated when you cease to strive; when you despair of your goal and quit.

The scriptures say that a just man falls seven times but rises up again. (Proverbs 24:16) Just men fall! But, just men do not remain prostrate in the dust. He rises again and again admitting no defeat. The failures of yesterday have passed as a mist. We live under the sun at this moment. Will you press on? Just men do. Warriors do.

Hatsumi Sensei is fond of saying, "just keep training." Well, that's all there is to it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Measuring Out My Life In Coffee Spoons

T.S. Eliot (1888–1965).

Prufrock and Other Observations. 1917.

1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats 5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question … 10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, 15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate; 30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go 35
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair— 40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare 45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all— 55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 60
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress 65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 85
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while, 90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— 95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while, 100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . . 110
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use, 115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old … 120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me. 125

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Our Bushido, The 9-12 Project

"Bushi and Ninja are always prepared to offer their lives for the sake of their lord or village, and die serenely. It is a wonderful way to live...Yet I feel compelled to say that enduring to the end no matter what happens, persevering with life despite being prepared for death at any time, is actually the secret of Bushido. This means treasuring the lifestyle of the Ninja, living as a shadow of your true purpose, and doing your utmost to survive."

--Masakki Hatsumi, Soke