Today I write to thank you for your support of our Yoga Program. The past few weeks have been great is several ways! It makes my night to see interactions between participants making each other feel welcome and scrunching closer to make room for each other as classes get more full. Of course we have been doing some great work toward our goals with each class. I appreciate each of you making room in your schedule for our class, we can have many irons in the fire and it is important that you feel welcome attending and comfortable with your practice.
Over the years there have been times when I feel to busy for practice. It is during these times it is needed most. Occasionally I have tried to “multi task”, practicing while watching a webinar, or listening to a lecture. Sometimes I have felt the need to keep my phone near me to know the time or to watch for that important message. These multi-tasking strategies have impacted the experience of my practice in a way that I may call negatively. I miss the deep relaxation at the end and do not end feeling as refreshed seeming to drop right back in to the state of “chaos” I fought leaving to practice. As a “teacher” at times I have kept my phone nearby to watch for messages from participants who were running late etc. It continued to be a distraction from my ability to lead class in one way or another. Worse yet it distracted people who were close to me with sound, (even when silenced it vibrated…) and the light would draw not only my attention but that of those around me.
For me the practice has become a “mini” media fast. It is a small way I can work to keep my attention on what is happening on my mat and let the “worries” of the world melt away. The messages will be there after practice is done and amazingly and I feel more organized, my webinars get watched and the lectures find themselves listened to. I invite you to join this practice in the studio. If you are able extend this to your home practice taking note of the changes.
The Lunar New year is upon us. One tradition that my wife and I have tried to keep with the incoming new year is to do some releasing of things we no longer need. I will be going through my closet over the weekend and selecting items that no longer serve and boxing them up for a trip to Goodwill. I am excited to rip in and thin out the collection selecting out the items I really love and sharing the rest. I am thankful for the blessings these items may have been, recognize they are not required anymore and they may be of benefit to others. You may ask what does this have to do with our martial arts training? Read through the Dojo Kun: Live a plain and simple life.
In this spirit I am writing today as we have recently received an “abundance”. Some of our former dojo mates have found martial arts supplies that has graciously been donated to the dojo for anyone who can benefit. With this abundance I have sparked to clear out storage areas at the dojo as well. There are t-shirts, some sweatshirts and uniforms all in various states from new to used(All have been washed). There may be some interesting items. If you have uniforms to share you may drop them in the bin (please wash first). Look over what is in this bin and take what you can use. The remainder will be donated to Goodwill after the 10th of February.
The other day I read an article in a publication I receive talking about safety on the road entitled “Think Slow”. The author referenced a game his “friends” would play when they were in their youth where you say “think fast” while doing something that they can not avoid but can not help but react wildly. This article painted a picture of youth and mischief but made some great points.
In our Karate training we work to prepare ourselves for unpredictable things. We work to create reactions that will serve when we do not have time to formulate thoughts. (refer to the kempo hakku; Reaction must occur without conscious thought). Sanchin is at the foundation of our training; a way of forging a body and mind that is able to handle the stresses of this possibility. Sanchin is preformed slowly to develop control and focus on detail among other things. When we practice Kihon (basics) we often do them slow “for form”, then faster. It is usually stressed that we should only go to the pace where we can do the move with the form we are striving for. In kicking practice slow kicks are often stressed again for form, however we notice that slow is more difficult as it is work to hold our foot up longer and it exposes challenges to our balance we may not notice when going faster. As a student it is easy to be eager to move on to the next kata or push to get to the next level. The thirst for knowledge is a good thing but not at the expense of technique. The same thing is often stressed in strength training that the form is most important.
Often we remind of how Goju Ryu has only 12 kata. Why do you think this is? Could it be that the founders wanted you to ‘cross train’ (in all styles) so they would make this easy to become a part of a “greater” curriculum? I have seen many school advertising that they teach Goju Katas in part of their curriculum. Could it be that they had 12 levels so you only needed 12 to get all your belts or that they were so in tune with the yearly cycles there is one for each month? Could it be that there is not a lot of information to transmit so it only amounted in 12 kata? Hardly. Perhaps the founders intended us to spend more time on things and take it slow to get a full understanding of all contained information. It is said that Miyagi Sensei would teach a student Sanchin and one or two other kata depending on their body type… (Wait there are 12 but you are only going to teach me 3? And I am only going to do Sanchin for 3 years… ) As you can imagine it may not fit in the YouTube generation whos’ culture may explain why there are schools that have 40 or more kata. Even our Kobudo Curriculum may have 12 weapons but the bulk of our training time is done with the Bo, Sai and Tunkua and to a lesser degree Nunchaku. Each weapon has basics and few kata,(Bo 5, Sai 3, Tunqua 3, Nunchaku 1). Much time is dedicated to basics then progressing to kata, Perhaps to develop skills that become second nature and can occur in the absence of conscious thought. Additionally of note It has been my experience that the skills learned with these first four scaffolds to the more “advanced” weapons.
For January we will recommit to basics and Sanchin training. The more we examine even the most basic technique we find a wealth of information in an ever deepening practice. Taking our time to lay down the foundation ensures high degree of skill adaptability and proficiency. Refer back to the tortoise and the hare if you want, Slow and Steady wins the race.
It is my hope that the New Year is treating you well. We talked recently during our training about setting goals. We used the visual of an elephant with a bamboo shoot. The idea being that a bamboo shoot helps elephants focus and not get distracted as they are in parades. My hope is that answering the following questions will help you find your “bamboo shoot”.
What excites you or makes you want to jump out of bed?
What goals (if any) did you set and accomplish in 2016?
What was learned from this process?
What goals do you have for 2017?
What steps will you take to achieve these goals?
Remember when setting goals to make them Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and with a Time frame. These are SMART goals.