Martial Training as a Timeless PortalWritten by Edward Orem
Thanks to several centuries of enlightened teachings by extraordinary men in martial disciplines, we don’t have to be restricted to lives of getting and spending, waiting in quiet desperation for pain to cease.
Most of us in Arts focus on tasks in front of our noses (the correct hand forms/kicks/body alignments), forgetting our option to consciously evolve along way to physical perfection.
Words are easy, but we can avoid just blowing mouth-wind here by listing some timeless guides for self-growth, followed by training suggestions:
[ The physical and cerebral functions die, while spirit continues to grow. This is a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many clubs are satisfied with learning only to kick butt. What’s left when full contact is a thing of your matured past, with only knee pains to jolt a dim memory? Lots of ways to answer that one—and it’s better to cultivate chi and meditation practices now.
[ Assume you know nothing—then Superior Man will appear. The most formidable opponent is your own ego. In training, first learn to listen and watch carefully, then proceed with selfless attention and caution. Your higher functions will then operate without impediments.
[ No authority exists outside of your Self. The successful student-master relationship is necessarily a symbiotic one. Each needs other in order to bring task at hand to fruition. Many modern followers of martial arts have forgotten that grading system produces no absolute ranks. The system is circular: student must decide by what criteria he wishes to be graded, and then he finds an acceptable person to confer content of desired curriculum. Similarly, teacher must decide qualities of a potentially desirable student, then contract with that candidate. Both are dipping from same well, both are reflections of a Being offering meta-cultural sustenance.
[ Nature points Way. It is not possible to express in words what is most real, sublime, and ultimate. Recognizing limitations of intellect, martial training traditions guide with lamp of direct experience. The fool wastes energy talking, while Master gets on with work—usually outside.
The Plight of Industrialized Man Written by Edward Orem
Living in Pacific Northwest is a challenge for any body: poor excuse for weather west of Cascades is one of worst on earth for human health. Luckily our Ch'uan Fa Club meets in central Oregon several times a week, rarely missing an opportunity to train outdoors .
I'm not speaking here of a prepared arena of asphalt or even grass. I mean we use/find/even search out poor footing surfaces, including ice, deep snow, pebbles, desert sand, and forest floor.
Admittedly, it's a challenge to get new students to be involved with a teacher who trains his school outside regularly in woods and desert, and even on mountain tops. (I never have more than 10 guys—seldom any women—who are tough enough to dare to be different.)
But it's my experience that once cultivated, civilized martial artist gets exposed long enough to exhilarating benefits of fresh air, wildlife and trees, his deeper roots take hold. Most of my students now find it difficult—even unpleasant—to go back to enclosed, stuffy conditions of "normal" training halls. It's not that tough to understand why, as most of us came from peasant stock a very few generations ago, putting our reliance on modern life-style within realm of absurdly tenuous—not to mention degenerative.
It may not be chic or socially advantageous to admit your recent connections to Earth rhythms, but it could save your life. For a man to deny his biological heritage is a fatal error. Never mind that industrialized world is going to hell in a mechanized hand-basket (and taking rest of earth's humans with them): you can marshal your piercing powers of striking to heart of matter by coming to terms with your natural place in this biosphere.
It is a common musing among older teachers to speak of great "immortals" of bygone eras in martial arts. We've all heard stories and wished we could approach skill levels of great ones. I think we're sliding over important points that get buried in telling. The First Principle to successful training is to "Eat Bitter Every Day." If you don't know what that means, you may be incorrigibly industrialized and your male principle de-germinated by urban life-style. You well know that dominating principle of modern life is to promote comfort and convenience. You tell me how such an attitude can possibly create excellence of skills and evolution of spirit.