Journal

Intent and Manifestation

Tonight, Sifu Brinker, got me to look at the way I stand in my forms and move from one stance to other; in particular, moving forward from one stance to another.  Instead of seeing the energy as moving in a linear line forward, he got me to look at it as a circular line around the hips connecting the movement of my upper with my lower body.  It was a simple statement, and yet it has a lot of weight behind it.

I am an acupuncturist and reiki practitioner by trade, and thus, am familiar with energy and how it flows.  The whole exchange made me think more about our internal energy, specifically the energy attached to our thoughts.  It's talked about a lot at the kwoon, how we need to stay in the moment.  When going through the form, I know I'm guilty of continuously thinking of the next movement to reach the end, and never fully committing to the individual movements in-between.  My intent is to complete the form, and not in the individual steps that take me there; though without those steps, how can I possibly expect to reach the end of the form?  It's a conundrum in the way we think. 

It's the moments in life that shape and define us.  I would say that that is the true end result, but even that is false, because the end result is always changing.  What I mean to say is when we set out to complete a task or a goal, it's not so much the end result that matters, but our actions that led us there.  It's the moments in-between the start and finish that truly matter.  Even if we "fail", its our actions leading up that determine whether or not we "succeeded" or not.

On an aside, I've been thinking about the common phrase "It's a small world." when compared to people you know that know each other, where otherwise there is no connection.  It's my belief that this is energy, taken form from manifestation.  I believe we attract like minded people in our journey of growth.  People that help each other move forward.  Our Dog Team, is another form of manifestation that we have subconsciously conjured in an attempt to further our own journey.  I just want to say that I am grateful for everyone that is apart of that.

Nigel Bauer

The Samurai

This past week I have spent time studying with our youngest son on the history of Japan.  What I believe was extremely cool was that the study sheets sent home went beyond facts like the country  being made up of over 3000 islands and 73% of the country being mountainous,  and  required the students to dig a little deeper.  They had to first understand the history and tradition but had to think beyond general info and put themselves in the position of a Japanese citizen of a particular class and explain how they would feel and how they would view the changes that were happening in their country in the 1500’s – 1867.  Then on the flip side, they had to try to understand how someone from the western world viewed this unknown country whose society seemed so dedicated in protecting their people and traditions.

Part of this unit of study included the watching of the movie ‘The Last Samurai.’  I have watched this movie more than once but found myself watching it again this week with a completely different perspective and appreciation for this culture and the Samurai class.  This movie portrays a side of this ‘Warriors’ life that is tranquil and peaceful, one that is intriguing and attractive.  It is a life with known purpose and complete dedication to that purpose. I found myself going a little further than the text book and did a little more research.  Many people would guess the translation of Samurai to be ‘Warrior’, associating them with war and violence.  In actuality the translation is “Those who serve” or “To serve and attend.”  The Samurai did follow an unwritten code known as Bushido meaning “Way of the Warrior”, however, this code held a list of values/virtues that one would not necessarily relate to a warrior.

The values of a Samurai include:

-          Integrity

-          Courage

-          Benevolence

-          Politeness

-          Sincerity

-          Honor

-          Loyalty

-          Self-Control

Although their role was to protect their leaders and the people of their domain, and their status in society was very high, they lived a rather simplistic life.  A life of dedication and loyalty while striving for inner peace and that in the world around them.  Living by this ‘code’ and upholding these values was their way of life.  They truly believed in and committed themselves to their role.

I believe in our world of entitlement and privilege we fail to understand the same depth of commitment and dedication as these Samurai of old.  However, we are fighting battles of a different makeup, those of intolerance, lack of compassion, selfishness, weakness, dishonestly, unaccountability and the list goes on.  It is definitely a world that could use more of each of these virtues.  I think as martial artists, and more specifically Silent River students, we need to consistently and deliberately uphold this list in our day to day lives. We need to understand that our training involves much more than the physical aspects and that we need to give the required attention and focus to those qualities that are more related to the building of strong and positive character. Can you imagine what this world would be like if everyone dedicated themselves to constantly strive for and uphold this list of the Samurai?

 “The Way of a Warrior is based on humanity, love and sincerity; the heart of martial valor is true bravery, wisdom, love and friendship.  Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited. - Ueshiba Morihei, The Art of Peace   

Alana Regier

What Is the Essence?

Well the sheep is ready to move off into the sunset for greener pastures.  The monkey is coming down from the mountain and is getting ready to interact with me for the next year.

I am now finishing up my second year of I HO Chuan.  This upcoming  year I will be embarking on a trail by myself knowing that I have support from past team members.  These past two years have been physically and mentally challenging for me. I Ho Chuan is what I was looking for in my life and the benefits I have gained by being able to be involved in this very unique team will last a life time.  I have been involved in self improvement my whole life and have taken courses, programs and read extensively to become a better me.  I Ho Chuan has taken many of the concepts I have learned , but maybe not implemented, and simplified them to their very essence.

BE ENGAGED.

Wow simple words but oh so powerful.  With out the sore body, hurt shoulder, knee that felt like I may never be able to do another kick, I may never have been able to understand what engagement means.  It is spending a few minutes, many times, through out the day doing push-ups or squat thrusts, smiling at the person in the line up at the grocery store,  engaging a stranger in conversation, saying yes I will help or simply picking up a broom or garbage to do what needs to be done.  These are the physical parts of engagement.

What about the mental aspects.  Journaling my progress, constantly challenging what I "think" is true and opening my mind to new and powerful new ideas and concepts is invaluable.  For myself journaling has been the most powerful tool I have been able to incorporate to help me to be engaged. Writing is not natural for myself.  I have been able to articulate my thoughts with the spoken word but the written word was always more challenging.  By journaling I have been able to take the scramble of thought that enter my head and put them on paper and make something clear and articulate. ( At least to me, maybe not others) These thoughts or journal then becomes a permanent artifact that I can reread and understand what was going on in my mind and life at a particular point in time. 

I think that everyone who is fortunate enough to be living right now and have the opportunity to be involved in this unique team should be thankful.  I will not take for granted the opportunity I have been fortunate enough to have experienced.  I will continue to incorporate what I have leaned and to grow personally to become a better person for my family, community and myself.

I am unsure what the future will bring. I am certain that the present will be mindful, engaged and focused on happiness.

Jim Sand

Back To Square One

I had the pleasure Friday night of having my 3 year old nephew over for a sleepover. It's been a while since mine were that young, and I didn't realize how much my family has evolved over the years. He was into everything when I thought we had "child-proofed" my place. Definitely an eye opener for me. But don't get me wrong, I loved having him over, and will do it again.

This brought me back to my training. Sometimes I forget what being a white belt was like. Everything is new and exciting, and there is so much to learn. Now, I mostly find myself focussing with my eye for detail, on the minute things, and forget what it was like to start fresh. It's a completely different mentality now than as a white belt.

There are so many techniques that I take for granted. I don't have to think about them, I just do. I need to find a way to keep that white belt frame of mind in front of me more often. Learning Kung Fu is a gift, and an even bigger one is learning at Silent River. The best second family ever! And the cool thing is, that family is always evolving too. With promotions, and new faces, it's a place that I take comfort in, and I appreciate all those who enter.

Tania Vantuil