Kouketsu Dojo Blog



Control your Life!

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When you find yourself in a room surrounded by your enemies, you should tell yourself, “I am not locked in here with you, you are locked in here with me!” This is the kind of mindset you should have if you want to succeed in life. Get rid of that victim mentality. Bruce Lee

Never allow yourself to fall victim to a victim mentality. You are in control of your life, period. No matter what situation you may find yourself in, maintain control over yourself and your mind. There is a huge difference between seeing yourself locked in a room with your enemies and seeing your enemies locked inside a room with you. The first causes you to feel like a victim; the second gives you a feeling of power and control.

This mentality doesn’t just happen; it must be cultivated. It comes from confidence and consistently controlling your mind. It is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like a victim. This victim mentality is how most people go through life. They constantly feel like victims of life instead of taking control of their lives and grasping the power that is there for the taking.

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Even if a man has no natural ability, he can be a warrior.

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The Dojo

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Why the Dojo is Different

 

March 29, 2018John DonohueWhen you walk into a dojo, it’s a truism to say you’ve enter a different world and a special space. But, if it’s a commonplace sentiment, it’s also an important observation. For contemporary Westerners and Americans walking the martial path, our training has implications for our lives. And, from my perspective, the rigorous pursuit of the Martial Way is decidedly contrarian—it bucks many of the trends and expectations of modern consumer culture. Consider:

 

 

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Foresight

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He who lacks foresight and underestimates his enemy will surely be captured by him.

Sun Tzu

Foresight is the ability to think ahead and envision possible future problems or challenges. It is the act of “knowing” something before it actually hits you right between the eyes, and it is vital when dealing with your enemies.

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Warrior Samadhi in Kata

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Warrior Samadhi in Kata

The brilliant beam of a search light sweeps past where this guy is hiding, crouched behind a dumpster.  The light slides down along the wall. For a second the darkness returns. Without a sound he sprints behind the building and disappears. He felt the lapse in his opponent’s perception and got away.

When you face off with an opponent, whether you are stalking slowly or darting in and out, you lock focus on each other. The instant you sense the slightest deflection in your opponent’s awareness you attack. The deflection in his awareness could be as obvious as a glance down to the ground, at your hand or over your shoulder, or it could be much more subtle – but if you can detect it you can exploit it.

If your awareness shifts then there is a momentary breach in your defense. You become vulnerable to attack. Not every opponent is sharp enough to take advantage of it but for an instant the opportunity is there.

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Beginner mind

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Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind." It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.

 

We never actually stop beginning. We just forget every now and then as we get older and -- if we're not very careful -- more foolish. Perhaps we put on a black belt and start to think we are an expert. Perhaps we start to believe the hype and think we really know something about something. But really, our goal is to cast off trappings (emphasis on trap) like certificates and belts: they are helpful, but once they get in the way of our learning they are devastating. Once they give our egos a foothold, the road-map of rank is going to run us off a cliff.

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Training and never giving up!

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Yamaoka Tesshu (1836-1888)
 
Yamaoka Tesshu’s seigan training has become quite well-known in the English speaking martial arts world thanks to John Stevens’ book, The Sword of No-Sword.
 
Tesshu’s “basic” examination required 1,000 days of consecutive practice, completed by 200 consecutive contests in a single day with other students of the Itto Shoden Muto Ryu.
 
The second level examination consisted of 600 matches over a three-day period. The highest level examination was a seven day ordeal with 1,400 matches.
 
Several of his students left accounts of their experiences. This is one:
 
Yanagita Ganjiro completed the two-hundred-match seigan on the final day of his thousand-day training period. He then practiced five hundred more days in a row and undertook the three-day, six-hundred-match seigan. Blows received from the short, thick Muto Ryu bamboo sword (shinai) were extremely painful. Yanagita recalled: "After the first day my head was full of lumps and my body covered with bruises, but I did not feel weak. On the second day I began to suffer. I thought I would have to give up halfway. I managed to continue and near the end of the day I experienced 'selflessness' - I naturally blended with my opponent and moved in unhindered freedom. Although my spirit was strong my body was weak. My urine was dark red and I had no appetite. Nevertheless, I passed the final day's contests with a clear mind; I felt as if I was floating among the clouds."
            (The Sword of No-Sword, J. Stevens)
 

Tesshu not only viewed swordsmanship as a way of disciplining the mind; he was also a practitioner of Zen and a master of calligraphy. Only his swordsmanship was passed down directly; the ‘spirit’ of his calligraphy was revived, (and is carried on by the Hitsuzendo) but perhaps it is better to say that it was by his example and spirit that he has most influenced modern disciplines.

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Honor your Word!

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A man’s word is his honor. Okinawan Proverb

Your word is your honor. In today’s world there doesn’t seem to be many people who think this way. People will say whatever gets them what they want, whether it is true or false, right or wrong. Most people don’t seem to care about their “word,” but then again, most people do not have a clue what true honor is either. You should think before you speak and you should honor what you say.

Honor consists of multiple parts. It is a complex idea in which intention plays a huge role. Think about the intentions behind your words and your actions. What is the purpose behind your words? Do your words even have a purpose?

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Ego........ugh

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Ego in the martial arts

 
I was talking to a guy at church today and we got off on the topic of ego in martial arts. He asked if there were a lot of folks that get into it for reasons other than to just learn a skill. I told him, "There is a lot of ego mixed up in why people do martial arts and it often takes years to calm that down if you ever do.
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For some reason I've been thinking for a few weeks about a couple of my worst moments in the martial arts. Moments that made me wonder, and probably made those around me wonder if I had learned anything at all from studying this stuff.
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As a freshman in college I was a State Champion in karate. I worked out all the time and was proud of my flexibility and kicks. One day, I was sitting in my room in the freshman dorm with my circle of friends and with one guy who had sort of insinuated himself into our circle. Nobody liked him. He was arrogant and annoying - and I was far from the only guy that thought so. Let's call him Q-. Well, we all made some excuse to leave the room and go eat together or something. Nobody invited Q- and we all hoped he'd get the message, but no, he hopped up and started out the door to go eat with us. I was seething at his boorish insensitivity as I walked out the door with Q- right behind me. (I'm sure there was a girl to impress in the group or something too). Anyway, as I walked out the door, I slipped to the left right along the wall, hauled off and hook kicked Q- in the face around the door frame. It was a technically perfect hook kick. Something to be proud of! The only thing was, it wasn't Q- I'd kicked. Without my knowing it, he'd switched places with another of my friends - a guy who never offended or hurt anyone. And it was this innocent that I kicked. It wasn't hard enough to hurt him but it was humiliating to him. I tried to assure him that I hadn't meant to kick him, I had wanted to kick Q-. So, not only did I kick the wrong guy, but I humiliated one friend, openly insulted another, and made the rest of them think I was an first class a-hole. I should have had my butt kicked for that - it would have left me feeling better than I did.
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Years later, after I'd gotten into aikido and absorbed all the great lessons of the Art of Peace, I was (I think) 4th dan in aikido. We were having an email conversation amongst a group of ourselves about some technical aspect of aikido. One of the shodans sent an email suggesting something or questioning something that I was talking about in the forum. I don't even remember the content but it struck me wrong so I sent out a public message basically asking him how he dare question me when I was a 4th dan and he was just a shodan!? I regretted it as soon as I pressed SEND. I sat there in my office waiting for the rebuttal, and when it came it was pretty gentle. He basically just asked me, "Are you crazy, talking to another person like that - regardless of rank?" I immediately agreed, apologized, and claimed a moment of insanity. Fortunately, he didn't let that poison our relationship (because he was better at the Art of Peace than me) but the training environment was pretty frigid for a while. A few years later we met at a seminar and had a good, sweaty ass-busting session that seemed to put a lot straight - I've seen him occasionally at seminars since then and everything seems okay between us.
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The moral of both stories: You have to guard yourself carefully against making irreversible actions.
 
 

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Focus on What you are training!

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Doing it halfway is no good; you have to do it all the way, give yourself wholly to it. Taisen Deshimaru

It is easy to get into the habit of thinking about “this, that, and the other thing” when you are in the middle of a workout. This is the result of an undisciplined mind. If you find yourself focusing on other things during your workout, stop yourself and refocus on why you are working out in the first place.

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