Posts tagged ‘Martial Arts’

Love Fiercely. Love Fearlessly …

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

 

‘’Anything we love can be saved.’’ (Alice Walker)

‘’Witches have a saying – where there’s fear, there’s power.’’ (Starhawk)


Globally, things are serious right now. Problematic life and times, with more complexities in the post, in the years ahead. Many karmic chickens coming home on a micro and macrocosmic level – as personal, planetary and galactic evolution enters a crucial phase – it’s as though we’ve left the womb and are in the birth canal and it’s fairly uncomfortable. We are challenged to remember that our psycho-spiritual faculties are wondrously powerful. Apparently we only use about 6% of our capability. Whether or not we engage in protest or demonstration we can also do a lot in the subtle, energetic dimensions to augment/compliment all of the necessary 3D actions that we make.

This is about 2 things: (a) the urgent necessity of having a concrete spiritual/energetic framework or practice in your life and (b) long-term thoughts I have had about different layers of oppression in society and ways to effect change in the power balance. Reinforced by lucid dreams and visions that I have had that show the energetic equivalent of everything that happens here and the power of fear to control people. What do we do about those who choose to take up arms and oppress fellow citizens on behalf of the state? I’m taking mainly about racist police, private security firms, detention centre guards, companies that manufacture weapons and torture devices – and those who then use them.

The latest wave of racist police brutality in the US has shocked and sickened me. Since about 2014 there seems to be something akin to demonic possession going on in US law enforcement. It’s not a new thing, but the immediacy of cell phone reportage by civilians, is bringing the information home on a daily basis. I am saddened and disgusted by it and disturbed by the lack of political outrage from the international community. At the same time – inspired, because random and organised acts of bravery, leadership and community are now everywhere.

What used to be the official political ‘alternative’, is now an international groundswell of anti-authoritarian, anti-elite grassroots majority, who want social justice, equality, welfare, education, civil rights, clean energy, healthcare and respect for the environment. Also an end to bogus ‘austerity’ measures, an end to sexism, racism, homophobia and fascism of all kinds. This drive for a fairer world now seems global. Our governmental, economic and military/industrial complexes are hanging on by a thread of ideological credibility – which is manifesting in panic and brute force. No-one wants war anymore, except a tiny handful of profiteers. Information on how to create a new society is here and we can do it. It’s possible that the new self-governing structures of the future are being born in the protest movements of today.

Authors Octavia Butler, (dystopian but visionary science fiction) Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) and Starhawk (author, witch and activist), have written fiction that foresees a dystopian future that necessitates super-human levels of courage from a defiant population. Such books are arguably, a blueprint for a revolution, though they may not have been intended as such. Anyone following the news in America, will have seen acts of protest that are shamanic in scope – the lone woman in a dress (pictured above, later identified as Leshia Evans from Brooklyn) confronting heavily armoured riot police, the man with the sign that says, ‘’We may have to die for this’’ (he knows and is ready) or Diamond Reynolds as she live-streamed the murder of Philando Castile as both her battery and he were dying. Deeds of self-possession, dignity and strength that shame both the police and those whose complicity allows the system to exist.

Here’s something that I urge people to do. You might not be able to participate physically in all the amazing intersectional challenges to authority that are happening. (Here are some them. Please visit their websites and social media streams for links to further resources and info. Black Lives Matter, OccupyStand Up To RacismMovement for Justice, Revolutionary Communist Group, Black Dissidents, Million Women Rise.)

But EVERYONE in these times can and should have a spiritual strategy. An ability to call on transpersonal, higher power. Call it what you will, but it needs to be on speed dial and well practised. Now is the time to have some sort of energetic discipline – not just a vague inclination, but a regime. This can include meditation, prayer, shamanic journeying, martial arts, kickboxing, Tai Chi or, whatever. There’s loads to choose from and something for everyone. Have something that trains your mind, body and spirit to endure, transcend and transform.

We know that first, we need to send love to the victims and survivors of the brutality …

Next, try this: I’ve long had a theory that the power dynamic would be utterly transformed if the people who joined the armed forces, police, prison guards, detention centre guards etc – could be encouraged to choose other routes. The elite needs automatons to do the dirty work and without them, would fail. Imagine a world where there were no more workers left to build tasers, electric batons, handcuffs, shackles, guns or bullets. No police left to wear helmets, boots and shields and no-one bothering to manufacture such things. No armies and no-one interested in joining them. I believe that focused intention can target this group of people. The power of prayer, magical intent and visualisation, IS REAL. Anyone who uses these techniques on a regular basis can attest that results can be profound in ways that transcend both place and time. Fear can be melted. Ignorance can be infiltrated with light. People (everything in fact) are nothing but fast vibrating energy and reality can be altered. Dare to reach in and alter it. 

As you go about your daily regime of whatever it is – take time to light a candle, run to your favourite spot on a high hill, gaze into the fire, or a bowl of water, or go deep into prayer, or trance. Spend a good, long intentional moment – anything from 10 mins to an hour – sending a fierce wave of loving containment towards lost and ignorant souls within the police and army. Start somewhere – anywhere – and know that it’s time well spent. (I’m feeling particularly motivated about the Black Lives Matter movement and US police brutality but there are other situations that need attention, too.) There are instances of police breaking down in tears when confronted with protestors holding up mirrors or offering flowers. If it can happen just once, to one individual – it’s possible. Make your visualisation real, with full production, sound, colour, light, the works. I find holding a crystal that has profound colour energy – especially rose or deep pink, helps. Once you’ve got the picture up and running, use your mind to melt it and kelp melting until the whole frame is suffused and the structure starts to transform. Be uncompromising. Be unrelenting. Go deeper and deeper in and MELT the picture …

If people were to do this in large numbers and then synchronised with others, the results might be surprising. 

Am I saying we have to love everyone and just offer virtual hugs to racists until they are healed? No. I am under no illusions. With regard to America specifically, it’s a systemically violent gun culture based on conquest and slavery. Police officers are trained like robots assassins, with racially biased arrest quotas that make sure the prisons are filled and plenty of money is being made through fines and spurious traffic violations and unbelievably, even ‘walking whilst black’  – baggy, low slung trousers – offences. (Yes, that is a real thing by the way – check out Reggie Yates recent Ferguson documentary.)

Thoughts about the ultimate nature of evil are possibly beyond the scope of this particular piece of writing. Where violence occurs, certain non-human energies feed and they can’t just be hippie-hugged and healed with rainbows, especially if there is no thread or connection to any kind of emotional spectrum. And terms of protest, we still have to put our bodies on the streets and fight for justice.

But there is hope. Love can win. ‘Light’ – as brilliantly defined by Pleiadean channeller and writer Barbara Marciniak, as INFORMATION, can win. Some police officers and soldiers (not all) started off believing that they were actually serving and protecting. That too, is love and if there is even a spark left of that, it can be used in this type of visualisation.

So … give it a try. Human minds and hearts are powerful. Let’s use them.


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The Art Of Nunchaku

 

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This unique weapon, popularised by Bruce lee and Dan Inosanto, amongst others, originates in Okinawa, Japan, but variations on the flail-like implement are common throughout South East Asia. Some theories situate it as an adapted farm tool, but opinions differ, since historically, martial arts were often the preserve of the ruling classes. Spinning my ‘chucks everyday, in hot sun, freezing rain, mud, ice or high winds –  is keeping me sane. For obvious reasons, I don’t want to glamourise weapons, aggression or violence and the nunchuks have a bit of a bad rep. However, like all weapons and fighting arts, if you train with the correct attitude, the idea of using it to cause grief, starts to really fade into the distance. Instead, it becomes the most supreme meditational tool, teacher and ally. As in life, I lose the rhythm and have to stop and unwind my self-entanglements. As in life, I drop them, I pick them up. The key is not how many times you fail, but the manner in which you recover. I am used to wielding quite heavy white oak Japanese bokken and Jo. Also I practice Kung Fu and lift weights – so I have quite a lot of strength. But the real beauty is that for this, physical muscle isn’t necessary – only the weight of the wood itself and the exact momentum needed to deliver it to the hand. It’s about pure feeling and flow. Having faith in movement. Free fall and flight. Mental dialogue chatters away, but the only constant is the clanking and rattling of the chain, and the powerful ‘phoommm’ sound of displaced air. There is the lovely, fleeting sense of mastery. (I’m doing something REALLY clever!) Interspersed with moments of indignity, ecstasy and the humble nobility of being covered in mud from all the wipeouts and flowerbed retrievals. A bit like life. At every new level and new move, the Nunchuks teach me, painfully if necessary, what I need to know. For instance, you really don’t want to hit your funny bone at high speed, or at any speed – the hard whack I gave myself disabled me for 10 minutes, and my fingers were numb and buzzing a fortnight later. Not so funny. (My flatmate looking out of the window, spotted me, prostrate, clutching my arm, face screwed up and breathing raggedly, unable to move. She thought it was part of my ‘spiritual practice’…a prayer perhaps?)

I have also learned that hitting myself in the face, hard, is something I only want to experience the one time. Accidents with this light, but deadly force, really, really, really hurt. Therefore, best to approach the practice, being as present as possible, with respect and curiosity. I feel like I used the nunchaku in a previous life. Like music, and certain languages, it feels like something remembered, not learnt for the first time. Like music, it plays itself with only a little coaxing. I am loving it, the simplicity, the dexterity, the mental peace. It’s wonderful to discover (rediscover?) a new (old?) friend.

(Note: Best to study this with a proper teacher and within the context of a dedicated personal martial arts training framework. It’s not illegal to carry them if  they are concealed in a bag and are for obvious study purposes but questions may be asked if you brandish them in public. If you want to buy them, you may be asked for ID that proves you are over 18. )

Resources:

Agogi Wing Chung  (Streetwise Wing Chun Kung Fu for the 21st century. Developed by Founder, Sifu Eric Nicos. )

Tao Sport (London based boxing and martial arts equipment supplier to the combative sports and fight community in the UK since 1988.)

 


 

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Beginner’s Mind

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Whatever it is, begin it. Everyday. Start again. Don’t think about the time you have left, or may have wasted. Eyes in front. Start. Don’t look at the clock. Time is a poor container. Only connect deeply with the content that you have to do, then do. Sink magically and with conviction into your content and master time. Think in chunks, slices, segments, ribbons, minutes or epochs. It doesn’t matter. Just begin and begin every single second if you have to. Begin. When did you, as a being, as a process, begin? You always have been. In reality, you never were not and never will not be – in some form or other. There will always just be now. Even before, that was still now, from the point of view of then…so, get present and stop worrying about the illusion, the veritable tyranny of the linear. It’s not real. Even if you are 1 minute from death, use that minute to begin what you always wanted to do or be. Sounds mad? It’s about how you think about it. Just wake up! That faraway voice in the back of your head. That is the alarm clock. Begin the rest of your life – now!

Begin. Step out into thin air. There is glory in the attempt. Just do it. Allow it. if you have any sort of spiritual life, you know that you are just an instrument of some bigger cause. A precious fragment of an expanding idea playing with its own edges and limits. Therefore, what have you to lose? Did you waste the morning through sloth or procrastination? You still have the afternoon.

If you have trouble starting, it’s all about perception and attitude. How do you begin your day? Make it enjoyable in whatever way suits you. Welcome it in. Think about how you enter your day and also how you leave – as entry into the dream/sleep world is also a beginning, waking up on the other side.

Do you have trouble finishing? Well, finishing is also a beginning – the beginning of the new transition into the next phase that your project or accomplishment has caused. We are just reference points upon an unfolding skein of existence.

In the worlds of  jazz improvisation or martial arts manoeuvres, you may think you know everything there is – every lick, hook, sleight of hand, combination of kicks, punches and locks. You may have a virtuoso tool kit, honed by experience and years of study. But you never know the context, the form your challenges may take, or the new travelling companions that may turn up. Be prepared for absolute surprises in each and every moment. Do not expect things to take a certain course because that’s what always happened previously. Life favours long periods of routine followed by wrenching, paradigm bucking, imagination warping change.

That means you too! Get ready to begin!


 

 

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Thoughts on music and martial arts.

 

I practice Aikido, Wing Chun kung fu and Tai Chi. On two occasions, I have found myself in A + E with an injured hand. The first time was an avulsion fracture on my right thumb incurred during Aikido. I literally chopped downwards onto someone’s head. (they were supposed to duck, but didn’t. Bone on bone – ouch.) The second was a less serious but at first equally inconveniencing and very stiff torn muscle in my palm. (Caused by an intense boxing session without warming up the hands first.)

 

Both times, casualty staff looked at me as though I was mad when I explained that yes I did rough ‘contact sports’…and was also  a professional pianist and guitarist. Their faces actually showed  far more pain than I was in. I wanted to say, ”no really, it’s all alright – and here’s why!” For me there’s a natural, mutually enhancing relationship whereby martial arts feeds directly into music and back again. I’d recommend every aspiring martial artist study some sort of musical discipline and vice versa. A martial art, like dancing, requires a strong sense of left/right brain and body co-ordination. You combine an alphabet of set moves, with wider principles and patterns. At best, you want to be able to improvise communicate and express, solo and with others. In all cases, hands are of vital importance, so is breathing. Professional singers know that our craft involves athletic levels of abdominal support and breath control. The language of music and fighting can overlap in ways both metaphorical and concrete. MCs can ‘battle’ on the mic. Boxers can spar with broken rhythm, lyrically or poetically. Or box in phrases (punches in bunches). Negotiating the industry requires ninja stealth and courage, stoic resilience, patience, timing, Yoda-like calm and the ability to strike when the iron is hot. Some tips for basic hand maintenance include: soaking your hands after training in hot water after training. This is also true after marathon gig or practice sessions. Always take time to rotate wrists in circles before martial arts training. Visualise  energy evenly distributed throughout the hand and whether it is a palm strike or a fist that you are using – make it neat. Stray fingers bent back or caught in someone’s Gi, belt or nose, really hurt like hell! If like me, you have classical guitar nails, wrap them with the wonderful invention that is micropore tape. Massage the fleshy parts of the palm before boxing. When you box pads or bags remember to employ technique, not force and again visualise your energy evenly distributed, like light or plant sap through your forearm. Forearms and the tendons they contain are very important. Bruce Lee’s notebooks have whole chapters about them. He did ‘Zottman curls’, which I recommend. Holding a reasonably heavy dumbbell in each hand, and keeping the arm still, rotate slowly and evenly from the elbow in a clockwise direction. Alternate sides so that you have room to do it! The trick is to do that descending curve nice and slow. If you have played guitar for a long time, your forearm tendons will be in pretty good shape, but I do like this extra exercise. Avoid hard/hard contact such as knuckles on heads or other knuckles. If you do break or strain something remember that as a martial artist your pain threshold might be too high to realise it. Especially if you are flooded with endorphins and adrenaline, therefore know your own limits and warning signals.

 

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Some resources if you injure your hands:

Musicians Benevolent Fund

Musician’s Clinic

British Association for Performing Arts Medicine

Musician’s Union

I include this for fun – an example of 3 musicians displaying warrior prowess and a study in hand and wrist mastery. The Trio Project  (Hiromi Uehara,  Anthony Jackson and Simon Philips) live at the Tokyo Blue Note. The Trio project will be playing at Cadogan Hall here in London, 13th/14th/15th April.

 

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