Goju-Shorei Systems

Martial Arts for the 21st Century

With All Due Respect, I Share What I'm Learning...

I've had an epiphany, that is, in my own personal viewpoint / practice. This week I've found two words that when linked together, describe something I'd not previously had words for --about expectations and my own goals and our (master teachers of the martial arts) "role" in the world (and if not "the world" --within our own communities).

The two words, now one (in my own head anyway) are: "Monk-like."

The woman in this photo is Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron; Pema is a teacher's teacher, a bright light, a communicator extraordinaire --and when I listen to her teach, I always, ALWAYS come away feeling more centered and smarter and more resourceful. She's the kind of monk I have in my mind's eye when I think or say "monk." She's pragmatic, knowledgable, and always looking deeply at viewpoint, at compassion's role, at equanimity, and, well...all the good stuff. 

This week I found monk-like as a description of an attitude --as I was mildly caught in the middle of a conflict between two of my friend/student/peers. A conflict where one, a 30 year + veteran of the martial arts and a 7th dan, and a student, much younger, but well into adulthood and not a new black belt, were stuck (temporarily of course) in a heated conflict of, well, stuff conflict is made of. 

So I reached out to my more experienced friend, who I had started teaching in 1981 (or close) --and reminded him that after 30 years of our practice, our approach to conflict and its resolution, our skills, our whole conflict management toolbox, should be something akin to that of the most refined peace-maker monks (I think Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, Desmond Tutu, HH The Dalai Lama, etc.). 

I mean...why not? Why wouldn't we have that sensibility, centered-ness, and ability to shed the anger, the misunderstandings, the ego-stuff ----in order to look deeply at how to find the middle path? Wouldn't that mindset be like "the ultimate" outcome for all the years invested? I mean, when we lose our ability to kick-ass, wouldn't it be suitable that mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that we end up with that big ol' Craftsman toolbox (the one on wheels) of resources for staying sane in conflict and matters where wisdom and sanity are most useful? 

Monk-like, that's what I'm bringing to my own training table, to my own practice. I can think of no other living beings that seem to bring more love and compassion to the table than Pema Chodron and her peers --and I, for one, am going to deepen my practice of embracing her (those kind of) techniques for grappling peace-making and dealing with issues unpleasant. I don't always do it now...but, with my new word, I've an idea to use when the opportunities present themselves. 

And, I should add, to my "students" -- "Monk-like," that's how resourceful I think we need to be if we're going to strut around with all of these stripes on our belts. When the *$$& hits the fan, let's pretend all of these years of training have been for the purpose of making us, like these heroes of compassion, incredibly resourceful, aggressively contemplative, and extraordinarily trustworthy.

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Comment by Edwin (Ed) Narte, Jr. on October 20, 2013 at 7:45am

Smile… this is nothing more than just my thoughts, I have learned through my years that I spent so much time on the physical body to make it stronger and to keep it limber. Then, one day the thought entered my Mind,… “I am not in Balance.. I spent so much time developing my outer strength but have done nothing at all for my inner”..!! So, I started to practice meditation and to put it to the test… smile. One month no practice of any martial arts at all just meditation … after one month did my Kata’s and Kicks (spinning, side, round, back kicks) to my joy.. all was the best I had ever done… perfect balance on ALL Levels and the “Speed” was 3 times as fast that I had ever imagine that I was capable of… smile. The reason for me I KNOW was that I was starting to have “Balance” on the inside, middle… as well as the outside. As in the same as “Body, Mind and Spirit”. The techniques that I had learned were precise with speed, power and my movements flowed like water for the first time ever for me it all came together as ONE as it should be. I felt as if I was the “Conductor” of an Orchestra and when I moved my feet and hands different instruments played their sounds… Now, this one might throw you for a loop, the sounds was of my opponent when I was applying my techniques upon him… of course this was in visualization while doing my Forms or Kata’s… and when I put it to the test while teaching.. It was the VERY SAME ON ALL LEVELS…!!! I encourage you not to believe me but put it to the test for yourself and have fun with it… smile.


Ed Narte

Comment by Katherine A. Wieczerza on October 14, 2013 at 12:48pm

Reminds me to stop and take a deep breath. 

Thank you.

Comment by Ray A. Fisher on October 14, 2013 at 12:25pm

Most awesome...Thank you, Tom for writing it and Thank you, Soke McNeill for sharing....words of wisdom

Comment by Heidi Wilmott on October 13, 2013 at 10:42am

Love this...Pema's teachings have impacted my life dramatically over the past 2 years and I can totally see where you are coming from Tom! Thanks for sharing this!

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