Martial Arts Observations While Gardening


Master Black Belt
Jan 11, 2019
Reaction score
The problem I see with pesticides and herbicides is that they don't only target the 'bad' things...

Here's a recipe I use around the nursery, it's wildlife, pet, child friendly, and kills all insects it comes into contact with, we call it horticultural white oil and you make it as follows:
4 parts white mineral oil
1 part biological washing up liquid
4 parts water
Make as much as you need, and place the ingredients into a spray bottle, put the lid on, shake vigorously until the solution becomes milky, spray your plants all over, repeat 2 weeks later, the washing up liquid helps the oil and water mix, once the insect is coated it will suffocate as the solution covers the insects outer layer, and insects breath through their skin. Repeat 2 weeks later as the insects life cycle is egg, lavea, pupa, adult, in the egg and pupa stage the insect is cacooned, and can be protected from the solution.
Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Feb 8, 2009
Reaction score
I think it's time I addressed a few of the things I said in 2019. It's now 2021 and I'm still gardening, and still learning, and still finding martial arts applications for act of gardening. It's fascinating to me.

Patience is rewarded, but effort is required: what I mean by this is that your martial arts skills will grow, organically and naturally, as you practice. But simply waiting for results is not enough; practice must be diligent and correct. The point is that results happen no matter what you do, but if you want good results, then good practice is key.

Relaxation is key to maximum effect: I cannot recall how many times I have found myself straining and being tense in my mind and my body as I practiced some aspect of my martial arts training. I end up frustrated, tired, and sore. I don't want to continue. This also happens when I garden. But as always, the teaching I have received in the dojo is correct; relaxation is key. Still the mind, let the muscles relax, move through the movement, and apply power when power is needed only. Relaxed motion is faster, energy is conserved, power is still available as the muscles, bones, and mind come into alignment at the moment of impact. When I apply my hoe or my nejiri kama to the soil, I can wrench and pull and hurt my back and get sweaty and tired, or I can relax and let the tool do the work, applying guidance and power only when required. One way is better.

Weeds grow in untended places. Quickly: This is a reminder to myself that I must remain proficient on even basic exercises. Leave a blank spot in your garden and it will not remain empty. But what grows there you may not want. The same goes when I do not practice even the most basic and simple movements in my martial art.

If you don't care for a plant, remove it: When a plant grows in your garden, even if you planted it there, if it does provide you with enjoyment, remove it. The same goes for techniques that I may have picked up over the years that either I do not like, or which do not work for me. Perhaps my body type isn't ideal for the technique. Perhaps I have imperfections that prevent me from becoming proficient in that technique. I tuck it away and do not concern myself with it again. I will never perform a flying scissors kick to the face of an opponent, and I'm OK with that.

Old tools that work are better than new ones that don't: Everyone wants the flashy new thing. Be it a tool for gardening or a technique seen on YouTube. Every now and then, something new comes along and it is truly superior to an older method, style, tool, or what-have-you. I would say that it is quite rare. More often, someone thinks they have invented a better mousetrap and what they have done instead is create a new way to extract money from gardeners and martial arts students. Be open to the new, but gaze with a wary eye, and question everything. If it's truly better, adopt it. If it is not, ignore it and use what works. Frequently it seems people who invented gardening tools and evolved them over centuries knew what they were doing, as did the founders of various martial arts. Funny.

Gardens don't complain if you stop tending them. They just stop being gardens: A gardener doesn't stop being a gardener, but the garden suffers from neglect. Likewise, a martial artist doesn't stop being a martial artist just because they stop training, but their abilities suffer. It will happen slowly and silently, you won't know until it's gone. Your skills won't complain that they are fading until one day you try to use them and they are not there.

I am not a master martial artist. I am not a master gardener. But I try to improve at both of them, and I feel I am making progress, even at my age and given my late start in life.

I am patient with myself, but that doesn't mean I don't keep working hard. I find myself spending more time in my gardens every year. I learn lessons the hard way, but at least I learn. Each year I correct the mistakes I made the year before, but make new mistakes that I must then correct and remember for the following year. My martial arts training is no different. Slow progress is progress.

Still gardening. Still training. There's no goal, no end state. Just do this as long as I can.