Zen and the Martial Arts

Chris Parker

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See the latest issue of Black Belt magazine for an excellent article on the benefits of meditation in the martial arts. It contains a lot of support for my assertions that sitting can greatly benefit your movements, kata, and martial mind. Or should I say, no-mind.


Have a great week.


-James

Hi James,

I'm going to go back to this, if you don't mind. The new issue is out here now, and I was giving it a quick look-over during my lunch break today, however I didn't see any article that matches this description. The closest was an interview with an ex-Marine who has trained in Shaolin Kung Fu, BJJ, and MMA, which mentioned zazen in one brief answer to a question, but that was not what I considered any support of your contention here.

Basically he was asked about the "ancient warriors", and said that samurai didn't suffer from post-traumatic stress due to things like zazen, calligraphy, haiku, and flower-arranging. He failed to realise that that was not accurate (in a number of ways), and also got his historical details wrong in terms of how long the samurai fought across Japan (he gives "300 years", when it was closer to 600. He probably mis-used the figure from the length of the time of peace brought in by the Tokugawa Shogunate....).

What was the title of the article you are refering to, so I can have a closer look for it next time I'm near a newsagent?
 
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Vulcan

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What was the title of the article you are refering to, so I can have a closer look for it next time I'm near a newsagent?


No, it was a full length article in the September issue Chris.

I will need to find a back issue and try to scan it, as it's already off the shelves.
 
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Vulcan

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Not really, the entire post was asking you if you could supply a link to the article you say backs up your concept of sitting helping movement. I then continued to say that I can see no relation there, so if your article can give some support, I'd be very interested to read it. That's all.



In re-reading the entire thread, you are correct. Please be patient as I track down the article in between my studying, training, and practice (not to mention day-to-day common activities).

I generally don't read Black Belt, but the article caught my eye so I read it at the bookstore in one sitting. I should have bought it on the spot. C'est la vie.
 

Janina

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First you have to remember that practicing Martial Art is not way to use violence, so technically speaking you cannot say that martial art would be against Buddhist principle of not harming living beings. When you start to kick and punch people on the street you are using violence, but then you are no more practicing martial art, but violence!

I am personally Zen-Instructor on Zen Community and practice Martial Arts as form of meditation and Dharma Gate leading to Chan. To me these two are inseparable. By practicing Zazen I practice my Art and by practicing my Art I am practicing meditation.

I think Zazen may help enormously your practice. It teaches you integrity, strenght and stamina while also compassion and understanding of the nature of reality. Vice versa your MA may teach you these same things and act as gate to spiritual understanding. I think these two suite just well!
 

oaktree

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First you have to remember that practicing Martial Art is not way to use violence,

It is a way for some to protect themselves or self defense for others it is the best way to use violence such as in war.
Martial arts were designed to cause harm period. Now is that harm to protect something or not is up to the individual.
technically speaking you cannot say that martial art would be against Buddhist principle of not harming living beings
Even the Buddha killed it is in one of the sutras. That sutra deals with the Buddha knowing the intent of someone else and kills him to save the person's life and save the other from being rebirthed into hell. So harming living things is a tricky subject as in if killing a child to save millions which one do you choose as both result in harming life.
When you start to kick and punch people on the street you are using violence, but then you are no more practicing martial art, but violence!
Say someone tries to rape my wife and I kick him off my wife then punch him in the face I am practicing martial arts because I am saving my wife to think otherwise is ignorant.

I am personally Zen-Instructor on Zen Community and practice Martial Arts as form of meditation and Dharma Gate leading to Chan
You have said this before on other posts you sound egocentric to keep mentioning it oh the irony. You can use martial arts as a way to connect your mind and body or spirit whatever but you could do the same cooking or cleaning. I like the idea that martial arts can be used as a way to connect inner peace or whatever,But I understand that the things I am doing as in FMA with a knife were designed to kill or maim someone or with a sword were to kill someone and not flutter around in theory.
 

Janina

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Yes, we are all egocentric beings. Some of us can admit it, but some can織t. Which one are you?

About MA and violence. Yes techniques has been designed to destroy life, yes practicing is practicing to use of these methods. I however said that practice itself is not violence. It is practice. Little like meditation is not performance but practice.

One of the dilemmas of Buddhism comes with the precepts we take. In Boddhisattva precept I have promised to never kill living being, but simultaneously I realize it is impossible never not-kill anyone. However we make the promise with intent to always keep it.

Now some may ask why to make promise if it is impossible to keep it? The answer is in understanding the impermanent nature of reality. In universe, life or anything there is no permanent self, but things change from moment to moment without break. This of course gives interesting perspective to Buddhist precepts, you have to understand this nature of reality and proport your actions to changing reality. For example, our precepts deny lying but killing also. Now if I have to lie to save somebody織s life I break my precept, but if I tell the truth and cause his death I break my precept also. Then what should I do? I have to act by the moment and choose my action by the information I have. There is no holy book or god to tell me the correct answer, I have to find it from myself.

Thank you for your great feedback!

-Janina
 

oaktree

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Yes, we are all egocentric beings. Some of us can admit it, but some can織t. Which one are you?
Which ever one you think I am. :)
About MA and violence. Yes techniques has been designed to destroy life, yes practicing is practicing to use of these methods. I however said that practice itself is not violence. It is practice. Little like meditation is not performance but practice.
And people cook food because it is not meant to be eaten. I get you can use martial arts or arranging flowers as a means to cultivate the mind and practice in itself is not violence but same could be said with firing a gun at the firing range sure your not practicing violence you are practicing the tools to use it in a violence encounter should such a case arise.
One of the dilemmas of Buddhism comes with the precepts we take. In Boddhisattva precept I have promised to never kill living being, but simultaneously I realize it is impossible never not-kill anyone. However we make the promise with intent to always keep it.
What if the person is suffering would you give a merciful kill to end their suffering?
What if killing someone saves millions of people.
Now some may ask why to make promise if it is impossible to keep it? The answer is in understanding the impermanent nature of reality. In universe, life or anything there is no permanent self, but things change from moment to moment without break. This of course gives interesting perspective to Buddhist precepts, you have to understand this nature of reality and proport your actions to changing reality. For example, our precepts deny lying but killing also. Now if I have to lie to save somebody織s life I break my precept, but if I tell the truth and cause his death I break my precept also. Then what should I do? I have to act by the moment and choose my action by the information I have. There is no holy book or god to tell me the correct answer, I have to find it from myself.
I'd hope you would use common moral sense. Like if someone said I am going to kill everyone named Oaktree you would say your name is Bob you don't need to look deep within or ponder how many farts Buddha can produce to do this.
 

Xue Sheng

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An Egocentric instructor at a zen center :hmm:\

Meaning of EGOCENTRIC
1: concerned with the individual rather than society
2: taking the ego as the starting point in philosophy
3a : limited in outlook or concern to one's own activities or needs

You may want yo review these

The Four Noble Truths
http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html

The Eightfold path
http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html

The Five Skandhas
http://buddhism.about.com/od/whatistheself/a/skandhasexplan.htm
 

Janina

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Janina

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What if the person is suffering would you give a merciful kill to end their suffering?
What if killing someone saves millions of people.
.

I think it depends very much on context. There is no one absolutely correct answer to any of these questions.

I am a practitioner of MA and yes I could use my fighting skills for self defence without moral dilemma if the situation would demand it. I never said I couldn織t. I just said that doing practice in my eyes is not form of using violence. Oh yes, it is practice of these methods but not violence itself. If you go to restaurant will you eat the menu or order something from menu? I mean menu includes many kind of foods you may enjoy, but menu itself is not food..

To me the main issue is still on Zazen. I think personally it has helped me a lot on growning patience, strenght and skills to focus mind. I practice it daily, and do it also as part of my MA training when practicing it.
 

Xue Sheng

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Egocentric by your definition.. ;)

Since we are speaking English it is the definition of the word. If we are aloud to make up our own definitions the language has little meaning.... for I could then say form no on 'No" means this is for you and since you are using your definition and expecting me to understand it I could then assume hat from now on when I say 'no' everyone knows I mean 'this is for you' and that would be an unreasonable expectation

Care to explain your meaning of egocentric
 

oaktree

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Your anology to menu would be the equivalent of watching not doing as menu and watching a martial art class
Have the same goal. Cooking and doing martial arts are both active doing.
Anyway do what you want and believe whatcha want.
 

Janina

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Care to explain your meaning of egocentric

I don織t mean anything by the term egocentric. We all have our egos and my ego does not care what somebody says me to be. So if somebody not even knowing me calls me that it is their right as long as they don織t get hostile.

After all, I was not the one to use the term at first place, so I don織t feel need to give my own definition to it..
 

Janina

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Your anology to menu would be the equivalent of watching not doing as menu and watching a martial art class
Have the same goal. Cooking and doing martial arts are both active doing.
Anyway do what you want and believe whatcha want.

Yes they are. Practicing MA is the way to teach oneself to use certain methods like punches and kicks. Cooking is the way to make up food. However what you do with the food or your skills is up to you. If you eat the dinner it is your choice. If you use your art in fight that also is your choice. I personally practice because with proper knowledge I know better how to avoid violent situations on streets and bars. If I however would have to use my skills I would use minimum amount to take care of situation, like I do like to eat moderately to keep my body in good shape and mind as sharp as possible..
 

oaktree

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Here is why I said you seem Egocentric in my earlier post.
I am also a practitioner of Tibetan tradition and have been studying both Nyingma- and Kagyu sects I am a Zen Instructor
I am a Zen Instructor in Soto-Zen tradition
Cause I am a Zen Instructor in Soto sect of Zen-Buddhist tradition
Do you see the Irony?
Cooking is the way to make up food. However what you do with the food or your skills is up to you
Which goes to the point of why would someone cook if they have no intent of eating or having it eaten. I am cooking potatoes now it seems illogical to just cook the potatoes just so I can cultivate mindfulness but you say potato I say podado as the song goes.
I personally practice because with proper knowledge I know better how to avoid violent situations on streets and bars.
You don't need martial arts to know this. My 70 old mother never practice a day in her life but even she knows to avoid certain areas common sense.
however would have to use my skills I would use minimum amount to take care of situation,

First you have to remember that practicing Martial Art is not way to use violence, so technically speaking you cannot say thatmartial art would be against Buddhist principle of not harming living beings. When you start to kick and punch people on the street you are using violence, but then you are no more practicing martial art, but violence!
In other words you are saying martial arts is not a way to use violence unless you need to in order to protect yourself.
That makes sense if that is your stand.
 

Janina

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Now you are putting your words to my mouth. I said that using violence in real life situation and practicing for that are not one and same thing. Fighting and fighting are. So tecnically practicing martial art does not yet make you a user of violence like meditation does not automatically make you enlightened. It is all, like you said yourself, about intention. If you practice for fight, you practice for fight.
Of course if I make food to myself I eat it, I can also make food for others like Karate teacher who uses his skill to teaching rather than fighting. Then I may cook for getting my living out of that like cooks do. IT IS YOUR INTENTION WHAT MAKES YOUR ACTIONS TO BE WHAT THEY ARE.

I can also say, that your reason to practice is not automatically my reason for practice, cause your practice is yours and my is my.

Yes, I can see the irony in your intention. Like I told, I have taken refuges in two traditions. Tantric in Tibetan tradition and Bodhisattva precept in Soto-tradition. That織s because I have practiced both Mantra and Chan in my last twenty years on practice. I have also practiced Koan and Shikantaza at the same time. Maybe you tell me what is the problem here?

Kissies: Janina :)

p.s. Your granny is a smart lady!
 

Tgace

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IMO you can reap benefits from Zazen without having to adhere to any Buddhist precepts.

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2
 

Janina

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IMO you can reap benefits from Zazen without having to adhere to any Buddhist precepts.

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk 2

Agreed with this. Personally I know quite a few practitioners of Zazen who have never taken any Buddhist precepts and few who say they don織t even care about Buddhism. I think Zazen may be adopted no matter what your religion, philosophy or ideology is. I know Christian people doing Zazen, atheists doing it and Buddhists who do it. They all got their own reasons and that suites just well.

I personally have find meditation to be great tool for practicing Martial Art. It helps me to focus to my practice and forget other things during my session. There is no reason to mystify Zazen however. Siting and staring the wall is after all sitting and staring the wall.. :)
 
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Ben S

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Anyone here practice zazen meditation and the martial arts?


How has your sitting help with your movement, and vice versa?


Have you learned to manage your anger and stress through zazen? Do you think that meditation can be a help, or a hindrance to budo? After all, how can one do no harm and practice killing at the same time?


This is an open discussion. All are welcome.

I'm coming at this from a different angle. I trained at a zen buddhist temple in Boston in the art of Shim Gum Do. This art was created by Chang Sik Kim during a retreat in which he was inspired to create this art in all its forms. It is not a well-known martial art and there are questions and issues related to it that I won't go into. The point is that this is a Zen master and his art is about that - self-realization. Sitting meditation is part of the training, but the art itself (I skipped sword training and studied empty-hand exclusively) - is moving meditation. I could write a book about how this changed my martial arts path from Japanese Karate, but I don't want to convert anyone. I would say that INSTEAD of sitting, I trained in the very complex and seamless movements of the forms of which I learned 23. I had experiences identical to those I'd reached in sitting meditation, but amplified a hundredfold. As others have said here - sitting doesn't help you learn to move, but it does help with concentration, relaxed awareness, discipline, etc. I need to MOVE - to have found this art which is in essence moving meditation, changed my life. The attention to momentum and gravity, transitioning from movement to movement is different than any other martial art in which I've trained, except for baguazhang which has that similar flow. The reason it is a Zen martial art, even if you don't subscribe to the creator's story (I do) - is because the art is complex enough that it engages you fully - your mind cannot drift when doing this art. In the general sense, any martial art or any activity you do which fully unites mind and body can be said to be a zen martial art. I still practice my first martial art - Uechi Ryu, and love its structure and elegance and fighting efficacy - but it stops and starts and so doesn't have that same flow. Again, baguazhang flows in this way - you can't stop your mind for a second to think of anything else - this is the zen state of mind. So sitting - even as a zen practitioner, I don't have the patience for it - haha. I use martial arts as zen training - after years of practicing an art that requires my brain to pay full attention to what my body is doing, I've found my path as a martial artist - perhaps it's a more internal path in that self-realization and energy cultivation are its main goals.
 
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