We had a rash of new subscribers over the last couple of weeks, and I want to take the time to welcome all of you to the Seishindo community.
To everyone in the community, if you feel nourished by my stories, please pass the newsletter onto others who might benefit from and enjoy what is shared.
All the best to those in the Northern Hemisphere as summer begins to set in.
And to those in the Southern Hemisphere, wishing you a glorious beginning to winter! (I am just now realizing I am not at all sure what happens in most of the Southern Hemisphere! Please let me know!)
2. Take the initiative by doing nothing
“You move so much that you’re easy to hit and grab.” sensei called out to me. “You need to give your opponent a clearer target to strike at.”
We were in the middle of studying how to defend ourselves from multiple attackers. Five students rushed at me once again, and once again I struggled to cope with them.
“OK, take a break.” sensei said.
“If all five attackers were able to hit you, then all five attackers would first need to reach you, is that not so?”
“Your job is not to run away from your attackers so they can’t hit you or grab you. Your job is to orchestrate everyone’s movement, so all five attackers reach you at the same time. Think of the attackers as needing to pass through a gate. If they all try and rush through at the same time they’ll only wind up interfering with each other. Learn how to invite them in, and then open and close the gate, to your advantage.”
Sensei had made similar remarks in the past, but accomplishing this in the heat of the moment requires a moving calmness that takes a while to get the hang of. You know in your head what you’re supposed to do, but once your heart starts pounding and your opponents are bearing down on you, you find it hard to believe in what you’ve been taught.
“Think of it this way.” sensei said, as he pulled out the cloth he used to wipe away his sweat. “Here, take this cloth away from me.”
As I grabbed for the cloth, he moved it closer towards me. Just as I was about to get a good hold on it he let the cloth go and grabbed hold of my wrist. It didn’t take him but a split second to perform a painful wrist lock. The moment I started to feel the pain, I instinctively let go of the cloth, and he picked it back up with his free hand and placed it back inside his “dogi”.
“You see.” he said, as he let go of my wrist, “I’m not defending the cloth, I’m defending myself. Better to give you the cloth, because then I have both hands free to do as I need.”
“When you try and escape, your opponents are in charge of the attack. When you move calmly and offer your opponents a clear target you’re in charge of the attack, and they rush forward to take advantage of the opportunity you’ve given them.”
“When your thinking mind is calm, your body is also calm, and it’s easy to understand what’s happening. Your opponents will attack you in the same manner you reached for my cloth. They’ll be confident about accomplishing their mission, because you’ve made it easy for them. The more confident they are, the less inhibition they’ll have, and thus the stronger their attack. The stronger their attack, the more confused they’ll be when you take away the target at the last moment. During their confusion, you’ll have all the time you need to do whatever’s necessary.”
“This is also what happens often to you in your every day life.” sensei said. “You feel like you’re faced with a daunting task, and you make your task harder by moving about needlessly and losing your composure. Breathe deeply, be calm, and know the right moment will present itself if you have the faith to wait. Don’t force the issue, and don’t force the timing. Trust in the moment, and trust in yourself. Take the initiative by doing nothing.”