Why is Matsubayashi-ryu training so physically demanding?
If we look at our training from a strictly tactical viewpoint, we work hard to maximize the probability of surviving a combative
encounter. We never know how strong or adept an attacker or attackers may be. The better our condition, the faster we are at
avoiding aggression (this may include outrunning attackers) and the more powerful the delivery of our techniques.
If we regard our training as a process of refining ourselves, we must understand that refinements result from moments of insight.
Insights are more likely to occur when the mind is quiet and still. When we work hard we must bring our mind to bear on the task
at hand. We cannot think about the past or the future. So our mind is brought to focus. It attends to only one thing. Since it does
not wander to other things, it is still. This stillness of mind places us at the door of insight.
Through our strenuous efforts, we have arrived at the door of insight. However, willpower will not open the door. We’re in a
quandary. If we slack up on our efforts, we will be leaving the doorstep, but effort alone won’t open the door. People may remain
stuck with this problem for quite some time.
Up to this point, we have been “bearing down” with both mind and body. Next, the mind must “soften up” while the body
continues to “bear down”. This usually happens when we realize that will power alone is not enough, but we don’t know what else
we can add. We experience a sense of humility, knowing we’re in over our heads, and knowing we can’t give up. This sense of
humility produces the mental “softening” needed. It is the knock on the door of insight.
Still the door does not open and we are left to humbly persist in our exercises. At some further point we stop looking for a reward,
for an insight. We do the work because we do the work. We become lost in a timeless state of hard work and gently quiet mind.
Then we discover different feelings within. We’re energized but not manic. We’re happy and hopeful for no reason. Things look
more simple and easier to manage. This improvement in feeling is the sign the door has opened. After this we’ll tread through life
with a lighter step.
Phil Kromka, Rokudan, Renshi
The article described what is needed to reach the point where insights may occur. Would it be useful to talk about how insights
occur? Do insights come after a technique is correctly executed and we are aware of how we executed it? Or can insights be
made while practicing a technique, but before it can be correctly executed? Or can insights even be made simply by "listening" to
your Sensei while in the proper frame of mind? Maybe a definition of insight would be useful.
Response to Comment 1:
What we call insights are really recognitions or realizations that we're seeing something new. Often, these moments are
accompanied by a profound sense of wonder or inspiration. Next can come a sense of uncertainty which occurs because we've just
gained a higher perspective on things and some or all of our previous held views/opinions/understanding become obsolete. Those
recognitions occur after something has already happened to us.
That thing that happened is not something that is made to happen via our will or intellect, etc.
It is a bit like having a dusty mirror where intellectual activity, will power, etc. cause the accumulation
of more dust. But the nature of this dust is to fall off gradually if we stand there and face it
in the absence of all that "mental noise". As the falling off proceeds, we say,
"Wait, I think I see something." then "Wow, I can see myself better!"
|MAZU KOKORO O TADASU