Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The power of example

From the afterword of an outstanding book by scientist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard:
The good fortune of meeting with remarkable people who were both wise and compassionate was decisive in my case, because the power of example speaks more forcefully than any other communication.
There is something deeply affecting about such people. As I work to follow the example of my own role-models I find that my admiration for them doubles (and re-doubles) as I begin to better appreciate the scale of their achievements and -- by inference -- of their sustained effort.

The more you know, and the further you get, the more there is to learn and to do. This should inspire both humility and dedication.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wise words

The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget. -- Thomas Szasz

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Kata of Possibility (December 2008)

Last night my class worked on our (somewhat) original self-defence kata. Members of the class present it later this month as part of a kata competition. Amongst other things, it shows how a particular initial response to an attack can lead into more than one possible continuation. Hence the name: The Kata of Possibility.

Please don't try this at home; self-defence should only be practiced under the supervision of a qualified instructor. I am posting the summary as an aid to help my students memorize the sequence, and for my own future reference.

1aOne-hand outside wrist grabGrab with other handSpin to inside / wristlock comealongCorkscrew
1b""Spin to outside / shoulder-lock takedown variationStrike + kiai
2aAggressive handshakeMiddle knuckle strike to the back of the handForward finger throwFinger-lock
2b""Lever and arm-braceOverhead wrist lever
3aRight palm push to chestAttack arm at elbow (right hand) and wrist (left hand)Comealong forearm hammer-lockSubmission
3b"" (but hands reversed)Armlock comealongSubmission
4aFront choke (arms straight)Raise shoulders / drop chin / strike down with left forearm / up with right forearmComealong forearm hammerlockSubmission
4b""3rd hip throwStrike + kiai
5aArm around shouldersNear hand grabs hand / elbow to ribsWristlock comealongCorkscrew
5b""Lever and arm-braceProjection throw

Here are some images to help make sense of the chart (thanks to Prateek and Sempai Owen):

Attack 1: One-hand outside wrist grab

Response 1: Grab with other hand

Control 1a & 5a: Wristlock comealong

Attack 2: Aggressive handshake

Response 2: Strike the back of the hand

Control 2a: Forward finger throw

Control 2b & 5b: Lever and arm-brace

Finish 2c: Overhead wrist-lever

Attack 3: Right palm push to chest

Response 3a: Hands to elbow and wrist

Control 3a & 4a: Comealong forearm hammer-lock

Response 3b: Hands to elbow and wrist (reversed)

Control 3c: Armlock comealong

Attack 4: Front choke (arms straight)

Attack 5: Arm around shoulder

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mastery and Practice

When Pablo Casals, the cellist, was ninety-one years old, he was approached by a student who asked, "Master, why do you continue to practice?" Casals replied, "Because I am making progress." [1]
As we learn it is natural to hit plateaus from time to time. Through mindful practice we can progress through the plateaus, and onwards up the mountain.

The Master brings patience, consistency and perceptiveness to the journey.

[1] Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself, page 258, my favorite non-fiction book for 2008.