Saturday, 23 February 2008

My thoughts on martial arts

The practicing of a martial art is a unique process. Many would liken it to education, or a manufacturing process. I would argue that martial arts are a complete change process that is greater than both.

A manufacturing process takes raw materials, and uses machinery or tools to change the materials into something else.

Education is a process for the giving and receiving of systematic instruction.

However, a martial art educates the raw materials (people) on how to change themselves. The teacher shows the students what to do. Then, through repetition of actions, the students refine their strength, movement and reflexes. They become more healthy, flexible, fast and strong. This improvement in health and body mechanics produces a change in the students' consciousness (i.e. if the reflexes are better and the body moves faster, the mind becomes sharper). This improved consciousness then has an effect of making the body work better. 
You can now see that a virtuous circle has been set up whereby the body improves the mind, and the mind improves the body. This process continues regardless of age, ability or gender. All that is required is to keep practicing.  

Be happy,


Religion - what went wrong.

Religion attempts to explain two things:
1. Why you are here.
2. What will happen to you after you die.
Your beliefs are between you and your chosen deity. Your religious experiences are between you and the deity(s) you choose to communicate with. 
So why all this religious trouble? It happens when people start speaking to each other about their beliefs.
Your beliefs are your own. They are part of what makes you special. But other people are different, so don't tread on their toes. Better still - don't speak about them.

Now, here's some ideas that might be less popular:

Religion is not law. Law is law. Law does not claim to tell you what happens when you die. Law does not attempt to explain why you are here. So why should religion try to make rules? Also, religions are not fair to all peoples because they are, by their nature, mutually exclusive. So therefore they are unable to rule all people equally. 

Religion is not a reason why someone should be your friend, enemy or anything else other than another human being. If I have to explain this one, you need more help than I have time to give.

Religion is not a reason for doing anything on this planet (good or bad). Religion is - however - how you feel about yourself.

Rant over.


Friday, 22 February 2008


A friend just sent me an email with a quote:

"War doesn't decide who's right.... just who's left."


Whoever said that really knew yin and yang.


Yin and yang - another view.

Our society is obsessed with Yang. Yang is substantial, powerful, fast, light. Something has got to be higher, faster, sleeker, sexier.... the list is endless. Everything mechanical is Yang. Everything bright is yang. Everything fast is yang. If it grabs your attention, it's probably yang.

With all this going on, it is hard to see the yin.... Yet on a universal basis, consider what is greater?... All the planets and stars (yang)... or the empty space they occupy (yin)?

On a fundamental level, 'nothing' is the greatest thing in the universe. Space is nothing - space does nothing, yet the universe expands, and the planets still revolve around the stars. 

On a more down-to-earth level, a house is useful because of the empty space in which we occupy. A cup is useful because of the empty space into which we pour drinks. 

Buddhists say that "With our thoughts, we make the world."

Once you see the value in what isn't, you will start to enter a whole new paradigm. 

Be happy,


Friday, 15 February 2008

The breath is life

Many hundreds of years ago, the Chinese decided that we were all born with a set number of breaths. Once all those breaths were used up, you died. 
It's very easy to see how this idea came about. Those who had unhealthy, short, quick breaths did not live as long. Qigong and Tai Chi all have breathing at the core of their systems, and Taoists worked very hard to lengthen the time it took to take breaths. In reality, they are all improving the cardiovascular system, which makes a person more likely to live longer.
So let's have a go at living longer:
1. Without forcing it, slow down your breathing.
2. Stand or sit up straight, so you don't compress your chest and stomach.
3. Reduce tension around the neck and shoulders by regularly stretching and limbering.
4. Use your stomach to breathe, rather than your chest.
5. Without forcing it, make the transitions between inward and outward breaths as smooth as possible.
And be happy.