Monday, March 28, 2005


Was browsing in the martial arts section of the public library and came home with a couple of books.

One I really like. One Encounter, One Chance: The Essence of The Art of Karate, by Terrence Webster-Doyle. It is about the philosophy behind martial arts, a topic that has always interested me, and one I've been thinking about since my discussion with John Lemos (see Tuesday, March 8).

The author is a practitioner of a form of Karate which seeks to find the source of conflict rather than face violence with violence. The book itself is very different--one of the first sections is a chapter with one short quote on each page--and lots of white space. You get the idea that these are koans or important sayings or questions to consider, not race through.

I did race through the book, though, first, just to see what it was about. I found some passages that spoke to me:

"Feel free to make many mistakes. I would like to encourage you to make mistakes, but I would ask you to make them slowly so you can really see them. If we can begin in our karate practice to slow down, enjoy the form and watch, this will have an effect on the whole of our life, the life we live all day, outside the dojo"

I am so with this idea--for martial arts and for life. You HAVE to make mistakes or you will be too afraid to live. I believe that it's important to step away from perfectionism in order to grow. Grace allows this--the amazing kind of grace.

"It seems to me that the bow is the epitome of all karate stances. When we bow, we are paying respect to the dojo and to one another. But a bow is more than that, for respect could become a mere habit . . . I feel the bow is also paying respect to the moment, in acknowledgement of the grace of each now, of livingness itself. It is such a graceful move, hands at the sides, feet together, arching the back slowly forward, eyes down."

Yes! I really love that bow at the beginnings and endings of things in martial arts. I never liked or believed in Master Hughes' early explanation (see Sunday, January 9) that bowing was like saluting. Saluting is upright and martial. Bowing is humble and arts-like.

I'm going to continue to read this book, not rushing through it, to see what I can learn.

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