The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Friday, May 22, 2015

The Judo of Doug Rogers

In 1960, a 19 year old Canadian named Doug Rogers traveled to Japan to study Judo. He caught the attention of Masahiko Kimura, one of the greatest post war judoka and became his student.

Rogers won a silver medal in Judo for Canada in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Below is a short (~18 min) documentary about Rogers and his training in Japan.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

300 Tang Dynasty Poems, #56: A FAREWELL TO SECRETARY SHUYUN AT THE XIETIAO VILLA IN XUANZHOU

The Tang Dynasty was a high point of culture in ancient China. Especially esteemed were poems. There was no home coming or leave taking; no event too small to not be commemorated with a poem.

Some of the best poems of that period have been collected into an anthology known as The 300 Tang Dynasty Poems. A online version of the anthology may be found here.  Today we have #56.


Li Bai
A FAREWELL TO SECRETARY SHUYUN
AT THE XIETIAO VILLA IN XUANZHOU

Since yesterday had to throw me and bolt,
Today has hurt my heart even more.
The autumn wildgeese have a long wind for escort
As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.
The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the School of Heaven,
And I am a Lesser Xie growing up by your side.
We both are exalted to distant thought,
Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.
But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,
And sorrows return, though we drown them with wine,
Since the world can in no way answer our craving,
I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishingboat.        






Saturday, May 16, 2015

12 Ways to Improve Your Martial Arts Practice

I came across this article at the Mokuren Dojo blog run by Patrick Parker. An excerpt is below. The full article may be read here.

Wynton’s Twelve Ways to Practice

As a boy growing up in New Orleans, I remember my father, Ellis, a pianist, and his friends talking about “sheddin’.” When they got together, theyʼd say, “Man, you need to go shed,” or “I’ve been sheddin’ hard.” When I was around 11, I realized that sheddin’ meant getting to the woodshed – practicing. By the age of 16, I understood what the shed was really about – hard, concentrated work.

When my brother Branford and I auditioned for our high school band, the instructor, who knew my father, was excited about Ellisʼ sons coming to the band. But my audition was so pitiful he said, “Are you sure youʼre Ellis’ son?”

At the time, his comment didn’t bother me because I was more interested in basketball than band.

Over the next several years, however, I began practicing seriously. Practice is essential to learning music – and anything else, for that matter. I like to say that the time spent practicing is the true sign of virtue in a musician. When you practice, it means you are willing to sacrifice to sound good.

Even if practice is so important, kids find it very hard to do because there are so many distractions. Thatʼs why I always encourage them to practice and explain how to do it. I’ve developed what I call “Wynton’s 12 Ways to Practice.” These will work for almost every activity – from music to schoolwork to sports.

Wyntonʼs Twelve Ways to Practice: From Music to Schoolwork
Published in the Education Digest | Sept 1996

1. Seek out instruction: Find an experienced teacher who knows what you should be doing. A good teacher will help you understand the purpose of practicing and can teach you ways to make practicing easier and more productive.

2. Write out a schedule: A schedule helps you organize your time. Be sure to allow time to review the fundamentals because they are the foundation of all the complicated things that come later. If you are practicing basketball, for example, be sure to put time in your schedule to practice free throws.

3. Set goals: Like a schedule, goals help you organize your time and chart your progress. Goals also act as a challenge: something to strive for in a specific period of time. If a certain task turns out to be really difficult, relax your goals: practice doesnʼt have to be painful to achieve results.

 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Team Martial Arts Sports?

Calcio Florentino is an old sport from Florence Italy, which is experiencing a modern revival. It's part rugby, part MMA.

Enjoy.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Budo Should Enhance Your Life

"Budo should enhance your life, not replace it." - FJ Lovret

It's easy to get carried away with martial arts training and letting the rest of your life go to hell. Below is an excerpt from an excellent post by Peter Boylan at The Budo Bum, on this very topic. The full post may be read here.

Budo Isn't life.  It's training for life.  


I was reading an article about a writer who became a carpenter, but didn’t stop writing, and it made me think about the mistake I sometimes see people make with budo.  Budo is a Way, and as ways go, I think it is a great one.  You can explore strength and conflict, peace and stability, action and quietude, moving with things without being moved by them, and many other points that are important in life. For all that, budo is not life.


I’ve see a number of people over the years who become so involved with training in budo that they let the rest of their lives go to hell.  They often become fabulous martial artists, but their personal lives are train wrecks, with disasters everywhere. These are people who make the mistake of putting budo training above everything else in their life. Budo is training for life. When you let the practice become so large that it squeezes out everything else, including the application of the training to your real life, you have completely missed the point. In fact, you’ve failed as a budoka.


Budo only has meaning in the context of a complete life.  When your training gets in the way of a complete life, you should be asking what’s wrong. If your only friends are people you train with, why don’t you have time for anyone else? If budo has replaced all your recreational activities, why are you becoming so one faceted? If budo is the only thing you enjoy, why is that?



Thursday, May 07, 2015

10,000 Hours Is Only a Start Towards Martial Arts Excellence

Here is yet another article bringing clarity to the "10,000 Hour Rule" make famous in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. 

The article is a review of the book Focus, by Daniel Goleman, who is also the author of several other great books about Emotional Intelligence.

Below is an excerpt. The full article may be read here.

...
The secret to continued improvement, it turns out, isn’t the amount of time invested but the quality of that time. It sounds simple and obvious enough, and yet so much of both our formal education and the informal ways in which we go about pursuing success in skill-based fields is built around the premise of sheer time investment. Instead, the factor Ericsson and other psychologists have identified as the main predictor of success is deliberate practice — persistent training to which you give your full concentration rather than just your time, often guided by a skilled expert, coach, or mentor. It’s a qualitative difference in how you pay attention, not a quantitative measure of clocking in the hours. Goleman writes:
Hours and hours of practice are necessary for great performance, but not sufficient. How experts in any domain pay attention while practicing makes a crucial difference. For instance, in his much-cited study of violinists — the one that showed the top tier had practiced more than 10,000 hours — Ericsson found the experts did so with full concentration on improving a particular aspect of their performance that a master teacher identified.

Goleman identifies a second necessary element: a feedback loop that allows you to spot errors as they occur and correct them, much like ballet dancers use mirrors during practice. He writes:
Ideally that feedback comes from someone with an expert eye and so every world-class sports champion has a coach. If you practice without such feedback, you don’t get to the top ranks.

The feedback matters and the concentration does, too — not just the hours.

Additionally, the optimal kind of attention requires top-down focus. While daydreaming may have its creative benefits, in the context of deliberate practice it only dilutes the efficiency of the process. Goleman writes:
Daydreaming defeats practice; those of us who browse TV while working out will never reach the top ranks. Paying full attention seems to boost the mind’s processing speed, strengthen synaptic connections, and expand or create neural networks for what we are practicing.

At least at first. But as you master how to execute the new routine, repeated practice transfers control of that skill from the top-down system for intentional focus to bottom-up circuits that eventually make its execution effortless. At that point you don’t need to think about it — you can do the routine well enough on automatic.
...


Friday, May 01, 2015

Kodokan Goshin Jutsu

According to Wikipedia: Kōdōkan Goshin Jutsu or Kōdōkan goshinjutsu (講道館護身術?, Kodokan skills of self-defence) is a set of prearranged self-defence forms in Judo. It is the most recent kata of Judo, having been created in 1956. It incorporates techniques from aikidothrough the influence of Kenji Tomiki. It consists of several techniques to defend oneself from: unarmed attack, attack with a dagger, with a stick, and with a gun.

Below is a video demonstration of the form by two Kodokan 6th Dans.

 

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

80 Year Old Earns Shodan in Aikido

The older I get, the more that I appreciate these stories. An excerpt is below. The full article may be read here.

 At nearly 80, he earns his black belt in Aikido
 

Read more at http://www.philly.com/phillynews/20150322_At_nearly_80__he_earns_his_black_belt_in_Aikido.html#s3cDlM0U6i0ZU87D.99


Bob skied until two years ago and still scuba dives with his wife and kids - the next trip will include three generations - and he ran six miles every other day until he was 74. His knees and feet hurt, so he looked for something new.


He wandered into the dojo six years ago.


"It's a good feeling to work out and stretch and use your body and roll around," he said. "When I spend an hour and a half at the dojo for a training session, I will be thrown to the ground 100 times and get up. And I will throw someone else to the ground 100 times, and they will get up. This ability to work together and feel myself active, with somebody, it's a good feeling, and at the end of it, it's not like, 'Wow, what a workout.' It's more like, 'That was wonderful. And calming.' "


He suggests other older people consider Aikido.