Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.


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 ~


Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Dao De Jing #80: Let There Be a Small Country with Few People

The Dao De Jing is not only one of the world's great classics, it is one of the foundations of Philosophical Daoism. A free online version of the Dao De Jing may be found here. Today we have #80: Let There be a Small Country with Few People.


Let there be a small country with few people,

Who, even having much machinery, don't use it.

Who take death seriously and don't wander far away.

Even though they have boats and carriages, they never ride in them.

Having armor and weapons, they never go to war.

Let them return to measurement by tying knots in rope.

 

Sweeten their food, give them nice clothes, a peaceful abode and a relaxed life.

Even though the next country can be seen and its doges and chickens can be heard,

 

The people will grow old and die without visiting each other's land.

 

 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Japanese Religions

Many Japanese practice both Shinto and Buddhism. Below is an excerpt from an article that appeared at Japanese History and Culture which explored the origin, differences and co-existance of Shinto and Buddhism in Japan.

The full post may be read here.

 

God (Kami)
 

When the English word God is translated into Japanese, it is generally represented by the kanji (Chinese character) 神 and pronounced kami. However, to avoid misunderstanding, it would be better to think of God, 神, and kami as three separate concepts.
 

“God” is the supreme being of monotheism and is customarily capitalized to indicate the unique nature of the deity and draw a distinction with the multiple gods of polytheism.
 

The written Japanese form, 神, is influenced by the Chinese meaning of the character. Common words in both languages using this character, such as 精神 (pronounced seishin in Japanese), meaning “spirit” or “mind,” and 神経 (shinkei), meaning “nerves,” are related to human mental qualities. Pronounced shen in Chinese, the character 神 carries some divine attributes, but they are of a decidedly low rank and far below those of the highest power in Chinese theology, termed 天 (tian) or 上帝 (shangdi) in Chinese.
 

Japan’s kami were traditionally thought of as anthropomorphized natural phenomena. They included the kami that appear in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and the Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan), Japan’s ancient records of myth and history, kami that were worshiped in shrines, and everything possessing extraordinary qualities, including the sun, the moon, the wind, the rain, the sea, large rocks and trees, and even some smaller plants, animals, and people. This is how they were defined by the eighteenth-century scholar of Japanese classics Motoori Norinaga. According to Motoori, anything that inspired awe and sensitivity to ephemeral beauty (aware) was a kami.
 

For Japanese people who believe this, their country is a rich natural landscape with kami to be found wherever they turn—in short a kami no kuni or “country of kami.” If this phrase is translated into English as “God’s country,” it can be misunderstood as a fanatically nationalistic expression, but this is not what the phrase actually means.

A Blended Faith
 

Japan’s traditional faith, based on worship of kami, is known as Shintō. There are no records to show what it was like in ancient times, and many details are unclear. We cannot even say if there was a set of beliefs and rituals sufficiently unified that we could call them Shintō. It is likely that the religion came into being as a blend of different elements, including the following:
 

*The nature worship of hunter-gatherers in the Jōmon period (ca. 15,000 BC–300 BC)
 

*The worship of clay figurines as symbols of crop fertility and the shamanism introduced from the Korean Peninsula in the Yayoi Period, when rice farming had taken hold (300 BC–250 AD)
 

*The bronze weapons and mirrors imported from China and used by chiefs in festivals and magic rituals
 

*The influence on rulers’ festival and funeral rituals from Chinese divination, astronomy, calendar studies, and thinking related to the legendary transcendental figures known as shinsen, or “divine immortals”
 

*The worship of family gods and the building of shrines by a range of local communities and groups
 

*The Japanese began to think of these elements together as Shintō after Buddhism spread to Japan and they compared the new religion with their traditional practices.

 

 

 


Monday, September 13, 2021

Friday, September 10, 2021

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Kyuzo Mifune's Contributions to Judo

After the founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano, there is probably no brighter light in the history of Judo than Kyuzo Mifune. He looms as a giant in the history of Judo.

Below is a short documentary on master Mifune's inventions and contributions to the art of Judo. Enjoy.



Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Martial Arts Training at an Advanced Age


Below is an excerpt from a post that appeared at The Budo Bum, written by a seasoned judoka answering the question why he still trains at the age of 85.

Why do I still train? Simple. Life just works better when I do.

The full post may be read here. Enjoy.

Judo — Why I still Train
 
People are sometimes surprised that, at 85 years old, I am still in my judogi in the dojo, still enjoying Judo. Of course, my competition days are in the past. My last tournament was a little over ten years ago at 74 competing with guys my own age.
 
I was never a star competitor. Starting my life in Judo at age 16, I lost far more matches than I ever won, mostly to newaza. I was never an athlete, but I loved learning and participating in Judo.
When I was still a nidan, during one of my many annual visits to the Kodokan, I said to one of the high-dan instructors, “I have been in Judo for many years, but I have never been a champion.” He replied, “I have never been a champion either. That is not the purpose of Judo.”
 
And there we have it! 
 
I have learned that Judo, at its fundamental level, is not about defeating another person. It is not about scoring an ippon against another person. I also enjoy chess, but have been put in checkmate hundreds of times during my lifetime, just a few weeks ago by one of my three sons.
 
True, that there is some ego gratification in scoring a win in a Judo, but as we grow older, we score fewer and fewer ippons in competition. With Judo we eventually learn that our training is not about ego gratification. It is more about learning about ourselves in a unique way, even as we learn more about Judo.
 
Chess is much the same. There is never an end to our learning in either activity
.
Too many of those I knew when I was younger have “retired” from Judo because they believed they were too old to be good competitors, too old to even have a chance to become champions. 
 
“Why bother to continue now that I can longer have a shot at winning a medal or trophy?” or “My best days are behind me!” or “I’m too out-of-shape.” In reality, it's usually about ego: “I will look ridiculous because I can’t do what I used to be able to do!”
 
And with that, they acknowledge that they never learned the real lessons of Judo. They have learned only about victory and defeat. There is so much more to learn.
 
Jigoro Kano once remarked that it was not important that you are better than someone else. It is more important that you are better today than you were yesterday.
 
This raises the question, “Better in what way?” We each will have our own answer to that question.
For me, “better” means many things. One of them is good physical feeling. Sometimes, better is because I have learned something new. Better might even be because I have been able to help someone else overcome a difficulty of their own. Better will different for each of us.