Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, 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 04, 2011

Why I Train in Martial Arts

In this day and age, I think the main reason for most of us to train in martial arts isn't to fight, but to cultivate a calm, clear mind.

I am nearly 54 and haven't been in a fight since my early 20's. I do however find that I have an opportunity to show the advantage of a calm,clear mind nearly every day.

Take yesterday for example.

I was on the freeway with my wife and mother in law driving back from visiting some relatives in Ohio. I was in the left lane passing a truck. There was a SUV behind the truck.

Just as I was pulling alongside the SUV, he decided to change lanes sharply. I saw him coming and laid on the horn. He kept coming. I move as far to the left as I could without driving into the median.

It wasn't far enough. When he finally saw me, he hit my car and went back to his own lane.

The highway patrolman said the if he had hit me a little further back, my car might have spun and it would have been a very bad thing. If he had hit me much harder at all, I would have ended up in the median and maybe rolled over.

As it was, the damage is superficial. No one was hurt and all's well that ends well.


walt said...

A brush with death ... and life!

Or, as one fellow used to say, "We're always sliding down the razor blade of life."

So: keep practicing, right? A moment's clarity can prove valuable. Along those lines, this might have some useful hints.

Rick Matz said...

Thanks, and thanks for the link.

Yamabushi said...

It is in those situations that you appreciate the ability to go home safe at the end of the day. I was glad that you and your loved ones were safe, despite the inattentiveness of others.

Rick Matz said...

Thank you. It's easy to have a calm, clear mind and be in harmony with the universe when everything is going your way. It becomes a little more of a challenge when the universe has other plans for you and decides to have a few laughs at your expense.

For my next trick, I'm going to pick up a hot barbeque with my bare forearms to permanently mark them with "Weber" the way Kwai Chang Caine had the Tiger and Dragon on his.

mike ferruggia said...

hey rick, yup it's situations like this that cultivating a clear calm mind is all about. And actually, reminds me that in my post on thinking, I would have wanted to compare the concepts of thinking things through with intuitive thinking, and the concepts of wu wei, or no-mind.

Rick Matz said...

When talking about this sort of thing, I like to make the distinction between "responding" and "reacting".

For me, reacting is just a blind action and let the chips fall where they may.

Responding, on the other hand, is "finding the fit".

The Strongest Karate said...

Scary stuff. Good choice: deciding to take a lesser hit to avoid a more devastating impact.

I had a auto-related incident some months back...

I was on a city highway traveling at 50 mph (speed limit) in the left lane. Two lanes to my right, and ahead a little was a school bus. I didn't see the bus because in between the bus and me was a big 18-wheeler.

The school bus reached it's stop and threw on it's "do not pass" stop lights. It was at this point that the car ahead of me, seeing the bus's signal, slammed on his brakes so hard that they smoked.

I was going to slam into him. My engine was going to be in his back seat in about two seconds. There was no time to stop.

I yank the wheel to the left and drive on the median and in the half second that our cars were along side, our eyes met. He was an ordinary enough looking Indian guy - unremarkable except in that his eyes were so wide with shock and fear.

And then I was through.

There was no accident, no damage, and not even a ticket for breaking possibly half a dozen traffic laws. And I attributed my survival to the decisiveness (clarity of mind) and reaction speed training has allotted me.

You just never know where your training is going to save your ass.

Rick Matz said...

I think that a calm, clear mind is the first line of self defense. Good health is the second.