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 ~

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why I Train

On a message board I frequent, that is centered around martial arts, the question was asked: why do you train? Here was my response -

Why do I train? To allow a calm mind to develop.

I'm nearly 50. I live and work in what is statistically one of the safest areas in the United States. I don't hang around in bars. I work behind a desk. The chances of getting into a physical encounter are remote.

The test of needing to have a calm mind came my way about 16 years ago, when my father had suffered a heart attack.

It was late at night and he was in the operating room undergoing emergency surgery. Everyone had gone. I was alone. Every few hours, a couple of doctors would come into the waiting room to ask me to make life and death decisions on his behalf.

I stayed calm enough to think clearly. I asked questions. I developed options. Rather than being distraught, and of no help to my father; I stayed calm and provided useful feedback to the team of doctors who were trying to save his life.

My father died, but not on that night.

As a teenager, Kung Fu, the TV series hit the airwaves in the 70's, and I was hooked. I started training in JiDoKwan TaeKwanDo under Won Chik Park, in Detroit. Then I discovered beer and girls ...

Through out my 20's and 30's, on and off I had intense periods of study in Yoshinkai Aikido, under Kushida Sensei, mostly at the old Detroit dojo on Davison. In my mid 20's I also learned the Cheng Man Ching short Yang form of Taiji. I didn't learn push hands though. Then the multiheaded hydra of adult responsibilites entered my life ...

In my 40's, I've invested a lot of time and energy in learning the practice of Zhan Zhuang, or "stake standing."

Now that my youngest is getting her driver's license fairly soon, I'll have some time on my hands. Late summer/early fall of 2007, I want to get back to a regular martial arts class. I'd love to go back to aikido, but at 50, I don't think I'd be able to train the way I remember during my "glory days." I think it might be better to leave my memories intact. I'd be happy to continue to train with CMC Taiji, but convenience is a factor, and no one seems to be practicing it on this side of town. It turns out that there is a very well established Wu style Taiji in my area. I am learning what I can about the Wu style and it's derivatives, and if all goes well, I'll enroll with them.

“The heart of the study of boxing is to have natural instinct resemble the dragon.” Wang Xiang Zhai


Taiki Shisei Kenpo said...

Very well said, it's not at all about fighting is it? I think that time is a long way behind us. At least a century and a half.
I recently read "Angry white pyjamas" by Robert Twigger about the Yoshinkan Riot Police course I can recommend it to you.

Rick Matz said...

That book is on my list. My old aikido sensei, Kushida Sensei, once taught the riot police course.

Zen said...

In a way it is still about fighting...
fighting to stay healthy
fighting to get up everyday and train
fighting to stay flexible
fighting to stay at peace in a mad world...
fighting to walk a balnced path
it is just not all about violence

good writing here.



Rick Matz said...


Compass360 Consulting Group said...

We train so we we can play at the "House of F and V".