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 ~

Saturday, April 28, 2012

What is the Way?

Today we have a guess post from Tai Chi Nomad, who studies and practices Taijiquan in Singapore. Please click on the link and pay his blog a visit.

What is The Way? I'm certainly no expert on this. I don't read much classics on Taoism, but I encounter enough of it as it is so ingrained in the Chinese culture. But I digress. What exactly is The Way?

> if you think you know The Way, you don't.

That is as elusive as it can get. I personally do Tai Chi. I understand the paradox that Tai Chi teaches. For example:

> if you use too much strength, you're not doing Tai Chi.

It sounds very much like my relationship with The Way. My goal ultimately is to understand the world, and Tai Chi is one way, or rather one tool that I use to understand this world.

Understanding Tai Chi is hard enough, without even going into the realms of The Way. If we can't talk about The Way, can we touch it? Can we feel it? Can we smell it? What good is The Way if the premise of its existence is purely theoretical?

This is why I normally don't talk about The Way, just like how I normally don't talk about Qi either. I was once so hung up about feeling The Qi that every sensation I feel in my body is deemed to be Qi! I realized that I'm just going about it the wrong way.

I'll hazard an explanation of The Way via my understanding of Qi. Qi again is another concept of the energy in this universe. The most common understanding of it is the warmth in your palm and the tingling sensation that courses through your body. As much as I would like to say that is Qi, it is not the point.

The point about Qi is knowing that you've done something right for your body such that the body rewards you with a kind of connectedness that you won't get otherwise. You can't really explain this "connectedness" but you will know it when it's there. That is the point when everything seems to flow. Your actions are swifter than before. You are able to keep calm. Your senses are heightened. You can sense your surroundings more acutely. You are able to feel the movements within you and within others. It can maybe go as far as being able to have almost a pre-cognitive ability - the ability to know what's going to happen before it happens. In Tai Chi classics, this is often known as:

> if the enemy moves, I move first.

I believe The Way works in a similar fashion. You don't try to walk The Way. You don't cut down the trees so that you can be on The Way. As long as you try something to get to The Way, you will fail. However, if you focus on what's right for you, then you're on the path to The Way.

In The Way, there is no right or wrong. There is however a right path for you, if you so choose it. So forget about The Way. If you follow your heart, you will certainly find The Way. That's a long about way to come to such a simple explanation. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Who Needs Fiction or Bad Strategy?

Walt at A Plainly Hidden View sent me this. Below is an excerpt. The full article may be read here.

You know the oft quoted maxim from The Art of War by Sun Tzu, "Know yourself and know your enemy and you will be victorious in 100 battles" or something like that? The collory is not to pick a fight with someone who's capabilities you don't know.

This reminds also reminds me of a story about Kushida Sensei under whom I studied Yoshinkan Aikido (his martial art is now known as Yoshokai Aikido) when I was a young man.

One day, shortly after he first came to the US in the 70s, Kushida Sensei was locking up the old Detroit Dojo which was in a really bad neighborhood in Detroit. He's there, locking up the door in the alley when this guy comes up to him and tries to rob him. That is, this guy with a knife decides he's going to mug this Japanese guy who is in his prime, who is the size of a small mountain, and locking up a martial arts school.

Well, Kushida Sensei's idea of "making harmony" wasn't quite as ... evolved as it would become in later years. His assailant ended up in the hospital for a while. Kushida Sensei felt bad about busting him up and visited him every day, brought flowers, etc. 

The harmony thing worked out though. The bad guy took the opportunity of having some "down time" to think about his life and ended up becoming a minister who worked to improve the neighborhood he once prowled.

Anyway, to the story Walt sent me ...

Mugger picks wrong victim: MMA fighter

Last Modified: Dec 6, 2011 04:17PM

“Justin” is 6 feet 2, 250 pounds, with a build that looks like it could split open a suit jacket during a particularly violent sneeze.

But the mixed martial arts expert from Des Plaines insists it was his “training,” not brawn, that allowed him to wrench a loaded pistol from the hand of an alleged mugger who had the weapon pointed at his chest Friday night on the Southwest Side.

“I don’t feel like a hero,” said Justin, who did not want his last name used. “Training matters. If you’re well trained, you have a chance to survive.”

Anthony Miranda’s bruised and battered face — and Justin’s unblemished, chiseled one — leaves no doubt about who came out the victor in the encounter.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The 48 Laws of Power, #2: Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends; Learn to Use Your Enemies

One of my favorite books on strategy is The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers.  Where The Art of War, by Sun Tzu is written as an overview of the whole topic of strategy, seeking to provide an overall understanding of the subject; and The 36 Strategies tries to impart the knack of strategic thinking through 36 maxims related to well known Chinese folk stories, Mr. Greene focuses on how we influence and manipulate one another, ie "power".

Mr. Greene draws from both Eastern and Western history and literature as his source material. Sun Tzu and Machiavelli as cited as much as wonderful stories of famous con men. Among my favorites is about a scrap metal dealer thinking he bought the Eiffel Tower.

Each of the 48 Laws carries many examples, along with counter examples where it is appropriate that they be noted, and even reversals.

It is a very thorough study of the subject and the hardback version is beautifully produced.

Law #2: Never put too much trust in friends; learn to use your enemies.

Simply put, your friends like you, are well meaning and want to see that you benefit. They also have their own lives and concerns and will "get around" to doing what you ask of them, of looking out for you when it's convenient for them.

Enemies however, are committed. By learning to manipulate your enemies into action (or inaction), you can also spur your friends into action.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Aikido in 1935

Jeff over at Fitness at 50 sent me this video. It's the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, in 1935. Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

An Example of Strategy #3 from the 36 Strategies: Borrow a Sword to Kill Another

Below is an excerpt from a recent news story that can be filed under an example of Strategy #3 from the 36 Strategies: Borrow a Sword to Kill Another. The full article may be read here.

What this strategy means in essence is to get someone else to do your dirty work, while you enjoy the benefit.

Amazon to Cut E-Book Prices, Shaking Rivals

The government’s decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation’s largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences.

As soon as the Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it was suing five major publishers and Apple on price-fixing charges, and simultaneously settling with three of them, Amazon announced plans to push down prices on e-books. The price of some major titles could fall to $9.99 or less from $14.99, saving voracious readers a bundle.

But publishers and booksellers argue that any victory for consumers will be short-lived, and that the ultimate effect of the antitrust suit will be to exchange a perceived monopoly for a real one. Amazon, already the dominant force in the industry, will hold all the cards.

“Amazon must be unbelievably happy today,” said Michael Norris, a book publishing analyst with Simba Information. “Had they been puppeteering this whole play, it could not have worked out better for them.”

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Anti Bully Blogging Carnival

Today Cook Ding's Kitchen is happy to take part in the Anti Bully Blogging Carnival undertaken by Colin Wee's blog, JoongDoKwan TaeKwonDo.

Martial Arts Perth

I am reposting an article from last year that had to do with bullies, which can be found below. Please click on the button above and follow the link. From there you'll find links to many other blog posts on the subject of bullies and what to do about them.

An article recently was published by Yahoo from which I am posting an excerpt below. It has to do with kids and bullies. The whole article may be read here.

As Real As It Gets: Bullying Victims Can Fight Back With Help From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Royalty

Written by: Steve Henson

 FC 134 in Rio de Janeiro this weekend will rightly include homage to the iconic Gracie family, creators of Brazilian jiu-jitsu nearly 100 years ago, creators of the Ultimate Fighting Championship nearly 20 years ago, creators of legendary family fighting figures and jiu-jitsu instructors that span the globe.

But the Gracies' most positive impact might be felt at a middle school in a Denver suburb where a seventh grader is unafraid of bullies for the first time since he can remember.
Martin Hendricks, 12, spent a week this summer at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, Calif., in an intensive program designed to make him "Bullyproof." He learned as many jiu-jitsu self-defense techniques as a kid can absorb in five days, he memorized a blueprint for dealing with a bully fairly and squarely, and he gained self-confidence. The first week of school he put the lessons into practice.

"I'm still a little nervous but it all went well," Hendricks said quietly in a phone call to Rener Gracie, his personal instructor at the academy. "He'll never bother me again. Let me tell you about it."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Women's Self Defense Seminar April 14th in Auburn Hills MI

The Martial Science Center in Auburn Hills, MI will be conducting a Women's Self Defense Seminar.

 MARTIAL SCIENCE CENTER  - SUMMER SIGN-UP PROMOTION Real Samurai JuJitsu, Japanese MMA (KUDO), Classical Iaido (Swordsmanship), Authentic Aikido  -  New Facility  - Something for everyone  -  Register and sign-up for May & June and get JULY & AUGUST FOR FREE!!!  TWO MONTHS OF TRAINING FREE!!! Go to or

Friday, April 06, 2012


Geese alight on pond
Confusion of Wings and Waves
A sudden stillness

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Path of Aloneness

From a Wikipedia article.

The Dokkodo (独行道 Dokkōdō; "The Path of Aloneness" or "The Way to be Followed Alone" or "The Way of Walking Alone") was a work written by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) a week before he died in 1645. It is a short work, consisting of either nineteen or twenty-one precepts; precepts 4 and 20 are omitted from the former version. It was largely composed on the occasion of Musashi giving away his possessions in preparation for death, and was dedicated to his favorite disciple, Terao Magonojo (to whom the earlier Go rin no sho had also been dedicated), who took them to heart. It expresses a stringent, honest, and ascetic view of life.

The precepts

  1. Accept everything just the way it is.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.[1]
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
  21. Never stray from the Way.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

2012 Lenten Challenge Update: Approaching the Finish!

We're nearing the finish of the 2012 Lenten Challenge.

If you haven't participated, why not rededicate yourself to your practice for this last week? If you began, then stopped for some reason, why not finish strong?

I've had my challenges these past few weeks and adapted. I feel strong and my head is clear.