Posted by: Michael George Daniel | November 5, 2007

Karate

On October 11, I was standing in karate class and realized again that it is all about studying war and fighting and that this is not consistent with my deepest beliefs of aligning energetically with spirit and promoting the evolution of consciousness. This includes recognizing that the study of tradition, while noble in one sense, is also a limiting practice because it keeps us from moving forward. Our past conditioning is in control when we honor traditions without sufficient reflection. If we acknowledge the potential to grow and evolve, we have to allow for some of these traditions to change or fall away. When a tradition promotes images of violence, imagining being attacked for the purpose of practicing defense, it is reasonable to consider if the practice is serving a higher purpose. Or, maybe to be more specific, we can consider if the practice is serving the highest purpose we can image for ourselves.

On this particular night, we stood at attention for nearly forty-five minutes while Sensei spoke to us about blocking techniques. It had not been that many days prior in which I stood in a similar posture and listened to descriptions of breaking bones and tearing limbs. This was the second episode where I realized my wish to choose differently with regard to how I spend time and energy. I realized that my beliefs are strong around the ability of people to orient to the ‘good’ side of themselves and others. That studying fighting just, ultimately, promotes fighting, and that is not what I want to do. It is true that we have the capacity to reflect both peace and violence. But it is equally true that we have the capacity to allow ourselves to be influenced by violent images, as well as the fear that accompanies them, without actually being aware of the violent influence. So, standing in class, it was important for me to first recognize that I was at least becoming conscious of what seems to be an insidious influence in my life; holding violent images for the purpose of conditioning myself. This realization opens the door to choosing differently.

There have been other issues surrounding the study of karate, something I have done for nine years, two nights per week. It has been very good for me, providing a valuable measure of discipline, vigorous exercise and community. It has been a very steadying influence. Over the last nine years there have been significant shifts in my life, but throughout, I kept going to practice, earning stripes on belts, earning belts. I am now a third degree brown belt.

Many nights I did not want to go. By the end of the day, I feel tired. Getting the energy to go to practice was often difficult. But the discipline of the group was helpful to me. We are expected to show up. If we are not going to make it to class, we are expected to call. If we do not call, or if we miss many classes, there is a conversation. You are not welcome as a student of Shorin Ryu if you are not willing to commit to its study. These are not unreasonable demands to me. They have been helpful. I am in excellent physical shape. Our one and a half hour practice sessions include forty-five minutes of calisthenics. This work is vigorous and particularly aimed at building strength in the shoulders, abdomen and thighs. Over time, and since aligning other parts of my life to be more consistent with who I am at the deepest level, I have shed an additional five pounds and am now relatively slim. I maintain a virtually ideal weight for my size, currently, without trying, eating plenty of cookies and ice cream whenever I want. The subject of this weight issue is worth exploring further, but let me say that I believe it is largely a result of living more congruently; I need less weight to hide behind.

The significance of the karate session on October 11 became apparent to me this morning as I read reminder notices put up by my MS Outlook program. Recently, I have decided that there may be important information available to me through astrology. I came to this conclusion after realizing that there are arch-type beliefs and behaviors that have been handed down through the ages to us as part of the great, collective unconscious. These beliefs and behaviors have been influenced by the stars and planets and patterns they make. Our rhythms of life are affected by the rhythms of the heavens. Even though this may be subtle beyond perception, the effects can be carried forward, passed along, and even distilled and concentrated over time, by virtue of our conditioning by our parents and their parents. The reminder note from Outlook was from last month. I had read that important information related to the solar eclipse on September 11, if it wasn’t apparent at the time of the eclipse, might become apparent a month later. Apparently it is not uncommon for this to happen exactly one month to the day after an eclipse. So I put a reminder in Outlook: ‘watch for important information related to the September 11 eclipse.’ Eclipses can represent times when changes occur or want to occur in our life. The note popped up on the morning after October 11, exactly one month after the September eclipse. I realized that the insight I had had the previous night might have been related to this eclipse information.

Since that day, the idea that I will not study karate any longer has been taking root in me. This is not an easy decision, but I’ve come to realize it is one that comes from a very deep, important place. I do expect to substitute the study of Tai Chi for karate. I understand Tai Chi to offer an experience of connection with the energetic universe. This is consistent with who I choose to be today; what I choose to study, and how I choose to spend my life. It is just another example of many, of adding congruence to my life, of an increasing coherence among my thoughts, words and deeds. Investigating the phenomenon of significantly increased personal power in relation to this coherence is a crucial aspect of the study of sustainability and our concern with developing an understanding of what it will take to shift the cultural collective toward organic living.

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Responses

  1. […] association; a deep tradition. I touched on this concept of tradition in a previous blog called Karate and about how are attachment to tradition holds us back from moving into other levels of […]

  2. […] association; a deep tradition. I touched on this concept of tradition in a previous blog called Karate and about how are attachment to tradition holds us back from moving into other levels of […]

  3. Very enlightening take on karate. Thanks for posting.


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