Andrew's Inspiration

Green Belt Essay

Why would you recommend someone try martial arts?

I think its important to have a practice that informs the rest of your life, a practice that has inter dimensional benefits and can be taken to the level of mastery.  The Martial Arts have been carved nearly to perfection and one of the most magnificent things is that it is not perfect, it is up to the student to want to improve, to seek perfection of character.  The dimensions I mentioned are the Body, Mind and Soul.
On the physical plane the martial arts will build a physique that will help you be more able to maneuver through the rest of your daily activities.  Having a strong core, connection to the ground ( grounded ness) and movement/spacial awareness that comes with training in the martial arts makes you stronger in all other areas of your life.  The dynamic movement based training helps you create an efficient body that is more effective at dealing with unexpected events rather than merely a physically attractive body that conforms to current trends.  
On the mental plane this training keeps you sharp and imaginative, focused yet open.  Your awareness of yourself and your environment become deeper and more personal.  “The ‘empty hand’ of Karate is never empty if there is awareness of the space therein.” And that awareness of space is what will help you transform empty hand into blocking arm the moment it is needed.  Sharper mental space is streamlined and more adept at problem solving and deflection rather than an energy field that is wide and cumbersome, creating a lot of unnecessary drag and wake.  
The spiritual plane, ultimately, becomes the most important yet most subtle aspect of training  for the budoka.  Admittedly I am only aware of this on an intellectual level but have occasionally glimpsed this world after a focused training session.  There have been countless studies and experiments  involving altered or higher states of consciousness.  One common theme amongst those practices seeking to attain greater fluidity with their ‘higher self’ is repetitive movements.  Its seems that once the body and mind are in a state of absolute acceptance and release, totally fluid and faithful in their capacity, then the Soul or Spirit can be accessed or allows us to enter into a deeper understanding.  Not to say that we can ever be on auto-pilot in the dojo but on the way to mastery you begin to be able to ‘perfect’ your movements with the subtlest corrections than tune you into another ‘channel.’  In Japanese culture once you have achieved budo, or mastery of discipline, in any art form, you will find that master is able to access other art forms with great ease.  Almost as if they have previously downloaded the information and techniques from a ‘higher’ source.  
For these reasons and many more I recommend martial arts training or developing a practice in any area of life that brings one joy.  Particularly in a practice that requires concentration, study, self-discipline and that leans on tradition.  

Winter Chill

The changing of the seasons is an opportunity for us to change and grow as well.  One key to personal growth is to observe and follow the cyclical systems of earth and our immediate environment.  Walks in the park or forests are a great way observe the ancient patterns of animals and plants, a way to stay active and also breathe in some beneficial spores and bacteria that are know to help balance our human bodies.  

This is also the giving season. That doesn't mean necessarily that you need to give to someone for the end of year festivals but it could mean that you could give yourself some time and love and compassion.

Karate Blue Belt

What physical benefits have you seen by training in the Martial Arts?

I think my posture is the most important physical and energetic benefit I have seen improvement in since beginning martial arts training.   I have noticed that it is easier to stand upright, feel confident and move through life in a more fluid way.  These are important life skills that help me to remain calm and see the big picture as I go through my day to day activities and interactions with people.  I think always being made aware of my stance and how I hold myself in class informs the rest of my life and reminds me to make the adjustments that need to be made in order to move fluently with whatever situation I am in.  

I take the philosophy of Karate and ‘empty hand’ everywhere with me and believe that it is the most honest way of creating my reality.  ‘Empty hand’ or receptivity is the posture that I strive for these days and it feels amazing to think that I am a receptive person or that at least I am working toward that end.  Having receptivity in my heart allows me to stand back and see and feel the place I enter with an ability to connect the with hearts of those around me.  I do that in class and with other groups of people and it makes it so much more meaningful and easy.  While one on one with my clients or friends I feel the connection in a real and palpable way and they tell me that I am different than other therapists.  They appreciate my grounded presence and more often than not throughout my sessions I am in a Karate stance.