July 29, 2004

Surprising Similarity

I began reading a new book this week and the first page of the introduction sounded so much like Shintaido, I was stunned. In Shintaido, we often talk of connecting with the center of our partner whether it is through punching, or cutting with open hands, boh, or bokutoh. So to me, this quote seems to describe kumite quite well:

...It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched. Why would you really want to do that ? Perhaps you would let the other cross your inner threshold to see something or to touch something, but to allow the other into that place where your most intimate life is shaped — that is dangerous and calls for defense.

On of the things that I found most interesting about this, is that the book is not about martial arts at all. In fact, the first sentence which I omitted above is:

Praying is no easy matter.

The introduction of the book, With Open Hands by Henri J.M. Nouwen is actually talking about prayer and how the first part of praying is opening yourself and being ready to accept gifts.

The introduction reminds me so much of the Aoki Sensei story that Ito Sensei always repeats. I remember it as, "Think of yourself as a glass of water. If the glass is too full, then nothing can be added by universal energy. If you can first empty yourself some, you can make a place to receive universal energy."

It also provides some insight into people's reaction to Shintaido kumite. If the quote is correct and people are already frightened by the idea of opening and allowing someone into their center, it is no surprise that it takes people some time to attain this opening while someone else's hands or wooden weapons are also invading their physical space.

Posted by rob at July 29, 2004 11:44 AM
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