July 29, 2004

Rentan and Zazen

In the latest Journal of Asian Martial Arts (Volume 13, Number 2) there is a book review written by Noah Nunberg J.D. of the book, Ki and the Way of the Martial Arts by Kenji Tokitsu. According to the review, the book describes how Tokitsu developed Jisei Budo and, "in doing so, reveals the important workings and goals of the internal world of martial arts,..."

What caught my eye in the review were the definitions of rentan and zazen:

Rentan involves concentrating one's entire mind and energy on crushing the enemy. ... Zazen training utlizes pure meditation to expand ki as far as possible beyone oneself.

I wonder if Shintaido kata contain elements of both. For example, it seems that both are included in a daijodan cut. In the beginning, we open up in "Ah". This would seem to be a zazen movement as we are trying to open up and include everything. But once we reach tenso and begin to cut down, it seems like a rentan action since the mind and energy are focused into the cut.

I wonder if there are more places in Shintaido's various kata: open-hand, karate, boh where these elements both exist.

I wonder if there is a natural changing between both states within kata.

Posted by rob at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)

Great Article on Kata Practice

The latest issue of the Journal of Asian Marital Arts (Volume 13, Number 2) has a great article titled, "Traditional Taijiquan Form Training in Chen Village" by David Gaffney, B.A.

Some of the interesting sub-headings in the article include:

  • High or Low Postures?
  • Familiarity Through Repitition
  • Slowness as a Training Tool
  • Fostering Mental Calmness and its Roll Cultivating Qi, & the Development of Intention
  • Requirements When Practicing the Form

While the focus is on Taiji (Tai Chi), I think most, if not all of the comments could apply to Shintaido kata. Many of the concepts seem to translate straight forwardly e.g., "dantian rotation" becomes koshi rotation. But I confess that I don't understand what "silk-reeling" (shun-chan and ni-chan) of the arms and legs are.

Posted by rob at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

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 11:44 AM | Comments (0)