February 2020: Vows for the Year of the Rat

February 2020:  Vows for the Year of the Rat

A Vow for the Year of the Rat

"How do you become stronger, smarter, faster, healthier?  How do you become better?  How do you achieve true freedom?  There is only one way.

THE WAY OF DISCIPLINE." - Jocko Willink

If we can develop discipline, we can achieve things we previously believed were impossible.  As we begin the New Year, we often set goals and resolutions for ourselves.  The difference between achieving these aims and not achieving them comes down to one thing.

Discipline.

Goals and resolutions are one thing, but a vow is something even greater.  I didn't make a resolution when I married my wife.  I vowed to nourish and cherish her to the point of being willing to die for her, take care of her when sick and turn away from all others until death separates us.  That has a bit more depth and responsibility compared to going to the gym because I want to get my abs back.

In Zen, the term Seigan (誓願) means vow. Like marriage vows, it generally refers to undertaking a great exercise for the benefit of others. It can specifically refer to the Four Encompassing Vows of the Bodhisattva, someone who practices the ways of enlightenment not for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others.

"I vow to liberate all creatures.
I vow to break all anxiety, hate, and delusion.
I vow to learn the endless teachings.
I vow to accomplish the way of unsurpassed enlightenment."

Master of the Way of the Sword and the Way of Zen, Yamaoka Tesshu encouraged his students to undergo a step by step series of Seigan through their martial arts training in order to develop discipline and encounter their true selves.  The first vow that students made was that after 1,000 days of non-stop training, they would duel the other students for 200 consecutive matches, with only a brief break for a light lunch.  Those who completed this vow were eligible to to move forward with training, and at the end of that period, fulfilled a vow to complete 600 matches in 3 days.  The ultimate seigan last seven days and involved one thousand, four hundred matches.  Only two swordsmen are known to have fulfilled this seigan.  Tesshu wrote in regards to his own seigan training and why he instituted this practice among his students;

"There is victory and defeat in swordsmanship, but forging the spirit is far more important.  What is the secret?  The mind has no limits.  Use such a mind when facing your opponents, incorporate it into your movements, and you will never tire regardless of how many days and how many contests you have.  Study this and practice harder!"

Last September, I undertook a Seigan that I would spar 40 rounds on my 40th birthday.  Many MDJKD students came out to help me fulfill my vow.  During those rounds of kickboxing, grappling, and swordfighting, I learned things about myself I never knew.  That one evening has set the tone for the next decade of my life.

This past weekend, four other members of the Maryland Jeet Kune Do family undertook their first Seigan, to spar 25 rounds in a row.  Each round was two minutes long, and they only had a thirty second break between rounds.  Adrian, Hannah, Jakeila, and Jason kickboxed, clinch sparring, worked open guard against standing attackers, worked self-defense scenarios, and pad drills.  None of them quit.  In keeping with the Bodhisattva attitude, funds were raised to help the students at a local parochial school.  Like Tesshu's dojo, this first seigan is merely a step in their training, as each as seen they can push themselves even further.

Our next Seigan will by February 22nd.  Beginners will spar 20 rounds in a row and Intermediate students will spar 40 rounds.  In keeping with the Bodhisattva mindset, we will be raising funds for the CAP Food Pantry that serves the Odenton and Severn area, helping underprivileged families put food on the table.  If you would like to donate, you may purchase tickets here:  February Seigan

As we start 2020 and the Year of the Rat, we vow that Maryland Jeet Kune Do will continue to support our community by working for peace, justice, and humanity by overcoming our own greed, anger, and folly.

JB MuSsang Jaeger

Coming Events

February 22nd:  Seigan (More Info)
February 28th:  Youth Sword Workshop (More Info)
March 14th-15th:  Queen Charlotte's Cup (More Info)
April 26th:  Tien Shan Pai Legacy Tournament (More Info to Come)



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