Spilling Tea in Swordfighting

Spilling Tea in Swordfighting

The other night in Kali class here in Millersville, Maryland we were working a power generation drill from the Battlefield Kali: Sword curriculum.  The drill involved blocking your feeder's attack and immediately responding with a hard slicing stroke to a padded kicking shield.  The motions used in the drill were developed and refined from our guiding teacher Burton Richardson's full contact fighting experience as a founding member of the Dog Brothers, and draws greatly on his knowledge of the Kalis Illustrismo system.

One of MDJK's senior members was having difficulty working the drill, and it wasn't because he lacked skill as a swordsman.  In fact, he is a very experienced and skilled practitioner of the Japanese weapon arts.  That showed in his footwork and body mechanics in the drill we were doing, but kenjutsu and Kalis Illustrismo are two very different systems that came up in very different environments.  The student's frustration was noticable to me and to his training partners.

"You can't generate power that way!"

Often in life we become frustrated not because of the ways things are, but because of the way we think they should be.  We "know" what reality should be like, how our friends and family should act toward us, or what our boss should expect from us at work.  When what we know doesn't line up with what is, frustration results.

Consider the possibility that what you know is actually trapping you from seeing not only what is, but what can be.

I don't know how it is for you, but my experience has been that my frustration with what is has often kept me from achieving what I was capable of in my martial arts, my marriage, and my career because what I know was blinding me from seeing the opportunity I had to expand.

Nyogen Senzaki was one of the first missionaries of Rinzai Zen in the United States.  In 1957, he published one of the seminal texts on Zen in the English language, "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones".  It is a collection of parables, koan, and short stories, the first of which became well known, especially within martial arts circles, where it is often quoted.  It was one of Sijo Bruce Lee's favorites.  You've probably heard a variation of it.

"Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912) received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea.  He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It's overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup!"

Where in your life are you currently encountering frustration because what you know is blinding you to what is and what can be?  What can you do today to empty your cup?

My friend, if you are looking for a way to expand beyond what you know with a group of people dedicated to bettering themselves through the philosophy and self-defense practice of Jeet Kune Do, head to marylandjeetkunedo.com today.

- JB MuSsang Jaeger



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