Martial Arts as Exercise

Why engage in a martial art? Each of us will have a different answer to that question. Some for the discipline, others for the fitness, still others for the aspect of self-defense. Whatever your motivation, it has been shown by numerous studies that martial arts are beneficial as a form of exercise.

Martial arts are more than simply breaking a bunch of bricks and boards with various parts of the body. The Martial Arts are about discipline and balance. They are philosophies in and of themselves which teach good moral character, non-violent attitudes and behavior and spiritual enlightenment, the martial arts proscribe various movements and techniques which emphasize focus and centering by eliminating discriminatory consciousness and merging intention and action into an uninterrupted flow.

Many of the physical benefits of training resemble those achieved by any other form of exercise. A normal training session usually consists of a period of warming up stretching, then training. The exercise one gets from martial arts training improves balance, flexibility, stamina and posture. Weight loss is promoted through extended cardiovascular activity. These are all results of long term martial arts training. There are many different types of martial arts: Karate, Judo, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, TaiChi and many types of KungFu. The list is extensive. Find one you enjoy, if you haven’t engaged in physical activity, get a physician’s clearance and start.

Perseverance


What does it mean to persevere?
According to Webster the answer is: to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter influences, opposition, or discouragement.
-Perseverance is being committed, working hard,being patient and having endurance.
Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties with a calm demeanor and without complaining.
Perseverance is trying again and again. Another word often used but rarely heard is steadfast, in most cases these two words have similar meanings.

Many times being persevering is confused with being stubborn. The definition of being stubborn is (again according to Webster) : unreasonably or perversely unyielding, difficult to handle, manage, or treat.
As you can see they are very different words with different meanings.

What does it mean to us as martial artists to be persevering?
It means to have an attitude of not quitting, for some it means executing that last pushup when your body says “impossible”, for others it could be training in spite of the difficulties life throws our way. To persevere means to endure and as a martial artist it means to endure patiently and calmly, without grumbling and without protest. It is this attitude that seperates the mature practioner from the beginner. When you adopt this attitude, things stop becoming impossible, obstacles no longer stand in your way and excuses are exposed.

Each day we strive to “make it through”. I suggest we stop trying to make it through like it was a chore. The day, week, month, year and life will continue whether you desire to “make it” or not. For many of us each day is a chore and we awake looking to the end of the day,we start the week thinking about the weekend. When life gets difficult as it sometimes does, we must understand what it means to persevere, to withstand whatever life gives us with calmness and tranquilty. It is that spirit of not quitting, of not giving up no matter what, that we should seek to cultivate daily.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

Teaching

What does it mean to be a sensei? Irrespective of what rank it may define, a sensei at his or her core is a teacher, regardless of rank. When you are a sensei all you can really do is guide a student. True there are fundamentals that must be learned, but after the foundation is set all the teacher really can do is guide. Occasionally I marvel at the importance placed upon rank in the various organizations I have been exposed to. When distilled to its essence, rank only means ” I have been doing this longer than you have.” When that is truly understood, the higher the rank the more indebted the practitioner is to the newer students, the higher the obligation to pass on the knowledge learned and acquired throughout the years. Yet even with this passing of knowledge each student takes his/her own path.

So what makes a good teacher?

A good teacher is flexible – Able to adapt to the changing dynamics of the situation and each individual student.

A good teacher does not impart truth but reveals it for the student to find- They allow the student to make the discoveries necessary to advance along their prospective paths at their own pace.

A good teacher is not a slave to routine– Although a lesson plan may be used a good teacher can change if the situation demands it.

A good teacher does not make clones of him/herself-recognizing the individuality of each student. He does not impose his own will or influence , but rather allows the student to grow and flourish, expressing him/herself.

The ideal teacher shows the student how to think, not what to think.

A good teacher gives due recognition-The good teacher is is plentiful with complements when due and correction when necessary.

I have had the opportunity and good fortune to have excellent teachers in my very short path in the martial way. I have also heard of poor teaching methods and have learned what not to do.

If you are ever given the privilege of teaching, take it as one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a student , regardless of rank, and apply yourself with all sincerity and seriousness to the task. Never forgetting that a few doses of humor can also go a long way.
strong spirit- strong mind- strong body
Sensei Orlando

Respect

As I went shopping today with my 68 yr old mom. I found myself at times beginning to lose patience because she would walk slower than I would or because she would go over the same topic several times in the same hour. In one of these moments, I stopped myself and thought “Wait a minute, this is exactly what you learn in the martial arts!” What I’m referring to is respect. In martial arts, you must first and foremost have respect for your elders (sempai) and those who came before you.

In most, if not all, martial arts (I’ve yet to find one where this isn’t true), you will find yourself repeating techniques over and over and over. Each moment you execute a technique it should be like the first time. In essence it is the first time you are doing it, in that moment. If this were applied to our daily lives, we would listen more attentively when being spoken to, we would enjoy each meal as we ate, each day would be full of new and wondrous things.

When we enter the training hall or dojo we bow out of respect, respect for all of those who came before us, those who train with us and those who teach us. This is an attitude that should not be constrained just to a dojo.
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
Sensei Orlando

Welcome to The Empty Hand

The starting point is emptiness. The old adaqe of the pupil who could not learn because he”knew it all” applies here. When you empty your cup you make space for it to be filled again and again. Each morning we should empty our respective cups, not knowing what life or the day will present to us, we should be open to creating and experiencing new and amazing things, each day.

Why call it The Empty Hand and not “Martial Arts 101” or The Martial Arts Forum? Aside from those names being taken, The Empty Hand embodies the spirit of this blog. I will attempt to bring you ideas from martial arts that we can discuss, apply and integrate into our lives.

When you live the Martial Way, you understand that it is not a sport or hobby, but a way of being.

I do not propose to know it all, and frankly my knowledge of the martial arts may be limited in some areas, and so I empty my cup as I learn and share with each of you. I look forward to hearing and learning from those of you that read these posts.

strong spirit- strong mind- strong body

Sensei Orlando

A journey into creative warriorship