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moon in the water Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 04-26-2010 10:46 PM
the water does not try
to reflect the moon
and the moon has no desire
to be reflected
but when the clouds clear
there is the moon in the water
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 155
Comments: 1,111
Views: 1,937,511


In General freedom, ashes and diamonds Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #87 New 10-21-2011 10:36 AM
freedom, ashes and diamonds
still of Zbigniew Cybulski from Ashes and Diamonds from the collection of bswise, used under creative commons licence

you know not if flames bring freedom or death
Cyprian Norwid, Polish poet

What had the Caesars but their thrones?
W B Yeats, Demon and Beast

And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom
W H Auden, In Memory of W B Yeats

I believe in the freedom song
I'll choose my own destiny

Thin Lizzy, Freedom Song

We learn history not in order to know how to behave or how to succeed, but to know who we are.
Leszek Kołakowski, Polish philosopher

I think we practice to achieve dynamic movement and a freedom that lies within that movement.
Seishiro Endo Sensei, aikido teacher

The Arab Spring has turned into summer and autumn and winter. Throughout history leaders blinded by hubris have underestimated the groundswell of the desire for freedom.

In the 1980s the fall of communism was also called the Autumn of Nations. Some of the first rumblings began in Poland. The trade union Solidarity sparked a broad-based movement for social change. It's Polish name Solidarność was written in dripping red letters. In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR and advocated a new mood of perestroika, economic restructuring and glasnost, openness. The eventual result was the fall of communism.

The quotation in the first epigraph at the top of this article is from a poem by Cyprian Norwid. The poem is inscribed on a wall in the movie Ashes and Diamonds. It's directed by Andrzej Wajda, from a novel by Jerzy Andrzejewski. It is one of the great European films of the twentieth century. It's set in Poland after the end of World War II. The resistance movement against the Nazis develops into a resistance movement against communism. But resistance against an oppressor does not justify betraying your own humanity.

I went to Moscow in the early eighties. In my carry-on baggage I had a book about aikido and the mystery novel Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith about a Moscow detective. Both books were confiscated by customs officers. When I left the USSR a few days later the aikido book was returned to me. I never got Gorky Park back.

Later I discussed this with a friend in Japan. He had studied martial arts for many years and he was familiar with Eastern Europe. He told me they would never allow aikido in the Eastern Bloc. Not because it was possible to use aikido for unarmed combat. Judo and other martial arts already existed. But because aikido represented freedom. Aikido was freedom.

Seishiro Endo Sensei's words about freedom were in a recent thread. Through continuous rigorous - and unfree - practice finally you can reach freedom. That is still at a technical level. Beyond that there is real freedom.

And I'd like to think that somewhere in Moscow on a retired customs officer's bookshelf there is an old copy of Gorky Park.


background articles and reviews of Ashes and Diamonds including a contemporary review
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/...hriller review

poems by Cyprian Norvid

more Polish poetry

W B Yeats, Demon and Beast

W H Auden, In Memory of W B Yeats

aikido articles by Seishiro Endo Sensei

my columns on aikiweb:
Martial Arts in Manga and Animé
Indigo Blue
Improvised Weapons No.1: The Umbrella
Unbalance - Feet of Clay
Half a Tatami
Zen in the Art of Aikido

I have an essay in a charity e-book put together by some writers and photographers to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku on 11 March 2011. It costs $9.99.

© niall matthews 2011
Views: 7439 | Comments: 5

RSS Feed 5 Responses to "freedom, ashes and diamonds"
#5 10-23-2011 10:10 AM
niall Says:
(cont) And a mysterious aside - Spain's national day is 12 October. Carina will know all this already. This year I found out that - strangely - it celebrates the discovery (well except for Native Americans and vikings) of America by an Italian. Cristopher Columbus or Cristoforo Colombo or Cristóbal Colón. A few years later Amerigo Vespucci also went to the Americas and it was his name which was put on the map as America. You could have been living in Colombia or Columbia or Cristoforia...
#4 10-23-2011 10:09 AM
niall Says:
Thank you, Francis my friend. By the way I decided not to make a minor comment about your last column because I didn't want to trivialize something so important and which had such deep effects in America and the world. Outside the USA the month and day in dates are reversed. So in the UK 9/11 is 9 November.
#3 10-21-2011 10:16 PM
aikishihan Says:
Another triumphant post, Niall, and thank you for the invaluable historical connections. Brings to mind the Joan Baez classic "Diamonds and Rust". Maybe that copy of Gorky Park helped spark Glasnost, eh?
#2 10-21-2011 07:26 PM
niall Says:
Thank you Carina. It's always good to have a link to Pablo. I even put one in Ross's column. It has a Spanish flavour this month. There are a lot of good songs about freedom. I put in Thin Lizzy because they are a cool band. But for example Bob Dylan Chimes of Freedom, Jimi Hendrix Freedom, U2 Freedom for My People... Sorry there were so many links. The 2nd one is fixed.
#1 10-21-2011 03:00 PM
guest1234567 Says:
Thanks for a great post,nice poetry (there was artistic drawing in the daisy link too).and the bond to Aikido and Endo Shihan, Niall, I'm sure you will find freedom when you try parachuting too I found a poem of Pablo Poet's Obligation :So, through me, freedom and the sea will make their answer to the shuttered heart. and finally the song of Paul McCartney Freedom

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