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Old 08-22-2005, 10:25 AM   #46
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Re: quickness & accuracy

Hi Boon,

We do something similar to these drills - you can see it in the first clip on the video page I linked to our web site. However, I think the end is different - and - like Charles pointed out - this goes back to Takuan. For me, the difference between Budo and just fighting is that we are more interested in what our training does for our hear/mind than we are in what it does for capacity to fight. This is not to say that we can excuse the refining of our capacity for martial victory for the sake of a more primary goal. In Budo, for me, our skills at martial victory are directly proportional to the depths at which we are able to cultivate our heart/mind. Therefore, it is not that we can ignore such issues over martial capacity -- it is only that we put such a capacity to a difference use and as a result, we can often do the same type of drills but in a completely different manner. I believe this is what is going on with the drills you mention and the similar drill we do at our dojo.

For example, the drills you mention attempt to reduce the flinch behavior (and I am assuming you are talking really about the closing of the eyes and/or the over-powering urge to cower -- not just the instinct to move the head back when something dangerous approaches it). However, it does this by seeking to gain a familiarity toward that which is likely to spark such behavior. In this way, such training is out to replace one habit (i.e. flinching) with another habit (i.e. not flinching). While this replacing of one habit for another may serve one well in a particular fighting situation, from the point of view of the heart/mind, from the point of view of Budo, the practitioner still remains in a state of "dis-ease." The mind is still "plagued" by an incapacity to respond spontaneously. As a result, martially speaking, while a practitioner may likely not flinch, he or she will still be slave to habitual reaction and thus is still very much prone to being trapped by some other likely reaction to what the opponent is doing (e.g. if not flinching, just standing there staring).

On the other hand, Budo may aim to reduce our attachment to the habit of flinching, but it will seek to address this attachment by cultivating a mind capable of practicing non-attachment -- even from within the and against the plagues of combat. Budo training does not set out to replace one habit with another habit. Moreover, the idea in Budo is NOT to just not flinch -- the idea is to become free of the attachment that supports the habit of flinching. True, a budoka may not flinch in a fight, and thus be more capable (than some that is slave to flinching) of not suffering the possible dangers of flinching in a fight - thus then, perhaps, having it become more possible of gaining victory in a martial engagement. However, in Budo training, the cultivation of a mind capable of practicing non-attachment is really directed toward developing the role such a mind plays in our moral and spiritual self. The main idea supporting or "motivating" such effort is this: A heart/mind subject to the habitual self is ultimately incapable of producing moral/spiritual refinement (at the level of thought, word, and action) at any kind of deep or real level. Here is where Budo departs from such training as you mention, as the utilizing of the small self's capacity to enslave itself to habitual responses is almost a kind of moral and/or spiritual "suicide" from the point of view of what we are doing.

When we do such drills then, the replacing of the habit of flinching with the habit of not flinching is actually one of the "dangers" I as teacher must look out for. Why? Because, from the point of view of Budo, it is actually one of the more popular ways that a beginner may seek to disengage from the process of self-reflection - along with laughing or the emotionally alienating of ourselves from our attacker (which were previously mentioned). This response is very common to those deshi that have had previous training but not carried it out under the rubric of Budo. In the end, this all really goes back to the double-edge sword that all training is and thus the real need for a good teacher (which is not that of technical archive). A good teacher is one that is able to sense and then address the double-edge nature of our training for everyone that comes to such training. Everything we do in training can actually reinforce everything we may want to purify out of ourselves. A good teacher is able to note this and help us navigate our way through such risk. Thus, in seeking to rid ourselves of habitual reaction, we may very well be dooming ourselves to such reaction; in seeking a greater intimacy in our lives, we may only be cultivating further alienation; in seeking a higher capacity at which we can engage more of ourselves more often, we may only be practicing and thus honing various way in which we disengage ourselves; etc. A good teacher guidees us through the narrows of Budo training.

Anyways, this is my take on these kinds of drills -- we do them, but we may be doing them differently and therefore they may amount to being something very different -- even if they look exactly the same.

Thanks for sharing,
david

David M. Valadez
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