THE ASHIHARA SHINBUN
(shinbun means newspaper in Japanese)
No.1 JULY 2003
TIM MAKES BLACK BELT
Tim Malloch of Geelong Ashihara has after 6 years training graded and passed the black belt test at the June 21st grading. From all the sensei’s and students we congratulate him.
The grading was 4 hours long and a great test of budo spirit as it always is, from all sensei’s congratulations goes to all the students that took part in the grading. Tim was pushed to the limit and as all could see there was not much left in Tim’s tank near the end of the grading, but as we all know Tim has a lot of strong budo spirit and would never give up.
Results: New kyu & dan grades
Matthew Hicks red belt
Luke Bryant 2nd red belt
Scott Wagstaff 2nd red belt
Sam Kayler Thomson green belt
Dylan Kayler Thomson 2nd green belt
Laird Johnstone 2nd green belt
Kris Carlson 2nd brown belt
Tim Malloch 1st dan black belt
Daniel Stirling red belt
Rachel Vollebregt red belt
Jessi Vollebregt red belt
Leisha Vollebregt red belt
Bradley Cousins 2nd red belt
Jordan Carroll blue belt
Andrew Abbott yellow belt
Congratulations goes to Rachel Vollebregt & Laird Johnstone for 100% attendance & receiving the budo spirit award. Rachel started karate at the beginning of the year and has not missed a class, well done Rachel keep up the good work. Laird has put in the most classes since the budo spirit award started, well done Laird, you must be getting quite a collection of trophies.
If we all put in and try not to miss training like Rachel & Laird have, the School would be going much stronger and we would be able to buy more equipment. I know some times we might have a hard day at school or work and feel a little tired and think it won’t hurt to skip training , not true, it makes us develop a slack attitude & does not support the school.
Studies have shown that a break from the pressures of study or work & doing an activity like karate can clear the mind and refresh us and make us more productive outside the dojo.
As Kancho Ashihara said. Everything you need in life can be worked on in the dojo, a strong body, a sharp mind, & a vital spirit.
BLACK BELT, NOT THE END
To many times I have seen someone train for 5 or 6 years then grade for their black belt, pass & receive their back belt then stop training thinking that they have got to the top, that they have reached their goal.
This is so far from the truth, this is just the beginning, this is where we start to understand, this is where we start to do more teaching and through teaching we learn & understand more about ourselves & karate.
A black belt is nothing if we are not training, it becomes nothing but a bit of material around our waist.
IMPORTANCE OF KATA
For some reason we tend to think Kata is just something we do when a grading Is coming up, so we go through the motions just to gain our next belt and fail to see the importance of Kata. Kata has long been a great tool in Karate to teach students how to remember. And master techniques.
We are very luck that Ashihara karate Kata is full of good street wise techniques, unlike other styles of karate where their kata some times resembles a dance. Kata should be practiced regularly with good focus and visualization of an Opponent.
We should know our Kata that well we can do it with Mushin, meaning to do it with no mind, for example, when we are driving our car and we change gear instinctively without thinking, or just the simple act of walking, its because we practice & do these things so much we can do them with Mushin. In a fight situation we don’t have the time to think, we have to act in a instant & instinctively.
Also we put memory into our muscles so we can do techniques without Thinking. How many of us learn a new Kata & just do it a few times, then just stop practicing it, we think that we know it well enough to be able to gain our next belt, we are overlooking the techniques within the techniques, things. like distends breathing and positioning to name a few.
Many of us cut corners & don’t do the right positioning, there is positioning in just about every technique in Ashihara Kata. Also practicing Kata regularly is a good form of moving meditation, say maybe we are hitting the books & studying for an exam & we are getting mental blocks & cant think straight, stop leave the books find a space & do some Kata for a half an hour or so, this will clear the mind & refresh your thinking for when you go back & resume your study, it’s a known fact that doing some physical activity is good for refreshing the mind. So let’s change out thinking about Kata.
There is something in the dojo that we must be careful of. Its out there, it’s waiting to unleash it’s destructive power on some poor unaware fool with a bad fighting stance. Its long, boney, and moves like lighting. It only has one foot but can still move very fast. you may have felt the wind as it shoots through the air like a bullet from a gun. Uncontrollable like a run away train. I know what it’s like, I was one of the poor unaware fools with a bad fighting stance a few weeks ago and copped it square in the chest.
Maybe you may have noticed that I didn’t do much kumite in the June grading, the reason being that I was still very sore. If you are all wondering what it is I am talking about. It’s Sam’s bloody back spinning kick. So if you are doing kumite with him sure you keep an eye on it, & ever you do make sure you have a good stance & don’t stand to square.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kris Carlson for all he’s help with the juniors this year. The way Kris is going he will become a Very good Karate instructor in the future
ASHIHARA’S KARATE ADAGES
SURE WAY TO OVERCOME A SLUMP
Ashihara Karate is a multi-action Karate: always be doing two or more things at the same time; attack as you defend, defend as you attack.
Use a small flaw to big advantage: Pounce on the opponent’s slightest slip-up with foot-work, pulls & pushes, to make his position worse.
Never face your opponent head on: Don’t let him have that 50 - 50 chance. Always attack from the side.
Defend smoothly; attack dynamically.
In-fighting comes first: Running away will only get you knocked down.
Hands can be light as a feather, as hard as a hammer: Your hands should move as lightly & supply as a feather. They can be delicate antennae to read your opponent’s movements, or hammers to smash through him in a punch.
The blow that doesn’t land can’t hurt: All you have to do is step back to see your opponent’s kick or punch cleave air.
Once you touch him, he’s as good as down: The contact of your hand with his arm or leg is the ‘go’ sign to attack.
Make a molehill into a mountain: Use little movements – steps, tugs, turns, - to create a greater total effect.
The body is a coiled spring: The hands & feet alone can do little damage. Release the power of the entire body through your kick or punch. This can topple the opponent with a single blow.
Kick with both legs: The power of a kick comes from two directions, the push off from the pivot leg, & the outward movement of the kicking leg. Only when you have both does a kick carry real impact power.
Start slowly & surely with the basics.
Once you’ve mastered the knee strike, all other kicks follow: The same goes for the elbow strike & the various punches.
Standing still at middle range is a sure way to get knocked over.
Your weapons at close range are your elbows & knees.
Lead or be led: therein lies the key to victory.
In combinations, the first & second blows will decide the fight: You can’t go anywhere if he counters your very first attack.
Give your attack all it’s got.
Make your legs do double duty-from kick to pivot: The fundamental movement of the combination is to quickly lower the kicking leg, shift weight to that foot, & use the other leg for a second kick. You can next attack by bringing your kicking foot down in different positions each time.
THE CLARITY OF FOCUS
The martial arts offer a path to fitness, to physical health & to self-discipline.
These benefits are numerous & extensive, & range far beyond the ability to defend or defeat other people.
Have you ever noticed how things become clearer after training? How problems seem to solve themselves without effort, how the answers to questions & quandaries seem to miraculously appear in the mind after a good workout, be it kata, kickboxing,or kung fu?
Have you ever noticed how refreshed you feel, even though your body has been pushed to it’s limits? If you have, then you are not alone.
The spontaneous solution of problems, the refreshed feeling & boost of creative energy is one of the best kept secrets of the martial arts, & a side effect of focus.
So what is this secret & how does it work?
An easy way to explain this secret is to examine the history of martial arts & understand one of it’s original purposes.
Conditioning the mind to be quiet so that practitioners could observe & understand the normal world, & the worlds above & beyond normal consciousness.
These methods were designed to unlock secret understandings of energy, nature, existence & to ‘see’ through the perceivable layers of time, space & the universe.
Though many people may no longer view these practices as applicable in the modern world, the fact remains the same; the original practitioners of the martial arts were acutely aware of these processes & developed ways to achieve & perfect this knowledge.
One of the main ‘lines’ of martial arts were said to have been developed as a form of exercise for monks, who spent every conscious moment in search of enlightenment & & understanding of the universe.
These exercises were said to have been developed in India, & may have had origins in cultures that date back to Egypt, & the time Atlantis & lemuria.
These exercises were dual in nature.
Firstly they provided a means by which the monks could exercise physically, & secondly they provide a practical & reliable way to begin to ‘still the mind’ The side effect if this training was that they became extremely proficient in the ways of combat.
The masters had discovered early on that it was not enough to simply tell students about the benefits of stilling the mind (meditation), disciples needed a practical task so they could experience it for themselves.
This ‘stilling of the mind’ was the monks number one task, & the original purpose of their martial practice.
These tasks become divided into three main categories.
Breath focused meditation.
Moving or walking meditation.
External or inanimate object meditation. Each of these three areas have the same result of ‘stilling the mind’ & begin a process of opening practitioners to intuition, creativity & enlightenment.
Though the average person is not interested in pursuing the life of a monk, the benefits of ‘moving meditation’ or martial arts are available to everyone.
The spontaneous solution of problems, the clarity of thought, the refreshed feeling of creative energy is beneficial & attainable for every (with normal brain function).
The majority of people would have experienced the second form (moving meditation ) during martial practice without realizing it. During sparring, for example, all thoughts are narrowed down as blows are timed & movement is vital.
You forget about your day, your day job, what the boss said to you that morning, what you have to do next week & what you plan to do tomorrow. Your mind doesn’t nag about your car, your credit card bill, your holiday, paying rent, what you need to buy, meeting a budget, or worry about numerous other distracting things. All thoughts & available energy is recalled to focus on grasping the moment, whether it be kata or combat.
The mind reduced of internal clutter then becomes very clear, & can be compared to states of meditation. This form of focused attention on movement significantly reduces or shuts off the internal dialogue. Without realizing it, focus on the moment through martial practice ‘ stills the mind’.
So if this is true, how do problems get solved, & creative ideas spring to light?
Through the investigations of science & psychology, we know that the mind has both conscious & unconscious processes going on all the time, whether we are awake, at work or asleep.
Our conscious mind by accident, evolution or design acts as a shield to the subconscious & ‘ creates’ through beliefs the reality we observe in everyday life.
Predominantly left hemispherical (left brain) the processes of analysis & logical speculation dominate our day to day attention.
Based primarily on a database of fear, negativity & the ego, the logical mind oscillates brain waves that can be measured by an EEG (Electroencephalography) machine as Beta brain waves.
However, all the while your mind is talking to you, your more intuitive, creative processes & connection to the universe are being shut out.
You might intuitively already possess the answer to a problem, yet your analytical mind is so caught up in debating & criticising, that the solution is blocking out.
These creative processes predominantly arise from the right side of the brain, & can be measured as Alpha brain waves.
By reducing, or shutting off the analytical internal dialogue, the mind switches from predominantly left, to right hemispherical thinking, allowing the creative thoughts, visions & intuitions to come through the shield of logic.
Because the right side of the brain is not limited by beliefs or fears (time or space), the spontaneous solution to problems can be achieved, & intuition can be consciously recognised.
Spending time in these states will also allow the attraction of people, events, knowledge, circumstances & energy into your life & is a powerful source of profound enlightenment.
It is among these reasons that the great masters chose to spend so much time in practice & meditation.
So how does this apply to you ?
You may walk into training with a scowl on your face, & a pressing problem concerning you.
After a while, your thoughts begin to focus & you forget about the problem that has been plaguing you.
The session goes by & so engrossed in your practice that half way through a Mawashi Geri, when suddenly, BAM! The answer to the problem appears instantly in your head.
By ‘not doing,’ or not using the analytical mind & opening up to the creative & intuitive side (by shutting off the internal dialogue), you allow the answers & solutions to be brought to your attention.
The simple secret is this:
When you train, your mind stops talking rubbish.
The clarity of ‘not thinking’ by focusing on physical movement frees up massive amounts of personal energy. This freed up energy can then be used to solve issues & situations that your analytical mind may not be able to address. By spending more time in ‘the moment’ & ‘stilling the mind,’ these processes become clear.
The highest form of martial arts is the ability to immerse the self in the moment & open the mind to the Universe. Therefore as martial artists, we can all benefit from the clarity of focus as a side effect of practice.
Here are a few exercises to begin to ‘still your mind’.
1: Begin to observe the observer.
Start by realizing when your mind is not still.
Recognise when your internal dialogue kicks in with criticism or comment.
Simply by doing this, you will begin to observe your thoughts, monitor your stillness (or internal turbulence), & catch yourself when the inner silence is broken.
2: Notice during training when you have lapses in your normal perception of time.
When this happens, take note, but do not try analyse what is happening.
Analysis actually inhibits the process.
You may begin to notice that time is actually a result of your level of attention.
3: Before you practice, clearly state in your mind: a problem, question or ‘goal you have set out to achieve. i.e. ‘what services can I offer to increase my income?’ or ‘What can I do to find a new job that is right for me?’ Then, forget about the question & train as normal.
Have faith (don’t question) your question & the answer will come to you when the time is right.
If the answer does not come straight away, simply repeat the same process until it does.
By regularly reinforcing the objective or goal, you increase the probabilities of it occurring.
4: The mind is not limited by time or space.
Don’t be surprised if other people come to you with the answer to your question, without them being aware that you have asked the question.
The clearer your mind, the more strongly your higher self can find or attract the goal or solution.
Have the presence of mind to recognise when an answer or opportunity presents itself, & realise that there is no such thing as coincidence.
These instances will renew a sense of energy & adventure into your life.
5: During your practice, try to observe 180 degree vision (expanded peripheral vision), without narrowing your focus.
Overloading your visual senses through wide-angled vision will reduce or shut-off the internal dialogue in addition to increasing your awareness.
Don’t look at anything in particular, just try to take in everything.
Notice when your mind becomes still, but again, don’t comment internally or analyse.
6: Spend five minutes to half an hour every day simply sitting in silence.
This will increase your energies & begin to reconnect you to yourself, your goals & your dreams.
7: Practice your art.
This process happens anyway.
Simply notice when it occurs to you.
Well I hope you all enjoyed reading the Ashihara Shinbun, every 2 months I am going to try & do a shinbun so I can help every one with their training & also if I find any good ideas or articles from magazines & books that maybe of interest I will also put them in the shinbun.
If any one else would like to submit something please feel free, it could be a good motivational saying or a good training idea, if it helps us with our Karate it’s got to be good.
Also in the coming additions I will be doing a profile on a student or Sensei so we can all get to know one another a bit better.
So in the spirit of osu let’s all keep training hard & do the best we can in the dojo & outside the dojo.
Sensei Mark. osu.