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Lucas Avelleda

Athlete, International Shotokan Karate Federation

TEDCRED 500+

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Martial Arts

Martial Arts are not limited to self defense techniques. The main goal of a martial artist is to make the world a better place.

"We train our body to be strong, and our mind and spirit to be patient, in order to become the best human beings we can be. Karate is a spiritual endeavor, a way to develop a person as an individual. Everything we learn in the dojo, or training hall, should be applied to everyday life. Karate training is not always easy. Often times it can be very difficult and demanding. This is also true of life. If we can overcome obstacles in our training, it enables us to have strong character to do the same in our everyday lives.
The very essence of karate, the main purpose of training - is all about improving ourselves. We must always work hard at this.When we take responsibility to become persons of good character and integrity, we will be doing our part to make the world a better place, which in turn can help to bring peace to the world." Okazaki Sensei

Note: I'm using Karate here as an example of Martial Arts. Most Martial Arts follow the same philosophy as Karate. This topic refers to all Martial Arts following similar philosophy (Budo, Bushido). If you practice any other Martial Art, please fell free to share your thoughts.

"As human beings, we are all the same, and have the same vulnerabilities. This is human nature. We can overcome many things if we first understand and accept this about ourselves. If we accept the good and the bad about ourselves, it is much easier to accept these things in others. And to be a true martial artist, we must accept nature and continually work on perfecting our character. This daily process should be as routine as waking up in the morning. Everyone has within them the power to be good human beings and to bring this out in one another. That is the true power of a good martial artist." Okazaki Sensei

Let's share ideas, experiences and projects here!

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    May 13 2011: Lucas There is a story from a friend that I always tell to my clients, I want to share it here. Charlie Badenhop shared it with us:

    When new students showed up in class, Charlie's sensei’s favorite questions was, “Why are you here today?” One common scenario would take place with a student answering, “I’m here to study Aikido.”
    “Oh” “And what is Aikido?”
    “Aikido is a martial art.”
    “Ah, and what is a martial art?” sensei would ask.
    “A martial art teaches self defense.” The student would reply.
    “Well, if you’re wanting to learn self defense you could spend your time more effectively by studying something else.” Sensei would respond.
    Charlie rarely raised his hand when sensei asked questions, but once when he asked why they were sitting there in his dojo, he replied in a clear voice, “I don’t know.”
    “Ah” sensei said. “Finally someone with an honest answer!”
    “If you don’t know why you’re here, why waste your time?”
    “Everyone comes to class wanting something, Few people come with the idea of first giving. If you’re filled with wanting, there’s no room inside you for giving. A hungry man hoards his food, he doesn’t share it with others. On the other hand, if you’re filled with knowledge, there’s no room inside you for learning.”
    “If you focus on wanting to perfect your technique you’ll lose sight of why you’re here. If you focus on why you’re here, your technique will suffer. Without good technique, your reason for being here will have little value.”
    “You need to pay attention, understanding you won’t know what you missing until after you’ve found it. When you stop fighting with yourself, you’ll realize you already have everything you need. Already having everything you need, you’ll be much more willing to give to others. The more you give, the less there is to defend. If you get to the point where you have nothing to defend, you’ll discover there’s nothing to attack. Having learned this, you’ll be ready to take your learning to a new depth of self discovery.
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      May 13 2011: Great story! This makes me wonder; why in Europe we do not have a long tradition in martial arts.. Why we only play monkey games in primary/secondary school gymclass. Why don't we teach 'silence' to children.
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      May 13 2011: Just to add, http://www.aikido3d.com/
      I like the story a lot.

      Paul, great question
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    May 22 2011: Hi Lucas...good topic:>)
    I started doing Tai Chi a couple years ago, I love it, and agree that it teaches us a lot about life. I was diagnosed with degenerative discs in the spine over 30 years ago, and started very seriously participating in competitive sports to build strength in the upper body to support the degenerating spine. As I age, the competitive sports were not the best choice any more, so I started doing yoga and meditation to strengthen the body and manage the pain. Two years ago, I added Tai Chi to my practices to continue to keep the body as strong, toned and as balanced as possible, as I age with the back challenge. I agree that if we understand and accept things in our lives, we can continue to "perfect" ourselves even in the face of challenges. I embrace one of the very core beliefs of Martial Arts, as I understand it...come from the core with strength and yield. Many people think/feel the concept of yield means to give up. To me, it means to stand like the mighty oak in the middle of the storm:>) I certainly would not say that I'm a good Martial Artist, but I am a good student of life:>)
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    May 21 2011: (Continuation as there was not enough space!! Oops! Sorry)
    If you learned to control your thinking mind, then you would also learn to control your pain.”
    “The longer you study, the more I hope you’ll realize ‘reality’ is a very slippery concept to grasp. The more you study the more you’ll realize you don’t understand what ‘reality’ is. Or perhaps it’s better to say, you’ll come to realize that reality is an illusion.”
    “You see, ‘reality’ and ‘pain’ are very much alike. Both are just figments of your imagination. Inventions of your thinking mind. Do you realize for instance, that when you look at and make sense out of something, 10% of the information comes from your eyes, and 90% of the information is made up inside your head. And that’s not just my opinion, my reality; that’s what research scientists say after many years of study.
    “Part of the reason why I sometimes have you sit in seiza for long periods of time is that I want you to realize that your thinking mind is like an undisciplined child. The undisciplined child cries and cries for what he wants, and then once he realizes that he isn’t going to get it, he finally shuts up and usually falls asleep soon after.
    “When we sit in seiza I see most of you are crying out from inside yourself. Some of you actually give up, get up, and go home. But if you stay, at some point you realize you’re not going to get what you want by crying. When you finally stop crying and accept what is, the pain you’ve manufactured inside your head goes away, and you get what you’ve been wanting after all! Such is life. Cry less, and try less, and you’ll wind up suffering much less as well.”
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    May 21 2011: Not sure if this will take up "too much space", but here is another story I have written that points to some of what we learn when studying a martial art.


    Pain … and the mind of an undisciplined child
    In Aikido we strive to find ways to leave our habits behind and experience the world from a “simple mind” perspective. A task that is much easier said than done.
    We do things like sitting in seiza for an hour at a time. With our legs folded underneath us it doesn’t take but five or ten minutes before we start feeling pain in our legs and knees.
    After twenty minutes the pain is excruciating, and we’re quite sure we won’t be able to withstand it for more than another minute or two.
    After thirty minutes the pain has completely subsided and we feel at ease. Not to worry though, as this feeling will not last.
    After forty minutes the pain has returned with a vengeance!
    After fifty minutes we begin to feel blissful and praise ourselves for having gone through whatever it takes to cross over to the promised land!
    “Such is your everyday mind,” sensei would say. “One moment you feel life couldn’t be worse, and the next moment you can’t even remember what your pain was all about. You make it all up, the good and the bad, and your experience has little if anything to do with reality.
    “Indeed,” he would say, “when you sit seiza, doesn‘t it become clear that the pain is in your head, and not in your legs? Or perhaps I should say, you manufacture the pain in your head with just a little bit of input from your legs.
    “Why is it,” sensei would ask, “that no matter how hard you try, you can’t make the pain go away? Yet at some point without any directions from ‘you,’ all of a sudden the pain is gone! Doesn’t that make you feel a bit foolish?
    “Tell the pain to go away, order it to go away, and it says ‘No thank you.’ But then at some point, and you never seem to know when or how, all of a sudden with a mind of its own the pain disappears. If you learned to control your thinking mind,
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    May 21 2011: Wow, happy to have some of my work shown on the TED site!
    Thanks Kristine!

    cb

    http://www.seishindo.org
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    May 6 2011: You already know I advocate martial arts. Great thread Lucas.

    Healthy body = healthy mind.
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      May 12 2011: Hey Nicholas, thanks for your support here bud!
      However, Healthy body = healthy mind - not always, not always, but I get what you're saying!
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        May 13 2011: Healthy mind can be taken so many ways.. lol
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          May 22 2011: You're both right:>) Healthy body/healthy mind can be interpreted in many different ways.
          For me, being healthy in mind and body includes awareness of the interconnectedness of the whole. The mind/body connection is very powerful, and with awareness of the interconnections, we can be healthy, even when the body may have physical challenges:>)