A Moment of Clarity

I had a moment of absolute clarity. I knew exactly what needed to be said. I knew what had to be done. So I put that thought aside and poured myself a cup of coffee. I reminded myself: the mind lies. Your thoughts are not you. Your thoughts may not even be reflections of you.… Continue reading A Moment of Clarity

Speed Chess

I’m curious: How good of a speed chess player could you become by only playing speed chess? No ordinary chess or ancillary study allowed. I used to play chess when I was young, but it was a very deliberative and sometimes serious process. I never really studied old games to see how I might have… Continue reading Speed Chess

Fill in the Blanks — Cause & Effect, Part 2

Long after the events have passed, I look back and ask, “What was the meaning?” Closer to the time of the story, I cast myself as the hero. Hardships endured were sacrifices for a greater good; rewards earned were trophies justifying my effort. The people around me who agreed were friends and brought closer; the… Continue reading Fill in the Blanks — Cause & Effect, Part 2

“Please Mind the Gap”

請小心列車與月台間之空隙 (“Please mind the gap between the train and the platform”) Taking the train around the city, the Cantonese made no sense to me, but the British-accented translation always followed: “Please mind the gap…” It echoes still today. In a foreign land, there is where you are, standing still. There before you is where you… Continue reading “Please Mind the Gap”

Aikido: Uke, Nage, and Mushin

The following is a bit ugly and unpolished, though hopefully useful in draft form. The short essay is part of an on-going discussion between Ron Ragusa and me on AikiWeb. Most recently, we are considering the roles of uke and nage—are they two sides of the same coin?—and we are questioning whether it is necessary… Continue reading Aikido: Uke, Nage, and Mushin

Zen Beatings, Aikido Randori, and Spirituality

Nothing will call your attention to this very moment—fully integrating your mind and your body, knocking you completely out of any thought loop—faster and more completely than having the shit kicked out of you. The Aikido version of all of this is facing that guy screaming fiercely from the bottom of his belly, swinging that… Continue reading Zen Beatings, Aikido Randori, and Spirituality

Good and Evil, Revisted: Who’s the Good Guy?

I conducted the following demonstration in an Aikido class: I held a tanto—a traditional wooden practice knife—and asked a student to grab my arm and prevent me from cutting him. He grabbed morotedori—two hands securely holding my knife-wielding arm. We scuffled a bit, and then I pinned him to the ground, retaining the tanto. The… Continue reading Good and Evil, Revisted: Who’s the Good Guy?