Balance

30 01 2010

In Taoist (pronounced Daoist) philosophy the yinyang symbol, represented by a backwards “S”, is centered on the theory that all opposing things are interconnected and interdependent of one another and through this, all things exist in the natural world. Without going into too much detail and to allow for you to do your own research, yinyang represents balance.

Everyday offers up an opportunity to practice this concept. Recently I’ve been on a grueling and most turbulent adventure in my life where I’ve needed to apply balance to damn near every hour of my day. When you lose your balance, you lose yourself. You become forceful and delusional.

Within the theory of yinyang, there is a term used by Taoists, “wu wei”. This is translated as, action through inaction. I find myself saying this in my head to remind me to calm myself and to not be so forceful. By forceful I mean deliberately trying to make change of something that is out of my control. This also is a reminder that we can only control things that we have power over, such as self.

The universe and other people and all things will fall into their rightful place without interference from me, you, or them. This leads to finding faith in balance. Faith that whatever hardship or joyous experience that one encounters will be evenly balanced in its end result. As vague and unexplainable as this concept may  be, the path still exists whether we want to accept it or not. So however you find balance in your daily lives, through God, the sun, a tree, or an animal, or whatever…understand that balance will keep all things moving and changing. If you have a hard day, balance it out with something soft. If your day is full of sadness balance it out by doing something that makes you happy.

-MR





O.G. – Original Goleador

9 12 2009

When we think of sports heroes from the Philippines, the first to come to mind is of course Manny Pacquiao. A couple other notable sports figures to also come from the PI were Efren Reyes, a nasty pool player (ESPN used to show this dude get busy on the table). And a famous little toy turned competitive sport, The Pedro Yo-Yo. Named after the ingenious inventor, Pedro Flores.

photo from wikipedia.com

But long before these Filipino icons jumped onto the world stage, there was a deceptive little footballer (soccer player) that made a huge mark on the Spanish Primera Futbol League (La Liga). His name was Paulino Alcantara. Hailing from Iloilo City, Philippines, Alcantara was the first ever Filipino and Asian to play for a European club.

Alcantara played for the world famous Spanish powerhouse, FC Barcelona. He quickly made a name for himself by kicking the ball so hard during a shot on goal, that the ball ripped through the net. Barca fans, especially the kids, wanted nothing more to kick and play like the Filipino. Dubbing him “El Rompe Redes”, the net breaker.

Great Skill

Usually we don’t correlate football with the Philippines or vice versa, but considering the achievements of Alcantara one could begin to make that connection. While at FC Barcelona, Alcantara became the club’s All-Time leading scorer with 357 goals in 357 games. He played for both the Philippines and Spain during his international career. And made his debut in the Spanish Primera at the age of 15.

Alcantara retired from the beautiful game at 31 to become a doctor, go figure…

Bad Ass!

Filipinos may recognize the name, but I’m willing to gauge that less than 50% of the Barca faithful know that he is a legend, let alone know that he’s Filipino.

Manny Pacquiao is definitely stamping his fist on the face of world sports, but without legends like Alcantara who paved the way, many athletes from smaller nations may not have ever been given the opportunity to display their athleticism. Now scouts from all sports from all over the world are seeking talent in hard to reach places.

O.G. - Original Goaleador

I don’t consider myself a rabid fan of FC Barcelona, but I am a fan for sure. Here in the states, the coverage of Spanish and other European football is limited to a few networks so its tough to follow results and everyday happenings. Hopefully coverage will increase, I would hate to miss the emergence of another great footballer from an unsuspecting region of the world. Go Barca!

-MR

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulino_Alc%C3%A1ntara

http://www.fcbarcelona.cat/web/english/club/historia/jugadors_de_llegenda/alcantara.html

http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation/president/news/newsid=654697.html





Meditation

29 11 2009

We’ve all seen it…the image of Buddha sitting legs crossed meditating. We even jokingly emulate this posture in conversation to suggest peace of mind or the notion of Zen. But what are we really witnessing when we see someone in a crossed legged sitting posture? That sitting position is one of the most traditional meditating poses in all of Buddhism and Taoism as passed down by generations of practitioners starting in India way back when.

The day of enlightenment. December 8, 596 BC Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Image shows enlightened Gautama Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree.

The deeper one gets into practicing meditation, more positions are revealed and the practitioner  begins to build a repertoire for meditating. Something to think about while building this list is that, people already have a short list to choose from to meditate. These are things that we do everyday. It could be something as simple as making coffee, mowing the lawn, jogging, listening to music, or riding a bike. There are a number of activities that can put our mind into the initiation process towards meditating. The point of meditating is to think about nothing, clear the mind of all thoughts.

In the world we live in, especially in the Western side of things, its very difficult to eliminate thoughts. So to begin the delete these thoughts, what better way to begin by doing something that requires you to focus on one thing…eventually that one thing becomes so second nature you don’t need to think about doing it.

Through muscle memory we are now just doing. Then the mind is free to erase. 3 thoughts become 2, 2 becomes 1, 1 becomes no thought at all. In time of course.

Here’s a little something from the Buddha himself to help redirect our pre-conceived ideas about meditating…or whatever you can apply it to:

“Do not accept anything on (mere) hearsay — (i.e., thinking that thus have we heard it for a long time). Do not accept anything by mere tradition — (i.e., thinking that it has thus been handed down through many generations). Do not accept anything on account of mere rumors — (i.e., by believing what others say without any investigation). Do not accept anything just because it accords with your scriptures. Do not accept anything by mere suppositions. Do not accept anything by mere inference. Do not accept anything by merely considering the reasons. Do not accept anything merely because it agrees with your pre-conceived notions. Do not accept anything merely because it seems acceptable — (i.e., thinking that as the speaker seems to be a good person his words should be accepted). Do not accept anything thinking that the ascetic is respected by us (therefore it is right to accept his word).

Big Buddha in Hong Kong

For anyone interested in starting a meditation regiment or just the occasional break from our noisy world, I would definitely suggest learning the basics first. Then apply those basics to your world. For the traditional martial artist, I think its important to understand that traditions are good but not absolute, especially in the world we live in today. Rethink old ways, new ideas.

-MR





Enter The Dragon

25 11 2009

…My mission for this blog is to “re” -educate, introduce, focus, evaluate, do, think, the Way of the traditional martial artist. By this I mean, changing the overall attitude and perspective of new students, practitioners, and teachers…Bruce Lee once mentioned, and I paraphrase this loosely, that studying a form or a kata will pose restrictions to the practitioner in concern to physical movement. I believe he was referring to the mind of the practitioner as well.

Of course, this is not to say throw out everything that one has learned or ignore the fact that one must learn the basic building blocks for any martial art. My goal here is to expose as much martial arts knowledge and culture to as many interested people as possible. Because at the end of the day, the overall big picture of traditional martial arts culture – from obscure martial arts, weaponry, clothing, and everything in between, is dying.

The popularity of non-traditional martial arts has grown due to MMA type combat…but culturally speaking this is only one aspect of the arts that is being payed any attention to. This is why There are over 600 martial arts schools in Las Vegas, NV. and only 8-10% of those schools are traditional. The rest are MMA style schools. Whatever your opinion about MMA and other styles of martial arts, know that there is an unbalanced anomaly for what is being passed down to future generations of martial artists.

We’re living in a world now where learning traditional martial arts has dropped to the bottom of the list for “things to do”. With the economy blah blah blah…expendable incomes are vanishing.

And when the money is there… the question is, what does the prospective student want to learn? Here in the U.S. there are a number of attributes that help answer this question.  In a research paper written by Joseph P. McNamara – The Effects of Modern Marketing on Martial Arts and Traditional Martial Arts, he claims,

“Martial arts marketing tends to focus upon the physical aspects of the
practice, reflecting society’s sensationalization of violence. As
a result, the philosophical components of early martial arts disciplines
have been largely forgotten. As Zhang put it, “Everybody wants to
learn to fight. Nobody wants to learn real gongfu3.”
(2006). This is especially true of the multitude of martial arts sites
which focus upon drawing in as many students as possible to sustain a
strong business model.”

Read entire paper here.

Martial Arts is a business… This is where I step into the picture..When has learning an ancient art form passed down from generation to generation ever been a business??

Welcome to my blog. Enter The Dragon.

-MR