Tuesday, August 2, 2011


To love, is to act without a goal for oneself, or even to give, without gain. This takes many forms. Showing an opponent where they are open, so they may correct it. To help correct something that may hurt them, or even giving someone a dollar. Love is not sacrifice however, no matter how similar it may seem. Sacrifice implies you are giving up something that was yours to give away in the first place. Furthermore, as one 'sacrifices' they give up a perceived something, but in truth, they have two options. They may put their action on a pedestool, and breed a kind of resentment for the recipient, or they may let it go. After all, while they may be giving something up- They are gaining  love.

Give something away soon, and by all means, forget about it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Last night, after an extended bout of work, and graphic design, The realization dawned that the training was not yet done. Spiritually, things were good. The design process left me feeling mentally fresh. However, the day's previous physical activity in the hot sun resulted in the overwhelming desire to fall asleep. The first half of the usual physical regiment, a small run, a little Taiji, followed by some Hung Ga created a nice balance for the day. When offered the chance for food, my choice was a poor one. Chicken Wings. One of my ultimate weaknesses. Afterwards, I felt like I had consumed half a chocolate cake. Generally speaking, this wasn't the case, and merely a result of food related guilt, caused by a general dislike for my own gluttony. So, of course, the only thing left to do- was to counteract that with more physically demanding labor. Kettle-bells. This tided everything over for a bit, but after working at the computer for a while, once again, the body began making demands. And mentally, somewhere in the dusty, cobwebbed area I call a brain- Things clicked. The exercises from this morning hadn't been finished! And so it began. Pushups, situps, leg lifts, and more still. About three quarters through, I began to feel dizzy.
"This is odd." I thought. And it got worse.
The sit ups were the worst. The vertigo induced nearly caused me to vomit, at one point. Call me crazy, but it was awesome. For the first time, the limit had been approached. What had before been the concept of limit, was just a land mark for the convenient stopping point. Twice, I begged myself to give up. To stop, and twice, something denied me. Finally, it was finished, and I spent about ten minutes in Savasana, (Yoga's Corpse Pose) Letting everything sink in. Admittedly, for once, I truly felt the name sake of the pose. The dizziness didn't fade until sleep came, but when it came time to wake up- the sun was shining, the body attached to my conscious was pleasantly sore, and a first sip of water indicated one thing. This, is life, and it is beautiful. This isn't to say you should train until you feel like you're going to vomit, but pushing the self beyond its comfort zone is one of the few ways one can break out of it, to experience anything beyond that limited view point. It won't be comfortable, and it will likely be something you don't even want. However- to follow and do only that which keeps you comfortable within your own limits is ultimately going to be just that. Limited.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Bullets for Everyone

The nature of conflict is one of continuation. The larger the conflict is, the more opportunities it has to carry on. For example, regarding the recent Osama Bin Laden Operation Geronimo (Seriously, did they really think that name through?) we found American streets filled with block parties and celebrations. As much as the man may have deserved to die- in what way does celebrating this bring peace? I asked a few people questions about the celebrations, and they felt that it was justified, given the parties that occurred on Afghan soil post September Eleventh.
Say what you want about who started what, but the truth of the matter is, the hatred for America goes much deeper than just 'religious freedom', and it started long before September Eleventh. If that weren't the case, they could have attacked any major nation, like oh, say- Canada. Conflict doesn't just start randomly. People don't make enemies for no reason. It is a mutual effort. Do I agree with the 'terrorists?' Heck no. I'm proud to be born an American. But the simple fact remains, terrorists, to themselves, in their eyes, are not terrorists. They are freedom fighters, and heroes. It is a matter of perception, and culture. Now take that into consideration a moment, where we just spent a full day celebrating and partying over what some (Terrorists) believe to be a hero. You are telling me, that's not going to make them angry? It is stirring a hornets nest, and these hornets know where you live. As long as we justify actions taken with 'them' and 'us', the conflict will continue on both sides, and only continue to grow. If you kill one man, his brother, his father, his sister, and his mother will want revenge. Violence begets violence folks. The more you fight and kill, the more hatred you breed. Personally, I would have liked this to have been quiet. The brave men of Seal Team Six to have done their job,  gotten out, and nobody to have known about it. Instead we have what is essentially, the proverbial shit show. Painted red white and blue for sure, but there will still be consequences. As an American, I am proud of my country and its leadership. As a martial artist, I feel sick, that we cling to death and war as we do. It will not be eradication that wins the war on terror. That is impossible. It will be an attempt at understanding, from one side or the other, and an extended hand. This is not a simple solution, nor a method of winning the war on terror. I don't believe I have all the answers. Merely pointing out that true peace is rarely built on violence. I want peace. And if desiring peace makes me a criminal, then kindly throw me in Jail.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I was once told that there are three understandings that must be had for any martial victory. One must understand the self, for truly- without knowing your own abilities, you can not interact in a way that is meaningful and accurate to the situation. You will simply be blundering about, unable to find your way, like a blind man without a cane.

This is not to say blind men without canes can not function. It is simply more difficult to do so.

Secondly, there is the understanding of the opponent, and what they can and will do. If you are able to find that understanding, you will be able to take advantage of that opponents strengths and weaknesses. This isn't easy, but knowing that an opponent has a self proclaimed sense of honor alone can change things. A simple observation can tell you that they won't be striking for your eyes or groin. Two less things to block. You're ahead of the game! Go you! On the flip side however, you might be aware that your opponent is two hundred and fifty pounds, and for the sake of it, we'll go with me as an example, at a whopping one fifty five. Engaging said skilled opponent who specializes in hung gar in a head on grudge match of grappling and strength is probably not your best option. It will probably look something like this:
                                                             (This actually happened)

At this point, you're probably behind in the game. Oh well, moving on, we'll begin to consider the third aspect of the conflict. This is the environment that you're playing in. If there is a large rock behind your opponents feet- they may trip over the unforeseen object with a small push from yourself. If you are on a slippery surface... It might be best if you don't throw high kicks. You can utilize all of these things and more in any sort of combat situation. The trick here is to be an observer. Observe yourself, observe your opponent, and observe what is going on around you. Being stuck in your own head, or feeling trapped, fear, or various other states of mind will prevent these critical things from happening. An opponent will try to put you in these places, and it might be extremely effective. The same can be said about non combative conflict. In any sort of altercation, either mental or physical, we must be aware of what we want, and what our opponent wants, as well as any outside factors.

In short, this is a call to arms. For martial artists or anyone else for that matter. Observe your opponent, so that you can understand them, not destroy them. Observe yourself, so that you can understand your opponent. And observe the environment, because there may be rocks.

Peace and love.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

"The Buddha? Yeah I know that guy. He's a jerk."

           Enlightened beings are dicks. In many of the stories about the immortals- they are depicted as sagely persona's with powers beyond comprehension. This may be the case. They've reached an understanding and are approaching the universe in a much different way than we do. This does not make them great 'people' to hang out with. In fact I believe the idea of person or people is left entirely to the way side in regards to these 'things', or 'non things'. They can come off as total jerks a lot of the time. Their goals oft include getting you to get out side of yourself, and sometimes they do so by doing the thing you would hate most of all. The one thing that really grinds your gears, is the thing they might decide to do if it seems appropriate.
          Take for instance the Bodhi Dharma. This 'man'- and I use that term loosely, is known for a collection of stories. In one, he cuts his eye lids off, so that he can better stare at a wall, and not miss a thing. That's wonderful and everything, but let's talk about another story. A story that could take place anywhere, but for the sake of it, we'll place it at the Shaolin temple.
          There is a young monk sitting in half lotus, his eyes closed, trying his hardest to achieve peace, and enlightenment through meditation. Depending on your preference, either the hero or villain of this story, the Bodhi Dharma, walks over, and leans in very close to the young monk. The bodhi Dharma is breathing heavily, and audibly, onto the young monks neck, face, and ears. Basically like some sort of creepy, eyelid-less, dog, sniffing for food.

He leans in closer and after a moment, very loudly asks: "Hey, whatchya' doin?"

The monk's eyes flick open, and disdainfully replies: "I'm meditating, so that I can find peace. You of all people should know that." And shuts his eyes once more.

The Bodhi Dharma is apparently unconvinced. He replies, sounding almost a bit disappointed, "Oh okay." and walks off, seemingly in search of more people to bother. Maybe he did find others, but the important matter is, he comes back with a clay brick. He takes the brick, and begins to grind it against his hand next to the monks ear.

The monk, now irritated, opens his eyes once more and goes: "Okay, so what are YOU doing?"

The Bodhi Dharma answers casually, and confidently, in much the same way as the monk had previously: "Well, can't you tell? I'm polishing this brick into a mirror."

The monk, now flustered exclaims: "That's ridiculous! You can't make a mirror like that!"

The Bodhi Dharma replies: "Yeah, no shit buddy." Drops the brick, and walks off.

As funny as I find that story, it comes down to the idea that at some point, someone will make you mad with something they do. Regardless of someone's station, regardless of their level, understanding, or even ability- they will do things you don't like. They will do things that make them seem like the biggest ass hat of the millennium. A question that remains to be answered however, is how much you will learn from their actions. It doesn't really even matter if they know they're being a dick, or if they're even trying to teach you. Perhaps they really are just a total jerk. Even so, all of that is inconsequential- If there is an apt pupil, they will learn. The teacher does not matter. Pay attention to the things that make you mad. Do not be content with your dislike, or anger. Try to explore it, find its cause, and address it.

(Make no mistake, this is as much a reminder for me, as it is for any who choose to read this. I am no better, nor more enlightened than anyone else.)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Introductions Are Uncomfortable

My name is Sam. I'm something of a martial artist, and I live in Philadelphia. My training is in various styles, but mostly I dabble here and there, following a path that some would call emulating Bruce Lee. I wanted to start a blog, to track not only the progress of my training, but of all personal growth therein. It would be very easy to keep a journal, but that doesn't keep me honest. In a way, posting where everyone can see it makes me more aware of every little thing I don't want others to know, and that's vital to understanding oneself.  That said, this is a blog for those of us who drink tea, and enjoy it, and not only because it tastes good. This is a blog for those who have ever wondered about the paradoxical notion of training for war, to understand peace. Lastly, for those who want strength with which to protect, and teach others.