July 03, 2007


Caption: Seamus McGoogle practices tiger style.

Yesterday's post on the late great Bruce Lee--may he rest in activity--got me thinking about the best lessons I learned from a life in the martial arts.

Here's a basic one: live in your body.

It's sad these days to see that so many people--especially children and young people--don't.

I remember times when perfectly healthy kids were absorbed playing basketball or even martial arts games on a video game when they could easily have been doing the real thing. That's become an all too common post-modern moment.

I remember a healthy neighbor boy whose sole activity consisted of riding a four wheeler...

Not living in one's body exacts a high social cost in terms of obesity, illness, bad health, mental problems, and general well being. The way our society approaches sports and activity does a great disservice to many people: sports and physical activity are too often things you watch rather than do or are only done by a few people for a few years.

The first martial arts legend I learned as a kid went something like this...

The arts that were eventually known as karate and "kung fu" (not a good term but a popular one) trace themselves to Buddhist monks who both sought enlightenment and were committed to nonviolence.

It was said that Bodhidharma, the Indian monk who is credited with bringing Chan (Japanese "Zen") Buddhism to China, settled at the famous Shaolin Temple and began to teach. The other monks, however were too physically weak to make any progress.

Zen teaching is opposed to dualistic thinking. The world of suffering (samsara) and the state of enlightment (nirvana) were not to be thought of as separate from each other. Much less body and mind...

Bodhidharma (known in China as Ta Mo and in Japan as Daruma) believed that one could not make spiritual progress if the body was neglected. He began teaching a series of exercises that eventually the monks would use to defend themselves without weapons on their travels.

That was legend; it probably didn't happen quite that way, but the point is valid: we should try to use and develop body and mind throughout the course of a lifetime.

That lesson was a keeper.


Maine is the first state to take a stand against big-box stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot that often swagger into a town, pushing out small businesses while harming the environment and sucking up municipal services. Gov. John Baldacci (D) last month signed into law the Informed Growth Act, which holds big-box corporations accountable and gives citizens a real voice in development decisions.

Specifically, the new law—which was strongly backed by working families and small businesses—requires developers of retail stores exceeding 75,000 square feet to conduct studies gauging a project’s impact on municipal services, the environment and local businesses. The proposed store can’t be approved if the studies find it is likely to cause a quantifiable “undue adverse impact” in any of these areas.

Although Maine is the first state to take this action, similar legislation has been introduced in six other states in the past two years. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that states such as Montana and New Jersey have or are considering similar adverse-impact laws. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed a big-box impact law last year.

LIKE MANY BULLIES, PIRANAS ARE WIMPS. That's the verdict of a recent study on the fish.

MASSEY SUIT. It looks like our dear friends at Massey Energy had a bad day yesterday, when a jury awarded Wheeling-Pitt $219 million in a case over a contract dispute.



Mike said...

Sorry this is so late, but Russell Sobel wants to unleash capitalism on us, and he believes that car safety features encourage reckless behavior. His proof is NASCAR: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/page/5737/
I think he may have a point about NASCAR, and auto racing generally. When I was young, my favorite driver was Scotland's Jim Clark killed in a minor race in Germany after a nearly accident-free career. His problem is that he compares unlike things to make his points. Doesn't the term academic discipline refer to a rigourous and studied approach to a subject. Or does it just require handcuffs?

El Cabrero said...

Good call on the unleashing.

He does have some good points (make Promise more need based, get rid of subsidies) but these get lost in the extremities.

Maybe academic discipline is whatever you can get away with!


Hollowdweller said...

Speaking of 4 wheelers it has always amazed me that in a state that is #1 or near the top almost always for obesity that there is such a fascination for 4 wheelers.

El Cabrero said...

Aside from the other health issues of riding instead of walking, when I was on the local volunteer fire department, there were quite a few 4 wheeler calls. A lot of them didn't turn out very well...

My stint there also taught me that candles are evil...