April 08, 2010

The point eyond fatigue

Minoru Higa Sensei and the students attending the karate seminar in Naha, Okinawa. Higa is fourth from the right on the second row. El Cabrero is in there somewhere.

As I try to follow events at the Massey mine disaster from the far side of the world, it looks like rescue efforts have stalled for now and things don't look good for finding survivors.

Several news reports have focused on Massey's safety record (or lack thereof), including the Charleston Gazette and the New York Times. WV Governor Joe Manchin has promised "very, very stern" action if an investigation determines that company negligence was involved. You go, Joe!

Several op-eds and columns have been written about the disaster. I'd like to give a shout to two. The first is by WV writer Denise Giardina, author of Storming Heaven and other novels and a long outspoken critic of coal company abuses. The second is by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

My thoughts continue to be with all those affected by this tragedy and I hope that both the rescue efforts and the wheels of justice move swiftly

Meanwhile, back at the Budokan in Naha, Okinawa, Thursday's training session was particularly exacting. The morning session was taught by Isamu Arakaki Sensei from the Shorin-Ryu tradition and emphasized proper technique, while the afternoon session was like an lesson in applied Zen.

The teacher was Minoru Higa Sensei, also of the Shorin-Ryu tradition, who has the deserved reputation of being one of the most demanding teachers on the island. It involved thousands of repetitions of basic techniques. It didn't take long to reach the point of fatigue and proceed well past that point.

As he explained through a translator, if one trains beyond the point of exhaustion, extraneous thoughts and wasted motion fall away and proper technique emerges. It reminded me of a saying of the Japanese Zen master Dogen, who write that "To study Buddhism is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things."

After two hours of his regimen, we were burning, but I asked for and received permission to train at his private dojo tonight for more of the same.

This morning's schedule includes a session with Isshin-Ryu master Uechi Tusyoshi Sensei and the Main Event, a two hour morning session with Morio Higaonna Sensei of the Goju-Ryu style, who has the reputation for probably the most grueling training methods of all.

Let's roll. On all fronts.

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