Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Martial Musing: Randori as Warrior Dialouge

Martial Musing: Randori As Warrior Dialogue

Free sparring has long been a way to test ones skill and understanding in the warrior arts. A small shift in perspective in the goal of randori brings massive rewards. I will share my view and approach to it.

Randori (????) is a term used in Japanese martial arts to describe free-style practice. In the dojo we do emphasize randori as a means to test ones skill and create new understandings. We usually have one person get in the center, and from that point on everyone just attacks the person in the middle.

Sometimes things get heated, and emotions flare. And its my job as Sensei to bring things under control. One one such occasion I was trying to explain the difference between “winning” the randori session and “learning in randori.”

When the student views the randori session as a mere fight the objective is to win. And we begin to rely on our most trained attribute and favorite techniques to do the same. And that is quite all right yet something is forgotten. The literal meaning of Randori is “chaos taking” or “grasping freedom,” implying a freedom from the structured practice of Kata (preset forms).

What we do when we hit a brick wall is to stop the session and together find a way out of it. This to me is the essence of Randori or Kumite or free sparring. When this shift happens in the dojo everyone wins. No sacred cows here, and every option is explored. This is the beginning of true Warrior Dialogue, and for me captures the essence of freedom from the known. Also we all learn what works best.

So try this next time you spar or do randori

1) Instead of testing your attributes and winning, begin to see it as an inquiry – begin to see each attack as a question posed to you. Now examine all possible answers, and most importantly the best answer for you

2) When you get stuck in a particular place or technique, return to your basics. I return to my Tai Sabaki (body positioning methods) and have discovered that most answers are there. When you do this particular method for a while you discover that “Advanced techniques are basics understood and done well.”

3) Get into the mode of multiple attackers on one, and its ok to get knocked out or tap out. The moments of “failure” can become what the Nobel Laurette Bucky Fuller used to call “Great moments.” Failures become great moments when you stop and learn from them in real time. Randori provides the best opportunity for great moments on the Warrior Path, when you approach Randori right.

When the student gets this, s/he begins to see randori as “dialogue” rather than a test. This step is critical as now the student is no longer viewing the sessions as something to win, or show his might. Rather s/he begins to understand that is is an opportunity to truly make this an inquiry into what works best. It becomes about finding the right way together with other students and the Sensei. In short everyone wins.

As always I remain open to your thoughts and constructive criticism. Until then train hard, and enjoy the chaos taking.

Mahipal Lunia


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Martial Musing: The Wisdom Not To FIght

Martial Musing : The Courage & Wisdom Not To Fight

For years have taught my students at the public park in a predominantly blue collar town with its fair share of trouble seekers. That evening as I was working with a group of my brown belts, a drunk man walked through the class. He then went on the be less than respectful, and challenging my right to be in the park.

Two of my senior students got ready to jump in, I noticed deep anger on their faces as their neck muscles tightening. I signalled them to stay put. The drunk then wanted me to apologize for being in his way, and I took a deep breath. At first felt a little anger creep in, then I took a step towards him. Held my hand out and said “am sorry for having caused you trouble, be well my friend. I am now going to go continue my training.”

I stepped right past him firmly and respectfully, showing him am not afraid as I started teaching again. He looked at me in sheer silence for what seemed a minute and then walked away. I could still sense the anger on my most senior students face, who is respectful and feels very protective of me. “Sensei, we could have taught him a lesson. Why did you let him walk away disrespecting you like this?”

“You remember the parking lot incident? The 5’4 guy who was rude and came in to fight over a little parking spot. And he ignored the fact that his 6 year old daughter was watching , and she was terrified out of her wits? Well I walked away from that fight too. Even though I had already run more than a few scenarios in my head of how the fight would end – quickly.” They all nodded remembering another incident not to long ago. So I continued ” whats common between those two scenarios?”

“You did not fight Sensei, and let those disrespectful guys get away without teaching them a lesson.” said F.

“Well, the purpose of a fight is to win. And in both cases I won, because I kept my freedom of choice and right to be a freeman. Besides what would the two fights have achieved? What would anyone have gained? A parking spot? Respect from a drunk guy? What after that…. how would I justify the use of “trained force” .. and what would the impact of that action be on my loved ones, and their loved ones.. esp the 6 year old.”

The students now looked relaxed and surprised. And deep inside I was happy that in someways was able to demonstrate a key lesson on the warrior path. Sometimes walking away in peace, is perhaps the greatest victory. It may seem cowardly, but IMO it takes great presence of mind and courage to walk away from a meaningless confrontation.

Another student who does like to fight a bit asked “so when is it ok to fight?” And without missing a beat I answered “if I had my way Never. The only time I would be compelled to fight would be to protect a life or to stop an assualt. Thats my take, and you need to find yours. Though I want you to remember that there are serious consequences of actions. Not thinking of consequences leads to disaster all around. So the highest form of fighting is fighting your own inner urges to prove a point. That is the ultimate goal – to be in peace no matter what is happening around. And should it come down to drawing the sword, then make it quick and effective.”

As conclusion I will summarize with

1. Walk away from every fight as much as you can, this requires a lot more courage than you think. 
2. Apology does not make you smaller or wrong. You dont need to prove anything. Sometimes giving the other person a way to save face is all thats needed.
3. If it does come down to an alteration then apply only “justifiable force” and think “systemic consequences.” War tactics are not needed for a simple argument and a simple hold will not suffice in a urban war scenario. Work those option out in your mind over and over again (more on this process in another post). This is the beginning of wisdom on the martial path.
4. All the years of training in the end is for learning to be at peace with violence and move towards harmony

This to me the courage and wisdom to NOT FIGHT.

As always I remain open to your thoughts and constructive criticism. Until next time Train Hard!

Mahipal Lunia

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#230 Gratitude - part 4, systemic approach

We are continuing our series on Gratitude. Today, our topics are:

  • Entitlement – flow towards you
  • Gratitude – flow from you
  • Energetic model: need both inflow and outflow