by Debbie Downing
I cannot help but smile as I read the various threads debating the true meaning and value of the “The Way.” Perception is one of the trickiest parts of being human isn’t it? Most of the time we don’t see what is right in front of us and do see all kinds of things that aren’t there at all. Seeing doesn’t happen in our eyes: it happens in our minds.
Yes, we study a self defense system. A fighting art. But in eighteen years of practice neither I nor any of the other black belt women I know have ever had to use our knowledge in a street fighting or self defense situation. Because I don’t have a testosterone driven need to prove my fighting ability does this mean I have not reaped the benefit or found the meaning of budo? I train at one of the top fighting schools in the country (Gary Khoury’s Karate Academy) In my daily practice I can work out fiercely and aggressively. Pitting muscle, sinew and bone against my partner’s and in this way venting my anger at the world’s injustices. Or I can use slow, deliberate body movements to learn to focus my attention, breathing and energy. Either way, it is a practice, like meditating or performing a tea ceremony, it brings us to the present moment, the here and now. We learn the calm concentration of inner peace as we engage in a never-ending struggle of perfection. With a calm focus we stop blocking the flow of energy. This is not a forcing or creating of anything new, but rather a recognition of what is eternally true and natural. As we go into our dojos with all our human feelings, the dojo brings us back miraculously to our true selves. We leave our worry, sorrow and anger on the dojo floor and we are cleansed by the experience.
Yours in budo, Debbie Downing