]udo koan

This is one of the most complicated of the ways, and perhaps the nearest to life. It is a general training of the body and not concentration on a special aim with special instruments. But because of the complexity of the technique, many students become wholly absorbed in technical achievement, losing the one principle in study of the individual tricks.

In judo there is no complete rest at all; always the balance has to be actively preserved under the push and pull of the opponent. The student is expected to find the truth of the Taoist saying: ‘The stillness is not the real stillness; only when there is stillness in movement does the universal rhythm manifest.’

In the series of photographs on the next page the attacker (on the right) finds a small chance and comes in. At the crucial moment the opponent will either shift his right foot forward to take his weight, or keep it still (steps 2 or 6). If he moves his right foot, then the throw (series A) will succeed, and the throw (series B) fails; if he does not move, then B will suceed and A will fail. The difficulty is that if we wait to see which he will do, we shall hesitate, and the rhythm of the movement will be lost. (The complete whirling action of B takes only about a second). If we do not hesitate but go in blindly, we are liable to find ourselves attempting the wrong throw.

As in most of these koan (spiritual riddle), there is a sort of cheating method by which we can half solve the problem. Suppose we have tried B and succeeded; when we come in again in the same way, the other man will probably expect B again, and this time he will move his right foot. If we anticipate this, we can go smoothly into the other throw. Then next time we change again. Simple alteration is of course too obvious for success, but good results can be obtained by determining in advance a sequence like A-B-A-A-A or A-B-B-B-A and so on. Still the problem is not solved. By determining our action in advance we get the advantage of smooth uninterrupted movement, but often we shall still be trying the wrong throw and be doomed to fail.

There is a song of the Way on the point:

The trees on the mountain are not so thick
That from time to time a moonbeam
Cannot penetrate.

Perhaps we can find an intellectual application of this verse to the problem, but unless it can help us to find a solution in practice, we cannot be said to understand it.


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