The martial arts is one way of studying Zen

The martial arts is one way of studying Zen

The martial arts is one way of studying Zen. It’s rather a good way for a certain type of person, because the aggressive instincts are controlled and then spiritualized. Also, it’s a very tense situation. You get these injuries, which always look much worse than they actually are. To some extent, the method is to practice meditation while we’re actually engaged in the martial arts.

Generally, going out to a contest, I’ve studied, say, one or two special tricks, special speed and skill in a particular technique. We all do this at a fairly good level. When you go out to think, you think, “No, this is how I’m going to win, but I’ve got to bring it about, and I’ve got to watch out for his…”

This is the normal way in which contests are fought between two people each of whom has got a specialized idea and each has to defend against the other person’s specialty. Now, when it comes to Zen, he has to practise coming out and throwing away those special skills, so that the mind is clear like a blue sky. When you first do this, you’ll be flat on your back in a couple of seconds. If it’s practised, the time comes when there’s inspiration.

Then it’s as though, what in Judo used to be called the “God of tricks”. I don’t want to stress this too much, but the old teacher said if your meditation has been pursued, if you have practised this really to empty your mind, not just to go dopey (he didn’t say dopey, but not just to go slack), the time will come when the God of tricks will enter. When that happens, the man can win sometimes with a technique that he’s never specialized in at all.  Something quite unexpected, to him, as well as to the other man. That experience can be had in Judo. It can be a great help in life.

Generally in life, we have our special techniques, how we are going to win by shouting people down, by spreading rumours about people and wrecking their reputation, by befuddling them with arguments. We’ve got our special techniques by remaining very, very quiet, and then pouncing; by using some trick, going behind their backs to see somebody influential, and fix it that way. These things are not crimes, but they’re not very high. If – at a time when we’ve got a hate on, or we’ve got a great ambition which may or may not come off and isn’t sure, or we’re in absolute despair, or we’ve had a crushing defeat – we can throw that away, there’s something like a blue sky.

© Trevor Leggett

See also Judo should naturally lead to meditation

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