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A Break from Martial Mania

Hisashi buri!

Long time no post eh?

I returned from an epic trip to Yakushima Island in south west Japan with many tales of folly and adventure! But alas, chronicling such matters for the blog seems to be taking a lot more time than I’m willing to offer at the moment. It is a work in progress, and maybe, just maybe will manifest into a readable format. Until that time, I will resume somewhat usual blogging matters after what has been a couple weeks now.

Not only have I been away from the keyboard for a couple weeks, the actual 8 day trip itself kept me away from the dojo, and has greatly affected my psyche concerning martial arts as a whole. Generally speaking, I’ve spent a little less time thinking about martial arts, and a lot less time obsessing or worrying about them. The period of time leading up to the trip, I found myself in a month of increasing stress (both eustress: “stress that is deemed healthful or giving one the feeling of fulfillment”, and distress: “that which causes pain, suffering, trouble, danger, etc.” [or how about this definition of distress: to dent, scratch, or stain (furniture, lumber, or the like) so as to give an appearance of age.] [definitions found at “definitions.com”]) Time was also frantically spent at school reading blogs concerning martial arts and ordering martial arts books. Time spent showing up early for training to practice ken and jo, and time spent after training at home practicing ken and jo. All the while, images of black belts and hakamas haunted me, making me stare with tunnel vision 10, 20, 30, 40 years into the future … with little attention to 99% of everything else around me. On the one hand I felt my physical level in aikido rise noticeably and immediately in certain ways, but like I said, ignored about 99.9% of everything else around me. I’ve been here many times before, and even predicted the fall that would follow my ascension of this spike of sorts.

I knew Yakushima would make a lot of my martial concerns dissipate around me as I explored new streets and climbed mountains loaded with a heavy pack, and it certainly did. But this is not to say I forgot at all about martial arts, it was just from a very different perspective … one that was looking in on it all. After the camping/hiking adventure, I came back down to sea level and poked my head back into the budo blog realm, and watched it with a squinch in my nose and brow. Judgements and revelations as well as innocent endeavors cast across inter-web space in every color and direction. I looked at all the blogs I have listed in the sidebar of my own, and was swamped by the shear amount of information. What did this have to do with me? How relevant is this to my life? I cracked the frosty asahi that was waiting next to the keyboard and stepped outside onto the porch of my hostel to watch a cloudless sunset.

When I finally came back to Kurobe, I had somehow contracted a debilitating stomach flu, that sent me to the hospital, and vomit all over the walls of my bathroom. I had to take two days off work, and inevitably miss an aikido class. I thought it would be a nice time to relax and slowly reorganize things from my trip before returning fully to my life of routine… but I spent all the energy I could making a 20 minute trip to the store, and keeping my eyes open to watch a single movie. The rest of the time, lethargy allowed me nothing but the desire to find the womb silent half-asleep, half-awake in my futon.

When I did return, it was with great enthusiasm to conduct my life with consistency and moderation for the things I love in my life, and leave a lot of open space to explore what things may flow in and out. I found a book that has proved to be very therapeutic to my current martial condition: “Watch My Back” by Geoff Thompson. Instead of my usual textbook-like rotating library of strict and serious accounts of well-established traditions, this book is the story of a young man finding his way through the mayhem of being a doorman in urban England. (Something I would never want to do! But it sure is interesting.) This auto-biography of sorts is a refreshing change. However, a week and 100 pages later, I have already found myself clouding my view with these encapsulating stimulations concerning martial arts again, and am recoiling a bit at the moment.

I’m beginning to ramble, but I guess the point of putting these thoughts onto this blog for people to spend time to read … is to mark a reformation of martial arts in my life. Not a revolution, but a reformation; and one made from the general standpoint of “my life” … instead of one happening to my life from the standpoint of “budo”.

Why do I spend so much time in my white superhero outfit, reading about ancient traditions and recent occurences of violence, and swinging wooden sticks around when I’m alone?

I don’t really know, but I’m sure I will continue to think about it … with consistency and moderation.
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