It’s been a busy few weeks and, by way of an apology for not updating at all in November, I’d like to share a bit of what I’ve been doing mixed with some poorly understood philosophy.
I warn you now this post talks about symbols and is likely to lose me what few followers I have (Hi Dave).
Most of you will be familiar with this symbol:
Yin & Yang is something of a mistranslation as this implies the two things are somehow distinct and separate (which somewhat misses the point). The Yinyang symbolises the unity of opposites and how the entire universe is in a perpetual state of flux. The ‘eyes’ are also important in representing that there is always mixing of opposites, hard within soft, light within dark… bloody hell I sound like E L James.
Now what you’ll probably also be familiar with is this symbol:
Which has nothing, whatsoever to do with the Nazis. In fact it serves basically the same function as the yinyang above. If anything it’s a more interesting symbol; the crossing bars representing not only the unity of opposites, but also that all things are on a spectrum…
But enough Zen, time to talk about fists!
A couple of weeks ago was the BSKF (British Shorinji Kempo Federation) Taikai (tournament). Shorinji Kempo is a martial art that I’ve been doing on and off for the better part of a decade and, having recently gotten back into training, I thought it might be fun to enter. There were a number of categories and, keeping in mind all the unity of opposites stuff above I decided to do a solo demonstration piece and enter the tan-en (single form kata), then a demonstration piece with my fellow kenshi in the dan-tai embu (group kata) and finally pit myself against others in the randori (sparring).
I think the single-form went pretty well, in fact I managed to come joint first. I felt like I messed up and am sure there were things that could have gone better, but I’m also sure that in competition you’ll always win when you feel you don’t deserve to and lose when you feel you do.
This was followed by group kata and, after a whole week of practice it went pretty smoothly (we came third overall).
My final event was the sparring and, to be honest, after the nerves and excitement of the kata I wasn’t really feeling up to it… which is a mealy-mouthed way of saying I crashed out in the first round.
My own highs and lows aside it was an excellent result for City Dojo where I train, with everyone showing up getting at least a certificate and between us taking away five trophies (although I’ve agreed a time-share on mine).
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse at what I get up to in my free time and whilst I’m not any sort of authority on zen, buddhism or the martial arts, if you’ve enjoyed seeing me get kicked ten ways from Sunday maybe have a look into dojos near where you are?