"One living daily in the Way carries their head low and their eyes high; reserved in speech and possessing a kind heart, they steadfastly continue in their training efforts." -- Mas Oyama
"Two hands are two doors; it takes footwork to open the door." -- Anonymous
"The mind is like a parachute; it only works when it is open." -- Anthony J. D'Angelo
“Those who are skilled in combat do not become angered, those who are
skilled at winning do not become afraid. Thus the wise win before the fight, while the ignorant fight to win.” -- Morihei Ueshiba
"To know that you do not know is best. To not know of knowing is a disease." -- Tao Te Ching, No. 71
"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." -- Vincent van Gogh
"Act like a man of thought; think like a man of action." -- Henri Louis Bergson
"Usually decision is the fruit of ignorance, hesitation of reflection. But the palm of courage will surely be adjudged most justly to those, who best know the difference between hardship and pleasure and yet are never tempted to shrink from danger." -- Pericles
"Serenity is the master of restlessness." -- Lao-Tzu
"Continuous effort is the key to unlocking our potential." -- Black Elk
"Remember, success is a journey, not a destination. Have faith in your ability." -- Bruce Lee
"There is a difference between a fighter and a martial artist. A fighter is training for a purpose: He has a fight. I'm a martial artist. I don't train for a fight. I train for myself. I'm training all the time. My goal is perfection. But I will never reach perfection." -- Georges St-Pierre
"The receptive triumphs over the inflexible; The yielding triumphs over the rigid." -- Tao Te Ching, No. 78
"During the warrior's journey through life it is preferable that his baggage be heavier than normal. To endure a heavy burden will make him a greater person. The warrior should live with great endurance and defeat all the great pressures of life." -- H.Y.Kimm Ph.D.
"There are people who believe that the practice of the martial arts only proves useful when the need for self-defense arises. True martial arts are to be practiced in such a manner that they are useful at all times and benefit all things." -- Miyamoto Musashi
"To keep the body in good health is a duty otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." -- Buddha
"Don't fear failure...in great attempts it is glorious even to fail." -- Bruce Lee
"You have two strengths...the strength of the body and the strength of the spirit. The body is the arrow...the spirit is the bow. You must learn to use the strength of the spirit." -- Caine
"A true warrior is armed with three things: The radiant sword of pacification; The mirror of bravery, wisdom, and friendship; And the precious jewel of enlightenment" -- Morihei Ueshiba
Proper Posture Produces Power - Good posture, which can be better thought of as “structural integrity” in your training, facilitates power, a better range of motion and increased speed. The primary reason for this is that good posture eliminates unnecessary and misplaced body tension that can inhibit body movement and/or cause one part of the body to fight the other in order to offset such tension. To improve your posture when training in Hapkido you should always consider the following: 1) the placement and movement of your hands and feet in relationship to your body’s center, 2) proper breathing technique, 3) good alignment of the spine and head, and 4) a thorough understanding of technique principle and mechanics. When we properly employ good posture our body “structure” can ultimately better support the power and speed we exert, while simultaneously exploiting structural weaknesses in an opponent. Without the use of proper structure we must rely almost purely on physical strength, which in turn can work against us by unnecessarily depleting our own energy and putting us in vulnerable positions to be exploited by an opponent using good posture. One final and less anatomical note on good posture is the visual and psychological impact it has on opponents – good posture communicates confidence, power and excellence in training.
No Mind – We often hear people talk of “no mind” in the dojang. But few truly know what it is or haveever achieved it even after years of training. No Mind, or Mu Sin (無心) in Korean, is a concept where the mind is not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. In the martial arts and Hapkido specifically this is the point where the practitioner relies not on what they think should be their next move, but rather what is their trained natural reaction and intuition. The legendary Zen master Takuan Sōhō best says it this way: “The mind must always be in the state of 'flowing,' for when it stops anywhere that means the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death. When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he is not to think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy's sword movements. He just stands there with his sword which, forgetful of all technique, is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man's subconscious that strikes.”
Empty Your Cup – In Hapkido and all martial arts it is essential to “drain your cup;” that is, you empty your mind before you enter the dojang to begin training. Through the process of pre-class mediation and Tan-jon Ho-hup breathing you empty your mind of opinions, assumptions, past history, old habits, and old knowledge. A full mind has little to no room for new ideas and learning. But when you train with the open-mind set of “empty cup” you clear out space to add new skills and knowledge and ultimately improve your abilities in Hapkido and as a martial artist.
Quickly Bounce Back From Adversity – When training things go wrong,mistakes are made, and problems are encountered. It’s part of the process for learning and becoming better. But if not managed carefully adversity can quickly cause feelings of anger and frustration to intensify, and such emotions will block or complicate our ability to learn and progress. Try to quickly bounce back from adversity by using the following, on-the-mat technique: 1) close your eyes and bring your breathing under control, 2) lower your chin and think about what went wrong and a solution easily in reach, and 3) raise your chin to the sky and open your eyes. Your mind will be fresh, and clear of the adverse event. Keep on training!
Why We "Hand-Fist" Salute - In Hapkido we gesture a salute to our fellow practioners by making a fist with our right hand and placing it against the palm of our left hand. This “hand-fist” should be held about four to six inches in front of your heart, and when presented to another person accompanied by a slight bow at the waist. Symbolically the right hand represents the physical self – and specifically to Hapkido the right hand is considered a manifestation of “KI” and power. The left hand represents the spiritual self – and specifically to Hapkido the left hand is considered a manifestation of “HAP,” or harmony and togetherness. When our hands are placed together it reminds us that life is a composite of both body and spirit, and that our mind is the pathway between the two. Furthermore the “hand-fist” salute in Hapkido is meant to symbolize and strengthen our partnership and relationship to each other, and to the world around us. It means that we intend to train together with power and harmony, and work with our partners in a hard but unified manner to achieve our goals in training.
Always Proper Breathing – Proper breathing in our training and life isinhaling and exhaling from the Tanjon, and is also known as “diaphragmatic” or “abdominal” breathing. Air fills the lungs much like water fills a balloon: from the bottom up. The result is relaxed, natural breathing (like when we sleep) that fills the lungs to their fullest capacity with enriching oxygen. Improper breathing on the contrary raises the chest, contracts the midsection, and fosters unnatural tension in the upper body, the ramifications of which are: 1) a raised center of gravity that diminishes balance, 2) tension and stiffness that restricts movement in training and techniques, 3) inhibited relaxation of the body and mind with each exhalation, 4) decreased oxygen in the bloodstream resulting in decreased stamina, and 5) muscular tension that distracts mind attention which consequently inhibits both tactile and visual perception, as well as reaction time.
Overcoming Fatigue – In our busy lives and training we often don’t have
enough time to rest. We easily become fatigued which if not dealt with properly leads to tension, anxiety, and stress. In Hapkido we cope with fatigue by yielding to it in the spirit of Mu Wei (無為), which among many things means “don’t force.” Fighting or becoming angry at fatigue will only frustrate or distract you, or make you lose your confidence, enthusiasm, and courage. Mu Wei accepts fatigue as an unavoidable part of your life and training. Give fatigue life and talk to it, and use strategies like the following to overcome it: 1) use Tan-jon Ho-hup breathing techniques to generate and disseminate reviving Ki energy in your body, 2) focus on or visualize the ultimate goal of your training and not on the side-effects of fatigue, 3) concentrate on the technical aspects of your training rather than the physical distractions, 4) use meditation to disassociate yourself from fatigue and its side-effects, and 5) bargain with your body – let it know that rest, nourishment and replenishment are but a training session away.
Be Like Water – For thousands of years in martial arts history The Way has been one of acceptance and noninterference, or what we call in modern times “go with the flow.” It is simple and perfect, and embodies the many characteristics of the element water, which almost all martial arts identify with. In your training consider the properties of water as you try to overcome challenges and adapt to new situations and techniques. You can flow over, around, under and through things. You can be hard and soft, hot and cold. You can even vaporize and be invisible. If you’ve had a bad training day, come back the next like water; the universal symbol of purity, birth and rebirth.
Simple-Perfect-Power –These words are the mantra of Grandmaster Jeong when we are learning and training techniques. In each technique there should be, and we should understand, the simplicity of its principle of effectiveness. Perfection is then sought by constant repetition in training. Ki power is finally added at the point of maximum need in the technique. Follow the Simple-Perfect-Power mantra and you will achieve efficient and dynamic execution of all your techniques.
Whether it's Hapkido or life in general, it is important to be a good energy partner. The Hapkido Way is the the way of coordinated power and energy; and thus in our training and technique there is a constant give-and-take of energy, especially as we work with our partners. If your energy is high or low, tense or relaxed, focused or distracted, strong or weak, it will come out in your training. For good or bad your partner will be effected and your training will be too. So take time before class in meditation and during the warm-up to make sure your energy is "on" and you, your partner and the entire class will have an amazing and productive workout!
Continuing from last week...there is an old adage in the dojang: "Basics become basics for a reason." The most senior of martial artists will admit that in confrontation basics work the best. Your basic technique executed with power and perfection will serve you better than the more fancy and advanced techniques executed with flaws. As such never lose sight of core principles and basics - review and perfect them often!
Remember that every technique contains all others. Traditional martial arts teach that every movement carries within it the knowledge of every other movement in the universe. In that way the new techniques you learn today contain and continue on what you’ve already learned. Therefore refresh and retrain your old techniques to help you better discover and unlock the new techniques of tomorrow.