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#47 - Shaolin Koan on Perspective and Ultimate Truth

Updated: Jan 11


Mushin Chinese symbols, or mindless action

The relative within the absolute

The absolute within the relative

Coming from the absolute

Arrival at mutual integration 

Unity attained

Mushin (Lint, mindless) is a psychological concept characterized by an absence of thoughts and emotions, allowing the mind to remain open and adaptable to all circumstances. The expression is a shortening of the term zen mushin no shin (Muhin no shin, lit mind mind).

I have had some new thoughts about effective self-defense. I am widening my guard, and stance work is mostly left for more natural movement. Everything can be broken down to consider attack and defense from a sphere centered on one’s center. Obviously, with effective footwork, one can expand and contract that sphere of protection. From that centerline one rushes within the effective range of your opponent. If they prefer kicks, hallow or shield kick and advance with a counter. If they’re a boxer, block and immediately counter. If they have a weapon, advance within range of the threat and harvest the limb that holds it, and never give it back. Once within range begin combative strikes before a potential takedown.


There are patterns that are repeated to find the most efficient way to reflexively escape from an attack. The whole body must be used in concert to add power to the escape. At the same time, the movements use the body mechanics of hinge joints, levers, and wedges to approach the self-defense in a precise and principle based manner. The principles repeat and make it easier to build the habit necessary to escape threatening positions under stress, as is necessary. Practice and respect for both 21st century and traditional martial arts weapons, and combat with multiple opponents is part of the program. There is more of an emphasis on creative response to a threat than there is on strict stance work with pre-planned movements.


I place a strong emphasis on building respect and the character traits to lead others to the best lives that could be achieved. Confidence, fitness, courage, perseverance, and self-control are hallmarks of the program. There is a path to passing on the lessons learned in the program to others, which demonstrates a complete understanding of the techniques and of what a community is.


The system is a combination of a few styles: Krav Maga, Muay Thai kickboxing, Kali, and submission grappling. It is more of a striking school, and every instructor brings a unique background to the techniques. The grappling has a basis in western wrestling and jiu jitsu, and I have found the striking to be more upper body focused in application. The drills used to practice the techniques have a variety of focus’ behind them, but the intensity of springing quickly to an offensive position from a defensive position is behind all of them.


I have heard recently that any restriction on individual freedom is violence. I don’t necessarily believe in this definition, as this makes many things in the world violence and even more slip into a gray area. Legitimate barriers on another’s behavior for comfort could become violence with this definition. Fences and property can become violence, and intentionally misleading people to make decisions (whether good for them or not) could be perceived as violence. The play with definitions of words that society seems to be engaging these days seems dangerous to me. If everything is violence, then why shouldn’t I engage in it to defend my own freedom even when faced with minor restrictions on behavior?


Some systems of martial arts emphasize a concept that all blocks are strikes: move to the aggressive or offensive standpoint as quickly as possible. If one is always retreating and defending then movement is dictated by the aggressor. If the aggressor does not have negative consequences for actions, then why stop that which has rewarded in the past? Revenge is a kind of reward for many.


It is in the consequence of actions that one finds reward or cost. A purchased education, skill, or tool can be an investment if it returns value in excess of the cost. The Shaolin did so with the Tang Dynasty, originally with a kidnapping but then with the relations they had with the public, some of whom had come to see the Shaolin as sohei and rarely akuso, and relied on them as such. Many temples were raided and ransacked by the descendants of that empire, but the Shaolin was predominantly spared by their use of a steel stele recording imperial gratitude for actions.

Wu Wei Chinese symbos, or nonaction

wuwei, (Chinese: “nonaction”; literally, “no action”) in Chinese philosophy of early Daoism (daojia), the practice of taking no action that is not in accord with the natural course of the universe.


To approach with love is a preferred standpoint, as people are more likely to respond with love if presented with it. However, some people are not emotionally situated to provide love, and certainly are not if they are already engaged in some form of violence upon another. Many people have an individualistic mindset, especially in a competitive landscape where survival and comfort are not guaranteed. Whether this is a natural or nurtured response matters less as to the reality we find ourselves in.


Some systems of martial arts keep with more gentle means of restricting another individual’s freedom. These are less effective with the bursts and occasional surprises that conflict can manifest. However, maintaining that control is the way that an enemy can be restrained to protect oneself and others who are around. But without the physical trauma provided to the aggressor, he will typically just wait for another opportunity to strike.


The type of strike and violence that one engages in can be considered in a couple of different lenses. First, is there a goal beyond harming the other? If so, then this social violence is typically for social status, wealth, or pride. If confronted with a powerful and unyielding force it can be mitigated. Perhaps empathetic words can even stop it before it begins. However, there is also antisocial violence. This sociopathic attack on another to exterminate or cause pain can only be stopped with more violence. This includes terrorism (domestic or otherwise), genocide, or warfare.


Secondly, is this occurring in a public or private place? If you are truly isolated, then there is no way out except through the violent assailant. If in public or near a public place you may be able to get support through cries for help or by remaining with another as you escape the dangerous location. It is always best to be aware of the potential dangers as you move through life (which change based on location, time of day, and many other factors). The attacker will have thought out the best place to ambush his victim, and you are at an extreme disadvantage if you do not think so.


If you do not think through the threats you could face, you could be caught in a fatal funnel. This is a location where there are few ways out, and often the one exit would be blocked by the attacker in question. This could be as simple as a parking garage where you are trapped between cars, or an airplane such as that which was exploited by hijackers during 9/11. - SG

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This blog has been a work of love developed over the past ten years and finally brought to life through the dedicated tech help by Soren, who was originally my physical therapist and now is a time-limited partner who managers two other martial arts training centers. Being an old gay guy I struggle to function well in the blog-a-sphere so this presentation will be a bit rough at first. Feel free to lend your ideas.


Since my teen years I have believed that through appropriate touch we can heal ourselves. But the journey to better understand my own dynamics and gain enough awareness to be able to write about our complex humanness only coalesced after I had an opportunity to be in prison. There I had time to do deep self-examinations about why I was who I am and how I could translate that into helping others make discoveries for themselves. I do not claim to be a professional therapist or counselor.


But I do believe there are others in this world who might benefit from these ideas presented in this blog platform. Having grown to the point of releasing nearly all of my fears and can now truly say that I love every moment and feel in partnership with my soul, I feel that others may benefit from my travels. Being non-judgmental I welcome your insights, whatever they may be, and I will strive to help everyone find greater peace in their lives. and Hoshow, LLC.


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