The more things change, the more they ...

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The more things change, the more they ...

Postby Rick Wilson » Wed Jun 30, 1999 8:02 am

I am reading the collection of essays and book excerpts "The Overlook Martial Arts Reader". In it there is a portion of David Lowry's "Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai" (1984) entitled "Matters of Concentration". David Lowry began his training in 1968.

"In community sponsored classes or privately run studios as well as in a variety of books published on the subject, teachers of self-protection advocated a consistently similar approach. If such and such an attack was made, they taught, such and such a response was appropriate. It was a clever assortment of joint locks, strikes, and throws that were practiced until they could be recalled at a moment's notice by the student who then went on his way, secure in the knowledge that he was safe from any threats short of a full-scale Soviet invasion.

As some of these students later discovered to their dismay, the flaw in their instruction was that the muggers and rapists have always had the disconcerting habit of assaulting victims in ways that might not have been covered in self-defence courses. Then too, while adroit kicks and acrobatic throws might be impressive enough in the gym where they were taught, trainees found that their tactics could be a lot more difficult to execute with an armful of groceries in tow, or while bent over, loosening the nuts on a flat tire. When I started my own martial arts training, newspaper stories appeared almost daily recounting incidents of men and women attacked while they were preoccupied with those ordinary tasks, dredging purses and pockets for car keys or waiting absentmindedly for a streetlight to change.

A principle reason why so many of these criminal assaults were successful was not because victims were unable to defend themselves physically -- in many incidents they were, or would have been -- but because they were unprepared mentally. Under Sensei's tutelage, I learned that bugeisha of old faced exactly the same problem. He could be superbly skilled with a score of different weapons, but if he was caught off guard, his skills wouldn't have done him any good at all. That is why, in addition to his regular training, the bugeisha made it a constant practice to cultivate zanshin, literally, 'continuing mind.'"

The key in the excerpt is constant awareness and readiness, or to quote Van Sensei: "Hypervigilance"?

Rick Wilson

The more things change, the more they ...

Postby david » Wed Jun 30, 1999 10:25 am

Love Lowry's Autumn Lightening and the followup, Persimmon Wind, not for any great insight but to share in another's passion for practice.

Regarding that particular passage, I think zanshin as "continuing awareness" like a code yellow. I don't think it's "hyperviligilance" which I equate to having not just awareness but a certain degree of emotion -- fear -- and the adrenaline that goes with it. I think one burns out on hypervigilance which is then self-defeating. Some my take on the "meaning" of hypervigilance.

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