Jiu-jitsu Zen

by Sensei Mike Pepe

In the martial arts circle, we sit in seiza (kneeling position with closed eyes and try to reach a relaxed or euphoric state called Zen. Practitioners of Zen, when asked what they hope to gain from meditation offer a variety of answers. Relaxation for some, to reenergize for others.

But there is no need to sit frozen, in an uncomfortable bent knee position in perfect silence to achieve any type of satori (awakening).  

Americans, searching for the "fountain of tranquility" are turning to moving meditation in record numbers. Most often, this takes the form of some sort of yoga or Tai Chi.

 Moving Zen can also be a jogger who doesn't hear his own footsteps and moving Zen can be someone building an intricate model and achieving a Zen like state could be playing the harp or other instrument in which you concentrate your mind and body in hopes of leaving this material world for a brief moment.

 Jiu-jitsu is moving Zen. I will go, as far as to say jiu-jitsu is the perfect form of Zen meditation.

The first time you feel this is during throws. When you are lifted off this earth and during the time you reach the peak of the throw but before you begin your decent to the mat. This "moment", of being suspended in air is truly a moment of freedom for body, even as the mind is deciphering information such as height, speed of fall, and angle of body. The voices of people near you cease in your mind and the next sound you hear is the slap as you break your fall. It is very much a relaxed mind and body that places you safely back on the earth.

 Randori (free sparring) is another avenue of Zen in jiu-jitsu. When you meditate you, try to reach a harmony of your mind and body. Here to in randori, your mind must tell the hands and feet what to do. These "instructions" must be carried out in unison with the muscles and breath.

 If this happens, is it not a pure form of "aiki" (harmony of energy)? Osensei Ueshiba said once "I am one with the universe. When you fight me you are trying to fight against the universe and you can't beat the universe."(not quote)

  During free sparring, you must clear your mind. You must not think of a certain techniques. Just react to what your opponent gives you. Do not think, "I must win". Only think, "I am here and must deal with the present". 

 There are stories of monks, who, while meditating, emit a light, levitate or even disappear!While practicing Zen Jiu-jitsu you must become one with your opponent. Make him you. His gi and skin are only an extension of yours. You must sense his every move and his intention to move. You must sense his emotion. (Study this well)

After randori you will feel reenergized. Most often students say, "That felt great"!

They have just left their street clothes, harmonized with another, tuned into their body, coordinated their mind, body AND breath.

 Truly, it must be satori! Or at least the Zen of Jiu-jitsu...

A warrior rambling

Sensei Mike





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