mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

A forum for those wishing to discuss Buddhist history and teachings in the Western academic manner, referencing appropriate sources.
HandsomeMonkeyking
Posts: 158
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:36 pm

mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by HandsomeMonkeyking » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:29 pm

I am looking for sources that speak about the connection of meditation techniques, probably mostly mindfulness, and martial arts.

Maybe somebody here has insights into how certain groups used their level of attention and awareness in martial arts or in other ways in their lives that might have not been for the benefit of others, but still had a big effect on others.

On the same subject I would be interested in hearing (not just legends) about the famous monks of Shaolin. It seems they spend their time plugging their fields, doing spiritual training but also training their bodies.
I am aware there is the legend of Da Mo coming to the monastery and seeing that the monks were very week, starting to teaching them martial arts so they stay strong.

Other stories I heard stated that they learned martial arts from travellers who stopped at the monastery, to teach them how to protect themselves (and the monastery) from bandits.

Maybe both is true maybe neither. Anyone knows more about this?

Since nowadays Shaolin (etc) is just a big money machine in China I am very reluctant of believing in currently told stories. Probably many legends are propagated more just because they sound nice and mystical and attract westerners.

I have not read many books on the history of Tibet (but plan to do so), what I am aware is that at certain times there existed armies. I wonder if their training not only consisted of wild battle stuff, but also incorporated meditation (to be more present/effective or something).

I suppose in armies on a larger scale this was not the case. I suspect only smaller clans or organizations might did this. I guess that on a self defense level in a time people used to travel a lot it was probably more useful than on large battlefields. Different skills might have been more useful there.

User avatar
Mantrik
Posts: 1548
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Mantrik » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:20 pm

With Japanese Martial Arts it is pretty easy.
Just Google 'Zen and (name of art)' .... and loads of material presents itself.
For example:
http://members.aikidojournal.com/public ... i-shimizu/

Dave Lowry has written some useful books:

https://www.amazon.com/Dave-Lowry/e/B00 ... 221&sr=1-1
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

User avatar
jkarlins
Posts: 561
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:58 am
Location: Amesbury, MA USA

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by jkarlins » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:35 pm

I got into meditation basically through martial arts- first kung fu, then aikido

I think a lot of people learn some kind of basic meditation in their martial arts classes, if they take them.

Chinese kung fu has extensive meditation and yogic techniques. The basic one starting out is standing (zhan zhuang). This is really good for your body and builds a sense of connectedness. I wanted to learn about chi and all that magic esoteric stuff, but couldn't find that much at first. I moved on to Tai Chi, and sort of transitioned into meditation from there.

Around the same time I started learning Aikido. Aikido is interesting because it places lots of emphasis on the spiritual aspects of training. I didn't learn sitting meditation during my training, but the whole thing is spiritual. It's also interesting because Zen was integrated later into Aikido. It actually has more to do with a group called "Omoto-Kyo" the founder studied with, and (I think) their use of traditional Shinto practices (as well as others).

Jake

User avatar
srivijaya
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:17 pm
Location: UK

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by srivijaya » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:16 pm

It may be worth looking into Kyudo. It's more mind training than archery. Eight stages of the shot sequence build up to the release. The mental state is said to be clear and un-contrived - Mushin 無心;
http://www.ikyf.org/shahouhassetsu.html

There's plenty of stuff on youtube too.

As an aside, you don't need to practice Kyudo, as such, in order to use these techniques. They can be used in regular archery too, as the mind is difficult to control in situations where scores count and there can be rivalry and distractions.

User avatar
Mantrik
Posts: 1548
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Mantrik » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:18 pm

jkarlins wrote:I got into meditation basically through martial arts- first kung fu, then aikido

I think a lot of people learn some kind of basic meditation in their martial arts classes, if they take them.

Chinese kung fu has extensive meditation and yogic techniques. The basic one starting out is standing (zhan zhuang). This is really good for your body and builds a sense of connectedness. I wanted to learn about chi and all that magic esoteric stuff, but couldn't find that much at first. I moved on to Tai Chi, and sort of transitioned into meditation from there.

Around the same time I started learning Aikido. Aikido is interesting because it places lots of emphasis on the spiritual aspects of training. I didn't learn sitting meditation during my training, but the whole thing is spiritual. It's also interesting because Zen was integrated later into Aikido. It actually has more to do with a group called "Omoto-Kyo" the founder studied with, and (I think) their use of traditional Shinto practices (as well as others).

Jake
Zen was around with Daito Ryu, as wsa Shinto. The 'O(o)moto Kyo cult is a modern development a little like a Shinto 'kibbutz' which Ueshiba joined.
Aikido is a synthesis, so drew from the best of what traditional arts had to offer.

Interrstingly, there is another synthetic art in Shorinji Kempo,allied to Kongo Zen. I am a poor linguist but I think it is thought of as a form of Shaolin Temple Boxing. All I know is that it hurts!
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

User avatar
jkarlins
Posts: 561
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:58 am
Location: Amesbury, MA USA

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by jkarlins » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:39 pm

My point was that Omoto Kyo was a bigger influence on Aikido than Zen. The point is not if Zen was "around," I was talking about the influence of things on the actual practice of Aikido. But please, it you have practiced Aikido, studied it, or both, let's split hairs about this. God knows the main function of Dharmawheel is to split hairs.

"Interrstingly, there is another synthetic art in Shorinji Kempo,allied to Kongo Zen. I am a poor linguist but I think it is thought of as a form of Shaolin Temple Boxing. All I know is that it hurts!"

So you've tried this? Some arts are bigger on the no pain no gain ethos. I remember when I trained kung fu (white crane, snake, a little wing chun all taught by this one guy) we would bang our arms up a fair amount doing drills.

Jake

amanitamusc
Posts: 1143
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:32 am

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by amanitamusc » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:10 am

jkarlins wrote:My point was that Omoto Kyo was a bigger influence on Aikido than Zen. The point is not if Zen was "around," I was talking about the influence of things on the actual practice of Aikido. But please, it you have practiced Aikido, studied it, or both, let's split hairs about this. God knows the main function of Dharmawheel is to split hairs.

"Interrstingly, there is another synthetic art in Shorinji Kempo,allied to Kongo Zen. I am a poor linguist but I think it is thought of as a form of Shaolin Temple Boxing. All I know is that it hurts!"

So you've tried this? Some arts are bigger on the no pain no gain ethos. I remember when I trained kung fu (white crane, snake, a little wing chun all taught by this one guy) we would bang our arms up a fair amount doing drills.

Jake
Did you beat on the dummie a bit also?
I wanted to learn push hands and had a chance to with Sam Tam in Tucson but I didn't.

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 451
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Meido » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:21 am

I have a little experience in Aikido and Zen.

I haven't discerned any influence of Zen Buddhist teaching or practice upon Aikido training. As noted, Ueshiba Sensei was not a Zen practitioner. This is not to say that some Aikido teachers have not been so influenced. But it would be accurate to say that Aikido is not an art with Zen in its foundations the way that, say, Mugai Ryu is.

The Kongo Zen of Shorinji Kempo is, as far as I know, a creation of that art's founder in the modern era (SK was founded in 1947), with no connection to the Zen lineages transmitted to Japan from China in the middle ages. I know nothing of its teachings, but would consider it one of the Japanese so-called "new religions."

On the Japanese martial arts side, those interested in Zen/bujutsu connections from a practice standpoint may read Takuan Soho's Fudochi Shimmyo Roku, as well as the writings of eminent martial artists who also practiced Zen such as Yagyu Munenori, Musashi, etc. in early Edo, Yamaoka Tesshu in early Meiji. In the modern era, read up on Omori Sogen (he wrote a book called Ken to Zen - The Sword and Zen - but it has not been translated that I know of). The records of Kamakura Zen translated by Trevor Leggett are also invaluable (Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans), as is his Zen and the Ways.

The former of those last two is especially interesting, consisting as it does of anecdotes centered on the practice done by often uncultured Japanese warrior disciples under Chinese and Japanese masters of the Linji/Rinzai school. From these one may get a sense of the psycho-physical similarities between Zen cultivation (at least, within those lineages that arrived in Japan in late Song) and the training undertaken by warriors of the time. One wishing to grasp the occasional historical intersection of Zen and Japanese martial culture might do well to start with that time period, i.e. the encounter - and mutually beneficial relationship - between Chinese Chan teachers fleeing the Mongols and the newly ascendant Japanese warrior class.

This subject is raised here every so often, it's worth a search to dig up some more discussion. Caveat also, I am no historian...just a regurgitator.

~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

User avatar
jkarlins
Posts: 561
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:58 am
Location: Amesbury, MA USA

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by jkarlins » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:03 am

amanitamusc wrote:
jkarlins wrote:My point was that Omoto Kyo was a bigger influence on Aikido than Zen. The point is not if Zen was "around," I was talking about the influence of things on the actual practice of Aikido. But please, it you have practiced Aikido, studied it, or both, let's split hairs about this. God knows the main function of Dharmawheel is to split hairs.

"Interrstingly, there is another synthetic art in Shorinji Kempo,allied to Kongo Zen. I am a poor linguist but I think it is thought of as a form of Shaolin Temple Boxing. All I know is that it hurts!"

So you've tried this? Some arts are bigger on the no pain no gain ethos. I remember when I trained kung fu (white crane, snake, a little wing chun all taught by this one guy) we would bang our arms up a fair amount doing drills.

Jake
Did you beat on the dummie a bit also?
I wanted to learn push hands and had a chance to with Sam Tam in Tucson but I didn't.
Took me a second there. You mean the wooden dummy! No, we trained outside usually, in a field. Just hand to hand. We did lots of drills, some basic sticky hands, "cover and repel" from White Crane. I think my teacher may have had a dummy at his house, but we were mostly doing hands on stuff. I just wish I'd been more disciplined at that point (19 yrs) to actually practice thoroughly what I was being shown. It took such a long time to develop a sense of real discipline and hard work.

Push hands is interesting. I mean this is a whole other thing, but yes, I did it for a few years. I wanted to learn the martial side of tai chi. Turns out it is extremely hard to find in tai chi, especially yang style (it's there a bit more in Chen I think). The other problem is that push hands is done in a pretty unrealistic way often, and there's no transition to sparring, as I've read there was traditionally (often via a sparring set, two person set). So you kind of learn unrealistic stuff in push hands, when it's supposed to be mind training, sensitivity training and basic applications training. It can be really cool, and to bring it back to the topic, it is good for mindfulness. You really have to pay attention to get good at push hands. You notice those gaps in your mindfulness (when you get pushed or pulled).

Jake

User avatar
Mantrik
Posts: 1548
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Mantrik » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:01 am

amanitamusc wrote:
jkarlins wrote:My point was that Omoto Kyo was a bigger influence on Aikido than Zen. The point is not if Zen was "around," I was talking about the influence of things on the actual practice of Aikido. But please, it you have practiced Aikido, studied it, or both, let's split hairs about this. God knows the main function of Dharmawheel is to split hairs.

"Interrstingly, there is another synthetic art in Shorinji Kempo,allied to Kongo Zen. I am a poor linguist but I think it is thought of as a form of Shaolin Temple Boxing. All I know is that it hurts!"

So you've tried this? Some arts are bigger on the no pain no gain ethos. I remember when I trained kung fu (white crane, snake, a little wing chun all taught by this one guy) we would bang our arms up a fair amount doing drills.

Jake
Did you beat on the dummie a bit also?
I wanted to learn push hands and had a chance to with Sam Tam in Tucson but I didn't.

Oh, I know too little to split hairs.
My master was trained by Gozo Shioda (and graded by Morihei Ueshiba) and so Yoshinkan was the basis of how we trained, in an association called Shudokan Aikido, formerly the first Yoshinkan in the UK. It was very physical, direct and dynamic and not at all like the floppy nonsense we mostly see these days. I studied a litle Iaido, and a few years of Judo back in the 1960's. I onlky had fleeting encounters with Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu and Shorinji Kempo - the former was fascinating, and very effective in its context, the latter not too dissimilar to Yoshinkan. These days I am unlike the few who survive to practise in old age, but one of the many with wrecked joints whio creak around in my 60's. ;)
Certainly, training always began with bowing etc to the Kamiza,so much more Shinto than anything else.
One of our teachers was Tony Doubleday who wrote a series of essays about the connection of Aikido to Zen. He was co-author of Elements of Zen and is now, I think, ordained as a Soto Zen priest and teaching in London. I wish he had published the essays as they were very interesting, but he may have them somewhere if you are interested - Google may find him. At one point we had a our own Dojo with a Zendo above - then we all moved away to other parts of the country and I lost contact. I did contact Oomoto Kyo at one time..........but wasn't much interested as it seemed very cult-like with reference to Onissaburo Deguchi.
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

User avatar
jkarlins
Posts: 561
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:58 am
Location: Amesbury, MA USA

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by jkarlins » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:26 am

ok, point taken

User avatar
Mantrik
Posts: 1548
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Mantrik » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:03 pm

Meido wrote:
On the Japanese martial arts side, those interested in Zen/bujutsu connections from a practice standpoint may read Takuan Soho's Fudochi Shimmyo Roku, as well as the writings of eminent martial artists who also practiced Zen such as Yagyu Munenori, Musashi, etc. in early Edo, Yamaoka Tesshu in early Meiji. In the modern era, read up on Omori Sogen (he wrote a book called Ken to Zen - The Sword and Zen - but it has not been translated that I know of). The records of Kamakura Zen translated by Trevor Leggett are also invaluable (Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans), as is his Zen and the Ways.
In terms of Aikido, you are a respected teacher, and extremely well placed to comment on the Zen dimension of Japanese arts.

Yes, Takuan Soho's 'Unfettered Mind' is a good source of accessible info in the context of this thread:
https://www.amazon.com/Unfettered-Mind- ... tered+mind
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 451
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Meido » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:41 pm

A great translation of Takuan's text was done by tbe late Tenshin Tanouye Roshi of Chozen-ji, someone who could speak from experiential realization RE this topic. An ebook version is available:

https://www.amazon.com/Fudochi-Shimmyo- ... B01LWE1BY8

- Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

User avatar
Mantrik
Posts: 1548
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:55 pm
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Mantrik » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:48 pm

Meido wrote:A great translation of Takuan's text was done by tbe late Tenshin Tanouye Roshi of Chozen-ji, someone who could speak from experiential realization RE this topic. An ebook version is available:

https://www.amazon.com/Fudochi-Shimmyo- ... B01LWE1BY8

- Meido
Thanks. The Kindle edition is very reasonably priced, too. :)
http://www.khyung.com

Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath

Micchāmi Dukkaḍaṃ (मिच्छामि दुक्कडम्)

humble.student
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:35 pm

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by humble.student » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:22 pm

On Shaolin, read Meir Shahar's academic tome, which covers the history and historiography quite thoroughly. There are a bunch of books on the legends and what not, as well as other works dealing with the martial arts-meditation connection, but nothing very serious springs to mind.

Another interesting (and academic) work tangentially connected to the subject is David Hall's book on Marici.

Regarding Ueshiba, if I recall correctly, he underwent some type of Shingon training prior to his involvement with Omoto Kyo.

odysseus
Posts: 1117
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:50 pm
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by odysseus » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:41 pm

War is not hell. It's just some torture that comes and goes.

User avatar
jkarlins
Posts: 561
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:58 am
Location: Amesbury, MA USA

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by jkarlins » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:09 am

HandsomeMonkeyking wrote:I am looking for sources that speak about the connection of meditation techniques, probably mostly mindfulness, and martial arts.

Maybe somebody here has insights into how certain groups used their level of attention and awareness in martial arts or in other ways in their lives that might have not been for the benefit of others, but still had a big effect on others.

On the same subject I would be interested in hearing (not just legends) about the famous monks of Shaolin. It seems they spend their time plugging their fields, doing spiritual training but also training their bodies.
I am aware there is the legend of Da Mo coming to the monastery and seeing that the monks were very week, starting to teaching them martial arts so they stay strong.

Other stories I heard stated that they learned martial arts from travellers who stopped at the monastery, to teach them how to protect themselves (and the monastery) from bandits.

Maybe both is true maybe neither. Anyone knows more about this?

Since nowadays Shaolin (etc) is just a big money machine in China I am very reluctant of believing in currently told stories. Probably many legends are propagated more just because they sound nice and mystical and attract westerners.

I have not read many books on the history of Tibet (but plan to do so), what I am aware is that at certain times there existed armies. I wonder if their training not only consisted of wild battle stuff, but also incorporated meditation (to be more present/effective or something).

I suppose in armies on a larger scale this was not the case. I suspect only smaller clans or organizations might did this. I guess that on a self defense level in a time people used to travel a lot it was probably more useful than on large battlefields. Different skills might have been more useful there.
The art of peace by Ueshiba is interesting. John Stevens is the translator, and he's written a few books that seem pretty good.

BK Frantzis is an interesting guy, very well trained. He has a couple of good books, especially his big book about Chinese internal arts.

Jake

User avatar
Harimoo
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:57 pm

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Harimoo » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:30 pm

Morihei Ueshiba was very critical of zen (dixit his son).

User avatar
Meido
Posts: 451
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:50 am
Contact:

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by Meido » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:46 pm

jkarlins wrote:The art of peace by Ueshiba is interesting. John Stevens is the translator, and he's written a few books that seem pretty good.
Stevens' book, and the biography he did of Yamaoka Tesshu (The Sword of No Sword), are more hagiography than history. But enjoyable reads nonetheless. I especially think we're indebted to him for making folks in the West aware of Tesshu, who is actually the prime example of someone who actualized a dual path of Zen and bujutsu.
Harimoo wrote:Morihei Ueshiba was very critical of zen (dixit his son).
This may be true, though Ueshiba Sensei was not as far as we know speaking from any deep experience of it. In essence he was an Omoto-kyo person to the end of his days.

Some of the whitewashing of Aikido history done by his son and others is also interesting to look at. For example, the sweeping under the carpet of his pre-war activities and "this is how you kill the enemy" language in favor of a mythical "Art of Peace," the downplaying of Daito Ryu as the source of Aikido, etc. The late Stan Pranin at Aikido Journal did a lot of great research RE Aikido origins and, again, subsequent hagiography...most of it can be read online I think at Aikido Journal.

~ Meido
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

User avatar
jkarlins
Posts: 561
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:58 am
Location: Amesbury, MA USA

Re: mindfulness, meditation and martial arts and war

Post by jkarlins » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:59 pm

Thanks, Meido. I actually haven't read much of the Stevens, just glanced through one book. It makes sense that it would be hagiographical, I think. The founder is seen as a kind of demi god by a lot of Aikidoka. We do (I did) bow to a picture of him every class. I think there are good sides to that and bad. I mean the sense of devotion and wonder can be good sometimes, especially if you're not used to it. For me, it was a big first step in terms of seeing the possibilities of humility and devotion. Of course, like you said, whitewashing can be a big part of this too. And if you want historical fact, or something approaching it, this is a problem.

There have been plenty of post-Ueshiba teachers who've incorporated Zen in many ways, overt and covert. This is one part of the picture.

Post Reply

Return to “Academic Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests