CHRONICLES OF
THE DOKA

#27 in a continuing series

84 days in the teaching life of an
American sensei in 1999

It’s
important to engage students with some hearty conversation about martial arts while being careful to balance one’s talk with action. A friend of mine once became
interested in T’ai Chi and enthusiastically joined a beginner class along with
nearly sixty other people in an Adult School program. The teacher turned out to
be a novice. He spent nearly the whole time talking and very little time having
his students practice. After ten weeks, the class had shrunk to a half dozen
people.

It’s
a typical mistake in every dojo to think that their dojo defines the nature of martial
classes everywhere. Not true. Dojo’s, and the sensei that inhabit them, are
like night and day. You’re not going to get thirty years of insight from a teacher
with five years of experience, unless he brings other life experiences into his
art. Like a patchwork quilt, karate is just one Life patch bordered by many others.  

I
believe strongly in the idea of pacing students and building a strong technical
foundation. One must prepare the mind by organizing the body and prepare the
spirit by organizing the mind. Black belts receive the second floor of
knowledge after they have constructed and show skill in the first floor.

The
‘Do’ aspect of the martial arts encourages personal
evolution
and leads them into higher realms of self-actualization
where an actual fight is unnecessary. How many instructors do you know that use
sparring as a form of enlightenment exercise?
So you see, there’s technique and
there’s technique.

I
told Mitch, during his private session, about inner teaching transmissions. “In
some spiritual cultures like Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Enlightenment studies,
a disciple will receive a direct transmission from a mentor. The nature of this
transmission is beyond the grasp of the logically-oriented lay person. Western
cognitive orientations assume the transmission is a form of cryptic
intellectualism; the master says something nonsensical and the student’s astute
mind decodes the transmisson into a truth about life. That truth then lifts the
disciple’s perceptions of reality. But this is not the case. There is an
actual vibrational essence transferred. Student’s absorb an underlying essence by being around those masters
who can create gaps in the student’s ego, gaps that allow one’s original mind to expand.

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