Both Sides Of The Brain
Ahhh …. My favourite…. Sensei can be a bit intense teaching this kata, it’s when we get on to principle number seven, the internal system. Our version of sanchin appears to be soft, in fact very Chinese in comparison to many other karate styles. It’s the pivotal point in our karate system where we go from external to internal at 5th kyu, the half way point from white to black belt. Sensei was giving correction to Tim, a slightly nervous guy who doesn’t take correction too easily….
“Tim, straighten your back, that’s better, now stretch the neck upwards, don’t stick your chin out, tuck it in…. now eyes, use intent… good! Tongue to the top palette, okay…… now soften down the conception vessel meridian, close the hui yin, hollow the chest and raise the back…” Sensei was gently coercing Tim’s body with his use of words and a gentle touch here and there to open the meridians. The problem was that Tim wasn’t responding too well, he has a tendency to over react…
“Don’t lose the original good posture Tim, put one layer on top of the other..” Sensei gently corrected the original instructions again. “Now, loosen the waist so that your bodyweight gets into the thighs and accesses the feet properly, keep your mind in the arm position to ensure the chest is hollowed, the arms lock the chest in….”
“Sensei, you’re driving me mad!”
“ I just can’t possibly remember all these things at the same time, it’s too much…”
“Tim, I don’t expect you to, we’re training both body and mind. The mind is being trained to send the correct signals to the body. The idea comes first and you have to allow time for the body to learn how to respond.”
“It’s too much Sensei, my head is full!”
“If the problems in your mind are too big, make your mind bigger and the problems get smaller.”
“Eh? What’s that mean when it’s at home with the kids?” Tim now looked completely confused.
“Your mind has focussed down on these ideas and has made them problems, it’s grown them all out of proportion.”
“So how do you propose that make my mind bigger?”
“Simply unfocus it.”
“How?” Tim was almost wailing.
“By letting go, and allowing your mind to grow. The technique we do at the beginning of this kata is specifically designed to initiate right brain activity. As you make the circle with your hands they will outline the edge of your vision, to watch both hands at the same time requires the ‘spatial’ right brain, the left brain will not allow this and will try to watch one hand at a time. Relax your gaze and let your mind grow and you can watch both at once.”
“I can’t do that! You could see Tim’s eyes flicking from one hand to the other.
“It takes practice, most people are unable to use this skill, their problems get bigger as their mind gets smaller. Sayings like:
“The mind of a bigot is like the iris of an eye, the more light you shine on it, the more it contracts.”
The mind is like a parachute, it works best when open.”
…are there to remind us of this skill, the process of teaching martial arts is that I give you an idea, it’s like a seed, it needs watering and care, you hold this idea in your mind along with others as I give them to you. Your body needs time to absorb these ideas, as you go through your training you watch your body not doing them, but this is good, because you can actually recognise what you need to do. Over a period of time the idea is absorbed into action naturally until the body does them without thought, then we add another layer and you go through the same process again and again. It’s natural!”
“So I need to give these seeds or ideas time and room to germinate?”
“But why does it take so long!”
“Because you’re not giving them time and room at the moment, and the process will take as long as it takes, it’s individual to each person. Those that find it difficult are the one’s that need it most….”
“Okay…. Relax…. Relax… let go…..” Tim was almost making it a mantra..
“Then, when I correct you physically, if you over react I can’t do my work, if you under react I can’t either, you need to be at peace and your energy in agreement with me to allow me to adjust you properly and get a reaction from your meridians..”
“Every time I try to unfocus my mind, I start thinking and lose it.”
“That’s why it takes persistent practise, there is an old zen saying:
“If you work on your mind with your mind, how can you help but be confused?”
The thinking mind will cease spontaneously if you practice this kata consistently and properly, this will take you into the ‘wordless’ or infinite mind, the experience will help you to receive inspiration and ‘jikiden’ or direct transmission through the correction I give you.
We have the eight principles functioning properly in this form. Therefore by accessing the points in the feet, posture, breathing and mindfulness, the use of the wedge and spirals balls and circles, the internal system and power sourcing functioning in harmony, we have proper martial arts taking place. How long will it take you to master this?”
“More than one lifetime sensei!”
“Exactly, they can be infinitely improved, so we plant the ideas and give them room and time to grow, so let’s take the time and enjoyment to smell each flower as it blossoms. Expand your mind until there are no limits and problems disappear. Let nature take its course.”
“You’re right Sensei, and I do appreciate that knowledge is precious, I guess it’s a ‘burden’ that’s well worth the effort. It’s time to expand my mind and mature enough to appreciate the gift that I’m receiving.”
“That’s an excellent start..” Sensei patted Tim on the back and moved on to the next student.