(This post was also published over at my health blog "Buoyant Vitality")
Out of all my blogs, this one is the most neglected for sure. Well I may as well try to get back on track.
So recently I've been considering my health with a greater regard. I'm 33 years old, overweight, and overworked. Also, I have issues concerning my blood pressure. I require real change in my personal paradigm when it concerns how I diet and exercise, in that, I have to actually give a shit about dieting and exercising. Although the works promoted in this blog are mostly attributed to Brenarr Macfadden and his Cosmotarian philosophy on health, there has always been another teacher I've regarded, and that's Grand Master Ashida Kim and his various self-defense and self-healing techniques.
I'm not an athlete, not in any sense of the word. When I was younger I did some weightlifting, but that sort of activity never caught my interest. I was always more of a bookworm than anything else. It's funny, because I come from a family of soccer players, so you'd think a bit of that would rub off on me but it just never did. My grandfather even played professionally in Chile for a spell. It's in my DNA, but that portion of my life was never truly activated.
I was first introduced to Grand Master Ashida Kim's books during high school, while I was a big anime nut. I had the whole set, but sadly, only one book remains with me to this day from then: "The Invisible Fist". After recently rereading it I can honestly say it still holds up quite well, and now that my mind is more philosophically and metaphysically oriented I can absorb the information in that book a lot more easily.
GM Kim's work is deeply spiritual as much as it is physical. A great deal of Confucian and Taoist philosophy is mixed in with some the techniques from Sun Tzu's "Art of War", and I-Ching symbology. GM Kim takes elements from all these deep philosophical works and creates something that is both refined and easy to understand. Although he has his detractors all over the internet, I'm very moved by GM Kim's non-combative philosophy. And if you look back on his career then to where it is now, you can very easily see that evolution. GM Kim's earlier works were about combat and self-preservation. There isn't anything wrong with that of course, we all deserve to be safe and feel safe, but there's always been an underlining theme of peace in GM Kim's work. Only fight when there's no other option seems to be the underlining philosophy behind most of GM Kim's work, and that should be commended I feel.
All the martial artists I've met in my life have been some of the most peaceful men and women. This idea that a martial artist has to be some sort of domineering force of nature, or a bully, or a meathead is just an old stereotype that never truly existed. I feel this is just a product of the internet age, but who knows really. I just hope that over time we can get over this concept and remember that martial arts have always been steeped deep in philosophy and culture. It was never meant to just be a sport.
So, going back to my health; I need a routine where I can easily slip into. This routine can't be something I do just every once in a while, it must be a new lifestyle. There are things I want to do but in my current condition I am incapable of doing. I need small steps. So when I was perusing the many books over on the DojoPress website, I was trying to find something I could study at my own leisure.
The question comes up sometimes on whether it is possible to learn anything sports related from a book. I believe we are our always our best teachers, and it's up to us to pursue our education in a way that aligns with our chosen ways of life. We live in a very advanced time where we can learn a huge variety of skills just by watching YouTube. It's all about how serious we are about what we're trying to learn I feel, so when choosing from the DojoPress books I chose "Mugei Mumei no Jitsu" and "21st Century Qi Gong Therapy".
"Mugei Mumei no Jitsu" is a short martial arts philosophical booklet filled with koans and simple techniques for any initiate to study and practice. I feel this is a good place for anyone new to GM Kim's works to understand the themes in his writings. There is a bit of tongue in cheek humor in this small tome as well.
"21st Century Qi Gong" is a simple system that goes over Eastern Qi Gong breathing techniques, holistic medicine, and energy manipulation. Each lesson is sold independently and is only a few pages long with pictures and instructions that correspond to YouTube videos you can use for supplementary material. There's also a quiz portion you can submit if you're looking for some sort of certification in this sort of thing, but I'm not doing it for that (at least not just yet).
The stances and hand movements (called "mudras") are thankfully easy to remember, so learning each technique is rather simple after some practice. The first lesson, "The Fireball", is all about warming and prepping your body. I was skeptical but I did feel much warmer after 5 minutes. It's funny how the human body can react to just some standing and breathing. Really remarkable.
So that's what I'll be starting for the next few weeks. This will be a daily activity for me to get me started before I move on to something more physically active. Small steps to start off with, but I have such a long road ahead of me that any step forward is a healthy one.