The Silent Storm

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It’s beautiful this winter, but also isolating. Sometimes our silence is the same. Be sure to find your Poetry or Martial Art (your outlet). Written in response to the DP Challenge.    

The Silent Storm
A season’s shunning
Colder than I’ve ever been
Bereft of presence


Note:  All schools and styles have different variants of the following stances.  These are a few of what we use.  Also found many variants of the Korean phonetic spelling and pronunciation – but you get the idea.

Sitting Stance (ANNUNSUGI – sometimes called the horse-riding stance)  Feet one and a half shoulder width apart, parallel and facing forward;  Knees slightly bent, back straight.

L Stance (NEONSUGI)  Narrow, feet positioned in the shape of an L – at a right angle to each other.  Front foot about a step and a half ahead of the rear foot.  Weight is on the rear foot unless otherwise directed.  Body turned to the side, head facing forward.

Walking Stance (KUNNONSUGI) Feet shoulder width apart, one and a half times as long, parallel, facing forward, front knee bent back leg straight. Weight balanced.

Stances are the foundation.  They are balance and the catalyst of strength.  Powerful. Conveying that soon to be unleashed kinetic energy.   When it is weak, you discover all the parts of your movements are also lacking.

We don’t walk around in an L-stance, posing for passerby’s.  But our every day to day stance, says much about who and how we are.  It can project confidence or defeat.  It says talk to me or stay away.

As martial artists we take stock of our stances, always when we practice, but also when waiting in line at the supermarket.

Letting Go

My Sabonim once asked me if I ever just let go.

“No.” I responded.  Followed by a quick “I’m not really sure what you mean, Sir.”

In my mind, there are two things that could happen should I let go.

The first is that a hole will open up right under my feet and I will plummet straight down into the ground, arms overhead with my fingers dragging the dirt of the long layers of earth, scattered debris filling my lungs, the pressure shooting me faster and faster through the tunnel until I eject at the liquid center, floating weightless, slowly realizing that I am drowning before being consumed by the molten core.

The second is that the laws of gravity will no longer attach to my being, the abandonment a surprise, flipping me over on my head, pulling me not so gently feet first toward the sky, with nothing to grab on to, panicking, struggling, screaming until I am hoarse, higher and higher, freezing, the air to thin to support coherent thought, and suffocating as I exit the confines of the planet’s atmosphere.

Neither particularly appeal to me.

We all have those things we need to let go.  From the past there are wrong turns, bad decisions, and a multitude of sins.  In the present there are the daily stresses causing clutter and chaos, a constant juggle and priority debate.  In the future there are uncertainties and fears.  They can overwhelm.  Often need reminders or a  swift kick to keep moving.

Not quite ready to let go,

but I am breathing.

Just One Word

This is an English translation of a Korean poem we teach to our students.  Author unknown.

Just One Word

Just one uncaring word can spark a fight.
Just one cruel word can shatter a life.
Just one harsh word can sow misunderstanding.
Just one disrespectful word can douse the fervor of love.

Just one kind word can smooth a rocky path.
Just one joyful word can cheer a gloomy day.
Just the right word can lighten an uneasy heart.
Just one affectionate word can show the beauty of the world.

I began the day in the first stanza but ended in the second.

Words are powerful.  Choose them with care.


Self Defense

Ran a self defense workshop this afternoon for a group of teenage girls.

The girls were upbeat but uncertain.  I was encouraging.

Passed along fundamentals:  Self defense is exercise. Self defense is stretching.   Self defense is eating sensibly.  Self defense is being confident.  Self defense is understanding your surroundings. Self defense is making sure someone knows where you are and who you are with.   Self defense is the belief that you can do something.

They were more enthused about the knee strikes, punches and blocks.  But hopefully, they took something home with them.

I looked around the room thinking that one out of four will be sexually assaulted in college.  One out of eight will be raped.  ( It is sad to realize that in the United States, every nine seconds a woman is assaulted. ( Some one you know has or will encounter domestic violence.  And it is more likely that they will not speak of it to anyone.

I wished we lived in a world in which we didn’t need self defense workshops.

But until that day, I want them all to find their martial art.  And practice those knee strikes.

Don’t Just Stand There

We lead by example.

I was slightly shocked yesterday at the school yard drop off.  There was the normal multitude of children and parents waiting for the bell.  The students are often rough and tumble in the morning; snow mound climbing, tag, ice sliding, and staging reenactments of wrestling moves seen on television.

It almost looked like a game.  The larger boy chasing the smaller.  Grabbing him by the coat and throwing him on the ground.  Repeat.  Repeat.  It started to appear less and less fun.  But all the parents simply stood there, ignoring or not wanting to be bothered.

On the next repeat, I stopped them.  Used my serious classroom voice. “Hey! If that’s a game, it’s too rough.  If it’s not a game, knock it off.”  The smaller boy disappeared in a flash, the larger stomped off glaring.

My son told me later that the larger boy is always hurting people.  We talked about things he could do, safely, if he saw it happening again.

Children learn by watching.  If we let things go, they will as well.

And perhaps by doing, we can wake up some of the adults too.

Competitive Feelings

Why are you so down?  So and so has it much worse off than you.  You’re lucky.

But it’s not a competition.  Everyone has issues, however our breaking points are not the same.  What may seem a trivial obstacle from our perspective, might be another’s brick wall.

I fall into the trap myself.  The ladies who lunch come in and bemoan their busy schedules.  I want to roll my eyes and say “You have so much.  How can you be unhappy?”

Your feelings are your feelings.  And it’s okay to feel them.

We need to remember to honor each other.  Offer understanding.  Validation.  Peace.

And at the same time encourage improvement.  What can you do to feel better?