Our world is in quite a state of upset at the moment. Chaos and control vie for power over peace and self-determination, dragging us into endless conflicts and efforts to upset the carefully-constructed apple carts of our lives. The only way out is to find our balance by getting into the Flow of the lives we want to live.
Flow is a concept borrowed from Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy and religion based on living within the rhythms and essential balance of forces within our lives — and universe.
Life — and our attachment to our fears, desires and ways of seeing things — conspires to drag us out of that state of balance, making it hard to stay in harmony with the world we live in. Instead, we become affixed to a set of perspectives and beliefs that make it hard to focus on the moment without trying to steer ourselves to some reality other than the lives in which we are immersed.
Balance in Combat?
Karate comes with a set of rules and techniques that enable us to effectively engage in combat. However, its pursuit predisposes us to imbalance demanding attacks and defenses within the style as taught.
Anyone who steps beyond the bounds of goju-ryu to experience other martial arts will soon discover that the habits they’ve worked so hard to develop may serve them against other karate players, but perhaps may not work so well when faced off with others like boxers, jiu-jitsuists or MMA fighters.
It’s not that our art is deficient (though many argue much of goju’s martial prowess was lost when it was watered down to be taught in Japanese schools). It’s the natural result of being so versed in our training we become predisposed to certain ways of moving and fighting that make it hard to adapt to others who don’t move the same way or play by those rules.
Goju — meaning hard/soft — ostensibly embodies the Taoist concept of yin and yang, where one extreme flows into its opposite and back again in a continue cycle of energetic movement. Our approach here at Goju at Home is to emphasize the “ju” to restore some of that balance in your training.
But our approach is not just about restoring balance in combat. It’s about bringing that balance to all aspects of your life, and not just leaving it on the dojo (or for our home workout warriors, their living room) floor.
You work hard at developing your art and prowess in karate. But do you work as hard at developing your balance in your affairs in the outer world where punches and kicks are replaced with harsh words and harmful deeds?
Bringing Your Training to Life
Just as in combat we work to find the flow of energy exchanged with our opponent, we also need to navigate the energies of conflict that swirl through our outer affairs.
This takes focus and presence of mind, as well as “relaxing” into the moment by trusting yourself to respond in a way that will not only allow you to survive and prosper, but also will bring peace and joy and love and light to those you interact with.
Only when you do can you get into the flow and live in harmony with that world, instead of at odds with it.
In these contentious times of pandemics, lockdowns and mandates, it’s easy to get pulled off center and lose our balance. These are the moments when you must bring to bear the very best of what you have worked so hard to develop within yourself.
Find commonality. Look for the good in others, even when you think they’re wrong. Realize you are all individualized expressions of the One Infinite Creator, and seek ways of honoring theirs as much as your own.
Most of all, don’t be the bull in the china shop. Relax into life. Feel the energy . Sense its flow in every situation. Learn to let it lead you so you can navigate the conflicts it in a way that keeps you in harmony with that outer world and you in a state of peace.
Remember, the greatest warrior is not the one who fights and wins all the time. It is the one who knows when to fight and when not to, and how to allow the energies of conflict to wash over them and then away without engaging them any more than is absolutely necessary.
Don’t succumb to the contentiousness. Maintain your discipline. Bring your inner skills to the fore and apply them to the life you’re living now.
Your world needs you to show it the way. That way is in the flow and keeping your balance within it.