Sparks from the flint of the heart

In the last article, the case was given where something (say a garden) has been created with work and sacrifice. Then someone comes at night and deliberately destroys it. If he later admits doing it, and is asked why, he says: ‘Oh, I don’t need a reason. I just wanted a bit of fun.’ Now how is a man of Budo to react to that situation? I wrote last time how a Zen teacher said: ‘It’s no good trying desperately to forgive him a little. You have to drink that poison down, to the last drop.’ A Budo teacher said about a similar case: ‘Your personality is like a little cage; the bars are your feelings of Me and Mine. The bars are not fixed to anything; the only reason they are there is because you are hugging them to yourself. What has happened is like a crow, and it takes up a lot of space in the cage because the cage is so small. Now stop holding up those bars: throw them away. You’ll find that the crow flaps away till it’s only a speck in the blue sky. Then get on with your Judo under that blue sky.’ …

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Onshi: Revered Teacher

Onshi: there is no single word in English. Revered teacher, beloved teacher: these are not natural English phrases. The single word ’teacher’ can refer to anyone from Verrocchio who taught Leonardo da Vinci, to an irritable old lady forcing spelling into unwilling children. Master can mean the head of an Oxford College (Master of Balliol College) to a barber with one apprentice boy. Some Continental languages distinguish: they use maestro for instance to mean a master pianist or artist, who also teaches, and a quite different word for an employer. In English we borrow the Italian word Maestro with that meaning. I suppose this shows that though we have respect for art and learning and science, we do not revere them or their teachers. Recently a new word has been introduced to fill the gap, but again it is a foreign word: guru. Originally this is a Sanskrit word meaning a spiritual teacher. Literally it means heavy, and the English ’gravity’ comes from the same root. It is used now to mean a very wise adviser, not an employee. Professor Walters ‘was called Prime Minister Thatcher’s financial guru. She took his advice without question. But there is no evidence that …

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Principle of Highest Efficiency

Dr. Kano put forward the Principle of Highest Efficiency as one of the central pillars of his system. He used to give illustrations in the physical field, which are familiar to all students of Judo; for instance, unnecessary force should not be used in making a throw, but just enough to make it succeed. This was contrary to some of the older Ju-jutsu teachings that the whole of the body-force should be put into the throw. Dr. Kano gave some illustrations from the field of ordinary behaviour. I remember when I heard him speak about argument and debate. I was then about seventeen years old, and very energetic. I sometimes used to get excited in an argument, and begin to shout. As I was big and even then fairly strong, sometimes the opponent would become nervous, and would stop arguing against me. So I found this quite a good method of winning an argument. At least, I thought it was a good method. But Dr. Kano in his lecture said something like this: ’In an argument, you may silence an opponent by pressing an advantage of strength, or of wealth, or of education. But you do not really convince him. …

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They put on fierce expression and attitude, though they have no intention of actually fighting Judo

When I lived at the British Embassy, there was a British bulldog who used to sit on the steps of the central building. The bulldog is a thickset animal, bred for fighting, and with a terrifying face. This one was supposed to be a symbolic guardian of the Embassy. A dog normally regards himself as a guardian of the house where he stays, and he barks at (and if necessary attacks) any strangers who come, not accompanied by a member of the family. But in this case there were people coming and going all day, and he had learned when he was a puppy that day-time visitors were not to be challenged. So in the end he tended just to sit there and occasionally walk round a little. At night he changed, and challenged any outsider. Even in the daytime, he would occasionally bark excitedly at nothing, just to prove that he existed, I suppose. He looked formidable, but really he was rather lazy. His name was Bonzo, and some of the maids who worked in the Embassy houses called him Bonzo San. When I first heard that, I was surprised; in England, a dog would never be called Mr. …

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Judo should naturally lead to meditation

Trevor Leggett, 8th Dan Judo, scholar and author of several fine books on judo and Buddhism, head of the B.B.C. Japanese service until his retirement, has had an enormous influence on Western judo. He is regarded by many as the greatest non-Japanese judoka. Background The 17-year-old Leggett started judo seriously at the Budokwai about 1931 because of bad health. “The doctor said I must do some physical exercise. I tried several things but found them boring. My parents forbade me to do judo, so I practised secretly for about a year. Tani and Koizumi were the two instructors, then, at the little club near Victoria Station, and they had very different styles,” explained Leggett. “I trained every day and did a lot of running at weekends, realising for the first time how bad my health was. I soon became fascinated by the variety of technique in judo. If you do tennis for six months you’ve seen all the shots even if you can’t do them all. In judo you will always see something different.” Leggett first went to Japan in 1938 as a 4th Dan, and after six months was confirmed as Kodokan 4th Dan. The Japanese Ambassador, Mamoru Shigemitsu, …

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The student must realize that the teacher has faith in him, the student himself

The cherry tree blossoms for three weeks. For the remaining forty-nine, nothing shows above the ground, but the roots are going deeper and deeper. The phrase in the Chinese Book of Change is: ‘The thunder is buried in the earth The vitality is in the roots.’ That long time of apparent inertia, and the short period of blossoming, form a unity. It is not that the cherry tree is depressed and sad, and a failure for a long time, but then has a wonderful success, but that success is, alas, all too passing, all too quickly taken away. No: this is a single tree, not two trees. The human being, especially the poet, sees the moment of qlory, and a long dull stretch when the life is in the roots as two things. But they are one. In the West there is a tendency to think of a tree or plant in terms of what is above ground only, though in fact the roots are sometimes many times bigger. If we are asked to describe or draw a tree, we present a trunk and branches. But the Chinese character representing a tree shows the roots as well, much more extensive …

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Why do we do judo? The true answer is to train body and mind to act efficiently in life

EVEN EFFORT There has to be some effort in a judo technique, but Dr.Kano’s principle was to make that effort efficient. In his time there were still some flourishing jujutsu schools, though not as flourishing as they had been. He studied their methods, and found that a good many techniques relied on surprise and extra strength developed by particular exercises. They were not using the body as an efficient unit. For this reason, they tried to keep their techniques secret. Although judo is no longer generally taught in this way, one sometimes sees something like it. If a man has a very strong right arm, he can get results with a poor technique because of the extra strength he has with that arm. Unless something is done to check it, he will develop more and more limited judo, and cannot acquire a real mastery of it. But it is not necessarily easy for a teacher to get him to change. One can explain to him that he must try to use the whole body as a unit, and if he is reasonable he will see and understand this. But when he actually tries to do it, the strong right arm …

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