It’s February 6th today and it feels like Spring has sprung! Never in all the winters I’ve experienced in Canada has one been so mild. Last year I was in Costa Rica for almost a month during the winter not only on business but to take a break from the frigid temperatures and bitter cold! This winter, I’m happy to be here enjoying the mild temperatures and the fact that I haven’t had to shovel the driveway even once so far. WHOOOAAA!
This week’s article is an excerpt from my book, Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja. From chapter 5 through 15 to start off each chapter, I wrote short stories that came from my own personal experiences in many schools over the years. In my book, I have framed the stories as if they were taking place in temples. The reason for this is simple; I have always considered my training and teaching as if I truly were in a temple like atmosphere and environment. Even if the school was smack dab in the middle of a sprawling busy city, as soon as you walked in through the school doors you immediately felt the difference. Everything else faded away once inside and time and space took on an almost completely different dimension.
While the stories I wrote are rather simplistic in form and are imbued with easy to comprehend principles and messages, I believe they harbor significant value for readers of any age bracket.
The story I share with you this week comes from chapter seven which is titled Mastering Your Communication. The illustrations were done by Jay Korim, who created art work specifically for all the stories in my book. So with that please keep reading and once you have finished reading for best results perhaps take a few minutes out to contemplate and meditate upon the stories parable. Enjoy.
Your Words Have Real Impact
In the community where the wise masters of the Way taught, students arrived from around the land, and were of different ages and backgrounds. One day, the lesson was self-defense and the master instructor that day was the Viper Master. Like the other masters, this one’s reputation for being humble but wise had spread far and wide, with one difference.
Master Viper was a very wise woman.
Master Viper had been training and teaching martial arts for the majority of her life and everyone enjoyed her classes. This day she planned to demonstrate and teach effective self-defense maneuvers that one might need for self-protection against street assailants. All the masters at the “School of the Way” emphasized that these skills were to be used only for self-defense and never to hurt or injure needlessly. They stressed that respect and courtesy be shown to all people at all times. Their belief was that there were very few occasions in life where violence was needed, but when and if such an occasion presented itself, one should be ready to meet it.
In the training offered at the school, being ready encompassed both a heightened awareness and the discipline to bring the mind and body together as one, making the whole a formidable weapon. As Master Viper often said, “Everything originates from the invisible realm which we manifest and make visible by giving it form and motion.”
“Master Viper,” asked Makoto, one of the newer students. “What do you mean by manifest and give the invisible form?”
“Please come up to the front for a moment if you will, Makoto.”
Makoto stood up, walked up to the front, and positioned himself in front of Master Viper.
“Okay, Makoto, I would like you to throw a punch at me now, please.”
Makoto looked a little nervous and awkward, his brow furrowing at the idea of doing such a thing. After all, even though the Viper Master had a great reputation, she was a woman. Still, Master Viper insisted, so Makoto threw a right hook.
As he launched the punch, almost instantaneously Master Viper moved diagonally to her front left, not only out of reach of his punch but closer to Makoto. She was now in perfect striking range and he found himself over-extended due to the motion of his punch.
She stepped back. “So what happened, Makoto?
“I threw a punch at you and you stepped out of the way and into a better position to strike me,” he replied.
“Yes, that is correct, but there is more.”
“There is? How do you mean, Master Viper?”
“How did I move, Makoto? In which direction and describe the movement, please.”
Makoto did not hesitate. “You moved on a 45-degree angle, ending up at my right side where I was most vulnerable. And you moved incredibly fast.”
“Yes that’s correct. Now please show me a 45-degree angle.”
Makoto moved on a diagonal angle.
“No, I mean show me a 45-degree angle without moving, please.”
He looked at her inquisitively. “Well, if I can’t move then I guess I can show you by writing it on a piece of paper.”
“Would you not be moving your fingers, Makoto?”
“Well, yes, I suppose I would, and you asked to show you without moving.”
“That’s right,” Master Viper replied. “You see, you can’t show me a 45-degree angle because it is a concept, a principal of geometry. On its own, it belongs to the realm of the invisible, but in this example today, it was my physical movement that gave it form and definition.” As Makoto nodded in recognition, she continued, “Now, how about speed? Show me speed, please.”
Makoto was about to move quickly when all of a sudden he stopped and smiled. “I get it now. Speed belongs to the invisible realm too, because I can’t show it to you unless I move.” He had a bit of a twinkle in his eye.
“Yes, now you get it. Now you understand that everything we do in martial arts begins from the invisible realm of mind. Things like ideas, concepts, and principles which we give meaning and purpose by making them visible by giving them form with our body.”
Another student whose name was Ushi asked, “Master Viper, I’m not sure how that applies to self-defense.”
“If you are not aware of what intangibles you’re manifesting, then your actions simply will be chaotic reaction, lacking the principles that make your self-defense maneuvers effective. We are giving and receiving information all the time. When Makoto threw his punch I observed the slight adjustment of his feet, the shift of his weight onto his left foot and the slight twitch in his right shoulder that indicated to me how he would be punching. Thus I instantaneously responded, utilizing the correct principle of angulations, ensuring that I would not be struck by his punch, while placing him in a vulnerable position to myself.”
She waited as the students nodded and exchanged looks among themselves. “If I had not made the correct observation and responded with the correct manifestation of intangible principles, then I would have been the one who was vulnerable. You see, it’s important to understand that every manifestation, every action you take, is a result of what you know and what you think needs to be done. What you know in your mind comes from the intangible realm. This knowledge, which is either correct or incorrect, leads to an end result. You want to make sure that you are observing every bit of information correctly and selecting the correct principle to manifest the correct response. Otherwise, the price of self-defense could be damage to your body or even the loss of your life. Never underestimate any information, for the power of even one word has the ability to affect a person dramatically.”
“I don’t understand how words can be useful in self-defense,” Ushi replied.
Master Viper asked Ushi to come up to the front. When he did, she asked him to strike her. Less reluctantly than Makoto, Ushi was about to follow through with a straight punch to her stomach when all of a sudden he was brought to dead halt by a sudden, loud, fierce noise from Master Viper.
Before he could figure out what happened, Master Viper was two inches from his face with a smile on her face. “What happened?” she asked.
Ushi took a moment to recover before answering. “You yelled a word so earth-shattering that it stopped me before I could let the punch go.”
“Yes, that’s correct. I used a word that connotes a unified spirit and mind and projected it with ‘sound focus’, which is a verbal self-defense tactic used to break down the opponent mentally and physically. With this sound focus comes an explosive release of inner energy. Then, while your mind and body were in dismay, scrambling to figure out what was happening, I moved into a position of great danger for you, where I could have executed any number of maneuvers before you were even aware of what happened. So can one word be effective?”
“Yes!” Ushi responded. “I never thought that words could have such an effect.”
“Most people don’t realize that even one word can have dynamic effects,” Master Viper responded.
A student spoke up from the back of the class. “Master Viper, may I say something?”
“Yes, please do,” she said.
“Well, you probably don’t remember me, as I’m older now and look very different. 20 years ago, I came here. At the time I was having great difficulty with many things in my life, especially with confidence in myself. My lack of confidence permeated everything in life. I felt like I was getting nowhere at my part-time job, my social life. So I entered the ‘School of the Way’ and your class. One day in class you said something profound: ‘Your perception equals your reality, so choose your thoughts wisely.’ I was at a point in my life where I was experiencing so much frustration and pain that I truly felt at the end of my rope, but after that lesson, I began observing all the thoughts in my mind. My life started to change dramatically. With my newfound awareness and confidence my schooling improved and I earned a scholarship. I started a better part-time job, and that led to a high-paying career. Later, I opened my own business. I married a beautiful woman and we have four children who are here in the class today. I now want my children to learn of the Way so that they, too, can benefit from its wisdom. Words are not enough to express my gratitude, Master Viper. Thank you.”
“I’m glad you learned to never underestimate anything you say or do,” Master Viper said, and she exchanged bows with her former student. Then she addressed the entire class. “There are far-reaching effects that you might not see at the time you speak. Perhaps not even until 20 years later.” She again smiled warmly at the returning student who had just thanked her.
Then Makoto asked, “Master Viper, why are you known as the Viper Master?”
Before she could answer, the daughter of her former student who had spoken up shouted out from the back of the room, “Communication!”
When the laughter died down, Master Viper said, “That’s right. The viper belongs to the snake family. Snakes are conspicuous creatures. While lacking arms and legs which would seem to render it inert, only the opposite is true and they are regarded as extremely formidable and powerful adversaries. Since they are limited with their bodies they cultivate their internal energy (chi) to be more effective in their outward actions. Some snakes wrap around their prey and slowly crush them, as they synchronize with their prey’s breathing pattern. Other snakes have lethal venom that can poison the blood or nervous system causing paralysis or even death.
Most people are not aware that the very things they say have the power to help or hurt themselves and others. I am known as the Viper Master and I’m here to help you understand this power and master your communication.”
Excerpt from Terry Hodgkinson’s book, Memoirs of a Wandering Ninja – Walking the Path of Enlightenment.
Quote for the week:
Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. — Buddha