This year was a hard year. The Corona Pandemic influenced all our lives. I spend a lot time this year at home, like the time where I suffered most from my Depressive State in the past. And this year was in a way very depressing in multiple ways.
Corona showed us the best and the worst in our fellow human beings.
We saw corrupt and incompetent Governments, who acted too late and/or were in denial about the truth. We saw people trying to profit from fear and disinformation. We saw people who felt invincible be it out of religious conviction, mental illness, or simple lacking intelligence. We saw people, sometimes in our own circles, following crazy Conspiracy Theories. And we saw simple egoistical people and Hypocrites.
But we also saw the work of our Nurses, Health Care Workers, Physicians and the essential Workers in Retail we need to get our daily consumer Goods and all the other Heroes in these times that are needed to keep our societies up and running even in a lockdown. Constantly overworked, constantly in danger, and constantly short before the breaking point…. Thank you.
Now we all know with what kind of people we are living together and if we can trust them with our back in Times of need. This year was a wake-up call of sorts, sometimes quite a shocking one for me.
At the end of this year, I am extremely lucky. As a Software Developer I had the privilege this year to work mostly from Home. And while I still have people I worry about far and wide and who I pray for; I feel extremely lucky that no one in my Family or of my close Friends infected themselves with Covid-19.
For the future I am wishing everybody who is reading this happy Holidays and a good time between the Years and that they please stay healthy. I hope the next year will be a better one and that we are able to pull ourselves together in the future.
The last few years I was not as productive as I wanted to be. I don’t know if this was because of my depressive mental state or because of my lazy laid-back nature. But it was something that always bothered me. Because it was like I was not living up to my full potential. So, I decided to change that now and to take some steps in the right direction.
I started first with taking a Skill Share Class about simple Productivity from this Youtuber called Ali Abdaal, who is also a young Physician in Great Britain. Skill Share by the way is an online subscription Service where you can take a wide array of different kind of classes by different teachers. Let it be Computer Programming, Logo Design, Gardening, Cooking or how to be more productive. It is quite a cool Community I would recommend.
This article laid out that people who have to wait to be motivated to do something don’t get anything done basically, because their level of productivity is based around their mood. Abdaal formulated it in a way that made quite an impression on me:
Waiting for motivation to do something is like getting ruled by our inner three-year-old. And we must decide if we want to be controlled by our emotions and moods or if we act like grownups and do stuff that brings us closer to our goals. Even if we do not feel like doing that right now.
And something just went click in my Head. Fucking yeah! Screw Motivation! I want to get stuff done. It was so simple and yet I needed so long for it to make click. It is quite funny. Because basically this famous viral Video summarizes it perfectly:
But how do you get more productive? How to you implement more productivity into your day to day life?
Well firstly to be more productive you need a goal to reach. You must start thinking in Projects. David Allen, Author of the Book “Getting Things Done” I have also read in the last weeks defines a Project as a Task that needs more than one Step to reach your Goal. So first you need to sit on your butt and think about the stuff you want to achieve in the first place. What are the Projects in your life you need or want to tackle?
In time of Lockdowns because of the Corona Pandemic one of my Projects would be “To stay active”. For this Project I have developed following action/to do List of Tasks:
Go on a walk every day
Do Suburi every day
Train with your long-range Weapons every Weekend in the Morning in the park
You get the Gist of it. Other Projects of mine right now would be quite mundane stuff like “Keeping my Room Clean and Tidy”, “Practicing Japanese”, “Practicing Chess”, “Practicing Code Kata” and some other stuff.
Thanks to helpful Apps like Todoist, Notion and the normal Google Calendar I can stay on top of my Game and have my Plan for the day on any device of my choosing.
And I am feeling great! Finally, I feel like I am getting Things done. Of course, it is not always easy. As my lazy Couch Potato Side is screaming at me to chill the fuck out. But then I think to myself: Fuck of little Baby Boar, you will get your due later when we are finished with the stuff we must do today! And I cannot start to describe how great of a feeling it is to get into Bed with the Knowledge you got closer to your goals just a little more.
And so, I must agree with dear Shia LaBeouf: “JUST DO IT!”
I was 10 years old when i got my first Personal Computer. With twelve i had an internet connection. And soon i discovered chat-rooms and forums about a bunch of different Topics.
At the same time around i started to train in martial arts. And soon i would seek out forums exactly about this topic. Where i would go head to head with a lot of people who trained far longer than i was alive at that time. But if you are young and been hit by puberty, of course you know more than some smuck old dude. And so i went there to write down all of my huge knowledge and theories about martial arts, self defence and how stuff should work for the whole world to see. (on another note: yeah not much has changed today xD )
My head was regulary washed left and right in rigorous online Discussions there. You practically could say i grew up fighting with strangers on the internet! And there was only one aim. DESTROY YOUR OPPONENT IN AN ULTIMATE PWNAGE MOVE FATALITY!!!!
I learned a lot through online discussions. They helped me discover great sources in form of literature and or second hand anecdotes of far more expierenced people. And soon i would become one of the old dogs of the german internet Budo Community. A proper Internet Weekend Warrior and expert. Or how one of my Senpai told my: a fucking huge budo nerd.
There in these kind of Internet Communitys i would also get to know people who didn’t took the truth all to serious. People who claimed to be the last Grandmasters of ancient Martial Arts they had secretly learned from their japanese Teacher. The teachers name and his in most cases family art were huge secrets in the past, thats why nobody heard of them until the western Master decided to open up his school for the public. But when these kind of people where asked for sources and explanation they started to get annoyed and offended. They started to ramble and told new stories with so much details that soon would be proven to be nonsense.
I talk of course of Gaijin Ryu. Gaijin is the japanese Word for Westerner/Barbarian/Alien. Or in essence non-japanese. And a Gaijin Ryu is a term used for schools that try to emulate japanese Martial arts without any proper expierence by the “Master” of such Art. Most of the time these Masters are mentally ill and have just a basic training in some form of Karate or other Gendai Budo. But what they share is that they have a Story they tell themselves and their poor and ignorant students.
There was a time where i lived for humiliating and defeating these Scam Artists with Passion. How could they dare to tell such lies? How could they sleep in the Night? How could they disrespect my beloved Martial Arts so much?
I was disgusted by them. And i wanted to destroy them, forcing them to their knees apologizing in the dirt before me! I would spend hours with doing research. Analysing their different Statements. Stalking their trail on Social Networks and other creepy shit.
Until i noticed that these kinds of activities made myself vile and disgusting. How could i develope so much hate for a fellow human being? Well i have to confess: I was not satified with myself. I would leash out against them ( and as old habits die hard sometimes i still do today) and let out all my frustrations against them. It feeled so good to be on the “right” side of the argument.
And then i noticed sometimes i hurt people. Not everybody deserved all the dirt i would throw at them. And i burned bridges with other people because of my behaviour that could have been a fruitfull exchange somtime in the future. Just because i had to satisfy my own ego.
Today this behaviour Trait that sometimes still shows it’s ugly head is something i am quite ashamed of. That doesn’t mean that Scammers, Liers and other kind of Fakes shouldn’t be critized, they should! But … don’t use it as excuse to let out your own negative urges.
When you stare at the darkness, the darkness stares back into you.
I want to be honest with y’all. I’ve cried in the Dojo multiple times in my years of Training. Nothing big, i thing most of my mates didn’t even noticed it when it happened. But… sometimes the training of Budo can be so difficult that you have to cry. No not because you had an accident. Not because you got hit. It’s when when you realize that you suck more than you thought you would. Sometimes Training can be so frustrating that you want to throw your Training dogu away and leave everything behind you. And still, the next Training you still show up at the dojo to suck a little bit less.
Budo Keiko is really hard. Even with a good teacher it is still hard. Your Body doesn’t move like you want it to move. And when you copy your Teacher and could swear that you did everything the way he did, you most of the time did it still wrong.
Sometimes it feel like you make progress at the speed of a tortoise. Or sometimes you feel like you are getting worse.
And this is the part that makes budo Training so valuable. Budo no Keiko is a form of Shugyo[修行]. It’s a journey of discipline to master onesself and to overcome ones own ego.
Showing up, and doing it again even if you feel frustration and dispair in overcoming hardships. And the if you feel like you actually made progress, it is quite sweet of a feeling. But this you only can expierence by standing up and showing up again.
Sometimes we cry, sometimes we smile. But we will always stand up again.
Many (normal) people are thinking that a Black Belt means you are a Master. This is not true. Originally the Black Belt meant that you have the basics down and you can start the real Training now.
You receive your black belt when you reached the rank of first Dan, Shodan. This means roughly translated first step or beginner rank in japanese. Before that you would have gone through the kyu levels. Which can be translated as “classes”. Atleast in most western Dojo. In Japan many Dojo only bother to test Kids for Kyu levels, to keep them motivated. That’s also the original reason for the multiple belts in different colors.
This System, the dan-i System, got popularized by Kano Jigoro the founder of Judo. He himself adapted this type of System from the board games of Go and Shogi. There this System was used to determine how much of a handicap the better Player would have to overcome against a lower ranked player to keep it exiting and a challenge for both.
Kano didn’t implement this System because of shits and giggles of course. He had a quite solid reason. In most martial Arts dojo before the dawn of Judo the teacher would have known every single Student of his personally. He would know their skill level, strengths and weaknesses. There was no need for Rankings as the dojo and Ryuha were so small in Students that everybody very well knew everybody else quite well or atleast has heard of them when they were from another Branch.
But that changed dramaticly with the dawn of Judo. Judo with a lot of backing from political power behind it was implemented in most Schools and Universitys to install the values of Bushido into the japanese people from young age. Dojo, Study Groups, School and University Clubs popped up fast everywhere in Japan. Kano got so many new Students in such a short time with different expierence Levels that a new System was needed to evaluate them and to ensure a safe training enviroment.
He needed to discriminate between people who had the basics down and could already Fall safely after being thrown, these were the first Dan Rankers. And the people who could not and had to master simple basic techniques, the kyu grades. This was easily marked through a white Belt for Beginners and a Black Belt for people who could train safely without a lot of supervision. And over time this ranking System became more sophisticated. As similar as in the original Board Games your Dan Rank would mirror your fighting strength you would have proven in Randori practice and official shiai(matches). When a Shodan would throw enough people regulary that were ranked second Dan he soon would be promoted for example.
When you would open a Dojo in Japan, only holding the Rank of Shodan you wouldn’t attract many Students. More likely people would just laugh at you. Of course not in your face, i mean come on it is Japan. But behind your Back. In Japan roughly with a Sandan you would be considered as a kind of “Junior” Teacher. Most people would only dare to open their own Dojo with atleast the Rank of 5th Dan. And to be considered a real Master(Shihan or Hanshi) of your Martial Art you would need atleast a Rank beginning with 6th Dan and the approval of your organisation.
So… how did we end up in the West with this wrong understanding of the meaning of the Black Belt?
The american Soldiers after WW2 came back from Japan with some Training in Karate, Judo or any other Martial Art. As they were Training regulary they got promoted quite quickly and got their Black Belt.
Then, after coming back they would open their own Dojo with themselves as Masters. Far away from their original Teachers they with only the first or second Dan would have to be the Master. And with this the picture of the Blackbelt as sign of mastery was forged in the western mind and propagated by Movies and other form of popular media.
When you started your Training at this time in the West, Black Belts were rare. And those people with one in the Dojo would obviously teach. But in Japan this situation is quite different. There where even the modern Gendai Budo have a far longer History it is quite normal for people to see many Blackbelts, 3rd, 4th and even 5th and 6th Dans Training in their Dojo. The Senpai in those Dojo are not your typical Brown Belt, no they are probably 4th Dan. And the Black Belt for itself is nothing special.
Also while in the West most modern and “proper” Organisations will only give you a Black Belt after around 10 years of Training when you have shown enough maturity.
In Japan it is quite common to get the Shodan/first grade Black Belt already after 2 to 4 Years of regular Training. As it isn’t seen as a rank of Mastery, there is no big need to prove your maturity. Even kids can get a Shodan in Japan. And no, they don’t train in a McDojo.
So what is the truth behind the picture of the Blackbelt as the Rank of Mastery? Well this is just my opinion of course. But in my view it was simply because at the Beginning there were no real Masters of these Arts in the West. Of course with the Exception of Teachers who were send from Japan to the west especially with the reason to teach.
But these were rare. The first western Pioneers basicly were just a bunch of Amateurs who get the basics down, atleast when we view it in the big picture. This should not degrade their important work of course. And many followed the path further and developed into real Masters over time. But some others were not, and those were the ones who would put the black belt by itself as the sign of mastery and promote this misconception to blow up their own ego.
Today i feel rejected. This feeling is frustrating. Nobody wronged me in the slightest. Nobody was mean to me. Nobody lied to me. Nobody promised me anything. And still i feel rejected.
And I feel lonely. I am have to do with so many people every day, but i feel lonely. Talking to people, i mean really to talk to people is hard for me. Because I fear of opening myself up. I fear that people will think that i am stupid, that i am weird, that i am ugly.
Maybe this is the reason i myself reject people in my everyday life so much. Maybe they feel rejected by me and now Karma is coming back to me.
I don’t feel everyday this way. Yesterday for example was lovely.
Love… a four letter word that is difficult to describe. We ask ourselves since ages ago, what is love?
This question isn’t easy to answer. Because love is always different from person to person. It starts with affection and wishing someone well and it can develop into a madness and obsession driving someone crazy. Especially in romantic Love or Eros. But maybe this extreme forms aren’t really love. They are just poisens disguised as Love.
The old Greeks knew many kind of different forms of love. The best know would be Eros, Agape and Philia. Eros is the bodily form of love. The desire we have for our romantic partner and our wish to be together with them.
Philia is the platonic love between friends and family. It’s the form of love were we are going out of our way for friends and family because we share special bonds with them.
And then there is Agape, sometimes also called Caritas. The highest Form of love. Agape is that what God feels for us. And it is this pure form of love that is very difficult for Humans to archieve. Some Theologians would say that Humans since the original Sin are barely able to manifest this form of love, and every other kind of love is only a cheap try to imidate it. But in the end it is only positive descrimination. So when Jesus is telling his followers “Love thy neighbour like yourself”, that isn’t a nice sounding fortune cookie line. It is a brutal command to change your entire Being.
Well … but whatever right?
But maybe if shouldn’t look at love like a feeling. Maybe it is more of a process.
If you tell somebody: “I love you”, it means: I decide to suffer for you. I hope you are worth it.
Maybe that is the meaning of love. It’s taking suffering onto yourself for other people or because of other people. And enduring it, because it is worth it and it has meaning.
My father is a great Man in this regard. He is always there for his family. Since I can remember he always took care of me as best as he could. He also took care of his Lover and his Lovers Children raising them together. This was never easy. But he did it anyway. Because in his eyes it was the right thing to do. He is my Idol in this regard.
There is this Song that is well known. “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…”. So in the end it should be clear that there is no love without pain.
When you are together with another person it is easy to hurt them. We hurt each other even if we don’t intend to. One wrong Word, one sharp look can shatter our heart. If we are in love our Hearts become sugar glass for the the other person.
On the other Hand, sometimes love isn’t working out. And that’s okay too. Sometimes realizing that and to cut things of can be a sign of the love that was lost and of lingering affection and respect.
And people love anyway, even if there is pain. Because it is the pain that give love it’s value.
No Wonder then that the rose is the flower of love.
There is budo and there is traditional budo. What is the difference? Traditional budo dojo often say they do their stuff “old school” or they teach the old methods and try to upheld the old “original” values of their martial art. Through that they effectively try to say: “we’re doing the real original stuff! Everybody else is doing the watered down modern sport version!”
So we have to note that traditional is a modern marketing buzzword for the most part today. But as there are real living old traditions or koryu the word shouldn’t be useless.
Tradition means: something that developed over generations and was given to you. It doesn’t mean unchanged. But it describes customs that are given over multiple Generations, which if we allow generations to mean “relationship between teacher and student” would mean that of course even modern budo like Judo, Karate and Aikido can be considered traditional. The Japanese equivalent of tradition is dento[伝統] which gets written with the kanji that can be read as: “transmitted relationship”. Furthering the view that we can see it as a sequence of student and teacher relationships.
Martial Arts are taught by teachers. And even the Founders of a Martial Art had teachers of their own. Be it a father or brother who showed them how to use weapons, or an enemy they had defeated and learned through real experience, or a master who taught them an older style of martial arts. So one could say every martial art by definition is a tradition.
So what is the meaning of the word “traditional” in the martial arts now really? Of course i can only give the i consider as true. Which is:
Saying you train in a traditional martial art is a claim of truth. When you make such a claim you should be able to show proof of it. The simplest way should be to know ones own lineage!
For example: I am a student of tenshin shoden katori shinto ryu heiho. Which is a traditional martial arts from the muromachi period of japan. I know my teachers come from the lineage of Sugino Yoshio, who got taught by Shiina Ichizo, who himself got taught by Iizasa Morisada the 18th Successor of the Founder Iizasa Choizai Ienao.
So, if somebody claims to train in a martial art, he should know the basic lineage of his tradition (well or at least you should be in a easy position to look it up). If not, he is using the word like a buzzword or is simply a fraud. Training a traditional martial art, you don’t get to not know the teacher of your teacher.
The Courage to be Disliked from Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga is a Book I’ve read and it deeply impressed me. It impressed me so much that i want to note down the main points of the book and want to share them.
The “plot” of the book starts with a young man, unsatisfied with his own life, who is visiting a known philosopher. This philosopher claims that:
The worls is simple
Every human can change
Every human can find happiness
The young man can’t except these claims and wants to have a discussion with the philosopher about it. Which he gladly accepts, as he also wants to learn from the young. And so the book goes on in the form of a dialog between the young man and the philosopher.
The young man(YM) can’t accept that the world is simple. A simple world only exists for children. Children know no worries, they have no responsibility’s and don’t have to worry about money. Their parents and society protects them. When the child grows up, it’s world becomes a lot more complicated. There are personal relationships, work and money to be taken care of. In the past humans tried to please the gods and to follow religion. But nowadays religion has lost most of it’s power. People have to think for themselves. This makes the world complicated. There are a lot of contradictions in the world.
The philosopher(P) answers that yeah, what YM says is right. But still the world is simple. It is the human that makes the world complicated. Or more like, it’s the human who sees the world as such an complicated thing. Ones worldview is highly subjective. For example: Water in a fountain keeps relative constantly the temperature of 18° Celsius. But in the summer this is refreshing and in the winter quite warm. But the 18° is a objective fact. That fact doesn’t change. It is the view the humans have on it that changes. In the same way, if the world is complicated, then it’s the human that has to change and start to see the world how it really is. A person needs the bravery to see the world in the way it is. To make that change.
YM goes on to the other thesis. A person can’t change. He knows that, because he himself is unable to change. P says that he can understand that notion. He himself had it in his younger years. At that time he studied the ancient Greek classics. But then he started to study a new philosophy and everything changed for him.
He leads YM into his study and offers him coffee. He says it will be a long night. And in this way the introduction ends.