Category Archives: Samurai Techniques

The Rabbit and the Fox, The Teacher and the Painter, and Other Lessons

Excerpts from Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life

 

 Rabbits

rabbit-40646_640 A wise master and his student were walking through the countryside. The student pointed to a fox chasing a rabbit and said, “Oh, the poor rabbit.”

The master said, “The rabbit will elude the fox.”

The student was surprised. Maybe the old man’s mind wasn’t so sharp anymore. He said, “No, you see, the fox is faster.”

“The rabbit will get away,” repeated the master.

“What makes you think so?”

“Because the fox is running for his dinner, but the rabbit is running for his life.”

The first step is understanding we’re no different than rabbits.

 

Attention, Attention, Attention

 yoga-386611_640A layman asked a Zen master to write some words containing the greatest wisdom.

The master picked up his brush and wrote, “Attention.”

The layman was disappointed. He said, “I was hoping for something more.”

“More?” the master asked, picking up his brush and writing again— this time, “Attention. Attention.”

“That’s it?” asked the layman.

The master had been expecting that. This time he wrote it three times: “Attention, Attention, Attention.”

Your ability to choose how you will direct your attention–what you will think, how you will feel, and the best thing to do–is your most powerful skill.

 

Cherry Blossoms

cherry-blossom-254680_640The delicate cherry blossom has a very short life. It doesn’t last long in the wind that blows it from the tree. One minute it is there, then it is gone. All we have is a memory of how beautiful it was.

No getting around it: I’m a cherry blossom; you’re a cherry blossom.

 

 The Teacher and the Painter

paint-33883_1280My friend is a painter. The best teacher she ever had gave her the best advice she ever received. He looked at her as she painted and said, “You’re being too careful. Make bolder strokes.” He went away. She followed his advice. He came back and studied her work. He raised his voice and said, “Bolder.” Later he came back again and said, even louder, “Bolder! What are you afraid of?”

Our lives would change immensely if we said to ourselves most of the time, “Bolder! What are you afraid of?”

© 2014 David J. Rogers

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The Power of Focus; the Power of Breath: The Doctrine of Ki, Part III

“When you’re afraid, tense the muscles of your stomach and the fear will disappear” Zen adage

(Adapted from Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life by David J. Rogers (Crossroad Press, 2014)

 A Powerfully Built Man and a Little Man

To many Easterners the center of a person’s spirit and strength is a point within the abdominal cavity two inches below the navel. This special point is called the tai ten, tanden, tan-tien, tan, seika-tanden, or simply “the one point.” In addition to being your body’s center of gravity, the one point is also the center of kienergy, spirit, aura, vitality, life force, inner strength.

The one point can be compared to the boiler of a steam engine. When your mind is concentrated on it, energy is created and distributed throughout your body, and your body is able to move quickly and powerfully. Athletes, if they are not already, should be very interested in learning more about ki.

R. E. West, a powerfully built Western black belt judoka (practitioner of judo) who knew very little about ki and the one point, asked an old, 130-pound Japanese master for a demonstration of its power. The two men sat on their knees facing each other. Each placed his right hand on the other’s chest. Hard as West tried, he couldn’t budge the old man. Then the old man gave a slight push and West flew backward. The master then said it was only because of the power in his one point that he could knock West over.

Samurai men and women going into battle concentrated on the one point.

How to Draw the Power of Ki

The way to draw the power of ki is very easy. Just concentrate your mind fully on your one point. Look at your stomach and find the point two inches directly below your navel. Now press it hard with your finger. This will leave a residual feeling of where the one point is. Then simply visualize. Don’t look at it, just imagine it as a point, a dot, and concentrate on it.

Now that you’ve located the one point, practice beginning your everyday actions with your attention on it until it becomes second nature to you. Before starting any task, any task at all, first think of your one point—sitting down at your desk, starting a meeting, going to a party, entering a sales conference, starting a race—whatever. If you devote yourself to concentrating on your one point, it will gradually become a habit. Until it does you will have to remind yourself: “Hey, concentrate on your one point.”

When you’re able to remember to begin at least some of your acts from the one point, become a little more ambitious. Get in the habit of concentrating on the one point when you’re upset or irritated. You’ll find yourself becoming calm and tranquil and strong at the same time.

After you’ve started the habit of one-point concentration, begin to use it during times of more severe tension and nervousness. When you’re troubled and your thoughts and emotions are shooting around like rockets, or you are facing an inner or outer block, concentrate on your one point. When you’re discouraged and are thinking, “This time I’ve reached rock-bottom; everything is against me now,” simply concentrate on your one point. Don’t think of yourself as a discouraged person; think of yourself as a strong person with powerful ki.

Breathing

“If you know the art of breathing you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers.” Chinese adage

The psychotherapist Wilhelm Reich used the word “streamings” to describe energy in the human body. He said that at times streamings flow, and other times they’re dammed up. They flow when you’re optimistic, when you’re not tense or worried, when your expectations of success are high. When they flow you experience an inner glow. You have a completely new sense of courage and self-confidence. Reich’s concept, “streamings,” may seem strange to some people, but it certainly wouldn’t to the practitioners of ki breathing. He would call it ki and state that what Reich says it does, it does. And modern technology is helping to prove Reich was exactly right.

According to a research project undertaken by M.I.T., there actually is an electrical energy field around the human body, and it can be regulated in exactly the way Easterners regulate it—by breathing in a particular way.

Ki is very closely related to breathing, and that’s why it’s sometimes translated as “breath.” The M.I.T. research demonstrated that the breathing exercises in fact thicken the energy field. Everyone has a ki energy field around him or her, but martial arts practitioners using ki breathing techniques actually have a different kind of field than the average person. Using modern photographic processes, the field can even be seen!

In one of the most dramatic demonstrations of ki, Kirlian photography was used to film karateka Teruyuki Yamada breaking a one-inch board with a ki-powered blow. Now there’s nothing amazing about a punch breaking a board. But it is amazing that the punch never hit the board. Playing the film in very slow motion revealed that the board actually snapped when Yamada’s fist was still an inch away from it. What had shattered the wood was the pressurized force of the ki field between the board and the fist!

Ki is also curative. For centuries Chinese healers have used their knowledge of chi to manipulate its flow in sick patients. Physicians in various Western countries are using electrical energy stimulation to heal a variety of body injuries, often with extraordinary results. Russian sports scientists photograph streams of electrical energy in and around athletes’ bodies, then use lasers to stimulate its flow to heal injuries and treat fatigue and emotional disturbances, such as depression and anxiety.

Deep abdominal, diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to have particular health advantages over “high chest,” shallow breathing. Medical researchers estimate that up to 80 per cent of all diseases are attributable to nervous problems. Worry, nervousness, anxiety, anger, and stress narrow our capillaries and restrict the flow of blood carrying fresh oxygen. By breathing the right way, you can open your capillaries and send oxygen freely throughout your body. Diaphragmatic ki breathing also increases your physical strength. That’s another reason why people are so interested in sanchin, “breathing exercises.”

There is breathing high and breathing low. Westerners breathe high. We are taught “stomach in, chest out.” Our breathing is done high in our chest. Ki breathing is done low. It’s bringing the inhaled air far down in the lungs. In other words, as far as ki development is concerned we have learned to breathe wrong. Right breathing is “chest in, stomach out.” It’s breathing from the abdomen—it’s diaphragmatic breathing.

If you’re conscientious about practicing your ki breathing you may come to breathe this way all the time. Most people, however, even if they don’t forever after breathe in the ki way, use it as an alternative way of breathing. When confronted with disturbing situations, when in trouble or doubt, or when they’re in need of a pick-me-up, they simply drop their normal high chest breathing and launch into deep abdominal ki breathing.

Technique

To prepare yourself to use ki breathing whenever you wish:

-Get in a comfortable, relaxed position—your weight on your legs and feet, lying on your back, or sitting comfortably.

–Concentrate your attention on your one point. Remember it’s the center of gravity point located two inches below your navel. Throughout your ki breathing keep your mind on your one point. When your thoughts wander from it don’t fight them, just gently nudge your attention back to your one point.

–Get rid of the carbon dioxide in your lungs by opening your mouth and making a slow, steady “haaa” sound as you breathe out for ten seconds. When you think you’re out of breath make one last hard “ha.”

–Inhale slowly, evenly and deeply through your nose in one uninterrupted motion taking four or five seconds. Concentrate on bringing your breath far down. Imagine your diaphragm swelling out like a balloon and your breath pressing your one point from inside your stomach. Your breathing should be going on in your diaphragm and not in your chest. Your chest should be moving very little, if at all.

–Your attention still on your one point, and your breath pressing against it, hold your breath for five to ten seconds.

–Then exhale deeply, but slowly and evenly through your mouth. Pull in your abdominal muscle to force out as much carbon dioxide as possible. If you get out of breath just stop and breathe in your usual way for a few seconds. Then start your ki breathing again.

Try to practice this method of ki breathing at least five minutes twice each day. If you set aside time every day for ki breathing you’ll feel the effects of it not only when you’re actually doing it, but throughout the day.

If you’re like a lot of people and twice a day is asking a lot, at least learn how to do your breathing so you can launch into it when you’re upset or unsettled, or when you just feel like it.

It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and once you do you can do it whenever you wish. When your ki is lively, you react confidently and quickly. If it’s clouded and negative, you hesitate and become awkward and indecisive. Therefore, keep your ki flowing all day long

After you have become accustomed to deep abdominal ki breathing you can do it anywhere—in a cab, on a train, at your desk, while walking down the street, in an elevator. Whenever you need ki simply breathe down to your one point.

Points to Remember Blog Posts I, II, and III: The Doctrine of Ki

–Remember to “Fill yourself with ki.” (Ki o mitasu) Do it as often as you can. In particular, do it to increase your expectations of success and whenever you experience defeat.

–Ki is energy, a frame of mind or attitude, and it’s a force that you communicate to other people.

–Positive ki creates positive power in your actions and positive responses in others. Negative ki creates negative actions and responses.

–Make certain you never forget the personal power formula of shinkiryoku (mind-energy-strength). Your frame of mind determines how much energy you have and the amount of power you live and work with. You can choose how much power you will communicate by choosing what you will think.

–To increase your ki and ryoku power: (1) transmit your ki, (2) concentrate on your one point two inches below your navel, and (3) breathe diaphragmatically.

–The time will come when you realize you have been neglecting your ki development. Whenever that happens, go back to these posts and refresh your memory of how you can increase your ki and ryoku power whenever you want.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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The Doctrine of Ki, Part II: Clearing Your Mind, Increasing Your Strength

“If your mind is preoccupied, your ki tenses, and you become awkward.”

“Form follows ki, and ki follows the mind.”

(Adapted from the eBook Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life, David J. Rogers, Crossroad Press, 2014)

Shin is your frame of mind, ki is your vital energy, and ryoku is your power. They always go together, and they may fill you with strength or with weakness. In this post we’ll look at shin and whether it is yielding strength or weakness.

A Common Tale

I have two friends, Jack and Bob, who seem to me to be similar in many ways. However, in spite of their similarities, they’re very different. Jack is discouraged and depressed easily, and sees work life (and personal life too) as a burden full of trouble that one has to suffer through.

Bob, on the other hand, is buoyant, energetic and optimistic. Both men have suffered setbacks in business and outside it, but they react to them very differently. Jack dwells on his. He moans and becomes grumpy and irritable. Bob picks himself up and reenters the stream of life eager to see what lies ahead.

Jack endures his job the way one endures a dreaded disease. He has told me more than once that whatever he touches turns to shit. Bob moves quickly from one success to another.

A major difference between these two otherwise similar men is the difference in their frame of mind, their shin. Because their shin is very different, so are their ki and ryoku. Bob’s ki is positive and his power of action is all right there, 100 percent. Jack’s ki is negative and his power is almost nonexistent. Their shin is a difference that makes all the difference.

Olympic Athletes and You

What separates winners from losers? What differentiates Olympic athletes from other world-class competitors? According to a group of researchers who studied America’s top wrestlers, the difference is not in physical ability. And it’s not in training methods: they’re pretty standard. The difference is in the athletes’ frame of mind, their shin—in what they think.

Men who were eliminated in U.S. Olympic trials tended to be more confused or depressed before the match—that’s very bad shin— while the winners were positive and relaxed, which is very good shin. Those who made the Olympic team were more in control of their reactions than the losers, who were more likely to become upset emotionally.

Without seeing even one wrestling match, the researchers were able to predict 92% of the winners by using profiles of the athletes.

Feeling free and easy, being relaxed and calm, not being caught up in problems or worries, thinking positively and optimistically, expecting to do well, being committed to what you’re doing, not being grumpy or irritable, feeling fearless, buoyant and confident … all these are positive shin, positive ki, ryoku power-producers.

Experiencing worry, anger or hostility, losing heart, being afraid of something lying ahead of you, worrying, expecting defeat, holding a grudge, feeling timid or uneasy and being confused in action . . . these are examples of negative shin, negative ki, power-depleters.

Exercises for Transmitting Your Ki

  • Reflect on your thought habits and change negative to positive. Many people, possibly most, simply don’t realize how much negative ki they’re creating. To find out for yourself, a useful technique is to stop the action for five minutes once a day and write down your thoughts as they pop into your head. After you’ve filled a few sheets of paper put a plus sign after each positive ki thought and a minus sign after each negative thought you’ve listed. Any thought that creates power, good chemistry with others, optimism or forward movement gets a plus; and any thought that diminishes your power, creates bad chemistry, is pessimistic or prevents you from moving forward toward your goals and responsibilities gets a minus.Ask yourself, “Which predominates, positive or negative?”
  • Reject negative shin thoughts and replace them with positive, power-producing thoughts. Do this whenever a negative thought appears in your mind. Whenever your thoughts drift off to the negative, stop them, then substitute positive shin thoughts—“I like this person.” “I’m having a good time.” “We can work this out.” “I’m happy.” “I’m going to succeed.” Always reject negative ki and consciously replace it with positive.
  • Spit. To add determination to your rejection of negative thoughts, spit out the troublesome thought. Go “thoo” and spit out the thought.
  • Pay special attention to “red alert,” negative ki thoughts. Whenever you feel any of the following–afraid, scared; confused, indecisive; distracted, upset; depressed, sad or miserable; worried, nervous, anxious, upset, tense, pressured; beaten down, defeated, your spirits sagging; listless, unmotivated and bored; shy, non-assertive, timid; defensive, ready to hit back, bitter; guilty–your ki is negative, your ryoku power is weak. Right away, remind yourself of shin-ki-ryoku. Tell yourself, “Remember, make your thoughts pure and transmit your ki.”
  • Control your expectations. Negative-expectations, negative-ki people are that way only out of habit. By developing new, more positive shin thought habits you condition yourself to have positive expectations and you put more power into your actions. More than 100 studies of 15,000 people show that those who expect to succeed are happier, healthier, and more successful. Always jump to the positive. Be like a fish that is swimming in one direction, but can quickly turn and go in the opposite.
  • Constantly remind yourself of the importance of positive shin, positive ki. Make a pact with someone. If one of you is becoming tight, irritable or gloomy, the other is to say, “C’mon now. Don’t forget. Transmit your ki.
  • Write out reminders on three-by-five index cards and put them in prominent places around your house and office. “Plus creates plus.” “Good shin creates good ki creates power.” Read them aloud, and with feeling, from time to time. On each card draw a large minus sign and a large plus sign. Draw an arrow from the minus to the plus to remind yourself to move your negative thoughts to positive.(Martial artist Bruce Lee visualized his negative thoughts written on a piece of paper, then saw himself wadding the paper into a ball, lighting it with a match and watching it burn to a crisp. He said the thoughts never returned to disturb him.)
  • Draw a ring of harmony around yourself wherever you are. You can generate goodwill and cooperation by imagining a yellow ring of harmony around you constantly. Make the ring red or blue if you like—the color doesn’t matter. All that matters is your imagining the ring around yourself and making certain that whenever another person passes into it, there is cooperation and harmony between you.
  • Stop judging others negatively. People can pick up very quickly if you’re thinking they’re dumb, nasty, unpleasant, overly talkative, ugly, poorly dressed, too highly paid for what they do, etc. If they sense that you don’t like them, they won’t like you. So instead, like them, respect them, find real value in them, even if you have to work hard at it.
  • Be generous with your feelings. If you like people, let them know about it. Transmit your ki to them. Much of the negative ki in business is caused by the supervisor who always criticizes and never praises. Parents often do the same with their children. Simply let people know you appreciate what they’re doing and morale will improve immediately—in business and in the home.
  • See your positive ki being passed from you to others. See it as a ray of white light being transmitted by you to another person or a whole group of people. Actually visualize it moving from you to them under the direction of your mind.
  • Maintain your ki even in defeat. Everyone gets beaten. The question is not whether you’ll experience defeat, but how you’ll handle it when you do. When you’re beaten—by another person, an event, a situation—keep your ki positive and strong. Never let the defeat “penetrate your depths,” never let it get to your shin. When you havc a crisis, positive shin can rescue you. Be able to say, “I lost this one (job, person, disagreement, etc.) but I’m not defeated. I’ve failed, but I’m not a failure. I’ve still got the only solution I need—me. ” Even in defeat—especially in defeat—keep your ki going full blast.

You can choose how much power you will have by choosing what to think.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

The Next Post

The next post will show that “the way to draw the power of ki is very easy,” and that “If your ki is settled, your actions will flow.”

 

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The Doctrine of Ki, Part I: How To Acquire Charisma and a Powerful Spirit

(Adapted from the eBook Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life, David J. Rogers, Crossroad Press, 2014)

“Fill yourself with ki” (Ki o mitasu)

An Extraordinary Form of Power

For centuries Eastern warriors have sought to cultivate an extraordinary form of personal power. It is called “ki” (pronounced “key”) in Japan, chi (“chee”) in China and prana in India. We really have no one word in English that adequately conveys the full meaning of ki. Approximations include energy, spirit, aura, vitality, vital spirit, breath, life force, and inner strength. It’s simply ki. The warrior doesn’t really care very much what something is called, but only if it actually works and, if it does, how to make it work.

Warriors are pragmatic people.

After learning how a person could generate ki through simple physical and mental exercises, one night I actually tried it. Then before boarding a commuter train to take me to a lecture I was to give, I tried it again. I felt as though I were floating two inches off the ground the whole day. I experienced an energy and power I had never known before. The day went beautifully, almost blissfully. Everything was absolutely right. It wasn’t only that my mind was sharp: the energy was simply phenomenal.

Some time after that I had breakfast with a friend. He told me that he had been “off” recently. He was going through a rough period He had a hell of a lot of work to do, hard decisions to make, and was operating under a lot of pressure. But try as he would, he simply could not get himself together, and the work was piling up.

All I did that morning in a short fifteen minutes was describe my experience with ki and suggest how he could develop his own if he wanted. Writing on a napkin, I outlined the steps he could follow. We paid the check, left, and that was that.

Two weeks later he telephoned to thank me.

“Thank me for what?” I asked.

“That ki business,” he said. He went on to tell me that since we had talked that morning he had experienced the most fruitful two weeks in his entire life. After our breakfast he had gone to his office and immediately taken out the napkin and followed the steps.

“I haven’t been the same since.” Decisions he couldn’t make before, he was now able to make easily. He had felt heavy and listless before; now he felt strong, buoyant, and energetic. What had seemed like insurmountable problems before suddenly had become mere stepping stones to progress.

You are more likely to overcome obstacles that have been stopping you and to achieve your purposes if you have a powerful spirit.

A journalist who only read what I wrote about ki in Fighting to Win because she was going to interview me said essentially the same thing. She got her start by doing her ki breathing while sitting in her tub! She said, “You know, it works and it’s amazing.”

Those experiences with ki taught me that even a minimum of information about this unusual form of power can lead to positive and sometimes extraordinary changes in a person’s life. It’s a learning that’s been confirmed many times since.

What my friend, the journalist, and I had experienced for ourselves were two features of naiki, the samurai “doctrine of ki:” energy and mental control. We had learned that if you use your mind and body in a certain way you can create an unusual form of energy field that can change your life.

 The Formula: Shin makes Ki makes Ryoku

 The samurai men and women were first and foremost superb warriors. That’s what they were trained for. That was their occupation. But they were something of psychologists too—psychologists of action. They knew that three things always go together:

1. Your frame of mind or attitude (shin)

2. Your vital energy (ki)

3. A force—a strength—coming out from you that affects other people, and sometimes very powerfully (ryoku).

 Shin makes ki makes ryoku

Shin is psychological; ki is psycho-physical; ryoku is physical.

Charisma is Powerful Ki

Some actors on the stage or in films possess charisma. Intuitively we all recognize charisma when we see it, and can identify who has it and who does not. Charismatic actors and other performers only have to make their entrance and the audience is in awe. Why? Because they are handsome or beautiful? Often they are not. Because of their voices? Their voice may not even pleasant. Because of their talent? It may, in fact, be almost non-existent.

That charm, that attraction caused by the performer’s whole being in which even faults are turned to advantage is not inexplicable as has been said. It is the direct effect of ki on an audience. And it can be cultivated. Charisma is accessible to everyone.

Speaker A at a conference may be extremely articulate and extremely bright and extremely knowledgeable—far more so than Speaker B. Yet Speaker B may be the one you are impressed with and will remember. That is not at all unusual. B is not as smart or as good a speaker or as knowledgeable, but she has powerful ki coming out of her. Why? Because her shin, ki, and ryoku are in order and are functioning full blast.

© 2014 David J. Rogers

 

In coming posts we will  be discussing naiki, the doctrine of ki. Or you may wish to refer to chapter four of Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life.

Till then, remember: KEEP YOUR KI STRONG AND LIVELY.

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