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Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

As we worked on Esquima, a fighting drill from the clinch, I was totally detached from all the problems outside of class.  I was living completely in the moment.  Each class has required complete attention of the mind; however, the  mind would attempt to day dream or be distracted by chores I needed to do, or other problems..  When the mind wanders,  that was when problems started  arising in the mind and I would miss details.  According to buddhist monks that I follow on YouTube,  a wandering mind will lead to unhappiness. I have been trying to meditate, just sitting, not moving, for eight minutes, at night before bed, and focusing on breathing.  When you concentrate on breathing, the mind will stop wandering.

This may seem like non sense to some.  It has taken almost two hundred classes before I could stand at attention without swaying. I learned that swaying while standing at attention was an indication that the mind was not calm.   The slight swaying from one foot to the other was mainly due to back pain. I had terrible posture.  When the back was out of alignment, the back would pinch on a nerve causing pain. I have been working on improving my posture ever since my shoulder injury in October of 2012.  As the instructor would talk, I would have to focus on the mind to stop moving.  I had to bring my consciousness to this.

I noticed that I wasn’t moving in base, ninety degrees,  during technique review and I had bad balance. I always had good balance.   During esquima, I was hunched over so my practice partner lightly shoved me to the floor to show that I was vulnerable to an attack. Bad posture and back pain were related.  I need to correct these problems of the body.

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Jiu jitsu doesn’t just train the body, it also trains the mind.   Training the mind takes many years of consistent practice.

Last Friday, Pedro jr. talked about the mental states of a true warrior,  equanimity, alertness, and readiness.

Equanimity means mental calmness under stress.  Equanimity also means maintaining mental stability, not over celebrating, nor be overcome with grief; ideally in the center.  If the mind entered an extreme emotion, the mind should quickly try to get back to center.   A palm tree, flexible in a hurricane.

Alertness.  In my own words, perception of reality, freeing the mind of chatter and distraction.   Clearly observing the opponent in front of you.  Observing the environment your in.  In an attack situation, being able to evaluating the options based upon immediate observation.  Sparring, knowledging what the arms and legs are doing.

Readiness. Train.Train..Train… Repetition equals muscle memory.

There are ways outside of jiu jitsu where you can improve your mental states.  Equanimity,  alertness, and readiness can be developed by consistent yoga practice.  Yoga means union of the mind and body.   Finding the right yoga studio is a problem.  Stay away from big gyms that treat yoga like an aerobics class. That I don’t recommend.   I recommend the study of the eight levels of yoga called The Eight Limbs. If the yoga studio never heard of this, eight limbs, don’t return. Find another place. Meditation classes can also be helpful to jiu jitsu students.  Finding a good meditation teacher isn’t easy as well. I recommend the study of the Eight Fold Path of Buddha. It’s really scientific and not religious. It’s similar to the eight limbs. Neither the eight limbs nor the eight fold path will contradict your beliefs but improve it. I’m not going to give more information because it’s something you need to research and worthwhile. Maybe your ready or maybe not? Take the time to see for yourself.

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In our life, a lot of present time goes un noticed. I’m trying to live in the moment. Right now. Not the past. Not the future. There is little benefit in dwelling in past memories. There is little benefit in worrying about the future. The eteneral present which is really the only time there is.

As we lined up to bow to our professor on Friday’s fundamental class, I was the highest ranking belt, a first time experience. However, a little later, a purple belt and a brown belt showed up late. I didn’t feel conformtable being the one being looked up too, not yet. I thought to myself of my very first class which was a distant memory and here I am now. For me, the joy of the journey isn’t the final destination, black belt, but the journey to it.

Longevity. I am now taking vitamin D3. I was shocked to read that 100 million Americans, out of 300, are vitamin d deficient. A chronic low level could lead to cancer. Your body needs direct sunlight to make it. So, if you don’t get out in the sun very often, you should get tested. You body needs vitamin D for skeleton and muscle health. You need a blood test to know the actual level.

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For the first time, I tried a no kimono, no gi,  class on Friday night.  It was a tough group of people, an ex college wrestler, an ex m.m.a. fighter, and visitors, als0 known as, people off the street.   Professor Gui taught us a few choke holds. These chokes are done when the opponent shrimps out of the side mount.  That night I was lucky to have a brown belt as my partner whom was very patient and took me slowly through the steps.  To be honest, I thought it was complicated and didn’t think that I would be using it anytime soon.  However, I was wrong.  I was able to do a guillotine choke when my opponent tried an elbow escape from the side mount.   It was my first submission.  Note, I don’t want to give the submission much attention just like when I tap out.  For me what was extraordinary was that I was just taught the move, practiced the move on my partner, and then executed the move in sparring that night.  That’s cool.

Throwing is a part of Jiu Jitsu just as much as it is to Judo.  I attempted the Makikomi. It was pretty bad.  I was able to grab both elbows for a short while but I couldn’t swim my other arm over them to execute the throw.   As soon as I grabbed both elbows of my opponent, he knew something was going to happen and immediately try to yank his arms free.  What I learned is that the execution has to be quick or it won’t work.

I was in some bad positions during sparring.  At one point, my opponent had me in a top mount position with his full body weight on my abdomen and the hooks in.  I was having trouble breathing.  I panicked.  I should have stuck it out because I was  prepared for this.   I have been practicing a five-minute meditation on only five breathes.  Here’s how you do it.  It is a twenty-second inhale, hold for twenty seconds, and exhale for twenty. Five breathes, five minutes.  Note, it takes practice to get a twenty-second inhale. You can start with a 10 second inhale, 10 second breath hold, and 10 second exhale.  At another time, I was pinned.  I tried a pressure point to get my opponent to let go.  It didn’t work but it may have made him uncomfortable.  I should have asked my opponent after the match if it was working.  Note to self,  research pressure points.  If I find any article worth mentioning , I will let you all know.

Every Friday Night after the fundamental class, Professor Pedro talks about Jiu Jitsu philosophy and life style.  I forgot about this.  I usually have prepared questions.   If any of you have a question, please on forward it.  Anyways, someone asked about the Gracie Diet.   I haven’t read the book yet. I haven’t really  started the diet.  From what I understood, the diet is concerned with blood ph levels.  It is bad to have high acidity in the  blood.   The blood should be alkaline.  To keep your blood alkaline, you have to consume the right food and not mix certain foods.

Professor Pedro also discussed taking control of your mind as with his example of salt addiction.  He made the decision to never put salt on his food.  We all know that long-term over use of salt leads to high blood pressure.   Once  you stop over consuming salt, it takes around three months before the taste of the food returns.  Back in the late 1990s, my ex girlfriend from Liverpool, England, taught me that we put too much salt in our food in America.  That night, she made a soup without salt to prove her point.  The food wasn’t important. It was a salt addiction and the food could have been anything.  I liked Professor Pedro’s message of how he instructed his mind that he isn’t going to consume salt instead of his mind instructing him to eat salt.  A part of a Jiu Jitsu practitioner’s goal is to learn mind control so that we can control our emotions.

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Six months ago, just before I bowed to enter the mat for a class, I noticed a small picture frame hanging on the wall at eye level. It contained a letter.  The letter was titled, The Way Of The True Warrior.  It had seven prominent words with a description beside each.  During various lessons, professor Pedro Jr. would refer to this letter and mentioned that it was called the Bushido Code.  It’s a code to live by.  The seven words were as follows,

  1. Courage. * Note, the portuguese word for courage is Valente.
  2. Rectitude of Justice
  3. Benevolence  
  4. Politeness
  5. Honesty
  6. Honor
  7. Loyalty

****  reference,  http//artofmanliness.com/2008/09/14/the-bushido-code-the-right-virtues-of-the-samurai

After I started searching for more information about the Bushido Code, it led me to Buddhism. When I was in high school,  I read a book by Hermann Hess, Siddarth, which is about Buddhism.  It is a short book but very interesting.  Twenty five years later, the study of Jiu Jitsu sparked a new interest in Buddhism.  I turned to YouTube.com for information.  I was interested in learning how to meditate so I thought a monk would know and I was right.   There I found two monks, Yuttadhammo, of Canada, and Ajahn Brahmn, of England.  Yuttadhammo has great videos posted on beginning Meditation.  Ajahn Brahmn has great videos on how to deal with the problems of modern living.  Anyways,  it is worth checking them out on Youtube.

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