I was visiting my friends in Sligo, Ireland the other week-end and whilst there I taught martial arts and Reiki healing. To me Sligo is a powerful place, the town is surrounded by ancient spirit, the clouds rolling over the surrounding hills and mountains dominated by the outstanding Knocknarea mountain that is crested by Maeve’s Cairn (grave). Queen Maeve was reputedly a Queen of Ireland and the unexcavated cairn is dated at approximately five thousand years old. The nearby Carrowmore megalithic cemetery dates back over seven thousand years.
As martial artists we are often obsessed with Oriental history and culture forgetting how powerful and spiritual our own ancient cultures are.
To stand amongst these old megaliths any sensitive person can feel their power stretching back over millennia.
Mountains, the sea, fast flowing rivers, beautiful waterfalls, moist clouds rolling around ancient graves, one just can’t help feeling in awe.
As a venue for the warrior and ancient healing arts I felt in just the right place.
Tony Warren, one of the dan grades from my club, had taken up residence in Sligo some years ago and introduced a variety of people to my courses and instruction over the years. Lorna Najran had written to me through the Internet regularly for over three years with a million questions about the martial arts, life, death and the universe and had constantly invited me to visit. Last year I made my first visit and set a regular schedule to help them all plan their training.
This visit I was to stress the importance of the underlying principles of our arts and to address the concept of balance through ‘Satsu/Katsu’ life
Taking/Life Giving’ in our study and to include Reiki healing to show how ‘Katsu’ doesn’t have to be complex.
I was reading an Internet forum where the writers seemed obsessed with hitting points as ‘hard’ as possible to get maximum effect and many martial artists train this way out of fear and panic, not realising that the harder they try, the worse it gets. They may feel that they are putting in 120 per cent, but of course they lack power and focus without the appropriate skill and attention. And most importantly without control it is simply aggression and violent. We discussed this last month in the ‘Vicars and Tarts’ article.
The control of violence in oneself and others is a healing art and that’s what makes a true martial artist. By disciplining the anger and fear inside us we become more patient, kind and compassionate individuals, this is what makes a true warrior. I was very aware of the warrior spirits rising from their ancient cairns to see what was being taught in their homeland to their descendants and the immigrants to their lands. When violence in oneself is controlled then the martial arts become a study of peace, so strategy becomes all important in the control of violence in others.
Constant awareness and vigilance is a must to any martial artist, being ‘streetwise’ is essential, knowing where to go and where not to go in your locality is important. Correct clothing, body language, eye contact, etiquette and sending out the right ‘vibes’ help to keep you safe.
How to deal with verbal abuse, the threat of physical violence and then violence is all a part of our study.
The ability to keep your feet correctly pressured to the floor, your postural alignment and breathing within the correct parameters, and your mind aware and focussed will mean that you carry a ‘natural’ power. The ability to negate any one of these in your opponent will mean a collapse of the others, he will convert from ‘fight’ to ‘flight’ in an instant.
So we pushed hands on all the Karate ‘Ukes’ testing the postures for this power, along with the ability to ‘stick’ and ‘blend’ using our grappling skills to destroy the balance and power in the opponent and then the ability to strike effectively with a variety of our natural weapons to the weakened vital points.
In contrast we studied how to use the forms to increase our vitality and vigour, how to use the pressure of the feet on the floor and our internal body alignment to increase our flow of internal energy, how to enhance it with our breath, mental awareness and concentration. Once we could do this we looked at how to help others to do the same, how to utilise our skills to help others. ‘Katsu. We studied how to read others, flood them with energy and revitalise them using Reiki. We covered the use of meridians, chakras, symbols (many of them familiar to the ‘spirit warriors’ in the cairns) and the use of ‘energy etiquette’ to harmonise with others.
We studied the use and importance of self healing and healing others, I attuned everybody to Reiki 2 standard.
I feel that Reiki healing should be given free of charge to everyone as it is the most natural form of healing available and a true ‘complimentary’ form of healing to any other. Once again the local ‘spirit warriors’ of seven thousand years ago would be familiar with this form of healing. We are a tribal people by nature and touch therapy is (excuse the pun) as ‘old as the hills’.
So ‘Satsu/Katsu’ are not two opposites in our martial arts. It is an integrated process within everything that we do. We do not commit violence and then heal, we only heal, but ‘Satsu’ may reluctantly be a part of that process. The laidoka draws his blade with reluctance but when drawn is committed to action and returns it with sorrow. The greatest achievement of any martial artist is to not use violence to resolve a dispute.
If we study any of the ‘do’ arts we study the way of peace and harmony, the ability to be able to restore harmony to any disharmonious situation, be it within ourselves, an illness in others or an argument or violent situation, shows the mark of a real martial artist.
Ve Rowe with Sai Hon Ireland iresentative Tony Warren As everyone departed from the course I felt that we had achieved an understanding. It showed in the expressions on their faces and their happy disposition. Sligo is an important place in our area of the planet – it has the history and has managed to keep its ancient culture alive, I could feel it. The natural beauty hasn’t yet been eradicated and the people still have that natural friendliness that shows a warm welcome to visitors. I felt that we had been helped in the evolution of the ‘way’ by bringing the ‘old ways’ of East and West together in a way that would be acceptable to all and benefit society generally.