The Bottom Line Of Training
By Christopher Caile
I vividly remember a Darhma discourse (a talk) given a few years ago
by Daido Loori, the Abbott (monastery head) of the Zen Mountain Monastery,
(1) who talked about a former student who had also been a seasoned Kung-Fu
One day the kung fu student came in badly bruised, his eyes blackened
and with a broken jaw. When asked “what happened?,” he replied
that he had been mugged. It wasn’t a gang or armed attackers –
he had been attacked by two teenagers. Instead of reacting, he froze,
paralyzed by fear. He was robbed and beaten while he stood motionless.
Daido commented, the student “missed something, very, very fundamental.
His teacher had never gotten across to him how to deal with that body
and mind freezing anxiety.”
Oscar Ratti, the famous illustrator and co-author of the books “The
Secrets Of The Samurai” and “Aikido And The Dynamic Sphere,”
once told me a similar story about a New York aikido black belt. Upon
returning to his parked van one night after practice, he found someone
rummaging around in the back part of the vehicle. The aikido-ka opened
the rear door to challenge the person. What he got was a surprise –
a knife wielding man who thrust the weapon toward him. Instead of simply
turning to the side to avoid the attack, a basic aikido technique practiced
countless times, he froze. Again, training failed how to address fear.
But this time the consequences were more severe. The aikido-ka died, recounts
Thus, the bottom line of our training, if it is to be more than calisthenics,
should be to learn how to relax when confronted with an actual attack,
or at least not to become paralyzed by fear and eruptions of emotion.
Only then can your body react with the technique and methods ingrained
into the fiber of your nuero-muscular system. A karate practitioner will
react very differently from someone who knows judo, aikido or daito-ryu
aikijujitsu. But that’s not the point. The mind must be freed so
the body can react, and this control should be an inherent part of any
martial arts training. Everything else you can or might do is built on
If, in the event of an actual confrontation or attack, you can’t
quell your mind and emotions and relax, your training has failed you.
Training should teach you to master and control your own automatic reactions
and learn to use them to assist and not hinder your actions.
Thus, a basic question you must ask yourself is, have you trained your
mind for high stress, fear-filled situations? If not, you should go back
to your teacher, or if you are a teacher, seriously look at what and how
you are teaching so your students don’t find themselves in this
Without this mental training, everything else you have learned becomes
useless at the very moment you need to call upon it.
1- The talk was given a at the Zen Mountain Monistary ub Mt. Tremper,
NY on July 21, 1990.
About the Author:
Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of
FightingArts.com. He has been a student of the martial arts for over 40
years and holds a 6th degree black belt in Seido Karate and has experience
in judo, aikido, diato-ryu, boxing, Itto-Ryu Kenjutsu and several Chinese
fighting arts. He is also a long-term student of one branch of Traditional
Chinese Medicine, Qigong. He is a personal disciple of the qi gong master
and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.) and is Vice-President
of the DS International Chi Medicine Association.