Freeing the Mind, Focusing Chi and Mastering the Self
A collection of parables and teaching stories from the martial arts traditions of Japan and China that emphasises their spiritual foundation. True martial arts should never be confused with simple combat techniques. Rather martial arts are a way that an individual after a long and difficult apprenticeship can gain a profound understanding of the true nature of reality and one's place in it. Over time the apprentice discovers the laws governing the subtle forces of life and realises that their mastery is only possible after one has mastered oneself. He who has mastered the Art doesn't use his sword: he compels his adversary to kill himself. This quote from renowned sword master Tajima no Kami perfectly expresses the paradoxical nature of martial arts teachings in China and Japan. Most of the stories in this book are based on actual events in the lives of martial arts teachers who have achieved legendary status. Master of the Art of Archery Kenzo Awa could hit the centre of a target even when shooting in total darkness. Assailants of Tai Chi master Yang Lu Chan found their blows did more damage to themselves than to their would-be victim. The almost superhuman abilities of some of the masters described here are evidence of the secret powers that can be wielded by those whose martial arts training is not simply the learning of physical techniques but involves the mastering of the subtle energies of the mind and body.