Many years ago, I was suffering from severe vertigo. There were days when I was fearful of even moving out on a crowded street. Driving was out of question. After a year or so of trying various remedies, homeopathy and acupressure did the job.
Ecstatic, I started kickboxing. Everybody around me lost it. Kickboxing is one of the most strenuous, limb stretching, accident-prone workouts, one can pursue. I started with a group workout, which was a disaster. My legs could barely lift themselves. Reaching a target at head level was an impossibility. My punches had no zest. My body ached and pained and hurt. But something about martial arts has always held me enthralled. So even when the group broke up, I started private lessons with my Sensei.
Now, when I kick way above my head and my punches push him back, I think back and am so glad that I did not listen to the naysayers. Of course I have bruises everyday, and sometimes bleeding or sore knuckles, but for me it’s a character trait, and not debasement of beauty.
I have no clue, who told my friend’s husband I kick box? But, we got talking and he sent me a book. And it has consumed me. Till then I thought, ZEN was another three letter, celebrity concept.
I primarily learnt kickboxing as a defense technique. A goon has slapped me in college, and I have never forgotten it. I wanted to learn how to fight back, or at least cause some sort of damage.
As I would gear up to start my workouts with Sir, I would gather up all the anger I felt towards random people in my life and I would punch and kick at them. Their faces and actions would show up on the boxing bag and I would have a good go at it. It left me extremely satisfied and worked out. But sometimes at night I would have dreams, that my punches have absolutely no effect. They would bounce off the target like I was hitting a huge mountain of a man, with a non – effective small, plastic toy. These dreams are my nightmare.
As I grew stronger and my hands could hit harder, Sir would keep warning me to not hit anyone too hard. He felt I could do great damage if I connected properly. “And that’s the point, right? “ I would tell myself. I have learnt kickboxing to do damage and to beat up assholes. I was waiting for an opportunity.
It arrived when I was wearing a salwar kameez and going for a condolence meeting. To cut the pre drama short, I was confronted by 2 people, one man and one woman, in the middle of a very busy road. They were both extremely aggressive and angry, and trying to rile me up. At one point I was holding off the woman with one hand and the man with another. My feet firmly rooted to the ground, both my hands busy controlling them, my eyes were digging into the man’s. He tried to shake me off, but failed. Finally I let go and he threatened to hit me. I moved closer to him and crossed my hands, and asked him to go right ahead. He was so shocked, that after a few seconds, (which felt like a few hours), he backed off. I got back into the car. At that time I did not know that I was practicing ZEN.
Anger without action and action without anger. Anger, blocks sensible action. It’s a haze in front of our eyes and we keep missing the target. Action without anger is very effective. The body remains relaxed, and just before the moment of contact, all energy is collected and pushed into that punch or kick. My all time hero, Bruce Lee could punch within an inch of space between himself and his opponent, and have his opponent moving a few feet backwards.
A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough – Bruce Lee
With my thoughts running all over, ZEN is something I really need to learn. A few days back, I just could not sleep. I actually held my skull and pleaded with my brains to calm down.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee.
For a wonderful all consuming, rivetting read – “Zen in the Martial Arts” by Joe Hyams.
Stay Calm and ……..ZEN!!