Words from Sabumnim
A Cloaked Super Power
The heart and soul of an individual can be compared to the qualities of water. Water can be hot, warm, cool or cold, a soul can also be hot, warm, cool or cold. Water can be hard or soft, a soul can also be hard or soft. Just as water can become flowing, rough or violent, so too can a soul. Water can be clear, bright, cloudy or dark, just as a soul can be clear, bright, cold or dark. Water can also be shallow or deep, just as a soul can. In the practice of martial arts, there are many things that have to develop in the physical body, as well as the mind. However, it is the soul that is the hidden power of both body and mind. If the soul is shallow it cannot guide the mind and body to a deeper level of martial arts skills or understanding. The very word of understanding reveals the secret to attaining all knowledge. If we can position our heart and soul under the knowledge we seek to attain, rather than being above it, we would excel in any area we choose. The greatest position for the heart and soul to acquire understanding is the position of humility. One must be ever mindful that just like water, humility can be shallow or deep, depending on the personal development of one’s soul. This means the more shallow one’s humility is, the less understanding they can achieve.
When a student comes to learn with an empty cup, their cup is void of ego, and therefore, naturally filled with humility. The teacher can fill this student with understanding that cannot even be put into words. When a student comes with shallow or little humility, that student places his or herself above the teacher, which makes it almost impossible to receive deeper understanding. Being right is the mind’s favorite pass-time. Right feels good, safe and in control. Higher knowledge, just like the sunlight and rain come down from above. Many people have an unconscious fear of being too humble. They view humility as a form of surrendering and a weakness that others will take advantage of. Many feel this form of surrender will take away some part of their identity or diminish their power. This is only true if you surrender to things and people that are harmful to you, such as self destructive thoughts and habits, or those who bring pain and suffering into your life.
When you develop a practice of deep humility, and learn to surrender to that which supports and empowers you (the creator, your teachers, good habits, good practice and good judgment), what you surrender to will become your cloaked super power.
As a martial arts student, I have never considered myself especially gifted or talented. Yet after 48 years of martial arts training, I realized my gift was humility and my talent was surrender. These two things have always, and continue today, to open doors for me that have been bolted shut to others. I am a somewhat decent martial arts teacher only because I continuously practice being a humble beginner. I can never say I know all there is to know, even about the most basic of martial arts techniques. I'm still learning the front kick, and the back roll and finding joy in it with every new discovery.
Below is a video of my lesson with Master Toshiko Mori on February 25th 2017. She is from Fukuoka Japan. Her husband and both her sons are teachers of the martial arts and are part of a 400 year lineage of martial arts practitioners. I’ve been very fortunate to have spent time in Japan with them, and have been invited to train within their exclusive martial arts traditions. It was only humility that opened those doors to me over 15 years ago, and brought Master Toshiko Mori to my school to teach me after all of those years.