3 ways to help your Ju Go further: Part III

"Let it Happen"

Kimo Williams

In part one I wrote of the necessity to “Feel the flow” in an attempt to better capture the essence of Yawara. In part two we examined the role of force in Jujitsu. In this 3rd and final installment I discuss an idea that is elusive yet indispensable… the ability to “Let it Happen.”

Spontaneous adaptability. We all have it. We use it each day when conversing with a friend or driving to work. Musicians feel it when they hear music for the first time. Animals use it when they’re startled by a predator. So common, so simple yet so difficult to achieve when putting our jujitsu skills to the test in Waza.

So what does it take to effectively train our spontaneous adaptability? Is it something we can learn to “turn on?” or is it something we need to learn to “turn off.” Let’s start with one particular model of understanding our self (s).

 The traditional Hawaiian approach to understanding the psyche and its role in the body-mind experience (Huna) describes us as comprising 3 selves or spirits. The lower or body-mind, the middle or thinking-mind and the upper or spirit mind. There is much more to it, but for now, this is the idea.

 It is believed in this model that the body-mind’s role is to manage our physicality and our memories to provide us with an automatic response that moves us away from pain and towards pleasure. Our training of the body-mind or subconscious occurs when three things are present: repetition, reward and ritual. When the same event or action provides us with consistent reward (or pain) memories are established that will help to automatically identify similar potential events thereby helping us to react quicker. Pretty simple. We stand a greater chance of survival if we can move quicker. It’s the reason it’s so hard to jump off the high dive the first time and so much fun to do it the tenth time.

 The third component, Ritual, or “established formal behavior” is a powerful way of communicating with our lower selves without the critical filter of the intellect. Thus, when ritual is present the lesson is more clearly understood by the subconscious. Religions, social orders and military entities are full of ritual. We in Danzan Ryu are not without our own… by design.

 The kata that make up the courses of DZR are ritualized repetitions of movement that train the body-mind to remember, without the aid of the intellect, to move in the way that brings the most reward and the least amount of pain. All three components are present. Kata is the ancient way of effectively training the subconscious so that it may one day “rise up” and perform in spectacular fashion. Kata is the means by which we re-train our deepest subconscious patterns to eliminate successive layers of fear. By eliminating fear we move closer to realizing true freedom in our body, intellect and spirit-minds. In Hawaiian the concept is called “Lokahi.” In DZR, as well as other Japanese Arts and Ways, it is known as “Kyoshin Tankai.”

Master Okazaki defines this term in his Esoteric Principles as follows:  “Empty yourself of your own thoughts and enter into a condition of Kyoshin Tankai - a heart empty of fear and prejudice with an open mind.  Only then will you personally benefit by acquiring and mastering the secret art of the perfection of selflessness.  That is to say, this is your secret key to the secret mysteries of our house.”

 While the body-mind is strong in its ability to govern the physical experience, it weakens when criticized by the abstract-thinking conscious intellect. Therefore, along with training your body-mind to act with precision and balance it is also necessary to train your conscious-mind (lono) to cease all judgments in times of physical attack and liberate the spontaneous adaptation of the subconscious (Ku).

In order to truly “Let it Happen” we need to free our “self” from the “micro-management” of our thoughts. To effectively “turn off” our conscious desire to remain in control and simply let go. To get out of our own way. To Sutemi (abandon fear) ... but how?

 Stillness and faith.

Stillness is the quality one experiences when training in qigong, meditation, yoga or a variety of other disciplines designed to shift your awareness internally while aligning your body, breath and mind with the environment. Is it possible to do DZR kata and experience this type of stillness? Now we’re on to something!

Faith is that personal decision we all make at some point to invest in an idea. To expect your intellectual mind to turn over the reigns to the less evolved body-mind is an act of faith that once experienced, will immediately become “belief.” Belief is the subconscious outcome of experience. Belief that you are capable of protecting yourself in any situation will allow you to “switchover” on a moment’s notice. Should this belief thus far elude you, then you must simply have faith that the tradition of Danzan Ryu will systematically provide the skills needed to one day become a believer. Start with faith in yourself and faith in your training. And when your ready, faith in your spirit.

Although the concept of spiritual training is not within the framework of this three-part article, there is one aspect I’d like to touch upon at this time.

It is widely held, at least in the Polynesian cultures, that the ability to access the power and assistance of our “completely trustworthy parental guardians” (Aumakua), requires that we align our body-mind, our intellect and our actions (Pono). Practitioners of the Danzan Arts do this through the diligent practice of the system that has been handed down by the stewards of the preceding generations. In essence… the “Art” is the Way.

 As “Morpheous” once told “Neo” in the cult classic “The Matrix”… “You’re faster than this. Don’t think you are, know you are. Come on. Stop trying to hit me and hit me.” What exactly was Morpheus pointing to? What voodoo does the riddle suggest? Perhaps he wanted Neo to abandon his desire and “Let it Happen” (Hmmm, perhaps that’s not air we’re breathing either?)

To summarize, the pun intended in the article title “3 ways to help your Ju Go further” was crafted to identify, in my opinion, three levels of understanding that together represent the fruit of Danzan training.

To “Feel the Flow” is to cultivate an appreciation for Yawara. Sensitivity, suppleness and patience allowing the practice of kata to seep into your subconscious and change the way you interact with your world.

To “ Use the Force” is to understand the dynamic principles of nature and to realize its phase transitions. To practice your kata with greater appreciation of Yin and Yang within each movement.

And finally, to unleash your spontaneous adaptability by learning to get our of your own way and “Let it Happen.” …To liberate your body-mind from the bondage of your disbelieving intellect.

 Three ways to simplify a seemingly complex system of ideas. Three ways to make a single path a little clearer to see.

Sensei Kimo Williams is the founder of Burbank Danzan Dojo can be reached at kimo@burbankjujitsu.com