If someone tells me there is a dimension of martial practice beyond the obvious, above the commonly held mainstream methodologies and techniques, I want to know a tangible way to express or ground it into a workable practicality. And so, it has been my martial quest over the last twenty-five years to penetrate and to decode the concepts, principles, techniques, language and relevancy of a broad area of study defined by different labels as, Internal Martial Art, Esoteric Principles, Energy Practices, Monastic Martial Science, Mystical Teachings, etc. At present, and in my opinion, there is a great deal of ambiguity within the Hard style community regarding ‘Internal’ martial study and, you may be surprised, that some confusion even exists amongst practitioners of these very Arts.
My particular foray into this field circumvented the mainstream paths. After several decades of formal karate training I forged a new route for my curiosities, which by happenchance created a hybrid language and understanding slightly different from Classical and Traditional descriptions. Truth remains truth regardless of how it is dressed.
Although this outcome was not my intention, it served me to firmly anchor this subject into the here-and-now world we must all survive within.
The Activation Gap
The language of the Internal, Esoteric and Monastic masters was and is not a common parlance. It is acutely foreign, particularly to Western ears and educational upbringing. It is therefore easy to overlook, minimize, misinterpret or disregard.
In the Esoteric world, martial technique is not what it appears on the gross physical plane. Techniques still retain their physical properties. A block is still a block. A punch is still a punch, just more so. It is this ‘more so’ that I have sought for decades to understand using my martial skill base, intuitions, historical research, and testing methods.
If you cannot see or grasp the practical relevancy of a martial concept or technique presented to you then you have an activation gap. That is, you cannot activate or apply any idea, principle or technique which you are unaware or do not understand.
In this light I would like to address the The Four Interconnecting Roots of Martial Arts, Monastic Martial Science and Yoga, these are the Four Roots of the Authentic Martial Lineages that the Tennessee Buddhist and Aikibudo Shifu, Tenshin Arakawa, describes as the foundation of the Esoteric Principles in Monastic and Internal martial study: YANTRA, MUDRA, MANTRA, and MANDALA. In doing so, I hope to offer some clarification for those who might be interested in the relationship between the Esoteric Teachings in martial arts and their link to both monastic Buddhist martial practices and Yoga.
This will be a new language for many and there is no one statement or essay that can contain the breadth and complexity of this field of study, any more than a martial novice could have a karate master explain, in a few words, the entirety of his External art.
Both sides of the coin, External and Internal, represent an interdependent process that must be lived and experienced to be fully grasped. However, I will attempt a conceptual mooring for the more curious of you in the hope that it will spur you to investigate this fascinating subject further.
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