For the past 9 years or so I have been a student of zen, chinese medicine, and martial arts. In regards to martial arts, I have always been more drawn to what would be called “external” martial arts and have a greater emphasis on the more martial/self-defense aspects of the art. Then there are the “internal” arts, like Tai-Qi and Qigong, which focus more on internal health and cultivation. Not that I ever saw myself getting into a fight (though I came close a few times), but there was something about the rigorous physical challenge combined with the “achievement” inherent in training in a system that uses various colored belts to determine your rank within the school. Admittedly, I always thought it would be pretty cool to wear the coveted black belt. Due to re-locating and then physical injury, I had moved through a few different styles, attaining intermediate-advanced belts in these styles… but not quite the black one.
In January ’09, I started having pain in my sacro-iliac joint (a bit lower than what one might call their low back). It got worse and worse, and then in August of that year after my blue-belt test and a 9-day meditation retreat… my body let me know that it was time for me to bow out of the external arts. I was upset and frustrated. I had settled into an art and school that I really enjoyed training at (Seattle Kajukenbo), and it was all being taken away from me. Over the next 6 months, I had been to MANY body and energy workers, without much progress. I then tried to ease my way into Aikido (for 8 months)… and while “softer” than Kajukenbo, it still took its toll.
About a month ago, I decided to stop the insanity, and LISTEN… and more importantly, LET GO. Let go of a passion, let go of a goal, let go of my ego. This is a process of being humbled that can be difficult to embrace. But one can choose to focus on what is being lost or focus on the potential that lies within the vast possibilities up ahead. But now what? The answer that appeared was to go “internal”. This realization coincidentally collided with when Tai-Qi and Qigong Master, Kim Ivy, owner of Embrace the Moon was rolling out a Teacher-training program that had been in the works for a couple of years (I believe). Kim is extraordinary… on so many levels. Her skill is as deep as her heart and mind are wide. She teaches with skill, humor, humility, and integrity… making her classes accessible to ALL. I resumed her Chen Tai-Qi classes that I started many years ago, and we started brainstorming on my role as both teacher and student in her new program. It is truly very exciting!
To bring this full-circle to the other practices I’ve been entrenched in… Zen and Chinese Medicine. Fully observing and acknowledging my situation while letting go of my attachments were the keys to alleviating my suffering, at least in-part. This time of year, the energy of the Metal Element… asks us all to let go (the Colon meridian) and take a DEEP DEEP breath of what is to come (the Lung meridian). Then repeat!
As for my back… with the help of some extraordinary practitioners (to be highlighted later) and generating new internal movement, I believe things are beginning to release.
Below, I’ve included links to some extraordinary teachers/schools that I recommend in the area… along with my upcoming workshop on the Metal Element!
Embrace the Moon – Sifu Kim Ivy
Tenzan Aikido – Sensei Bruce Bookman
Seattle Kajukenbo – Sifu Melinda Johnson
Workshop on the Metal Element – with little ol’ me