Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Boxing and Zen

In spite of the heat last evening, I journeyed out to my Boxing club for a two hour training session. I lost about 5 lbs in water weight, and left tired but satisfied.

A colleague at the prison, knowing my search for a Martial Art, recommended this club to me, qualifying his recommendation by stating “there’s no Zen in this place, just a lot of sweat”. I have been searching for several years now to find a Martial Art that offered a practical style conducive to my body type, while having a good club dynamic and living up to the philosophical underpinnings that the Art espoused to have. Judging this criteria, it is perhaps surprising that Boxing has met my personal standard, especially pertaining to the latter.

I became interested in Buddhist and Taoist ideology several years ago. After reading a few books by Thich Nhat Hahn in the mid-late 1990’s, I began to practise Buddhist meditation and thinking, in addition to taking up Yoga. When life lead me into Corrections as an Officer, I sought out the Martial Arts both out of practicality for my job and out of interests arising from much of what I had been reading. My search lead to training in Judo (yellow belt), Taekwondo (green stripe), Kali Ilustrisimo, Koga and a class or two of Aikido and Kung Fu, but none of these Arts, at the particular clubs that I went to, lived up to the psychological/spiritual/philosophical dimension that these Arts professed to include through my readings. That isn’t to take anything away from these Arts or their practicality. Judo is an awesome Art with practical applications, for example, and I enjoyed the physicality of grappling. I would strongly advocate any of these Arts to parents for their children as they do develop discipline, fitness and coordination/physical dexterity. My issue, primarily, was one of it lacking that particular mental component along the lines of the Buddhist and Taoist stuff I was reading about.

Enter the Boxing ring. To begin, let me clarify that I am speaking of Boxing as an Art and not the world of professional Boxing. Though I do like watching pro fights, I think that there is corruption abounding and feel that bouts are permitted to go on too long, resulting in permanent damage to the Boxer. What I am talking about is Boxing as it pertains to training and mechanics. Viewing Boxing from a Buddhist point of view, it does live up to its ideological basis in that there is none as far as spiritual aspects go. How Zen is that? Nothing implies no-thing and, therefore, some-thing. Boxing espouses sweat and heart, and that is what it all boils down to. Boxing develops great footwork, hand-eye coordination, strength and endurance via a full body workout. Further to this, you can join a club and Box for years without ever being punched. Though I’d advocate light sparring if anyone is truly wanting to develop their skills, you never have to put your self in harms way. Lastly, Boxing doesn’t consist of structured kata, belt ranks and thousands of moves, rather combinations consisting of hooks, jabs, crosses and uppercuts. Basic. Effective.

In closing, one thing that I have learned is not to allow myself to get boxed in (pardon the pun) when it comes to applying Buddhism to my life. The Asian Arts do not hold exclusive rights over all things Buddhist/Taoist, nor does one require little Buddha statues and Chinese characters to practise Zen. Those things lead to dogma of sorts. The Buddha was the worlds first great Punk Rocker (Read “Hardcore Zen” by Warner) in his “question everything” approach to the world. We see many religions battling with doctrine versus epoch, causing dissention rather than healthy debate. Buddhism is personal and, in spite all the writings out there, each path is our own as is each of our realities. Leaving with something I wrote back at Dalhousie University in my 20th Century Fiction class:

Reality is one’s perception of existence. Existence is the fabrication of nothingness into being. “Nothing” implies “no-thing” and therefore “some-thing”. Thus, everything is an echo.”


  • At 1:53 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Sometimes the karma wheel spins into cyber space. As the cockroach I put in some silly comments, tho' I know nothing of boxing or zen, and they were not accepted, or not found, therefore disappeared. An intelligent design is applied to the medium. Otherwise, see how your vacation from pen empowered ideas you have penned in this space. It is all good and I thank you. Back to daze tomorrow, no longer a cockroach, but professor Backwards, Ann E. Howe, or nodroG


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