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Martial Art
The Atributes Method

Introduction for New Students

The word “Tao” refers to the principle and essence of existence that we see reflected in nature. It is not a thing or a god, but a reference to the underlying power and rationale of the Universe. It asserts that existence, which includes the workings of nature, is a profound Mystery that owns a logic and cohesion all its own.

Because we are extensions of that, we need to observe and learn from it to find our own purpose and meaning.

This connection provides the source of our deepest questions, and intuits our recognition when significant truths are found.

In ancient Chinese texts, the concept of “Tao” encourages us to approach the mystery of existence, not with readymade answers, but as part of Mystery seeking to understand itself. That we sometimes experience this in moments like waking from a dream, make them no less true.

Existential curiosity drives not only science and art and would-be prophets, but any person who views life as a quest to discover higher truth – symbolized in the West by the Holy Grail.

Most importantly, it profoundly places YOU at the center of this all. Your living consciousness becomes a reflective appendage of the Universe around you, and deserves to be taken seriously.

Taoism describes this as a Mystery we can only partially grasp, but not explain. Its sublime wisdom summons us to approach with humble reverence, untethered by false assumptions. We need only comply.

The following comes from the “Tao Te Ching”, written 2,400 years ago. It urges us to see beyond normal words and concepts by warning what the Tao is not.

“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the Mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source yet differ in name;
This appears as darkness,
Darkness within darkness,
The gate to all mystery.”

Human knowledge has accumulated greatly since that was written. Nevertheless, much of what modern science has uncovered still perplexes us.

Consider: 13.8 billion years ago, every kind of subatomic particle was created during the first second of the Universe’s origin, when an incredibly hot, “dense vacuum” explosively expanded.

In 1 millisecond, the forces of Nature took their present forms. By 100 microseconds, almost all these particles were annihilated by their opposites. Only one-in-a billion protons survived to create the Universe as we know it – including us.

Within seconds, particles of light 400 times denser than lead – created the “microwave background” that scientists study today.

The Universe cooled as expansion slowed over time. After seven billion years, it would accelerate again as space itself enlarged.

Now, what does this have to do with us? How is it relevant to martial art?

First, it asserts that our truest wisdom comes from a living quest for truth that reflects our connection with the Universe.

Second, it recognizes the importance of time. In our normal lives, one “second”seems insignificant. For the poetic unity of the Uni-verse, it was prolific on the largest scale.

Likewise, 13.8 billion years seems unimaginatively long – and yet, the Universe may still be in its early stages.

The lesson to learn is this: Existence does not adapt itself to the way we think. It challenges us, as cognitive beings, to think differently. This is the same goal as it was millennia ago. We are the Universe’s unique centers of observation and comprehension.

The mind/body discipline exemplified in martial art trains us for that charge.

For example, imagine someone attacks you. During that moment of high emotion, it takes about one second to recognize a physical attack, choose an effective response, and perform it effectively. Suddenly your very survival depends on an insignificant amount of time.

Martial art provides a discipline to develop perceptual and neurological quickness, skillful responses, dexterity, and the flexibility to adjust as needed. Speed of mind and limb is important, but precision as well. Fear, insecurity, and ego must be replaced by confidence and an open mind.

Chances are, you will never experience a violent encounter. Our purpose is not to teach fighting, but to raise consciousness and sharpen skills that apply to all areas of life – for yourself, your loved ones, and for the greatest good. In other words, to be as the Universe would have it – true to ourselves.

 

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