Martial Arts and the Silence Within
Have you ever noticed that a church is silent? That there is a spirituality that pervades? That there is an ambience which cannot be denied, and which causes respect within the soul?
There is a similar feel to a Martial Arts training hall. The bowing and respect, the knowledge that one is partaking in a practice that has been assembled and passed down, the ritualistic movements which engender a specific approach to awareness, it all comes together to create a silence within.
There is sometimes joy and shouting, jokes and buffoonery, but there is also a silence that gnaws and worms and transforms.
The first time I became aware of this, I was talking to my instructor in his office. Nobody was in the dojo, and it was silent, and I realized that he had his radio on. But it was so low that it couldn’t be heard.
What was the point of having a radio on and turned so low it couldn’t be heard?
Years later I would have my own school. During the afternoon I was frequently alone, and I would listen to the radio. Sitting at the desk, perhaps reading, perhaps working on a letter, the radio seemed to be loud, so I turned it down.
Within a short while, it seemed like somebody had turned the radio up, so I turned it down again.
And again and again.
Finally, the radio was as low as it could go, but it was like a shout to my ears.
I had cultivated the silence within to the degree that the world was loud: I preferred silence to the raucousness of man. I had rid myself of so many distractions that I was listening without ear, and anything that threatened to distract seemed to be a shout, a yell, an assault upon my person.
I turned the radio off.