Tag Archives: zen kung fu

The Martial Arts Zen of Billy the Kid

I often wonder about the zen martial arts of Billy the Kid.

Billy was rumored to have killed 21 people before he was 21.  That puts todays gangbangers to shame.

He was a rowdy, likable fellow, and he played the Robin Hood well. He managed to elude the law, and even make fools of them. He rustled freely, killed anybody who called him a cheater, and was popular with the folk…especially the Mexican folk, as they identified with a fellow who did the things they did. Simply, they were put upon and bullied, and they liked to see somebody fight back.

zen fightNow, to the point of this article…how good was Billy the Kid’s Martial Arts Zen.

Another way to phrase this would be…how aware was he during a gun fight?

In answer to this question, I read several histories of Billy the Kid, and one particular book seemed to shed light on the matter. This was the book on Billy by Patrick Floyd Garret. Pat, if you didn’t know it, was the fellow who killed Billy the Kid.

Now, one thing to understand before we start, Pat isn’t always the best source. According to him, he beat Billy the Kid to the draw in a darkened bedroom. But…he probably ambushed him with a shotgun. So Pat isn’t sterling when it comes to telling the truth.

That said, however, two tales in his book on Billy seem to offer interesting glimpses into the mindset and reality of Billy the Kid.

One, Billy told a tale of how he had been trapped by Indians, and how he outran them, got into a slot canyon, and shot them. The odd thing about this is that it sounds not like a real incident, but braggadocio. But was it bragging because of Billy’ description? Or was presented in bragging style, preenting Billy in a poor light, in Pat Garret’s writing? At any rate, it sounds ludicrous, and is valuable only in that it illuminates a certain type of writing style that reveals the author is writing, or relaying, an untruth. Thus the second tale in the book, by being ‘absent’ of this style, seems to be the truth.

Apparently Billy the Kid was in a small store and he ran into a rancher he didn’t like. So he jokes around, and when the rancher is distracted, he pulls his gun…and finds that the rancher has drawn with him, matched him, and is staring at him with steely, no nonsense eyes.

Billy puts his gun away, laughs and jokes some more, tries to make a funny thing out of it all. ‘I was just funnin’ with ya,’ type of stuff.

The rancher goes on about his business, and Billy sneaks up behind him and draws his gun again…and finds that the rancher has drawn his own gun and is staring him right in the face.

Billy tries to make a joke out of it, puts his gun away, and then tries a sneak draw when the rancher holsters his own gun…but the rancher has redrawn and is staring at him silently.

And this went on for a half dozen more attempted draws. Was Billy serious? Was it attempted murder? Put off only because of the rancher was more aware, more intent, than Billy the Kid?

I don’t know, and none will ever. But, when you read the description it is eery. And there is just the ring of truth to it. And in this ‘true’ anecdote we can look at the Zen in Billy’s mind.

He didn’t have any.

The rancher, however, was aware at all times, didn’t bother with reaction time, stayed in the moment, and yet didn’t leap to conclusion. It is the zen–it is the ‘wise’–of a person who has enough experience that he can defend himself, and yet doesn’t want to bother with doing something that is basically bad. wouldn’t you call that good martial arts zen?

zen martial arts



Zen in the martial arts, or Tell Your Hands to Shut Up and…!

Zen Karate, or Tell Your Hands to Shut Up and…!

A bright shiny grin to ya!
One more day in paradise…
one more day to work out.
I mean,
working out is really
the frosting on the cake
and the juicy steak,
and even those durn veggie things!
you know?

So I got stuck on a work out yesterday.
It was Karate
and I kept doing these moves,
but the energy wasn’t coming out.
I stuck on those moves for an hour,
just doing them and doing them.

you can’t stop,
especially when you are so close!

So when you do ‘loose tight’ in your karate,
or tae kwon do or kenpo or whatever,
when you really focus your mental and physical,
you have to really give your hands
a mental command to loosen the blank up!

Sometimes the body wants to get tired,
maybe pretend that the muscles won’t do what you tell them to,
just clean out the mind,
tell the body to get the blank working,
and DO IT!

Gosh durn furshluginner body isn’t going to get in my way!

Whether you do ZenKarate, Zen kung fu, Zen Aikido, or whatever…just do it!

felt great afterwards,
body rehabilitated an injury I had,
felt young again,
and life just toasted up and flipped over for me.

if you don’t know what I mean,
just work out.
the martial arts are free!
You can just do them!
There are no taxes on them!
even if there were,
you could just go to a dark corner
and practice the middle finger kata.
That’s good,
I said a funny.

laughter over,
let’s get on with it.
A couple of announcements.

Working on Monkeyland,
having real neutronic thoughts,
should be able to relaunch the site
in the not too distant future.
About time,

the article is supposed to be coming out in Inside Kung Fu
next couple of months.
It’s funny,
I do Matrixing
and they want to do me on Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is calm and balanced,
and they want me to snarl in the lead photo.


Oh well,
I live in Hollywood,
so I know what it all means.
You have to present an image that grabs,
and calm and balanced doesn’t always grab.
I appreciate what they are doing for me.

on another front all together,
I might sell a book.
A novel.
A western called ‘Small in the Saddle.’
I’ll know in a few weeks,
so cross your fingers
and wish me well.

what else.
So much has been happening,
and I’m behind,
trying not to forget anything.

I think that is it.

emptiness is the most important part of the martial arts.
emptiness is space is nothing,
and that concept permeates the true art
and life as well.

So focus your energy,
but realize that energy doesn’t exist
unless you create a space for it to exist in.
And the smallest energy can be the largest,
if you create a larger space for it to be in.
Not mysterious,
just start with giving your hands mental commands to relax the blank up.

Here’s the magic link…

MonsterMartial Arts

I really like the Pa Kua,
especially the middle of the three systems on this course.
You really learn how to swirl the energy in your body,
and it is so-o-o darn simple!

Okey dokey
if I forgot anything
I’ll share next time,
until then,
have the best work out of your life.



Monkeyland be comin’!

You might be a martial artist if…
You tie your bathrobe belt in a square knot. Then check to make sure the ends are exactly even.