A Journey Through Pain

Phil - sitting with his pain ;)
Training here at the hombu these past two weeks, we've been reintroduced to some acute pain.  It's not that sensei is being harsh, it's the nature of the techniques within the Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu.  They are designed to inflict sufficient pain through strikes, locks and flesh grabs to create an opening to take your opponent down and finish them.  Logical really.  I'd forgotten how harsh they can be, but beautiful in their simplicity and brutality.

Just the word itself, 'Pain', leaves us with an auto-response.  All of us have felt it.  We are born into it from the moment we take our first lung-full of air.  Pain is unavoidable, whether it be physical or emotional.  Our arts can help us put context to our pain and therefore transcend it to a bearable degree.  Pain, like fear, sadness and anxiousness, are not meant to be stopped or healed.  They are meant to be held and responded to with acknowledgement.  In the dojo, pain should be viewed the same way.  You should not be concerned with trying to end the pain or judge it.  Just note it without judgement.  In training, the pain we inflict is not done with malice, therefore, it doesn't last.  As uke, your are right to take notice of it and respond.  We either tap out, submit or use it's feedback to change our position or cease our current action.  To get caught in the dualistic notion of, "This is bad, holy s#%t!" is to miss the opportunity to train the mind in dealing with it.  We have to sit with our pain, however briefly or intense.  Just by acknowledging it, it will begin to lose its power over us.  Then it's over and you are free.  But if we run from it, it just hurts more. Once you approach it this way, it loses its strength and accuteness and becomes, instead, a reference point of what really hurts and what is just feedback.    

Pain in the dojo is a unique experience.  Few of us, in this modern age, get to place ourselves in an environment each week where we can experience pain of the body.  Yet, this pain isn't about masochism or a self destructive mindset.  It is a by-product.  We go to learn how to inflict enough pain on another in order to stop them inflicting pain on us or those we want to protect.  In the process, we learn that pain is a valuable tool of life.  If we avoid pain in the dojo, we learn nothing from the technique.  If we tap out early, we've missed the opportunity to really feel the flavour of the technique and our limits of flexibility and pain tolerance.  If we avoid the pain of lung busting conditioning, we miss the value in knowing what we're capable of under real pressure.  It's the same in life.  Avoid difficult situations or dodge challenges based on fear and the pain of loss or failure, then we only live half a life.

So the next time pain, fear or sadness catch you in the moment, embrace it for a second, recognise it, sit with it and see what manifests next.  As long as you don't feel the need to escape these emotions and sensations, I wager you'll be surprised at how your imaginings are worse than the reality.

Travis de Clifford - Katsuyoshi

Dojo cho
Kenshō Dojo


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