Saturday, May 11, 2013

Seeing with your Heart

There was a time in my life when I practically lived in a Karate Dojo.  By my calculations, I spent more time training in Karate than sleeping or going to school.

Of course, now I'm just another lazy couch potato. But that didn't stop me from getting all excited watching this new TVB series regarding Muay Thai called "Gloves Come Off".
When we are not dancing Tango, we spend our time talking about the history of philosophy and debating the economic theories of Karl Marx.  
Just kidding!  We are consumed by shallow popcorn Hong Kong TV series!

It really brought back memories of those days.  Punching bags and kicking drills.  Martial Arts etiquette - being tested on Japanese Karate terminology.  Grueling belt gradings.  Sparring and Self-Defense.  Cute guys! (That may mean Man Yung) Cute girls!  ("Nope, that doesn't sound like an accurate description of Irene, sorry," said Man Yung)

There's this scene in Episode 5 in which the Hero of "Gloves Come Off" has to fight with the son of a competitor he accidentally killed in an underground match ten years ago.  The Avenging Son is a formidable opponent because he fights with the ferocity of hatred and vengence.

"You see that?"  said the Master to the Hero as they were watching a video of the Avenging Son fighting in a competition.  "Remember what I taught you?"

The Hero replied, "Yes - Muay Thai is to strengthen your body, to improve your technique - it is the art of hand battle." 

"The Avenging Son treats all his opponents like enemies, using his vengefulness as his source of power to destroy his opponent.  However, this is the wrong path - he will also destroy himself.  This is not the proper way to box.  You have to box with happiness, without burden.  In order to make the Avenging Son understand this, you must reconcile his hatred.  You know what to do."

So the Hero fought the Avenging Son (while a epic whiny guitar solo played in the background) and he fought with peace and compassion and happiness and restrained himself from executing many killing blows, stopping just short.  The Avenging Son realized what Muay Thai should be about. He found the power to forgive his father's killer and became at peace himself.

Now, a Novice student was watching this match with the Master.  "What are they doing?  Why isn't the Hero hitting back?  He is wasting all his opportunities!"

"You aren't experienced enough to see," said the Master.  "Don't look with your eyes - see with your HEART."


"Haha!  That's exactly the kind of stuff (I mean baloney!) you keep saying in Tango,"  I said to Man Yung.  "What kind of technique is that, looking with your heart?  You've got to explain to me, because I don't get it!"

"Yes, the Master's words apply to Tango too.  When people are looking, they don't understand what they are looking at.  They are like the Novice student who can't see what is happening in the ring.  They see the kicking and speed and the fancy moves - and they think that if something looks like it's winning, then it must be something good."

I'm having difficulty picturing blinking, teary eyeballs peering out from that lumpy muscle we call the heart.  "What are we supposed to be looking at if we are looking with our hearts?"

"Osvaldo and Coca are one of the best examples of this.  When you go on Youtube and check out their videos, there's bound to be some people who don't like their way of dancing.  They complain that their dancing is not exciting enough - not enough going on visibly outside to interest them."

"I remember one time I saw a comment from someone who was criticizing Coca.  That person was saying the nastiest things about her legs being dumpy and not lifting them high enough.  And complaining that Coca was not doing enough adornments. How ridiculous is that?"

"That's right - The Muay Thai Novice could only see fists and feet and whether a strike landed or not. Novices at Tango can only see the surface as well.  If you don't see with your heart, you won't see the whole story. If you look at Osvaldo and Coca's dancing with your heart, you see the story of their love, the story of the music they are dancing to (no-one can express music like they can with their Tango), and the story of Tango itself."

"No wonder it is so soothing and peaceful when I look at them dance!  When I look at many other professional couples dancing, they seem to be doing all this stuff to be creative with the music and to make people applaud - I used to be impressed with that too, but once I gained more experience in Tango, their performances just made me feel uncomfortable, like it was full of artifice and jagged edges.  They don't seem to be dancing with each other, dancing to music, or even dancing Tango!"

Kitty was looking at us intently.  "Raaarrraaaaw!" he said.

Now, what's all this about? "Man Yung, what does Kitty want?"

"He wants to play chase with the paper bookmark.  As for the kitty next to him (who was not even saying anything) - he wants a saucer of milk. And the other kitty (on the other side of the room, minding his own business) - he wants me to scratch him with a back-scratcher!"

"That's incredible, Man Yung.  No wonder it is easy for you to see with your heart.  The Kitties have been secretly training you to be Cat Zen Master!" 

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