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A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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~ Comfort is an illusion ~

"But I feel great! I look healthy! I'm not overweight, I walk daily, I eat good and I've been doing martial arts longer than I haven't been doing them!"

This was my reply to my doctor a couple weeks ago when he told me I have dangerously high blood pressure, high cholestorol and diabetes (stage 2).

His reply was, "it's in your family, you can't get away from it and you are old enough now to reap the repercussions of the habits from your youth, both good and bad. Your genetics made you vulnerable to your bad choices and your good choices kept you from having worse problems now."

Needless to say, the reality check was powerful. I turn 40 next year and I like to think I'm still young.

So, now I take a diet of pills every day to try and bring me back to a healthy state and all the beneficial choices I make for my life at each moment carry far deeper significance now, even down to the small walks I take with family and friends.

In absorbing the reality of my continuing evolution of this life of mine, I came up with parallels to both my health and my martial arts. In my younger days, I was strong, fast, acrobatic and full of energy. What I couldn't do with efficiency, I did with superior physical abilities. In fact, I had the confidence in my own body and skills to know I could handle most situations (or at least have a very good effect on the outcome). This carried me through early martial arts, being a cop, being in the military and on and on.

What I never thought about was how my own diet, hard play and such was taking a steady toll on the hidden vulnerabilities within me - ones that were already built into me from the day I was created. I had the attitude that I could handle whatever choices I made, no problem. I felt healthy and I looked healthy, so I must have been healthy. Even up to my doctor's report, I thought I was ok because I felt and looked ok - just older.

I wonder how many of us are training the way we are because it "looks" right and "feels" right, but in reality there are silent killers lurking within our training that are slowly killing our budo from the inside - so that the sudden realization of our weakness is a surprise and changes everything, if we receive any realization at all.

By continuing to train with those around us who "get it" in regards to the evolving direction Soke is taking us, we are taking our taijutsu to our doctor - to check for those hidden dangers we may not notice on our own or have taken for granted due to our youth, abilities, energy and such.

I could have ignored my doctor and just kept living the way I did. Maybe I would die at a ripe old age from unrelated causes, but most likely I would die at a young age due to a stroke, heart attack, kidney failure or other cause related to my "unholy trinity" of weaknesses. I wouldn't feel or notice anything - until one of those possible effects hit me and took me out of play (temporarily or permanently).

In the same token, I could ignore my budo teachers and go on with my level of understanding/ability and maybe I will get lucky and manage to protect myself and others in a possible dangerous situation. But most likely myself or my loved ones would be hurt or killed because I didn't evolve my budo and so it became stagnant, or limited to how I used to be instead of how I am now. I wouldn't feel or notice a thing, because it may feel and look good, until one day I am faced with life and death and the silent killer within strikes the fatal blow.

By following this stagnation, I kill myself and my budo. Instead of living and training to enjoy life constructively, protecting those I love, I would have lived life and trained destructively, robbing my loved ones the joy of my existence.

I am thankful that I have found this "unoly trinity" of silent killers in my own health before it could deal the fatal blow. Now I seek to do the same thing in my own budo path.

From the moment we are born, we are faced with life and death at every moment and the direction we take depends on the tiny, seemingly insignificant choices we make - both in living and in training. Please consider this in your own life and in your own training at every moment. Every second of your life is worth living positively - or you'll find yourself eventually grasping at it like a thirsty man to drops of water.

I encourage all of you to never become comfortable in your own life and training - to always search for the silent killers and seek to foster an environment where they cannot thrive. Your life is their food and your comfort is their mask. Keep close to those teachers who allow them to be exposed and give you what you need to defeat them. And, most importantly, live every second as if it is your last - because it very well could be. Really.

Gambatte kudasai!

Posted on: 2006/11/29 6:09
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Darren Dumas

I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, or in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. ~ Thomas Jefferson
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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Thankyou for the wonderful thoughts Darren it has truly made my day and also made me reflect on my life and training.

Although I have been training in martial arts since I was five years of age, I have never been really concerned about my diet or physical well being.

Read your article now has taught me to look for these silent killers and that I should lighten up and enjoy life more, cause you never know when things can take a turn for the worse.

Once again Thank You....You really have made my day

Posted on: 2006/11/29 7:14
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John Thompson


Presumably as a martial artist, I do not fight for gain or loss, am not concerned with strength or weakness, and neither advance a step nor retreat a step. The
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
Village Old Timer
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As an ER Dr, I have seen death come in many surprising ways. It is always good to keep a healthy feeling of mortality in you heart. At the same time, you have to keep living - or to quote Morgan Freeman at Shawshank - "get busy living, or get busy dying!".

You are in good company Darren, Soke is also a type 2 diabetic, but he credits his good control of his sugars with his diet - perhaps a good thing to talk with him about? At the very least, your training in martial arts will serve you well as Self Discipline is the hardest component of diabetic care! Good luck!

Marty

Posted on: 2006/11/29 11:18
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
村長 :: Sonchou
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Hi Darren,

Very nice post. Thank you for calling my attention to this side of the coin!

Eva

Posted on: 2006/11/29 15:51
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Eva Barbara Bodogan
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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My friends, thank you all for your heartfelt PM's and replies (insert hug here). I look forward to yet another challenge to overcome and, although I'm not out of the game yet, this surely has affected the way I live my life - probably for the better, really.

Besides the health challenges I've inherited from my dear old dad, I can honestly say I am becoming just like him in how doggone stubborn I can be. This is actually proving to be a plus, since I refuse to let these things get to me and put me on the sidelines. So, regardless of what my wife might say, being bullheaded does have it's benefits...

Again, thank you all for your kind words and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at some point, whether in training and/or over some low calorie, sugar free, low cholestorol, caffeine free food and drink!

Cheers!

Posted on: 2006/11/30 1:15
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Darren Dumas

I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, or in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. ~ Thomas Jefferson
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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Darren,
Those glimpses of mortality are really defining moments and I commend you for discussing your latest. In my line of work (anti-cancer drug designer) I can honestly say with no irony that the fears of death and decrepitude drive people to fund the research (taxes) that pays for my Korean barbeque.

The finite nature of life is the principle thing that gives it meaning and the engine that drives human behavior.

Eat your oatmeal learn to control stress and I'll do the same.

Posted on: 2006/11/30 4:07
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Pete Lohstroh
A man who wears fur shouldn't spit on a man who wears suede.
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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There was an interesting article in Time magazine about how we perceive the most unlikely and unusual of threats as the most urgent. For example we worry about bird influenza when no one has actually died of it in the US and 36,000 people a year die of the regular flu.

This post and the magazine article got me thinking of how we train to protect ourselves and our families from the unlikely event of armed or unarmed physical attacks. We budoka invest so many hours into dealing with the most improbable of circumstances.

Realistically if we are interested in self-defense and protecting our families we would pay more attention to high-probability risks like car accidents, drownings, heart disease, hypertension, food poisoning, etc.

Not as much fun or glamorous as learning to dodge a bisento or preparing a nuclear bunker but much more practical.

Also, in my opinion, it is important from time to time to weigh your availability to your family vs. your commitment to martial arts or whatever else you spend you time on.

Training is preparation for life, not a replacement for it.

Just food for thought.

Posted on: 2006/12/2 15:38
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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Training is life.Patience,endurance,raising happy well mannered children.They are all part of our training.If you think physical training is all there is,then you miss half the picture. Jason Hopkins Quote:
ninpoikkan

Posted on: 2006/12/3 1:40
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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I think I see what you are getting at about applying training concepts to life but certainly, in my opinion, training and life ARE different things.

Training, to me and by definition, denotes preparation for some real endeavor where the outcome (good or bad) has important consequences. In training, although we strive for a particular outcome, there is no real penalty in most cases if we screw up.

I would not consider raising children as training. Training may be a byproduct of the process but the main point of raising children is not about us but about our kids. We do not raise children, I hope at least, to train ourselves or understand ourselves better but to give of ourselves.

This is why I believe training per se, especially when it involves something esoteric and not immediately applicable to life, is somewhat selfish and somewhat wasteful if it is not something we can use to help others.

We can spend 30 years learning how to throw shuriken, for example, and that may give us some sense of satisfaction and inner peace but is the skill itself actually making the world a better place? Wouldn't it be better to take some of those years and learn how to cook or do something else we could share with others?

Jeff

Posted on: 2006/12/3 11:12
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Re: A personal story/lesson I would like to share...
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I contacted darren with my story. I will say that I also was totlly unaware of these things before. The most insulting part is that I was sent to a inpatient treatment plae in Minneapolis, where I had lived for 7 to 9 years of my adult life. I didn't even know it was there. I didn't think people got hurt.

Then boom! one day I was driving in my tiny little metro, and I got hit by a guy going 100 MPH. He split my car in two, killed one of my best friends, and put me in a coma. It brought whole new meaning to the phrase better lucky than skilled. I was a skillfull driver, but that was not enough. I also have been lucky to recover better than the other 95% of those with a TBI (traumatic brain injury.)

But this I will say, training, and even developing awareness is DEFINITELY an integral part of life. After being though this, I dont think I can even remotely deny that. I think it would take tremendous ignorance on my part to do so.

So I will say thank you to my sensei and to soke and his art. Truthfully, my tiny bit of ower kyu level training, and that oh $hit reaction traing probably saved my life when I didn't have time to think.

Posted on: 2007/1/25 3:30
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Tim Danielson

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"Taking one for Ite! "
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