I was learning Sanchin Kata the hard way, out of a pan gai noon book. I would look at the pics, read the descriptions, and step back from the table the book was on and do it. All the time I was trying to form a perfect karate punch.
And, at the same time, I was talking to a friend about how to collect and sell ancient bottles.
Ancient bottles? Antiques? Yup. And he was making a pretty penny searching out these buried rarities. And, in listening to him, I collected a different perspective on how to make a perfect and powerful punch.
He told me how you tap a rod gently into the earth. Hard enough to penetrate the soil, but so gentle that you don’t break the glass.When the sound you making tapping on the rod is different, you may have found a bottle.
Hearing his words, I sunk my Sanchin stance deeper, and connected with the earth. As my awareness sunk deeper and deeper, through my stance and into the earth, I could feel a different sensation in my fist, the rod of my stance was helping me make a different ‘sound’ in my fist.
He told me how you have to dig down, being careful not to break the bottle. You have to dig around it, and scoop the bottle gently out of the earth.
I could feel the energy of my tan tien bubbling, and i was careful to move around it, not to effect the bubbling, to let it bubble, and I could feel the power growing in my body.
He told me what it was like to hold the bottle up and see what has been hidden for so long. Is it cracked? Has the bottom broken? What kind of liquid did the bottle hold? What ancient secret have you uncovered. And it was always empowering to see how the light twisted and filtered through ancient glass; it was like discovering an ancient alchemists beaker, filled with transmutations and energy.
My punch was no longer muscle, it was a thing of elements. Light as a breath of air, as solid as a cake of concrete. The collective energy of the earth swarmed up my legs, was translated through my tan tien, and filled my fist. I could feel the power; I could feel the sensation of perfection.
Closing my book, ending the conversation and the transmutation, I was struck by the similarity of our pursuits. One digs into the soil, and the other digs into the soil of the soul, yet the ends are the same: the methods twine and feed one another, and the human soul is enlightened.
Is this not the message of the ancients? Dig deep, find a gem, and polish it so that once again light may reveal what is within? And, whether that perfect punch comes from Karate, or Pan Gai noon or taekwondo or whatever…plumb the depths, dig up the soil, and behold what is revealed.