Defensive measures was crying in the dojo. This is less than ideal.

There is so much to think about. Look straight forward. Torso vertical. Hips on/off. Position of feet, knees, thighs. That is before doing the block or strike itself: flow into it, the power and the effort comes at the last moment. In the first kata I should place my foot then turn, the torso stays straight above the hips and the turn comes from the legs, where the power is. In one of the turns, I was blocking with the wrong arm, Andy told me. That rather surprised me, and so I concentrated on that rather than the position of my legs and the way of turning. “That’s it. Excellent.” Says Andy. And the very next move I was punching one way rather than turning and punching, and cursing myself for getting it so simply wrong. “‘Don’t praise me, don’t praise me’, she says,” Andy echoed.

I first noticed this, taking driving lessons in 1983. Whenever the instructor told me I had done something well, the next thing I did badly. It still puzzles me a bit why I would react like that. Possibly a defensive measure, do not stand out by doing things remarkably well. Possibly self-punishing, I do not deserve praise. Whatever. I started crying because I had responded in that terrible, self-destructive way. How could I be so stupid, now? I managed to hold it in check. Breathe. It is alright. Responding in that way is OK, it is no great disaster, I reassure myself. It is OK. I do not need to respond in that way, but when I do no harm is done. I will learn not to respond in that way in time, and I do not have to get it perfectly right every time.

We do the second and third kata, and, in between, I still need to stand, reassuring myself, eyes closed, hands channeling healing Qi to my solar plexus chakra. I am glad that Andy spent time talking to others about how they are doing the kata and how it may be improved. I did not have to walk out.

I am sitting with it now.
All my outdated defensive patterns,
however sub-optimal or even self-destructive they are,
I took on to protect myself.
I am glad that I could protect myself,
and however I did it, that is OK.
And if I find myself repeating them now,
that is also OK.
I need not do them now,
but sometimes I do them reflexively.
This is not a disaster.
I will do them less, learn other ways of being.
Everything is all right.

O God, I have been so damaged.
Thank God, I have time now to heal.

It is a beautiful sunny day, and before I went to karate practice I had time to kneel in my ritual space. The feeling that came to me there was Gratitude. Now, though it is October, I am sunbathing.


I find spiritual matters easier to accept if there is a rational explanation, and so am intrigued by the Reticular Activating System, a part of the brain of all vertebrates. It regulates transition between sleep and wakefulness, and between relaxed wakefulness and periods of high attention. Since such high attention is something I delight in and think of as “Spiritual”, I am practising it. It also regulates attention so we may take notice of what is important, and ignore what is not. So if I set an intention, I start to notice things relevant to that intention. That is the theory, anyway. I am pleased that there is a theory. So the Law of Attraction makes greater sense to me. Not having a complete knowledge of brain physiology- has anyone?- I am happier to accept “Spiritual” explanations, the observation may be on to something.