Zen Do Kai
Zen Do Kai is a component of the Bob Jones Corporation, one of the largest martial arts organisations in Australia. Zen Do Kai is a Japanese term. Its literal translation is 'The Best of Everything in Progression'. Zen Do Kai incorporates aspects and components from many martial arts disciplines and combines them to form a modern system of self defence. For over thirty years Zen Do Kai has provided practical, efficient and effective martial arts programs for self defence, sport and recreation for people of all ages. Zen Do Kai's origins are traditional however it adopts and develops the most up to date training and technical knowledge from around the world. The philosophy associated with freely absorbing the best of other fighting systems and refinement of techniques has cultivated Zen Do Kai into a most comprehensive and practical self defence system.
Zen Do Kai classes include training in relaxation, stretching, balance, coordination, fitness, speed, power, martial arts, non contact sporting concepts, kata (forms), anti rape and street survival strategies. The beginner to Zen Do Kai will first notice changes in terms of physical conditioning. Over a short period of time, regular training vastly increases one's aerobic fitness, lowers the heart rate, improves circulation, strengthens major body muscles, and reduces excess weight. One's powers of concentration and awareness are also enhanced. Zen Do Kai training is really a multi dimensional experience.
Soke Bob Jones (Zen Do Kai's founder) tells us that, "the challenge in Zen Do Kai is from you to yourself. We build strength where there is none, we show you how to use the strength you already have, we build confidence where there is none, and we show you how to use the confidence you have. Strength and confidence come from within." Zen Do Kai translates from right to left as "Kai" school, method, system, learning, thought; "Do" way, path, travel, essence, progression; and finally, "Zen" best, mind, everything, subconscious, universal, God. Therefore, "The Best of Everything in Progression" is how Zen Do Kai translates to the beginning student on a physical level. Upon introduction to Zen Do Kai the beginner asks "How can I learn to protect myself?" Little does the student realise that this introduction is just the beginning of a long and important journey as he or she has triggered a subconscious desire for the "defence of self" and thus raised an internal awareness of the real importance of "I".
In his or her first Zen Do Kai class the beginner is taught that when a violent force becomes an immediate threat, one must be aware of "centre", (your own position). The student is taught that the distance and timing of meeting this threat is known as "bridging the gap." Strategies for bridging the gap are taught with reference to eight angles (sometimes referred to as the "Octagon Principle"). The student learns that from one's own centre, one option is to move directly backwards or backwards on left or right forty five degree angles. This strategy is one of counter fighting; it is a defensive move which facilitates re-assessment of one's position and the "gap" prior to launching a defensive attack. Another option is to hold one's position or immediate left and right angles. This strategy is called "jamming." The final strategy is that of direct counter attack and involves moving directly down the centre line (immediately ahead) or moving ahead in forty five degree angles to the left or right. This understanding of angles, distance and timing is critical to the beginner's effective launching into Zen Do Kai methodology. The 'eight angles' are so important in the teachings of Zen Do Kai that they were a feature in the original Zen Do Kai Mon.
After gaining a solid foundation in the eight angles theory the student is then introduced to the three body part angles of an aggressor. These are the Upper (jodan - head), Middle (chudan - body), and Lower (gedan - legs). Simple (one or two) and compound (three or more) techniques are then taught to the beginner as fighting manoeuvres. Following the learning of these fundamental strategies, the student is ready to be introduced to the "thirteen meditations" of Zen Do Kai. The meditations are in the form of 'katas' and these are explained in more detail in the 'Kata' section of this site which can be accessed from the buttons above. The first five meditations bring the student to Black Belt level where he or she is introduced to Senjo (which is explained right here in the site). The next three meditations elevate the student through the physical level to a higher psychological level. With this, the student (now teacher) forms a deeper understanding of centering by way of 'hara' (chi - ka - adrenalin) and interprets Zen Do Kai as simply 'The Way of Thought'. Such thought process is brought about by internal dialogue (talking to oneself with the conscious mind) and imagery rehearsal (the photographing of fighting strategy techniques by the sub-conscious mind through constant active meditation of the katas).
The Zen Do Kai practitioner, having traveled through the belt system from white, blue, green, brown and black to instructor (Sempai) then to teacher (Sensei), will now prepare for five final meditations. Fourth dan is the first of the seven esoteric levels through to tenth dan. At this (fourth dan), the masters level, the practitioner's belt is now apportioned on one side into two equal parts of red and white. At fourth dan level, the belt is worn with the white edge above the red, whilst at fifth dan, the opposite applies. The other side of the belt remains in its original form (black) and symbolises that which the martial artist has already attained. The white portion of the belt signifies the practitioner's beginnings, where the journey began. The red portion is an acknowledgement of the extent of the journey still to be traveled. The tenth dan rank is signified by a solid red belt.
Prior to the fourth dan level, training is essentially directed towards attaining higher and more advanced degrees of technical expertise. It is at the fourth dan level that the practitioner transcends technical ability; the physical aspects are by now second nature and no longer require conscious control and direction. The practitioner's meditation takes on a new form, called Shisoochin. This form (kata) encompasses and at the same time, stands apart from, everything the student has so far experienced by way of "Mushin" (flow). In this form the student experiences an awareness or enlightenment that all things possess a fluid transition from moment to moment. All is to change, yet is inextricably woven together to form a harmonious unity. The practitioner learns that Mushin (flow) and Kim (focus) are the stuff of life. At fifth dan level, the practitioner learns and experiences the last of the set meditations (note, there are nine set meditations and four are developed by the practitioner to make up the full thirteen). This final set meditation is called Seipai. It portrays 'Kime' (focus). As Shisoochin reflects the ever changing flow of energy from one state to another; Seipai depicts focal points as manifestations of energy, bringing man and his experiences into one.
Both Shisoochin and Seipai, the final meditations, incorporate all other techniques and methods. Upon realising this, the Zen Do Kai practitioner becomes an artist of life, the centre of a boundless universe. One is not yet perfect, as nothing existing in this physical world can be totally perfect. As a life artist the practitioner continues to eradicate personal flaws, and is thus grateful to mistakes incurred, for mistakes point the direction to one's goal. Detached from self, the individual realises errors for what they are; his teachers and guides. As the thirteen meditations of Zen Do Kai point the way on the path to perfection, showing the direction through physical awareness, mental poise and spiritual growth, so now does the martial artist make his life his meditation and his meditation his life. The circle is complete. The student becomes the master who in turn becomes a student of life.