Kendo’s Healing Message for November

Today is a Special Anniversary – it’s exactly 56 years since a fateful Friday 13th November in 1964 when Kendo Nagasaki first appeared in a wrestling ring; for his first match he was ‘Top of the Bill’, the headline bout, so it’s true to say that Kendo started at the top and worked up! The inspiration that Kendo has provided these last 56 years continues to this day, with an equal partner in his astonishing dominance in wrestling being its foundations in Zen, which enabled the young man behind Kendo’s iconic mask to achieve so much.

As many of the regular readers of this blog will know, Peter, the man behind Kendo’s mask, wrote his autobiography a couple of years ago, and he has been delighted with the reception that ‘Kendo Nagasaki and the Man Behind the Mask’ has received!

Of course, it is a sporting autobiography, and like many successful athletes Peter has had an eventful and entertaining journey to the success he saw channelling Kendo. However, there is much more to Peter’s journey than ‘finding a niche’, or ‘capitalising on a talent’, or even ‘hanging in there’; Peter’s life began with significant challenges, and he looked to have no prospects at all until the influence of Kendo Nagasaki began to be felt when he met and began studying under Sensei Kenshiro Abbe.

Sensei Abbe was no mere judo instructor; he conducted his classes in a highly mindful way, requiring a genuine stillness from his students before directing them towards focus and intuitive insight, and this is what made him an unsung Zen master. After the old phrase, “Many are called, few are chosen”, those who went beyond mere obedience to the master and genuinely stilled their minds so they could non-intellectually immerse themselves into the depths of ‘Kyu Shin Do’ began learning on entirely new planes, and they learned about more than judo – they learned the Buddhist way of life.

Peter was one such dedicated student, and as such he quickly caught a glimpse of that speck of Zen light which leads to enlightenment, and the rest is history – the persona through which Peter channelled Zen Kyu Shin Do emerged and became Kendo Nagasaki, a living metaphor for how strong and focussed we must be to overcome the challenges of life, exhibiting an indomitable strength born of Zen stillness.

In illuminating this example of the positivity which can flow from Zen, this healing blog entry is an objective look at how a young man with few opportunities or saving graces took notice of an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of his life, through Zen open the door to the wisdom of his intuitive self, and, as a Zen master would wordlessly imply, begin his journey towards enlightenment.

One of the core things that Buddhism is about is finding what really matters in life by letting go of all that ultimately doesn’t; this is practised in meditation, and whilst it can be conducted in full consciousness as a ‘thought experiment’, this can rapidly lead to escalating anxiety when we contemplate an existence without our western comforts and toys! However, these things ultimately do not define our essential selves and they can safely be let go – rather, it is intangible qualities which truly matter: strength, optimism, pro-socialness, willingness to help others make the most of themselves (particularly through Zen). This is what Sensei Abbe did for a teen-age Peter Thornley, and what Peter now hopes to do for everyone he can reach.

In these extremely difficult times, many of us are losing livelihoods, possessions, even homes, and as distressing as such ‘reversals of fortune’ feel, there is so much more to us than what we may lose or may have lost. Collectively, we are the energy of a successful society, a family of humanity, and we can always be fundamentally important to each other and the ‘family’ of our entire society. Meditation is a great help in these times, bringing peace amidst turmoil and loss, and showing us what really matters – that we matter, come what may, and that we will always have the power to support and help others, and in so doing, be genuinely worthy as individuals, irrespective of unimportant material trappings.

Like so many of us, Peter is facing challenges in these difficult times, some of them quite momentous, and to cope he practises his life-long discipline of Zen Kyu Shin Do – finding Zen peace, placing all his cares metaphorically away from his ‘self’, and opening himself to the quiet wisdom of his intuitive self. This meditation has never failed him and it never will, and even in the most difficult of times, you can find your valuable, wise, strong essential self and take heart in knowing that you are not diminished by material loss, but are strengthened by finding your own intuitive wisdom.

As Kendo would say, from the enlightenment born of Zen peace, all that’s negative can be transcended, and boundless positivity can flow.

Comments are closed.