Harmony with the surrounding

By Gabi Frishlander

In every visit to Sinai, I felt that this desert carries a different and sometimes enchanting flow of life. Good karma goes a long way there. Nir Unger and I were on our way to Muhammad’s family near Santa Katrina, when we met on the beach with an expert on finding water, a real dowser, there by invitation of the Egyptian government. He was invited to help locate water in the arid expanses of Sinai. He was also on his way to meet Muhammad, who is known and respected throughout Sinai. Andre, Nir and I were in a minibus loaded with groceries for the family when it started to drizzle. Water came down from the sky after a dry spell of years. Although not a torrent, the drizzle signified to me that this visit will be extraordinary.

There are states in which we perform well, with accuracy and correctness and there are states in which things are done in true harmony with others and the environment. Not unlike a Jazz jam session or sparring with and old friend, like a song that resonates off distant cliffs or a physical structure which blends with its surroundings and reflects its location.

Shortly before sunset, after tea and a rest from the drive, Muhammad asked Andre the dowser to come down with him to his wadi behind the family’s home. He suspected there was water there and wished to know what Andre thought of it. Andre can describe where the underground water stream starts and ends, he can determine the kind of rock that will be dug up and the salinity of the water below, as well as the depth of the water basin. We went down to the wadi, Muhammad, Andre, Nir, Salah (an old friend of M) and myself with a camera to record the search for water.

After returning to Tel Aviv I was editing the footage while in the background Caetano Veloso was singing “Maria Bonita”. The song somehow felt right for the piece and I simply pasted it into the clip. The result was beautiful. First, I saw how Andre was actually dancing his explanations to Muhammad while sensing the water below in eerie synch to the music. Next I noticed that all persons present (including the cameraman with his pans and zooms) were “dancing” in a kind of non-verbal communication and without audible music, but in a harmony that cannot be ignored.

3 things were common to everyone present there: Firstly, all were types of warriors – Andre having an extensive background in Aikido, Nir in Ninjutsu, Muai Thai and various Chinese internal martial arts, myself and the two Bedouins whose very lives in the desert represented the warrior’s way. Secondly, I think it was a common love of humanity and nature. Thirdly, we were all there to give some kind of service, Andre, Nir and myself to Muhammad and Salah, and vice versa.

Trying to narrow it further, I could say that all were persons connected to themselves. People who feel at peace in their inner homes, whether from living a spiritually clean life in the desert as our two old Bedouin friends, or by learning Maharaji’s meditations (as I did) or through whichever spoke of the wheel they traveled to get to the center.

If we use the wheel as an analogy to life, then outside, furthest away from the center, life is fast and turbulent but closer you get to the center, things slow down. At the very center the movement stops altogether and, in fact, a new reality presents itself, one that is different from the one we are used to experiencing in our daily lives.

The wheel has many spokes leading from outward within. The paths are many but in the center all differences are removed. That is the moment we experienced in this video clip.

24/06/2007

Ithaca

By Konstantinos Kavafis (1863-1933)


When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that
Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

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Translated by Daniel Mendelsohn

Gatka – a weapon based martial art

Gatka is a Sikh martial art that has a unique and efficient use of weapons. Gatka warriors practice randori, shiai and the instructors practice too. Many places in India host the Gatka dojo in the Sikh temple grounds.

For us in AKBAN the background upon which the system rose is not the main issue. The main issue here is the superb method. Martial arts that originated in the Indian sub-continent have been poorly researched in comparison with their Chinese and Japanese counterparts. We begin to remedy this with a special section in our martial arts encyclopedia, the AKBAN-wiki.

In the video Ran mixed we can notice some interesting points:

  1. A perfect Tai sabaki for rough surfaces.
  2. Control and techniques using many weapons, just like in our school
  3. Working against many opponents, special use of vision and flow
  4. Amazing techniques that don’t necessitate a cooperating training partner

We at AKBAN can not adopt all the Randori methods because it diverts a bit from our safety protocol. But we will continue analyzing the video footage Y. has photographed in India to incorporate it into the AKBAN-wiki and our weekly syllabus.

17/05/2007