Jo-ha-kyû And A River Of Crocodiles

I have been introduced to a new phrase and reminded of an old one. My new phrase is Japanese, it is
Jo-ha-kyû. Loosely translated it means slow, fast, faster: Or also beginning, middle, end. And yet another translation is slow, fast, rest. However it is translated the definition tends top be the same, a sense of accelerating action. One of my sensei said that it is to be thought of as a river. As the water runs down that river it moves slowly, then accelerates as it crashes around rocks and debris, moving faster, as it finds its way, then returning to a calm state of relaxed movement as it begins to flow calmly again. This movement
is alive in every aspect of everything around us. In kendo we use it to describe the flow of Kata, or our regimented practice drills. In all kata there is a sense of relaxation at the start, then danger is sensed. Quick rapid movement is used to quell this danger and after the threat is gone things return to a relaxed but aware flow. Relaxed but still moving.

My old phrase is one I learned years ago as a beginner in Tae Kwon Do. Our head instructor always said, Just because the water is calm, doesn’t mean the crocodiles are gone. This is a bit more straight forward. Approaching a calm still body of water, the surface is smooth, but danger lies underneath. Lying in wait i9s a large crocodile. You cant see him, but he is there, much as the normal dangers in life. I am not aware of a large crocodile problem in the streets of Garland Texas, but around every corner is the possibility of trouble.

In my personal life, most recently I have come across many rocks and crocodiles. I have family members and close friends that are in personal crisis of one kind or another. Some medical, some emotional, and some physical, and for some a combination of these. For me, their crocodiles are my rocks. As I go down my river and come across these rocks, I must remind my self of the movements I must make to continue my journey down stream.

A great martial artist by the name of Bruce Lee once did an interview where he described water as it entered a space.”

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it.”

“If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.”
Bruce Lee

The human body is roughly 75% to 80% water. I think it is funny that as bodies of water we tend to do everything we can not to follow these simple principles, both physically and in the flow of our daily lives. Go to a creek or river and take a look at the lesson that nature is teaching us. Water as it moves down stream has no choice but to continue its journey, gravity pulls it along much as time pulls us through our journey. It must flow around, under and through its obstacles. So Must we.

Life is truly a river, it flows fast sometimes. Sometimes, too fast for us to keep our heads above water. We feel like we are going to drown. If we can remember to hold our breath long enough to get around our rock and past our crocodiles, just long enough to resurface, we will find out that any obstacle can be overcome.

I often fall back on my martial arts training, the only real training I have ever taken seriously, when faced with problems. Sometimes it works and I stay afloat, sometimes I go under. I always resurface to get the next breath of fresh air. I will continue my journey. Hopefully you can think about these phrases and they can give you some perspective next time you come to a rock or crocodile in your river.

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