The Third Eye

Everybody has felt at some time or another a prescience, a knowingness beyond the rational. A blur at the corner of your eye. A warmth or cold on your cheek. A something that bristles the hair on your neck. In the martial arts it is called a heightened awareness. Is this bogus? Is it hocus pocus? And, finally, can karate bring this "altered state" about? Any long-time practitioner of the martial arts has experienced moments, maybe just seconds, during a kata or form where something else takes over just when you are on the brink of falling apart, losing it. Then you're energized, the kiai barks from the gut, and you're flying. Then it all goes away. It also happens that one day you come to the dojo feeling like shit and then everything you touch turns to gold, and other times you feel on top of the world and you botch up every kata in sight.

Kimo sensei would touch on this "third eye" business constantly; wanting you to train every sense of your body until you're tuned to the slightest blip on the radar, to what invades, or better yet, what could invade your circle, the one you trace on the street at night: the hovering eye. "An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of Cure," so the saying goes.

Hours, days, and years of training karate makes one sensitive to movement. But intent? How does one train to foresee intent? I'm not talking about two combatants in a ring or dojo, or even a street fight, because once engaged, your in and all bets are off. But can you avoid this point? Can one resolve before engagement? In other words, can you see it coming?

If there is one true lesson you must learn after years in karate it is that kicking and hitting isn't all that there is to it. For instance, walking swiftly up a crowded street, evading contact at the last instant, and without this being apparent, is also great training, as is trying to read those around you, total strangers. What can you glean from obervation alone; the guy sitting there, the girl looking askance. What?

Well one night after the dojo I was walking the streets, a bit late and trying to get where I was going in one piece, I heard a light thud some 45 degrees behind to my left. I stopped in my tracks and felt someone also stop. Keeping my "sense" on that presence I tread backwards until I felt I was beyond their ability to see me. I saw a young man hunched between two cars. I felt strangely calm and also felt that the person was also at ease. He could not see or sense me approaching him from behind. I touched his shoulder and asked him if he was hurt. He calmly replied that he wasn't. I said good night and walked on. He continued trying to rob the hubcaps.

I had finally experienced the third eye, that which sees what my regular two do not. I've fingers left over in one hand the times I've experienced it. But each time it has saved my life without one blow.

Is this karate? I think so.

No comments: