Comments on “Ling Gésar Buddhist martial arts retreat”

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Ling Gesar Retreat

SkyTiger's picture

I thought this was an excellent article on the martial arts. Its link with Dzogchen Londe is explained very well. Getting into a non- conceptual state is very useful and how it relates to Buddhism.

me like

Santeri's picture

Very nice text that accomplishes to be very generally informative and also to convey the feelings and atmosphere of the retreat.

Aro Makes Sense

Well said. To me, renunciation has been an aspect of Buddhism I could not embrace. All this other stuff you described I knew as too transformative and too real to judge as worthless, if not harmful. Physical threat can teach us much about ourselves. The need to protect can reveal much about the critter we are.
Thanx

How is this Martial Art evolving?

I'm trying to translate in my head some of what you wrote into concrete language and figure out how would you describe the creation of Gésar terma in non-revelatory terms?

You said,

This retreat was based on a Gésar terma that is closely connected with the Aro gTér.

At this Karma Kagyu site, I found something about the "Gésar terma". From what I understand is that the epic story of this story came to different people in dreams or visions and was built up over centuries into a long ballad.

So I imagine Ngak'chang Rinpoche meet a martial artist and had the thought (revelation/terma) incorporating martial arts in Aro based around the stories of Gésar?

You said,

The Gésar terma is unfolding now for the first time. The teaching methods are semi-formed;

That seems consistent with my translation: Some Aro folks [I am imagining it is Ngak'chang Rinpoche and some student(s)] are taking a non-Tibetan martial art and adding a Dzogchen long-dé layer (though many martial arts work with Qi or Prana ...) and experimenting on methods to keep and how to use them.

Is that close?

Evolving

Hi,

Hmm.... I have heard very little about how the terma came about. Your guess seems plausible.

Except, it makes it sound more deliberate and rational than my guess would be. Termas are supposed to be non-deliberate and non-rational (which doesn't mean they are unmotivated or irrational).

Also, there isn't a specific modern martial art on which this Gésar system is based. The forms look (to me—with minimal martial arts background) more like Kung Fu than anything else; but none of the teachers have a background in that. The two primary teachers are Lama Bar-che (with a background in Pencak Silat) and Naljorpa Chhi'med (with a background in Aikido).

Also, I think they would say that long-dé is the foundation, rather than a layer on top. I would find that plausible, but my background in both long-dé and martial arts is negligible, so my opinion isn't worth much.

David

Ling Gésar gTerma

Rin'dzin's picture

Hi Sabio,

The martial arts aspect of the gTerma falls into one of three possible specialisms for practitioners. An application of Longdé teachings to multiple martial art systems is a kind of clumsy way to describe that line of practice. "Living the view of Longdé in the sphere of martial arts" is better. There are various series of physical yogas with martial influence. But it's possible also to approach the gTerma with a primary interest in horsemanship or yogic meditation. Martial arts is just one of the ways the Longdé path manifests.

As a practitioner in the lineage, I have to say, it really is like that. You could approach it as a way to get some exercise or learn a martial art, with some added woo, but after a relatively short time (maybe a couple of years, max) you'd either be bored silly, or you'd be viewing the physical aspect as a vehicle for Longdé practice. The martial art is a "way in," it's not an end in itself.

Love
Rin'dzin

More than Fighting

@David & Rin'dzin
"Your guess seems plausible" <-- Yeah, thanks, I thought so. I understand the "non-deliberate, non-rational" caveate too -- well at least in the normal sense. Creativity springs forth in the mind, often surprising the supposed artist. That is true in the religious and non-religious alike. It seems such springing forth gets labeled as bTerma in this tradition -- or there must be something I am missing. Having studied Kung Fu (Kempo, Japanese) and Aikido for some time, I have heard the stories of the creation/discovery of these martial arts and have heard discovery stories from other traditions too -- again, some use religious terms and some just creative/adaptive terms.

But over the decades I have gotten a kick out of martial arts speaking of their spiritual virtues.

That said, I love fighting (as I know Rin'dzin does too). But mostly I love fighting with friends/colleagues who approach it as an art and self-learning. Secondly, another part of Aikido I love is the awareness aspect: the centering, flow, participation, dance, cooperation, re-directing aspects. And because of that, it does not get boring -- each time is a meditation.

Of course none of this may be a "Longdé" thing since I am not familiar with the term, but I would be highly surprised that there would not be huge overlap. Thus, I agree with Rin'dzin -- I like martial arts for what they allow, not for what they appear to be.

Hi Sabio, I think we're

Rin&#039;dzin's picture

Hi Sabio,

I think we're mostly in agreement, though I'm not sure.

I practice kung-fu and BJJ as martial arts in their own right, and love them both. But I think if one were to approach the Ling Gésar teachings as a means to learn a martial art only, then one would be disappointed, because the focus is not on teaching the technique of a specific martial art (though, of course, some martial techniques are taught). If one's motive is to learn a martial art, it would be much more efficient to train elsewhere.

A number of Gésar practitioners do exactly that, in order to increase the physical skills that they bring to their practice. One could become an expert in any type of martial art and bring it to the Gésar training.

Here's an example of the difference between longdé practice and learning a martial art. As practice, you might attempt to embody the demeanour of a grappler. You could become the grappler in increasingly skilful ways in diverse situations, not just literal fighting. If one has a background in Aikido, one might explore the demeanour of the grappler using wrist locks and throws. If you're into BJJ, you're more likely to end up rolling on the floor with your legs locked around your opponent. So to view the gTerma as a martial art system in itself would not be correct. It does include its own series of exercises but again, these are doors into the body of practice, not a self-encompassed martial art in themselves. You might just as probably sit for two hours listening to a teaching on the demeanour of the grappler without covering technique.

Going back to your earlier post:

taking a non-Tibetan martial art and adding a Dzogchen long-dé layer

It's not so specific as taking one martial art form and working with it - it's more fluid. Any skills from any martial art background are fertile ground for working with the longdé view.

I think this relates to your original question: "how is this martial art evolving?" in that it's not a martial art that is evolving, in the sense of coming into being, but a gTerma.

I hope that makes things a little clearer. I haven't answered questions about Ling Gésar practice like this before, so I'm feeling my way here - and I'm still in the relatively early stages of practising it myself.

Rin'dzin

4 Levels of Complication & Beauty

There at least four levels to this issue, I think:

(1) Kinesthetics Skills
Body knowledge -- understanding how to move the body. Many folks are just very out-of-touch with their bodies , and have a hard time even understanding the simplest instructions. We understand Math skills, language skills, but kinesthetic intelligence if far underrated. And this atrophies even quicker than the other skills, I feel.

(2) Non-Verbal:
Martial Arts are best learned non-verbally. Even demonstrating 10 times while describing does not work as well ast 3 times with the person actually fumbling through it themselves. (This is a common mistake of many instructors -- too verbal). Also, one persons verbal representation of a kinesthetic movement may mean nothing to another, no matter how skilled the teacher, their teaching may suck.

(3) The Subtle
With aikido, it is much more subtle than just a movement -- it is a participation, a flow and understanding of dynamics and more. Verbal and even kinesthetic practice may not help. I have seen people blocked for months because of who-they-are and not what they can do.

(4) The More than Subtle
Perhaps there is something here, but it is out of my realm. Maybe you are alluding to that. Or maybe I know that but not in your terms. Or perhaps your "long-de" is something that feeds all of these.

Either way, words are grossly inadequate for all four of these factors and here we are typing away. Smile

Validity of terma

Anonymous's picture

In other sources the Aro gTer community (refer to approchingaro) states that one can only validate a terma for oneself - unless one is an omniscient Buddha. I am a practicioner both of Nyingma Buddhism and MMA. Would some representative of the Terma give me the honour to validate this Gong Ter? Martial Arts is not about intellectual debate - only someone spoilt by years and decades of overintellectual Buddhist practice could think so. I am expecting your representative in the Octagon. If my weightclass matters to you, I will fight with 82kg. Can't wait to see how you will chick out....

UFC as a tantric practice

ULTIMATE FIGHTING AS A TANTRIC PRACTICE
As a practicioner both of mixed martial arts and of Nyingma and Kagyu Buddhism I would like to add some points to this conversation. Let me make clear that I have no authority whatsoever (neither formal nor informal) to teach Buddhism, so I am just uttering some ideas. I do, however, have authority to talk about and apply martial arts.
Someone new to the tradition of martial arts or ultimate fighting might wrongly assume that the essence of bloodsport is beating someone, throwing him down or joking him out. Everyone with a little bit of practical experience knows exactly that this is totally and absolutely wrong. I could teach everyone with a background in sports how to destroy an opponent in a couple of months. The real martial art is about transforming the most ferocious attacks of your opponent. If you want a practical demonstration of what I am talking about, take a look at the last emperor, still best pound-to-pound fighter on our planet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPAnsAipqbk If the whole clip is too long for you, just go 05:02 – that’s what makes a true warrior, thats how a true warrior deals with the challenges of life. For me that’s informal transmission. Besides, the last emperor makes use of the gap like a true Shambhala warrior…
Bloodsport is about learning how to deal with the most terrifying blows without pitying yourself, without chicking out and without blaming others. It is, however, also not about a pseydoreligios-masochistic attitude which makes you happy if life doesn’t treat you well, it is about the attitude towards your most ferocious experience in life and your worst daemons. Tantra teaches us that our worst emotions can be transformed, even more, that we have to embrace them as the path. As far as I know, ngakmas and ngakpas never cut their hair because they have vowed never to cut off from their own experience. I do not say at all that bloodsport is mentally healty, beautiful or compassionate. Contrary, it is about our deepest demons, about our will to destroy and to be merciless. If we, however, are not willing to face these emotions, then we are seedy secret sutrists and the transformation of negative emotions becomes an intellectual concept. (From my point of view, it is perfectly fine to go the path of renounciation, but don’t claim to be a master of transformation while you do so). When there were the first ultimate fighting championships in Germany, a large group of so-called philosopers and humanists gathered and wanted to have it banned. A true tantrika doesn’t ban destructive emotions (although, I definitely agree, the manifestations often have to be banned ), a tantrika doesn’t cut off from his desire to kill and hurt, nor does he put it into action – she or he transforms and liberates these demonic forces. Machig Lapdrön advised her students to practice in terrific places – the UFC octagon might be a perfect modern channelground. I guarantee you, you will meet your demons there and you will have to face them, there is no hiding and no running away. http://www.fightinginsider.com/2011/01/01/why-ufc-ring-is-called-the-oct... Unless you are a highly advanced practicioner, you will find that you have far more fear and hate inside yourself than you have ever imagined. (if I turn out to be wrong, I will give you your money back).
The venerable Ato Rinpoche once told me a story about his youth. When he was a young monk, he always thought he had understood emptiness. Then the Chinese invaded Tibet, burnt down his monastery and murdered many of his friends and family members. Ato Rinpoche said that at this point he found out that he knew nothing about emptiness…. It might be similar with ultimate fighting. It might be easy to sit in a cosy gompa with fellow middle-class people called practicioners, sipping coffee, counting the beads of your tenga and claiming to practice transformation. If a heavyweight fighter throws you to the ground and gives you a thrashing of a lifetime, try to transform this, and try to develop whole-hearted compassion for him. It is easy to pretend that you have compassion for all sentient beings, but it is really challenging to feel even a little bit of compassion for someone who has just broken your nose….. or maybe I am just a lousy practitioner, or maybe it is a combination of both factors…. I leave this up to your wise judgement.
One of the characteristics of ultimate fighting is that sooner or later you gonna lose, you will be tackled and defeated. Concerning this aspect, MMA is like real life – nobody goes undefeated forever.
As the venerable Trungpa Rinpoche stated, Tantra is highly dangerous and requires a qualified teacher. Just beating each other up makes us no better than members of a street gang. Even worse, being in contact with the priceless Buddhist teachings we have had every opportunity to know better and turnig a Gompa into a hotbed for destructive behaviour would be a serious pitfall. So I recommend to practice serious bloodsport only with the approval of a qualified Lama, although basic martial arts like Aikido can benefit both your physical and mental health.
Additionally, I know that a lot could be said about Dzogchen Longde and how its specific Nyams refer to Tantric practice. I am definitely not the right person to talk about this, so I will remain silent. I would, however, recommend that you approach a qualified Lama if you have intentions to use martial arts as a Buddhist practice.
In the next post you will read my challenge to the practitioners of this terma. I want to see – in practical terms – if the white sangha only likes to tell fairy tales about wrathful lamas or if they can still stand up to a real challenge.

AN OPEN CHALLENGE TO THE WHITE SANGHA

AN OPEN CHALLENGE TO THE WHITE SANGHA
So let’s talk business. I saw in the internet that you will host a martial art retreat in Finland in July. I am ready to come there and to take on every fighter you will appoint at this occasion. I am a buddhist practicioner for nineteen years now and I work full time as a senior engineer – so I am not a professional fighter. In return, I also expect you to appoint a dedicated Buddhist of your lineage to represent you and not to send an MMA-fighter who has added a pinch of Buddhist meditation to his background. As I see it as inappropriate to challenge Lama Barche Dorje as the Tertön himself, I will take on every one of his students or disciples he will appoint.
I would propose UFC rules and 3 rounds (each round three minutes with two minutes break – because this is about warrior spirit and not about perfect physical condition). If you have no fighter in my weight class I will wear shin protectors and your representative can wear a head headgear. I am, in return, always willing to face a physically stronger opponent. If your representative has a background in grappling, he can wear a Gi (like a Judo jacket), if he likes so. Just tell me eight week in advance (so we both have equal possiblity for preparation) and I am always at your disposal. You see – no more excuses, no more space for self-justification…
Nobody should ever be bullied to go into the octagon, this would simply be wrong. So if you refuse my challenge, I will never say anything bad about the white sangha. I will, however, reserve the right to hysterically giggle like a school girl whenever you write something about Buddhist vampires, wrathful behaviour etc. etc. I will also refer to the Ngak’phang sangha as the white chicken in private conversation ….. although I will never doubt the validity of your tradition, as I know that the blessing of your mantra is beyond compare even in the world of Vajrayana. I do, however, remember a time where the Aro Lamas would compete at car races and after uttering such a challenge to the white sangha, even the little girls would have stood up, giving me a stare that had made my blood freeze…. Tell me, are these times gone? Have the Ngakpas lost their true thirst for the blood of real life and become a bunch of nerdy academics?
I admit that it is wrong to challenge someone without putting something at stake. If you do demonstrate true warrior spirit in the ring, I will openly appologise and always recognize that the white sangha still has the same spiritual power as in the past (regardless of who will be declared the winner). If you manage to use this event as a vehicle of tantric transmission, I will prostrate to you and openly acknowledge that the practicioners in white skirts are what they claim to be – the torch of true practice and the ultimate remedy in this time of degenerated teachings and ignorant darkness. I will never question you again and always protect your lineage of terma by all means.
So I am waiting for your answer. You better start practicing how to tap out….. To give you a taste of what is waiting for you, follow the link…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zePwQjvTbkc&feature=related

The Glove is Thrown

That was fantastic -- I normally don't read people who rant on threads but your writing was brilliantly entertaining on many levels. Are you a former Aro Practitioner from the old days? I'd love to hear your take on sarcastic, insightful take on other Buddhisms, Taoisms and the like. My limited experience is that Tai Chi braggarts are the most deluded. Real challenges like this keep us real. Looking at humans at their extreme help us to understand our possibilities and the deep nature of activities -- great writing , thanx.

sweet challenge

Bar-ché's picture

Addressed to an anonymous correspondent,

This is the first time I have been approached in this way – but I feel obliged to respond on this occasion. It is unusual from our perspective that a warrior should communicate anonymously. I enjoyed your YouTube clips and your explanation in your second sending – but I am not sure what you wish to prove. I am sure it can’t merely be a matter of vanity—as you state that you have practised Buddhism for 19 years—but here I think we need to talk with open viziers. I need to know who you are. I need to know who your Lama is and what lineage are you represent before we can discuss this physical challenge any further.

A purposeful for a challenge can only proceed after being discussed with your Lama - as would be expected within the Tibetan protocol.

Everybody who is interested in an exchange is welcome and we meet many martial art people in a happy fashion – but your communication does not have the tone to which we have been accustomed. If you do want to see one of our people in action or interact in the US then the Dog Brothers Gathering in the Fall is probably the appropriate public venue. Mutual benefit and underlying friendship is an established parameter for what they call ‘higher consciousness through harder contact’ – so that might be what you are seeking. At the moment this person you would meet is preparing for two days of stick fighting at a non-public ‘tribal’ Gathering this weekend – but as I said before, we do need to discuss this first openly with the Lamas involved – your and ours. Hoping to meet with a person next time we talk.

Minor notes

Hi Anonymous,

Just to address a couple of apparent misconceptions.

You seem to be using "the white sangha" to refer to the Aro sangha specifically. If so, that's a misunderstanding. Gendün karpo (Tibetan for "white sangha") is a standard synonym for the general sangha of ngakpas and ngakmas.

"Buddhism for Vampires" is my personal site, and has nothing to do with Aro (or the white sangha). It's not authorized or endorsed by the Aro Lamas, nor does it reflect a specifically Aro viewpoint. It's based on my understanding of a much earlier period in the development of Buddhist tantra (India in the 700s).

I don't know anything about either MMA protocol or Tibetan protocol. However, it's common sense that if you want this challenge to be taken seriously, you need to say who you are, and establish that you are also serious and not just bloviating. Otherwise, a lot of effort could be wasted in preparing for a match, and then you don't show up.

I enjoyed "UFC as a tantric practice". You understand tantra clearly.

Best wishes,

David

replies

Shadow's picture

Dear practicioners, ladies and gentleman! Please allow me to adress each of your replies with a different message - otherwise everything will get mixed up and I only have limited capacity as a writer.

@David Chapman: I agree with you in 3,5 issues and totally disagree in 0,5 points.

1. I am clearly aware that the white sangha also exists in other traditions and lineages. I am sorry that my writing is so confused and I am grateful that you could clarify on my mistakes. There is, however, a reason why I use the terms "Aro gTer" and "white sangha" as a synonym. According to my limited personal experience, the Aro gTer Lamas took all the difficulties of introducing this tradition in the West on them. I still remember what people said about this issue fifteen years ago - saying that Ngak'chang Rinpoche had invented it all and setting up disgusting websites on wikipedia. I am myself constantly wrong, so I don't blame other people, but I hope they have appologised for their errors once they became obvious. To put it in one slogan "you had the hardship and pain, now I will give you the fame - even if you are beyond the eight worldly darmas". I also don't know a tradition which keeps up the vows of the non-monastic sangha with such a spirit and dedication. There are now many practicioners of the white sangha around, but nobody has the same dedication to this as the Aro lineage ( to become clear about it, I don't accuse any other lineage of not being pure and dedicated practicioners).

2. I deeply appreciate your website. I hope you will continue sharing our knowledge with us. It is refreshing to see that you are both a dedicated practicioner and have such a realistic access to the history of Buddhism and Vajrayana. I have some questions about your writings, but in the sense that I want to learn more, not in the sense of critisism.

3. I applogise for my lack of manners. I will introduce myself to Lama Barche Dorje later - so please refer to one of my next letters.

4. I am totally happy that you enjoyed my ideas. I have, however, no clear understanding of the Tantric teachings - this is the only point where we totally disagree.

@ Sabio: thank you for your

Shadow's picture

@ Sabio: thank you for your great sense of humor. The MMA-fighter Andreas Kraniotakes got badly beaten by the Austrian Master Turek. In reply, he posted a video on youtube where he was laughing his butt of watching his defeat….. I think this is a great sense of humor – this is what makes life much better and how my challenge was meant. I am serious about a good fight – but only if we can laugh about it in the same way….
I will try to answer your questions: I personally like Tai Chi. It is a great hobby for retired people to stay in minimal shape and it is good for your health. It has, however, nothing to do with martial arts at all. There is stil the rumor around that if you practice really a lot and become an accomplished master, you could beat a real fighter. Look at this tricky gentleman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6KxA6H4aUg I assume that „Lama“ is is fight name – like people have names like tiger, spiderman or so, and he feels inspired by the fury South-American animal that spits…. If this gentleman feels offendend by my remark and asks for satisfaction, I am at his disposal. See what happens if a master like like this is confronted with reality. First take a look how he and his devoted disciples see their „art“: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tib2Urowsdc and now reality bites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMgVmFzBrus&feature=relmfu In my opinion, this is why we need reality checks. In this context I totally agree with you when you say „challenges keep us real“.
These people might be confused about what they are actually able to do. If you ask me about martial arts, there are two main myths around which are actually dangerous. The first one is about BBJ (brasilian jiu jitsu). It doesn’t work in combat. If you want to know why, watch the Pride Titlefight Verdum vs Overeem – this is so unreal, so fake …. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eg-qLv7HR4Y
The second and really dangerous one is about Wing Tsun Kung Fu. They tell their students that they can actually fight, that they are invincable, while their training and technique is useless. This is like giving someone a fire extinguisher while you know it is empty and doesn’t work – it is really dangerous. When the fire breaks out, the practicioner might not run away, but stay to extinquish the flames – with desastrous results.

the tantric glove

Shadow's picture

@ venerable Lama Bar-che Dorje!
After reading your reply, I recognized that my last letter was inappropriate. You are definitely right and I am deeply sorry for my rudeness. What I said, however, came from the bottom of my heart (useless to mention that my heart is full of darkness). So thank you for bringing this to my attention. Please forgive me my previous letters and allow me to communicate in a more respectful form.
I am asking you to give me the unique opportunity to practice in a direct way on your retreat. If you feel that my request is an interruption for the visionary sphere of your retreat, please consider my challenge as withdrawn and accept my apology. I am approaching you in the same way as I would ask you to paint a picture together or dance traditional waltz together as a part of what the venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche called contemplative Buddhist practice (with the obvious exception that most people would find this kind of contemplative practice totally and absolutely inapropriate and politically incorrect).
You asked me what is my intention, what this is about? It is definitely not about winning. It is also not about bragging (although I love to brag and to win) – it is about the unique opportunity of practicing awareness and passion under the most challenging circumstances. I admire, however, your deep confidence in the Buddhist teachings that 19 years of practice have purified me in such a way that I am free of poison. My demons, however, are still limitless and vast as the sky. There is no reason to assume that this will ever change.
So to answer your question, let me start with an explanation on the level of ordinary psychology (you see, I am already bragging again). My hometown is the city of Vienna, where Freud pointed out the negative consequences of surpressing and denying one’s sexuality in the 19th century. Our time, however, is flooded with the most distorted sexual images ( I am sure I don’t have to post a link to youporn here). Interpreting Freud further, every generation has its blind spot. The blind spot of my generation is violence. In our time or moralic degeneration, everything seems acceptable – except violence. This is especially true for so-called „Western Buddhism“. So in terms of ordinary psychology, it is about uncovering our dark spot.
In terms of Kapala and Chöd the purpose of the eight-cornered channel ground is to invoke my worst fears, the hidden and actively ignored daemons. But in Kapala you don’t fight your daemons, you offer yourself to them (as the host of this website has pointed out so wonderfully in his articles about the monster and the shadow). So my practice will be to offer myself to my daemons. The chöd of my generation would be to go to the most fearsome places of one’s own surpressed violent tendencies and fully integrate them into the path.
In terms of Tantra, the practice is to maintain awareness and passion in under the most challenging circumstances. I am sure that there is no other place where you could celebrate the wrathful play of form and emptiness like in an octagon (unless someone is able to provide us with a real battlefield – but this practice would be far beyond my capacity).
In terms of Shambhala practice, it is about fearlessness and not being afraid to be a fool.
In terms of the Kagyu lineage, it is about the black crown – wearing one’s negative emotions as an ornament of the enlightened state.
I do, however, feel that a fellow practicioner is needed for this practice. I don’t have the capacity to simply compete with a MMA fighter who is not a practicioner – it would just end up in bloodsport (as it did before). After finishing this letter I will go to the gym. It would be no problem for me to go into the ring today ( I might even be invited to do so) – but I feel that this is not the right way. For such a practice there has to be the right place, right time, right Lama, right teaching and the right Sangha. I had the perception that your retreat will combine these rare factors. This is the reason why I adressed you in this forum – I otherwise never post comments in forums.
If a member of your Sangha has the capacity to practice with me in this way, than you truely have integrated martial arts in your body of practices and this is absolutely unique even in the outstanting world of Vajrayana. Then I will bow to you and take refuge into you. To make a point, I am asking you to give me the honor of sharing your priceless teachings with me.
This leads to your next question. Of course I have instructions from a venerable Rinpoche about what is appropriate for my martial arts practice and what is not. Most is not, but this practice is. I am sure that you will understand the matter of secrecy in a tantric context. This is the first and only time I actually mentioned this and I did so because I felt that it was really necessary for clarification. I have, of course, consulted with our martial arts team. You will find the details of this in my next letter with explanations. I think it is unlikely that our Lamas should ever meet because of this. I clearly state that I feel you are the only Lama who could host such a practice event. So I will formally ask you to reside as the Lama over this event.
Finally, I still didn’t introduce myself. I thought there were many reasons not to do so at the beginning. I agree with you, however, that there is no reason for a basic lack of courtesy. So please forgive me my rudeness.
My first martial arts master was Ishizuka Sensei from the Bujinkan Ryu in Japan. Later I practiced with a series of qualified teachers, such as Moshe Kastiel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIBhCP_4rzU , Panmachon with Konstantinos Dervenis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN5Aot8gfMU and Krav Maga with Christian Weisz http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtmW7aoq3mA . My current gym is the fox gym im Vienna http://www.foxgym.at/ and I practice in the team of the gladiator, who has the fight spirit of an amazon warrior queen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHWxY9MD2F8 . This does not mean that I am great fighter. I had a break of ten years because I couldn’t integrate martial arts into my Buddhist practice and I am not talented at all. This is also the reason why I find your teachings of this kind of integration so extraordinary. My fight name among the thaibox community is yak kao (white protector). My fight name among the MMA community is cargo train ( I had some weight issues in the past) and my nickname among the white sangha was the shadow. According to my I.D., my first name is Florian. If you want more information about me, please contact your Vajra brother Ngakpa Trögyal. If he says some really bad and offensive things about me, please remember that he is an officer and a gentleman and therefore I am probably even much worse. I have been invited to your ordination in 2000, that’s from where I know you. I will send you a friendship request on facebook if you give me permission to do so.
Now you something say. I will add a second letter with my ideas about the details of our practice meeting. Kind regards and a wonderful weekend. May it benefit all sentient beings and clear confusion.

@ ven. Lama Bar-che Dorje: I

Shadow's picture

@ ven. Lama Bar-che Dorje: I added this letter to clarify my ideas of the details of our practice. After this I will not bother you again, as I feel that far to much has been written here already.
If you agree to this practice I would send you a video file of my MMA capacities a week before the fight. You could adapt the setting in a way that both practicioners match ( I already proposed to use headgear and shinguards to balance the capacities). If this is not enough, you can instruct the practicioners individually before the fight NOT to use certain techniques, so we are at equal terms. We can also do some pad practice together before the fight and if – for examply – you come to the conclusion that I am a stronger striker, you can ban me from using elbow strikes. I give you my word of honor that I will follow these instructions. In regard to your disciples, for me they are beyond doubt.
Although this is not about hurting each other, this is not about turning the UFC into a hugging therapy group. I expect serious bruises, hurting rips and a really cool hangover the next day. Maybe also some nosebleeding. I am aware that I am repeating myself, but this will be really cool. Life is always risky, but this is not about sending each other to hospital. On this website it is said that „Rindzin likes to fight“ and so do I, I can fully understand this practicioner. What I don’t like at all is to beat someone up who is weaker than me. Also fighting against someone who is much stronger is just a matter of self-destruction (unless you have really great capacity as a practicioner and I am not like this). So I am asking you to give me the opportunity to practice with a member of your Sangha in mutual respect and deep friendship.
I will also take full responsibility for my opponent – that’s also why I need time to prepare. It is not so much about increasing my chances to win – it is about being physically capeable to not loose control over myself and hurting my opponent. If it would just be about my power as a fighter, I could compete immediately. I think it is also totally unlikely that I will make an essential improvement in my technique after having failed for so many years. It is also about not hurting myself due to being incapable to compete. As this is a precious opportunity, a large amount of physical Ngöndro would be necessary to really transform this in a practice. The ngöndro, however and as always, will be a great opportunity for practice in itself. The ngöndro for this fight will be given to me by the team of the Gladiator, as I have already pointed out. Even if he is my teacher on a very mundane level, it is still absolutely necessary that I carefully follow his instructions.
To explain the concept of Ngöndro in this context to those who are not familiar with martial arts: for example, if you are well trained and have fully developed neck muscles, then a punch might just leave some bruises in your face. If you are not accustomed to this, you might hurt your spine, probably even permanently. This would simply be destructive behaviour for both participants – not what martial arts or buddhism is about. During this ngöndro, however, there will be countless opportunities to be thrown out of discursive thinking and what Lama Bar-che called higher awareness through direct physical sensation. So again, the Ngöndro is a full body of practices in itself.
Finally, there is one thing I want to say about some of the comments. I will NOT chick out. I have offered to come to your gym/dojo/gompa alone. I have offered to compete in your place according to your rules. As a trained martial artist, you know that this basic situation makes it literally impossible for me to win. So please don’t assume that I am hiding. I am at your full disposal. I went into your tribal camp alone in the mid of your warriors, I have bowed to you and announced that I would face everyone who stepped forward. Now I have taken off my mask and shown my face. What else do you expect from me? It is your turn to give me the honour of accepting the challenge or to refuse it as inapropriate (which is totally fine, of course). As soon you have told me a date I will book a flight to Finland and mail you the details. It is not my nature to surrender.
I wish you all a wonderful day. May this practice benefit all sentient beings.

yak kao (white protector)

Bar-ché's picture

I like this name. I am happy to have received your reply and feel more confident that we can have a exchange of both liking. I like your warriors mentality (Dra-shé). We don't have pro fighter as most people are coming in for weekend courses. And then we mostly practice traditional martial art. We have 2 people that compete to try out the system within a set of rules. One competes in the states and one in Finland. I feel that this could be a great unfolding of mutual interest. I have only practiced traditional martial arts in my life and I am for sure interested how this works in great intensity. I am hitting 50 but am still very curious about the martial effectiveness of this art. So we happily accept your wish to explore this further. So now the public knows that we will have an exchange. I will have no need to ask Ngakpa Trögyal about you because i would like to have the nature of our exchanges to form my view. I will write more in the near future.

Warm Greetings,Bar.ché

sweet acceptance

yak kao's picture

Venerable Lama Bar-che Dorje, you deeply honour me with the acceptance of my challenge. I am really glad that you are still the same kind and generous person I remember.
I have the feeling that the first fifteen seconds of this link are an important lesson for me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WBTIJOv37A&feature=related
As you are the Lama residing over the event, I fully trust you with all the arrangements you will make. If I can help your Sangha with the preparations, please let me know.
May it benefit all sentient beings!
Florian

kindness and awareness

Florian,

I apologize in advance for what will be a long message -- but you have raised a number of specific and important issues, and I need to address them all if we are to engage in a conclusive dialog.

When I saw your link to Guro Marc 'Crafty Dog' Denny's video clip, I wrote him to ask permission to offer you an invitation. He answered:

"Our Open Gathering is open to anyone who wants to fight in the spirit of 'One Rule Only-- be friends at the end of the day. Our goal is that no one spends the night in the hospital. Our goal is that everyone leaves with the IQ with which he came. However, only you are responsible for you, so protect yourself at all times. No suing no one for no reason for nothing no how no way."

The Open Gathering is held in the Los Angeles area each September.

I attach links to the highlight clips from two of the three public Gatherings I have attended, and you can see me fighting in those clips:

2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKEM5EQxBTs
2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTKqYkvmdkU

No highlight clip was produced for 2011. However, as Lama Bar-ché mentioned, I spent this weekend engaged in full-contact weapons training at the Tribal Gathering and was accepted into the Dog Brothers Tribe with the name Mongolian Dog. You are welcome to make your own inquiries as to what actions -- the positive and the negative -- attach to that name. Because you seem to have established the UFC as the gold standard of martial virtue, I cannot assume you accept the Dog Brothers as a proving ground, however.

Unfortunately, I cannot in good conscious claim deep or even superficial understanding of The Octagon, or of the UFC who holds rights to that accurately-vaunted name. I am not a professional fighter, and I have never fought professionally at even the lowest level. Not that this is an excuse for amateurism, but I do not regret this because I am far from certain that being a professional fighter would be most conducive to being a responsible father -- especially when other means of support are available to me. This is not an expression of disrespect to professional fighters any more than my selfish choice not to enlist in the military could be viewed as an insult to those who do serve their countries in that way. The UFC represents the highest level of mixed martial arts as a professional combat sport -- and anyone interested in understanding best practices and contemporary knowledge of combat sport owes its athletes a debt for manning the laboratory in which the highest level of testing and experimentation is performed. It would be absurd for me to pretend my experience of combat sports is qualitatively like that of the professional athletes who have dedicated their lives and careers to perfecting their craft.

I have, however, fought in an octagonal cage, but only at the lowest level of amateur competition -- and at an age well past that at which there could be any hope of ever achieving significant absolute skill in the sport. This I did for personal reasons and as an expression of my own practice of the Gésar gTér. If I am to call myself a practitioner of martial arts, I consider it imperative that I first have at least some token experience of whatever I might claim to study. Even though I reject absolutely the idea that MMA can ever serve as a perfect proxy for actual combat, I still believe -- as you do -- that it can *potentially* function as an extremely valuable arena for testing one's personal mettle, athleticism, technical competence, and warrior spirit. Without any belief whatsoever that simply having participated in a single amateur MMA match would confer competence or accomplishment, I felt this was the bare minimum I could do to earn the right to speak, however tentatively, on the topic of rules-controlled contact martial arts competitions in which empty-handed striking and grappling are both permitted.

Here is a link to my fight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayc0_-Utzt4

It is not certain that I will be able to travel to Finland to meet you this Summer. If I do travel, it is not clear to me that an MMA match will be the most appropriate method to resolve the questions you have voiced. There are many problems with the idea of holding an MMA match on a Gésar retreat. Moreover, before I could agree to any form of formalized encounter in the spirit of what you have so publicly demanded, I would need perfect confidence that the parameters of the engagement satisfied the requirements of dharma generally, of the Gésar gTér in particular, and of the law of the land wherever we should meet. This is one reason I invite you to come here to California in the Fall. If you and I are to meet, one of us will have to travel, and you have stated your (appropriate) willingness to 'compete in your place according to your rules'. I personally accept and vouch for the Dog Brothers rules of engagement and warrior spirit. There is no reason why your proposed encounter could not occur in this established venue -- in which many of the logistical and pragmatic considerations of such an event have already been carefully and competently engineered over the course of many years.

I understand that this is not what you were hoping for when you offered your initial challenge. But you have also made clear the spirit of your challenge and your own willingness to bear the difficulties of seeing such a challenge through. For that reason, I feel it would go a long way toward clearing up my lingering doubts about your motivation (especially including the language and tone chosen for your initial contact) if you were to accept this offer. If nothing else, it would guarantee that we remain 'friends at the end of the day'. I certainly hope you agree that this would be a desirable outcome.

If you agree in principle that attending a Dog Brothers event would satisfy your basic wish, yet find doing so logistically impossible, we can consider whether something can be arranged for Finland. However, by saying this, I am only offering to enter into a negotiation as to the appropriate terms of such a training event. It is entirely possible that it would be equally logistically impossible for me to travel on short notice -- or that the requirements you have personally established in order to 'validate this Gong Ter' do not mesh with what I personally feel I can offer while remaining within the practice commitments demanded of the art. Whatever you and I may settle upon, I see no reason why you should not attend the retreat in Finland in order to first taste the practice in a less confrontational manner. If your interest really is in 'testing' the gTérma, then as a Nyingma practitioner you must understand that the primary consideration is whether or not its methods function for you, personally, as catalysts to nondual experience. Although non-scholastic in nature, my personal understanding suggests that it would be unusually optimistic to expect that such a catalyst be available via violent confrontation as a first contact. Long ago I remember hearing a rumor (probably in some retreat center lunchroom) that, "They say that to be struck by the Lama is one of the highest blessings." However, it was not until I had been a Vajrayana practitioner for a number of years that I was able to experientially validate this rumor when meeting Lama Bar-ché Dorje. Why not take the time to lay the foundation for the possibility of intense physicality as more than just a test of resolve -- but also as a specific expression of yogic practice inherited from Vajrayana lineage rather than from sport?

You may rightly interpret my hesitation to rush into battle with you as cowardice, but please understand also that I would hate to fail you by entering into an unseemly encounter -- however noble our intentions might be. The outcome of such an event might be an obstacle to your actual adoption of the practice in which you have expressed such great interest. I would not want to be responsible for hindering your practice in that way. As a practitioner of Gésar gTér, I feel obligated to state that I believe the most accurate test of the gTérma as a *practice* would be for you to begin by attending a retreat as a *practitioner*. If you insist on fighting as the most valid test, than you are implicitly claiming that willingness to fight is the most important factor. Even though willingness to fight when absolutely necessary is important, this requirement can never take precedence over the importance of kindness and awareness as the essential commitments.

Respectfully,
Naljorpa Chhi'mèd Künzang

we have a winner

Congratulations for being accepted into the tribe, Mongolian dog!

Please let me assure you that I never wanted to disturb the atmosphere of the retreat or interrupt the teachings of Lama Bar-che Dorje. I feel that I have disturbed and bothered some people with my postings here and, before going ahead, I want to apologise for this. After I read the statements on this webpage, I was interested to see if this Buddhist tradition could really still perform like this. ( I remembered how Lama Bar-che Dorje gave an informal teaching by performing as a male stripper). So I was just too curious to see what would arise from Gesar martial arts. I am also not a native English speaker, so please forgive me my rather peculiar expressions.

To begin with, I was very impressed watching the clips of the dog brothers on youtube. Already several days ago I posted the clip of one of their gatherings on my facebook page and mentioned that they have the true warrior spirit. I can imagine that their style of Philippino martial arts can even be better integrated into meditation for a series of reasons. During the next month or so I will meet with a Philippino master and try to find out more about it.

I enjoyed watching your fight, you showed the spirit of a true warrior. You were spirited and wild, but early on you could have finished the fight easily in the ground and pound position by way of knockout. You chose, however, not to do this and managed to win without harming your opponent. So you were kind and respectful under the most difficult circumstances.
Watching this clip, I saw that you could really demonstrate what I was asking for. Therefore, I have to declare you the winner in my challenge, even if we have never met. I have never been so happy about defeat – to see the combination of warrior spirit and awareness and kindness in this combination. As I promised in my earlier postings, from now on I will keep your tradition in the highest regards.

So again, thank you for your invitation to the dog brothers. I used to study in Sacramento and San Francisco and I know that travelling there is rather challenging, as there are no direct flights. It would cost me a lot of time and money and I feel that I should better invest these into authentic Buddhist training (although I am not sure if I am still welcome after all of this). If you should ever have the opportunity to meet, I would be glad to show you how you could improve your MMA abilities within a very short time. You have a wonderful attitude and a lot of capacity. I can, however, fully understand if you are not interested in this.

Thank you again for your patience and kindness. I would be really glad if we could meet in person one day. Kind regards, Florian

Invite

Bar-ché's picture

Dear Florian.

You will have a change to meet. I just talked to Chhi'mèd and a few other Nam'dzins that we will have an intensive week retreat next year summer. This will mainly include Gésar Nam'dzins who have an interest in competing to test their art. I am not sure if this summer event will be suited as we will mainly concentrate on the court dances and diners, called natural dignity. http://aroevents.org/index.php?option=com_aroevents&task=viewevent&id=2014. So after the summer till the next summer everybody interested will find a school to train the sticks. I will stay within the traditional Gar-tak system. Then on the next summer event we will explore the results. Chhi'med and I will try out all the people who practiced with the sticks and teach them more so they can feel ready to compete within this medium. The exchange will give rise to a realistic form that then can be tested within the Dogbrother competition in Switzerland or California. Although you are not a Nam'dzin, we still would like to invite you to this event as you are already looking into training with sticks. I am sure we will Practice some MMA there too so whatever tips you have to help will be most appreciated. By the way: Did you see Chhi'mèd towards the end of the Dogbrother clip you send. He is the one that losses his helmet with a white shirt. Would be nice to meet you.

warm greetings, Bar-ché

happy to learn

Florian,

Yes -- of course I am always happy to learn. It seems plausible that we meet at some point, as I am in Finland almost every year. If you stay in touch with Lama Bar-ché, he can let you know when I will be around.

Regards,
Chhi'mèd

see you soon

@ Chhi’med Künzang: yes, this is a good idea. Hope we will meet soon. Kind regards, Florian

Thank you for the invitation!

Dear Lama Bar-che Dorje!

Thank you very much for the invitation to the intensive retreat next summer, I will do my best to be well prepared. I deeply appreciate this!

So I will start to practice with the sticks, as I don’t have much experience with them. Fortunately we have a Filipino martial arts school here in Austria and I already got in touch with them.

I would like to come to one of your open seminars in Finland this autumn. It would be great if you could say some words about the direction you would like the “stickfighting-ngöndro” to evolve – but I think this only makes sense after I have some basic experience. I am also looking through the Dogbrother-clips and trying to find out which elements of MMA are a good combination with stickfighting. I will especially focus on these aspects in my training sessions.

I had to watch the the clip again, but then I saw Chi’med performing with double sticks. So now I have a taste of what is waiting for me when I will be tested next year. We will have some serious fun, this will be so cool!

Can't wait to meet in person, Florian

unfolding

Bar-ché's picture

May the unfolding of this communication benefit everybody involved and bring us to a level that will radiate out as an example. Inspire beings of what is possible. I feel positive that this communication will set the basis of a fruitful relationship in new relationships on the path of compassionate honor and natural heroism in the embodiment of the warrior. I feel happy and complete in this moment.