When practiced properly, martial arts is the same as shamanism, Tibetan Tantra, or the feared practices of the Aghoris — devotees of Shiva, the Hindu god of transformation. It is the Left-hand path at its finest. It has the power to shake loose very deep emotions and attachments. You must go and do what the ego dares not, for only in hell can heaven be found.
How do I know this?
Martial arts as been a big part of my life since the very beginning — not really a choice when it is how your dad made his living. I did judo since the age of 4, wrestled from 7 to 14 — placing fourth in Canada wrestling in the juvenile category — and started karate at 12. In judo I competed at the national and international level, my best placing being third in Canada.
In judo I competed at the national and international level, my best placing being 3rd in Canada. Competition and training was a way of life, especially at 19 when I started training with the national team in judo. Montreal had the strongest club in Canada, and a lot of national teams would come down and train with us — European teams, American, and even the Japanese team.
I had the privilege of practicing and fighting with many world champions, including olympic and international medalists. Each week consisted of 10 hours of fighting, six hours of strength training, plus extra endurance work. In training camps, we would fight double that time, with two practices a day, two hours of ground work in the morning and two hours standing at night.
Placing third in Canada gives me mixed emotions. Yes, being ranked one of the best in the country it sounds good, but it’s a placing that doesn’t reflect what I could have done. I was one of the first Canadians to fight pro in MMA. But even in the cage, I could have done better. You see, in those years my Magickal practices and martial arts were still separate. I so badly wanted to be like my dad that the pressure severely limited me during competition. Trying too hard and fear of failure stops you from letting go and being spontaneous.
Howevever, it was precisely these failures that brought me here and gave me the insight to see that the way martial arts is often taught today is wrong. It has lost its soul. It is not solely a fighting sport, as it is usually seen today.
As long as you train to beat an outside foe you are an athlete, not a martial artist. You may be stronger, faster, have better endurance and better technique, but these are all physical attributes — and beating people weaker than you makes you more of a bully than anything else.
So where does Magick fit in?
Martial arts is, I believe, a shamanistic path. And, for martial arts to become a Way, your adversary must be yourself. Your opponent on the mat in front of you, or even on the street, is only a Magickal mirror, magnifying all your demons. And he, your opponent, is also your closest ally on the inner journey.
Whatever scares you is what you must do.
If you fear pain you relax into it — relax into the feeling of breathlessness, without resistance and panicking. The doors within are always hidden in the shadows of your being. And if that was not bad enough, your own logical mind will always talk you out of opening them. Since we strongly associate our sense of self with the logical mind, we are completely fooled by it — and that way the ego stays safe, hiding from its fears. You must be aware of this and stay on your path no matter how loud it screams and begs you to turn away. If you stay strong, slowly your ego will lose its grip on you, and that will allow the inner doors to open. It will make you open and receptive for the Other to take over. This is samadhi in motion.
Samadhi is the meditative trance state spoken of by Buddhist and Hindu Tantrikas that is only attained with the death of the ego. You have to die and let the Other take over, and you can only do that by going within and battling. (Death, for the Kshatriya, Samurai and other such warriors, was not an over-used metaphor as it often is today. It was the real deal. Nothing has such power as the fear of death to open the doors to the Divine.)
I have experienced samadhi many times, but sadly not in competition. As I said at the beginning, my ego so badly wanted to perform that it created the opposite effect. (A perfect example of the often-mentioned lust for results.) Strangely, the place that it all came together was on the streets, and working in rough bars. For me, these were perfect places to practice going into the shadows, not just in fighting, but in all aspects of my life.
Let me sum up what I’ve been saying: The bigger the resistance or fear you feel, and the more you can abandon yourself to it, the bigger the opening to the Other.
This is an alchemical formula — the merging of two opposites that creates the sacred space. Hence, in his Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art, Julius Evola talks of the “two enemies embracing,” forming themselves into a single figure. That figure is called “Rebis.” Its body is the union of opposites. We can think of it as representing — on some level — samadhi, the death of ego, the total absorption in the Other.
I use the word “Other” to mean that which opposes the petty ego. Some people call it “spirit.” Being taken over by the Other is a feeling so beyond words and description that it is hard for me to use a word like spirit, since that term, it seems to me, has been tainted by the New Age over the years.
For the Kshatriya, the Samurai, and the “Viking” Berserkers, Magick happens in the here and now.
It was in the here and now that the gates of Valhalla opened up for the Viking killed in battle! And it was in the here and now that the shaman entered states of ecstacy and communed with the gods and demons. Likewise, if you face your fears — in martial arts and in other aspects of life — and relax into that fear, that experience will open the doors to samadhi, to enlightenment, and to a glorious life worth living, beyond the death of the ego.