Push the Cow Over the Cliff


The Corona virus has disrupted life, as we know it. Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen this virus spread and the panic that has ensued. Markets have shut down, countries have closed their doors to travelers, and in some countries grocery store aisles have been left empty. As the fear of corona virus spreads faster than the disease, raising more questions than answers globally, we the teacher of martial arts have been asked to offer some insight into this virus and what it might mean for us, socially, physically, and spiritually. 

We all feel like we’ve been pushed to some unknown realm and heading straight to some new and unexplored domain, but looking back in time we can see that this world has already faced several apocalyptic scenario in the past like the Black Death era in the medieval times which changed the course of Europe’s history, Spanish Flu, AIDS, Ebola epidemic etc.  Once again we are facing a total lock down worldwide living in a state of perplexity; unable to think clearly and understand what the future will look like. What we know is that it wont be as same as before. The life will change; our lives will change. This is the only certainty.

To martial artists everyday life is already out of comfort zone.  The fight is real.  But what we can see nowadays is that this way of living has affected many. People are out of their comfort zone being stressed in so many different aspect of living from being physically confined within four walls, experiencing financialchallenges, getting stressed every day more and more with news and unstable political scene. Lot of us working in the sport and martial art sector are facing a big storm and turmoil as the gyms are closing down. At one moment Henry Ford even said, “Exercise is bunk. If you are healthy, you don’t need it; if you are sick you should not take it.” It’s worth a laugh, but wrong as we know that the link between exercise and physical and mental health has been subject of study of many researchers. They showed that physical inactivity was associated with a decline in cognitive function. Exercise as we know has numerous effects all over the body. One of the most important effect is increased blood flow bringing fresh oxygen flow throughout the body, allowing your lungs, heart, brain and muscles to function properly and efficiently.  It helps the body fight disease and sickness those bringing us back to the wise words of Juvenal saying “A healthy mind is a Healthy Body: Mens sana in corpore sano”. The original meaning was related to the connection between the soul/spirit and the body, today it is used to mean having healthy mind to enjoy a healthy body. Numerous clinical studies support that by looking after your mind you will feel better physically, but there is also evidence of the opposite that when you look after your body your mind will get a stimuli that contributes it’s stability. Exercise leads to a greater capacity for resilience and boost self-control and endurance. The connection of mind and body is inseparable and martial arts play a big role in connecting the mind, the body and the spirit.  As martial arts teacher our challenge is to ensure that our students develop and flourish as well balanced,physically and mentally healthy individuals that can successfully follow rapidly changing world. 

We are martial artists. Martial arts is what we do and the earliest evidence of martial arts goes back millennia of which most are fixed by the specific of human psychology. Martial arts have proved throughout history to improve the ability to find the inner peace and patience, to increase the individual security and safety. 

Since I have always claimed to be a man of a sword and teaching by the philosophy of the sword I want to give you some swordsmanship and Zen concepts of support:

” The sword has to be more than a simple weapon, it has to be an answer to life’squestions.” Miyamoto Mushashi 

“The way of the sword and the way of Zen are identical for they have the same purpose, that of Killing the EGO ” Yamada Jirokichi

“Be a master of a Mind rather than mastered by the Mind”– Zen

We have just experienced a war without one-shot economically, medically and emotionally wisegoverned by a virus that got here in one-way or another. What we must remember is that war is not about who is right but about who survive.

Zen story to open our eyes to new Corona Era 

Long ago, a Monk set out on his travels across a faraway land. Night was falling and he needed somewhere to shelter. Eventually, he found a humble shack, in the middle of nowhere. A poor family lived there and the mother, father and children were dressed in rags. The Monk asked if he could spend the night there. “You are most welcome to spend the night,” said the father. They prepared a simple meal consisting of fresh milk, cheese and cream and the Monk appreciated their simple generosity greatly.

When they finished eating, the Monk asked them how they managed to survive in such an isolated place, so far away from the nearest town. The wife told how they managed to survive. “We have one cow. We sell her milk to our neighbours who do not live too far away. We keep enough for our needs and to make some cheese and cream – that is what we eat.”

The next morning, the Monk said his goodbyes and set out to continue his journey. Not far from the family’s little hut, he came across the cow. The Monk pondered for a moment before leading the cow to the edge of a nearby cliff and pushing it over the edge.

Several years later the Monk again passed that way and found himself on the same road where he found lodging so many years ago. Driven by a sense of curiosity he decided to visit the family. He rounded the curve in the road and to his surprise, he saw a splendid mansion, surrounded by landscaped gardens, in the place where the little hut used to be. The Monk knocked on the door. The father of the poor family answered, now well-dressed and looking healthy. He recognized the Monk immediately and invited him in, inviting him to stay as a guest.

While they ate, the Monk asked what had changed in the years that had passed. The father explained how the family’s fortune changed. “You know, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn’t own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we didn’t know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.”