We live in a supermarket of ideas, faiths, practices, theories, ideologies, and much else besides. Never in human history have there been so many movements and ideas struggling to attract our attention. Added to this, the Western world is swamped by material goods and the Western mind is dominated by the goal of material success. In all this confusion, Zen stands out as a voice of sanity. It represents a different way of seeing the world, one based upon the rediscovery of who we really are and have always been, through revealing to us our true nature.
Zen, like life, defies exact definition, but its essence is the experience, moment by moment, of our own existence -- a natural, spontaneous encounter, unclouded by the suppositions and expectations that come between us and reality. It is, if you like, a paring down of life until we see it as it really is, free from our illusions; it is merely a divestment of ourselves until we recognize our own true nature.
In their pure form, the martial arts demand the intense awareness of the meditative mind, and have nothing to do with anger or wanton aggression. A practitioner is taught from the outset that the skills must never be used for personal gain, but only in self-defence or in the protection of others -- and even then only enough force as is absolutely necessary should be used.