8 Elul 5776
by Susan Sherman
This summer I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in China with 180 fellow martial artists. We spent time traveling to Shanghai, the Wudang Mountains, Dengfeng and Beijing. We visited the usual tourist sights and trained with extraordinary martial arts masters who specialized in Shoalin Kung Fu karate and Tai Chi (2 different styles of martial arts).
What struck me as most meaningful about this experience was that during our martial arts training, focus and introspection were key components of our practice. Not only is there physical training, the mental preparation is just as important. With the High Holidays around the corner I thought about the connection between my Jewish spiritual self and my martial arts self. One might think they are polar opposites; however for me they are intertwined.
In preparation of the High Holidays we think deeply about the year and how we can improve ourselves. Can we spend more time listening to others, G-d, and oneself to strive to be a better person?
I sense that the process of enhancing the development of my Jewish spirituality is just like the development of my martial arts; it requires effort, contemplation, examination, and attention. I find these guide me to listen, learn and progress to improve myself; as a result I am more immersed in Judaism and I dig deeper into karate training.
May you find yourself lost in thought during these High Holidays with focus and introspection. Find your inner Ch’i (Chinese – material energy, life force) and Ruach (Hebrew – material energy, life force). Yes, I think they are interwoven.