It is a historical journey that begins where it should, the birthplace of the martial arts at Shaolin Temple and ends at the Budokan in Japan. Over two years in the making, this is an epic account of today’s greatest martial arts teachers and the mind connection that exists between them regardless of their very diverse styles.
Taking a giant leap from the traditional martial arts of Japan to Chinese kungfu may seem improbable but the connection is much closer than you may think, especially in the daily practice. As we weave our story between the two countries and the various martial arts you begin to realize that the teachers in our interviews often overlap and repeat each others words… though they may be generations apart and thousands of miles from each other, in spirit and philosophy they are the same. “We try to see the origin of ourselves, not just Chinese, American or Japanese but as a being that is part of the universe” says Warrior Monk ShiDeRu of the Shaolin Temple… “The emptiness of the mind is linked to the body’s energy that is colorless… it’s nothingness.”
To illustrate the mind-body connection we take you into the daily practice of each martial art. You will step inside the Aikido Headquarters in Japan and the JKA and JKS Shotokan Karate Honbu Dojos to experience the daily training. Witness the power of bushido as you sit ringside at the Japan Kendo Championships or the zen concentration of the archer in the Japan Kyudo championships.
In this sense, The Empty Mind is not just for martial artists, but for anyone who wishes to improve themselves both spiritually and physically in order to find happiness in their every day life.
Featuring: Moriteru Ueshiba, Masahiko Tanaka, Masao Kagawa, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Teruyuki Okazaki, Monk Shi DeYang, Master Zhang Shengli, Master Yuan, Master Zhong, AJKF Kendo and the ANKF Kyudo Federations. This Version is remastered with surround sound and in widescreen format. Soundtrack composed and performed by Richard Brookens of Yellowbell and available on CD.
Every now and then you round a corner in life and get smacked in the face by a couple of ideas or products that share a common theme. In my case, it was a pair of DVD’s one of which is titled, The Empty Mind: The Spirit and Philosophy of Martial Arts. Some might say it was serendipity that brought them to my desk on the same day, but I prefer to think it was more mundane: The Martial Arts have come of age!
I’ll talk about The Empty Mind first. Several weeks ago, a Kenpo black belt named James Bennett dropped off the DVD for me to watch. I asked him if it was another one of those amateur efforts. He insisted it wasn’t. So I gave it a look. I must say I was impressed. It certainly wasn’t a collection of home movies. It is a coherent production that was professionally filmed in Japan and China. Crafted by Jon Braeley, of Empty Mind Films, it profiles practitioners of Aikido, Karate, Kendo, Kyudo, Shaolin Kingfu, Tai Chi and Wushu as they plied their trade in the dojo and at tournaments. The styles were presented as artistic endeavors that steel the character and build the body no matter what age the student. The production was proof positive that filmmakers now view the martial arts as legitimate pursuits that are worthy of the finest documentary treatment. This could be shown on the National Geographic Channel tonight and no one would suspect that it was not a multi-million dollar project helmed by Hollywood heavyweights. On a more personal note, this documentary rekindled my fire for the Asian ways of combat. In this age of mixed martial arts, when all that matters is the destination, this film reinforces the notion that in life it’s the journey that really counts. Editorial from Robert W. Young, executive Editor, Black Belt Magazine.