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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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A few months ago, Mark Thompson reviewed Aaron Hoopes’ DVD ‘The Art of Zen Yoga - Daily Warm up’ and after reading and publishing the review I was very eager to read Hoopes’ new book ‘Zen Yoga – A Path to Enlightenment through Breathing, Movement and Meditation’.


Emma and I feel that supplementary supportive training to go with our karate is very important. Core to the ability to smoothly move, deliver waza, and generate power is the ability to use the correct muscles effectively. In this sense, exploring the ideas set forward by Hoopes is very useful and interesting, as I’m sure, as so many have suggested, this type of training can definitely enhance your ability to deliver karate techniques.


Zen Yoga ‘Combines the mindful serenity of Zen meditation; graceful, flowing movements of Tai Chi; the dynamic breathing of Qigong; and the peaceful stretching of Shanti Yoga.’ Hoopes then goes onto say ‘Zen Yoga is a path to discovering the power that exists within you’. This is clearly a profound study; rich in physical, metal, spiritual and philosophical purpose. This book ‘is a concise manual for training’.


As the book clearly states, this book is divided into 3 destinct sections; ‘Mind’, ‘Body’ and ‘Spirit’; each with specific chapters. For example, Part 1 ‘Mind’ has chapters such as ‘Eastern Philosophical Traditions’ and ‘Zen Yoga Fundamentals’. These chapters are then further broken down. For example, the latter covers sections such as ‘Chakras’ and all of the necessary information, ‘Chi Energy’, ‘Yin and Yang’, ‘The 5 Elements’, ‘The Eight Limbs of Yoga’ and ‘The Tao’.


This book is incredibly thorough, and bursting with Hoopes’ obvious passion for this practice. There are fascinating sections of the book dedicated to breathing, which will be of great use to the karateka. To compliment the excellent and through text comes the beautiful illustration demonstrations by Hoopes himself and Rita.


With clear, precise descriptions enhanced with great photography, this beautifully illustrated book brings to life Hoopes’ deep knowledge, experience and enthusiasm for Zen Yoga.


It presents so many exercises, methods and examples of stretches that will undoubtedly enhance your karate, as it will develop flexibility, muscular control and understanding of the body.


I must admit that I am a complete amateur when it comes to these types of disciplines. My own experience within the Martial Arts however has given me a definite instinct about what’s good and what’s bad, and this is certainly the former.


Hoopes of course is no unknown in karate. As a former resident of the Famous Hoitsugan under the tutelage of Masatoshi Nakayama former Chief Instructor of the JKA. As an experienced karateka, he openly combines both studies, which excellently work together.


Of course, there are so many reasons why people may turn to Zen Yoga in their lives. Stressful jobs, a lack of physical activity (as the book covers) can often be reasons why people may seek this type of practice. We must also not neglect those who want to seek spiritual fulfilment however, and I’m sure students of Hoopes will say that this is a wonderful road to follow if this is indeed what you seek. I myself would be very enthusiastic about seeking this type of practice to enhance my karate skill. Sometimes I feel tight or a little rigid so I’ll be interested in seeing how Zen Yoga will help me. I will report back.


I will definitely be using this book in the coming weeks to go hand-in-hand with my karate and I am very eager to use to as a support to enhance my training. I would highly recommend that others also do the same.


Shaun Banfield