The other day I was sitting at home, listening to rain bounce off of my tin roof (I live in an old farmhouse). It was clamorous. The rain came down hard and panged in quick succession. Eventually, as the rain hardened even further, I could no longer detect distinct drops; it became an incomprehensible white noise.

Rain coming off of a tin roof

I went through a couple of mental progressions while listening to this shower. At first, I decided that people (myself included, of course) can be a lot like rain on a tin roof – zephyrs of unfocused energy just chattering and chattering and chattering. Making as much noise as we can simply because we can. In the end, just as the rain leaves the roof unaffected, we have made no impact.

After that, I thought – sometimes we are the roof. No matter how much knowledge, or fact, or opinion is presented before us, we close off and force it to bounce away. Ultimately, we are no better for the experience.

When it comes to the martial arts, we are presented with the same rain and roof possibilities. When in the dojo, we have the chance to rain – by that I mean flurry around throwing kicks, making throws, and bellowing kiai. We can zip to and fro, building up a sweat and dominating opponents. But ultimately, when we walk out the door, the dojo is no different than when we came. We made no impact.

We also have the chance to be martial arts tin. Instead of focusing on bettering ourselves, we can close everything off – especially if it feels like it would change us. It’s very easy for us to be satisfied with what we know, and stay stagnant (maybe even rust!)

Personally, I would like to avoid both of those things. Instead, I would like my martial arts training (and life) to be like rain in the forest.

As the forest, we can absorb all of what is happening around us. This is comparable to zanshin, but in a less aggressive state than normally interpreted. Furthermore, we can use the knowledge and opinions of others to grow, even if it isn’t always a complete agreement of minds.

Lastly, and most importantly, as the rain we can help others grow. We needn’t make an uproarious racket – simply provide the forest with something it needs.

Rain in the forest