Uranus, Alienation, and the Martial Arts by Lynn Finger

I will begin this article with the story of Yamaoka Tesshu, Master Swordsman and folk hero of Japan.1 The year was 1864. Yamaoka Tesshu had finally met his match. At age 28, Tesshu was the best swordsman in Japan. He was young, fast, and strong and confident from thousands of fights where he had emerged the victor – but this day was different. This one day changed his life forever. On this day, he crossed swords with Asari Gimei. Asari Gimei was a Master Swordsman who was traveling through Tesshu’s area at the time. He directed his own school and was known for his great skill with the sword. Tesshu could not resist this opportunity to face Asari in a match, and Asari agreed. Although Asari was twelve years older than Tesshu and smaller in size, he skillfully turned aside Tesshu’s powerful attacks. The battle lasted half a day. Finally, Asari scored a clean, unblocked strike, breaking Tesshu’s bamboo chest protector; Tesshu had to concede victory to his opponent.2 In those days, tradition dictated that a martial artist became the student of the one who had defeated him. So Tesshu became Asari’s student. Thus started a 17-year period in Tesshu’s life where he found himself being terrorized by his undefeatable teacher. Asari, in spite of his greater age and smaller stature, possessed a fighting ability that Tesshu could not equal. In their first practice match, Asari forced Tesshu backward all the way across the training hall, out the door, and into the street. Then Asari knocked him down and slammed the door in his face.3 Tesshu was troubled by nightmares about his teacher and shaken by his own fear; he searched deeply within his training and his meditations for a way to free himself from this bondage. This took the better part of two decades. Had he given up, he would not be the multifaceted folk hero of Japan that he is today – revered as a Buddhist, calligrapher, swordsman, politician, and philanthropist. His way to freedom was truly a Uranian achievement, but even more telling is that how he came to this freedom – and how he found himself in bondage in the first place – is a Uranian story. The story of Tesshu has everything to do with what I want to explore about Uranus and the martial arts. The Birth Data and the Challenge During the eight years that I have been involved in the martial arts, I have collected 27 birth charts of martial artists, who have trained anywhere from three years to a lifetime in both hard and soft styles.4 The data sources of these birth charts are rated "A" in the Lois Rodden Rating System: accurate information from the actual person involved. I wanted to see whether any common astrological factors existed among my fellow martial artists.

but I have chosen to examine our unexpected guest. Out of the 15 charts with a known birth time. Uranus contacts to the angles occurred more often than those of either Mars or Pluto (Mars had five contacts to the angles. As would be expected in the charts of martial artists. there is no source of origin. a wide Moon-Mars conjunction. the Uranian individual is identified as someone who has Uranus aspecting the Moon or Mars or the angles. I couldn’t deny that it played a part in the charts of my fellow martial artists. trine. I am not overlooking the role of such warrior energies as Mars and Pluto. I saw Uranus at play. Jackie Chan’s Sun is trine Pluto and square Uranus. For the purpose of this article. but I didn’t understand ." Bruce Lee. and a Mars-Pluto square.) Out of these 27 charts. I did not consider it that important in the martial arts scheme of things. he might have also had the Moon conjunct Mars and sextile Uranus. square. or the angles. Bruce Lee’s birth data are listed in Lois Rodden’s AstroDatabank and rated "AA" (from birth records). eleven had a Sun-Pluto contact. primarily in its connections to the Moon and to Mars and also to the angles – sometimes multiple connections in different charts. I will focus. the Uranus symbology just did not seem to fit the martial arts tradition. on the role of Uranus in the lives of martial artists. however. Uranus. therefore. Pluto showed his face. just to experiment. in charts where the birth time is unknown. opposition. Uranus has definite contact with the Moon. and his planetary energies are focused in a stellium in the 11th (Aquarian/Uranian) house. particularly in aspect to the Sun and Mars. would be this prominent in the makeup of a martial artist. The birth data for the three other men are rated "C" in the Rodden Rating System: "Caution. Chuck Norris has Uranus sextile his Sun and conjunct Mars. Then. Still. had a Mars-Uranus sextile. But I found something unexpected in this warrior mix – Uranus. In the birth charts of the majority of these martial artists. and nine had Mars-Uranus aspects.Not surprisingly. and sextile – in my analysis. In all of these charts. Pluto had seven). Mars (the Warrior) and Pluto (the Intrepid Soul) must have their say. and I want to try to explain the intriguing presence of Uranus. I searched the Internet and found the birthdays of famous martial artists Bruce Lee. I didn’t suspect that Uranus. nine had Uranus aspecting the Ascendant or Midheaven. The Moon-Uranus connection predominated. depending upon his time of birth. Jackie Chan. and Jet Li. featuring a Sun-Pluto trine. who established the School of the Sword of No. thirteen had Moon-Uranus connections. our l9th-century swordsman. Although I myself have a Moon-Uranus conjunction. and eleven had a MarsPluto contact. the planet of shocking change and individuality. Out of these 27 charts. Mars. as one might imagine. his Uranus aspects his Midheaven. the MoonUranus aspects might not be in orb. Somehow. Jet Li has the Sun and Moon square Uranus and aspecting Pluto. 5 Even Tesshu. has a dynamic birth chart. The Martial Arts Connection with Uranus At first. (I use the "common" aspects – conjunction. Chuck Norris.Sword.

Respect him. Does this fit the usual Uranian personality? We can easily get hung up on the images that seem to contradict the Uranus archetype. a maverick. When I examined these birth charts. working just as hard to prepare. Imagine for a moment that you are in your training hall. the internal battle of thought trying to control itself. Honoring tradition? That didn’t fit either. Uranians do not fit the mold – they break it. Uranus is the Rebel. It has to do with the story of Master Swordsman Tesshu and his determination to defeat his opponent. producing outside itself a world of conflict and violence. possibly a scientist. If you try to make the Uranian fit into a routine job or schedule... but they can be just as self-centered as their polar opposite. as in war . is not done with weapons or with the body but with the mind. perhaps. always a revolutionary. beliefs. and you feel empathy toward yourself. I know I did. Fighting. 6 In The Tao of Sports. They are actually allowing themselves to be changed by an art that is thousands of years old. too. and how we see ourselves is what we project upon our "enemy": Do you see your opponent as your enemy? Do you suspect his motives? Do you underestimate his worth? If so. for the mind is divided and is in a state of conflict. then. Uranian people can be all-embracing humanitarians. mistrusting. Leo. I couldn’t get around this apparent contradiction. For a while.how.. or typical friendships. and they probably wear a belt also. using the same tools. Uranus does not conform. Who Is the Enemy? Terrence Webster-Doyle. The opponent is. Genius? Definitely. He’s your mirror: he’s striving for what you’re striving for. Uniforms? That didn’t fit. but purposely alienating others. Feel compassion toward him. Uranus led the French Revolution. indicating the rank that they have earned through patience and sweat and by facing their own limitations.. however. training just as hard as you are (maybe even harder). Respect for a hierarchy of ranking? No way. and lifestyles. I began to fashion another image of Uranus. Uranus is the Pathfinder. of course. author of Karate: The Art of Empty Self. but I finally figured it out. you’ll end up disliking. a traditional marriage. writes: And who is the enemy? It may seem that the enemy is another. you’ll get frustrated pretty fast. 7 . with individualistic or nonconformist dress. the enemy is one’s self. are fellow martial artists. it seems. the Way-shower. Bob Mitchell writes that how we see our opponent is ultimately how we see ourselves. dedicated to pursuing the martial art of your choice. The stereotypical Uranian individual is eccentric. himself. and overestimating yourself. They. Beside you.. and you respect your own efforts. are wearing the loose pajama-style clothing that martial artists always wear. Full of new ideas. to perform. Uranus follows no orders.

therefore. Such continual expressions of individualism and the desire for freedom can lead to feelings of separation and alienation in a Uranian person. from Clarissa Pinkola Estes to Don Miguel Ruiz. a transit eventually ends. and Taoism regard the universe as one inter-connected reality. this feeling of separation from the world? Uranus represents shock and change. she rightly identifies the Uranus challenges as Abandonment. As a practicing Buddhist. it means you lack true insight. it can seem as though we experience this transit energy daily. Think about it: Just one zap from a Uranus transit can awaken us to realize how stifled we feel in our lives.What is said here is not new to us: We are interconnected. such as the Outcast and the Loner. misunderstood. and there is no place we can stand outside of it. and revolution. Buddhism. without knowing where to turn. we can see that alienation is a very real force in their lives. in a natal chart. we have a sense of loneliness and alienation. Well. Phyllis Firak-Mitz wrote an excellent article on Uranus that was published in The Mountain Astrologer. we see others. . straining at our bonds. When we get beyond the surface images of the Uranian archetypes (Genius. We are not separate from those who oppose us. But for those of us born with a Uranus aspect. 10 Here is a planetary energy that embodies change. and Aloneness. detachment and going one’s own way. The scary monster guarding the treasure is always within us. yet. They said. In this article. we can defeat the enemy outside ourselves only when we defeat whatever it is inside of us that frightens us. Alienation. Sometimes. disconnected from those around us. which we all form a part of. Uranian emphasis can indicate an openness to everything and." 8 In essence. we see ourselves everywhere. dissatisfied. Uranus contacts in a natal chart can symbolize a need for freedom so extreme that it can lead to detachment from others. desires. Tesshu had Zen masters who gave him koan after koan to solve. Paul Wildish points out: "The ancient faiths of Hinduism. disconnected. to help him with his fear of his intimidating teacher. wanting a change. We may feel restless. We may feel trapped and restless. And therefore. and needs exactly replicated in those who are there to mirror us. There is no real ‘self’ apart from this universal oneness." 9 Feeling Separate: A Uranian Dilemma How can Uranus aspects reflect this lack of true insight. sudden insight. outside of our loneliness. Revolutionary) and explore the emotional framework of such individuals. how many times have we read that the pot of gold – which we strive to grasp outside of ourselves – is always within us. and struggling to be a part of something that takes us outside of ourselves. torn in different directions. too. it more often represents the emotional residue of genius and individualism – feelings of alienation and aloneness. Alienation is the bugaboo of those with a Uranus aspect. as we see ourselves. an unwillingness to commit to any one thing. leading to the expression of other faces of Uranus. we see our own failings. "If an opponent frightens or confuses you. From the works of Carl Jung to those of Jean Shinoda Bolen.

I call her chart "The Dragon’s Pearl. one cannot imagine her in a school of predominantly female students. Chart 2 is that of a woman who has studied a hard style of martial arts for many years (see footnote 4) in a school dominated by men. Uranus widely conjoins the Midheaven in inspirational fire. Chart 1 is the natal horoscope of a man who has studied soft-style martial arts (see footnote 4) for nearly two decades. We could speculate on the unconscious actions. This woman has stated that she wants to be perceived as a woman. Uranus not only trines the Moon but also squares Mars. sometimes sleeping among its jewels and other times raging at its restriction.Firak-Mitz points out in her article that Uranian-influenced individuals can actually create their own sense of alienation by (1) focusing on differences." Yes. In their search for freedom. but still with the same outcome: healing. training and fighting with them but seldom if ever acknowledged for her efforts. Uranian people thus attempt to heal the feelings of separation. I would like to propose that Uranian individuals are attracted to the martial arts to heal. of being an outsider. in particular. which indicates a certain ability to erase the outlines of self. (2) being rebellious." nothing to be fought. and (3) choosing to feel abandoned. or at least to resolve. without the martial arts. But if the Midheaven is what we "look up to" (literally). then this martial artist looks up to a Uranian ideal. no less). This is the Uranian process of overcoming the enemy of alienation (emotionally) through the realization that there is "no enemy. of having been abandoned. in Cancerian water (in the 11th house. who is truly oneself. so the Uranian impulse toward connection – the annihilation of alienation – reinvents itself again and again. so this man is capable of feeling alienation and yet also creating it." It is notable for its 12th-house stellium. and to subdue the opponent. as a dragon crouched in a cave. even while she works hard in a school that caters to men. And yet. like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the fire that both feeds and consumes it. He has stated that. This man has studied many different forms of martial arts. With Uranus-ruled Aquarius on this man’s Undersky (the IC). he would probably stay home alone. The martial arts keep him "connected" – to the outside world and to himself. they are led to the martial arts. I like to think of her Sun-Pluto conjunction. Her Mars-Uranus aspect continues to lead her into realms . these feelings of alienation and aloneness. I call this chart "The Phoenix. and dreams that may influence this woman’s life. its way to freedom: the lovely Mars-Uranus conjunction. the dragon has its eye on the pearl. rising over the horizon. we can posit that the very underpinnings of his emotional makeup require a lifelong project of resolving his issues around freedom and alienation. The 12th house hardly seems like the best place for such Plutonian power. the Midheaven is where Uranus dwells. because the school is a very traditional one that views women as not really belonging in the martial arts at all. however. Somehow. leading this woman to act in the most impossible ways – being a woman among all these men. nothing to be separate from. perhaps not with conscious awareness of their purpose. Neptune is on the eastern horizon (Ascendant). fears. or at least not in certain styles. shunning company.

and you can never experience life in its true joy. and defeat held no meaning.. at best." 11 That day was March 30. Asari’s sword frightened him no more. 12 Natal Uranus aspects are static (symbols of a moment frozen in time). and training hard at his sword. you are approaching the problems of the world as if they were external to yourself. Tesshu’s Victory: Triumph over Alienation Tesshu’s victory was a Uranian triumph. And the Uranian individual is moved to pursue and rediscover this profound realization again and again. which truly resides in the self. knowing that Tesshu had reached the state of "no enemy. Tesshu found out how to defeat his enemy. As soon as he crossed swords with his teacher. This concept of "no enemy" may seem too easy or even too ridiculous to understand at first glance. however. . solving koans. Joshu Sasaki Roshi writes: By affirming the individual [and separate] self . perceiving another person as different can be an example of alienation in one’s life. in the final truth. you must see the person facing you not as your enemy but as your friend. 1880. loneliness.. total awakening had now come. there was no enemy. Tesshu’s enlightenment caused him to realize that. Yet. To kill the alienation. and Tesshu had just experienced transiting Uranus opposite his natal Uranus – a time of awakening and accomplishment for many. You are enslaved by it. When Tesshu freed himself from his imprisoning focus on his opponent. thus confronting and resolving her feelings of separation all at once.") But this concept is even harder to experience in reality. but also be acknowledged for her difference. Asari retired. he was 45 years old." Tesshu had finally come to know that there was no opponent outside of himself to defeat.where she must prove herself. Tesshu ran down to the training hall to test his new understanding. they also represent a process of moving away from the recognition of alienation and toward unity. When you are sparring with someone who will most certainly cause you pain if you do not protect yourself. ("When you spar. Tesshu wrote. and it could sound too simple-minded to put into practice. The degree of transformation required to perceive that there is no enemy at all – even when sparring or in swordplay – is profound. There had never been one. After many years of sitting in meditation.. "Like pure dew reflecting the world in crystal clarity. Since you only experience the world as external to you and you are never unified with it. where she must not only be different... When Tesshu reached this enlightenment. his own martial art helped him to master his perception of separateness. It took Master Swordsman Tesshu 17 years to free himself from his fear of his opponent. To kill the opponent. His spiritual force was unbeatable. and Tesshu became the new master of their school. the idea of "no enemy" is an academic thought. This is indeed a moment belonging to a Uranian individual or a Uranus transit. then you are forever seeking the world. Asari put down his weapon and acknowledged Tesshu as the victor.

The Uranian individual has the ability to hold these contradictions within. phrased it this way: "I am the Universe . 106°W39’).." 13 I believe that many Uranian individuals are drawn to the martial arts for the very purpose of shattering their feelings of being apart. Hence. they will pursue years of training. MST (31°N45’. 1960. 1949.m. The martial arts. July 14. O Sensei. 1:30 p. he is already defeated. Mr. MST (35°N05’. to finally defeat their most fearsome enemy: themselves. as did Tesshu. (I would like to thank my friend and teacher. to experience them as reality." How can something be something it is not? How can it be real? The Neptune archetype seems better equipped. Toward this end. when an enemy tries to fight with me. are the universe. (The sources for the data of both of these anonymous charts are birth certificates. August 4.toward the true understanding that people are not separate from one another. Our discussions were the jumping-off point for many of the ideas in this article. and to express them. 7:00 a. and alienated and to realize that they.. to handle this seeming vagueness.) Chart Data and Sources Chart 1.) . at the moment he has the mind to fight with me. too. the universe itself. Aaron Kravetz. which emphasize blending with the opponent and obliterating the self. founder of aikido. for leading me to consider my connection to the martial arts on a deeper level. perhaps. And the martial arts is an ideal vehicle for this Uranian process. Is This Real? It is easy to get hung up on an exotic form of Zen-speak when we talk of the "enemy of no enemy. 106°W29’). but I like to posit that the Uranus connection gives one the ability to deal with this apparently conflicting reality – to walk the razor’s edge of knowing and not-knowing – by facing the enemy and realizing that the enemy is not there and never was. he has to break the harmony of the universe. alone. can enable Uranian individuals to gain that understanding.m. Chart 2.