Please take a moment to read this post first, i.e. "A Different Perspective," before diving into this blog. Your comments, suggestions and participation are greatly appreciated.

Please take a look at Notable Quotes, enjoy.

Please take a look at the bibliography if you do not see a proper reference to a post.

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Defining Survival

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

When you hear the word I would guess that it triggers specific pictures in your mind and I would go on to bet that many of those visualizations are from the entertainment industry, i.e., movies, television and books, etc. Am I right?

Defining survival is a bit more involved, survival in a narrow sense according to the dictionaries is, “the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances; Survival is the act of surviving; to stay living; Survival skills, safety techniques used in dangerous situations; and then the definition provides examples in categories:”
  • Survival Analysis, a statistical technique to analyze longevity.
  • Survival rate, the percentage of people who are alive for a given period of time.
  • Survival skills, safety techniques used in dangerous situations.
  • Survival companies, organizations, bands, literature, etc.
In a fundamental way, survival is about:
  • Walking across the street without getting hit by a car.
  • Seeking a job that will pay enough wages to live, i.e., eat, have shelter, etc.
  • Developing character and personality skills to get along with others especially in our group, tribe, clan, family, etc.
  • Developing coping skills to live safely and securely.
  • Eating, exercising and developing an attitude that gets along with others. 
  • Gaining knowledge and understanding of survival especially as it is regard to conflict and violence - at all levels.
    • Conflict and violence from a discussion of a difference of opinion.
    • Conflict and violence from a heated discussion that may escalate into an angry exchange with loud voices up to shouting and posturing to demonstrate one’s commitment to the subject.
    • Conflict and violence where one used physical forces to communicate through damage and harm their commitment to some subject, etc.
Note: These bullet points are examples and not a complete, comprehensive or exhausting list. It is to convey the idea that survival spans a wide spectrum beyond what you might have pictured when you read the first paragraphs. 
  • Going to the store to purchase food, i.e., a form of hunter and gatherer where gatherer dominates by the act of shopping, etc.
  • Performing or engaging in activities that mimic or symbolize acts our species uses as primal reflexes toward a base survival. 
  • etc. etc. etc.
Yes, every day living efforts of all kinds, conditions, culturally driven social needs and services all fill the needs of our species toward, survival. It is the human ability to be aware then process stimuli through perceptions as to experiences accumulated in our environment so that we may make distinctions accordingly to act in appropriate acceptable social ways to avoid, deescalate, etc., those conflicts and violences that would hinder our continued survival and create obstacles to our evolutionary processes, also about survival. 

What we do focus on in martial arts and karate is survival skills and as with the above definition, “Survival skills, safety techniques used in dangerous situations,” we may also trigger specific visual-images also from entertainment media that do not span the full spectrum. We assume that safety techniques involve those technique-based instructions when in reality survival skills for safety and security involve communications skills for avoidance and deescalation, actions taken to avoid physical conflict such as turning away or walking away or running if the situation allows and then there are those methods and force options we take when things do go into the physical. 

Take for instance the teaching of fighting skills. It is often glossed over or simply avoided that fighting is illegal regardless of the level and forces used so even a school yard scuffle to communicate and convey information between two persons is considered illegal. Fighting skills are aggressive and aimed toward grave harm. Fighting skills are those necessary actions and deeds only used when the other avenues of conflict resolution are exhausted. Yet, fighting skills to modern martial arts and karate, even under the heading of self-defense, are sports competitive fights and have nothing beneficial to do with a predatory process/resource attack out of the dojo, out of the competitive arena and especially out of the entertainment and philosophical way. 

Once a long time ago while riding a deuce-n-half to the field I noticed a peculiarity in the engine, the way the vehicle moved and the efforts of the drive that the engine had a, “Governor,” on it. A governor is a device that stops acceleration of the engine/vehicle when certain conditions are reached such as a set top speed. It was an effort by the organization to control and govern how the drivers drove the vehicle with emphasis on safety through conditions set to ensure no one exceeded the speed limit. You can call it an inhibitor or a restriction set by device or any number of other descriptive words but in the end it was a form of social conditioning. 

Social conditioning is not something the individual can avoid, mostly. It is something, like the installation of a vehicle governor that is put in place without the driver’s consideration but as a control, an involuntary control, instead of training and other incentives to get drivers to voluntarily control their impulses so they stay within the speed limits. 

Social conditionings can be similar and if those creating and instituting such conditions themselves are unaware of what they don’t know and understand along with what they don’t know they don’t know and what they don’t understand they don’t know they don’t understand can lead to conditions and conditioning that does more harm than good. This seems to be where we are today even in the martial arts and karate for self-fense.

We just don’t know we don’t know this yet. 

Social conditions, conditioning along with rules both implicit and explicit must come from knowledge, understanding and experience. That means we have to take the uncomfortable and balance it with the comfortable. We have to accept that we don’t know and we don’t know what we don’t know so that we can communicate, discuss, debate and then decide as a society what is best for us toward our very survival. 

Extend this down into the microcosmic world of self-fense regardless of the systems used be it martial arts, karate or some other form of self-fense so that we talk, discuss, debate, etc., until a unified consensus is reached in creating a fundamental foundation that spans differences such as styles or systems or individual cultural belief systems. A neutral factual beneficial foundation that everyone can get behind for the benefit and survival of everyone and every tribe, clan or group. 

This is how I perceive and distinguish survival, survival that spans every aspect and facet of our human existence and drives every thing we say, do and believe regardless of differences, a foundation for survival through understanding and acceptance of a fundamental state of principles that are factual and unemotional in nature - logical, beneficial and neutral in nature. 

BELIEF: I firmly believe that “survival” is the very seed that spells out our species drives and those drives are conditioned in our environment as to the stimuli our sensory systems feed our brains. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Rule of Thumb

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

I write a lot, I do have opinions and ideas and theories and beliefs but in all that you may have perceived my pension to lean toward fundamentals and principles or in one view, “Fundamental Principles.” There is a reason I have gone this route and until I read the next quote in an article, you should click the link and read that article for clarity, it never occurred to me that his good rule of thumb really does explain fundamentals well enough to inspire interest and, hopefully, continued study, research and understanding. 

“A good rule of thumb is: A fundamental is something everyone -- regardless on their perspective on a subject -- can agree upon.” - Marc MacYoung, Breaking the Spin Cycle

When I read this, my hope became more, I hoped that in martial arts and karate communities although in separate tribes or clans called styles would see the very fundamentals that are style-less, holistic and embrace all styles regardless but what I fear is a thing called cognizant dissonance and conformation bias, to name the two primary ones, will obscure and block this fact and leave them in the current state of, “My style mentality.” 

I did not come to this conclusion quickly, it took time, effort and study to begin this paradigm shift. I don’t say or believe that we need to get rid of styles because we don’t, they are a most excellent human tool toward survival and they serve a purpose, i.e., “All bottles are good, they all serve a purpose.” Styles create social entities called dojo, tribes or clans as you wish and they provide a natural human conditioned survival reflex to collect into small groups conducive to learning, practicing and understanding of those like minded people that promote evolutionary improvement and change for progress. 

If only we can accept this rule of thumb, then apply it to everything martial arts and karate in all forms, and then see their value to our styles we can start to come together in a socially constructive way that would allow us to create cross-over fundamentals that would allow each style recognition, progress and to evolve - as a style with strong fundamentals and fundamental principles. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Strong Foundation

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

What comes to your mind the moment you hear someone reference having a strong foundation in karate or martial arts?  In most cases it is reference to assuming a strong connection with the ground as demonstrated by the sanchin dachi when performing sanchin kata. It is thought of as taking an appropriate kamae and rooting oneself down again to the earth, the ground. So much so that many sensei have taught or passed on such teachings as, “Lifting the toe,” alluding to a source of power generation also touted through the term and system called, “Chinkuchi.” 

Lets say many meme’s or platitudes abound on the subject of foundations such as the old Chinese saying, “To build a strong house, you must have a strong foundation.” Again, when you hear this what comes to mind? It is also thought of as taking a kamae and rooting oneself. This has led to many assuming that to take such a stance and root is how you generate power and force to the target. Is there something wrong with this way?

Yes, it is very limited and filled chock full of misunderstandings and inappropriate and ineffective applications. Lets discuss one in particular, to generate energy to power and force in a technique you need to move, move you mass in appropriate ways using appropriate fundamental principles along with appropriate applied force to get the job done. That does not come from rooting except in very specific ways, i.e., best example is moving using a drop step coordinated and sequenced along with application of a method, say striking or punching, to the target where mass and energy equal, through movement and the step, to power and force transmitted, so to speak, into your target - what ever that target may be. 

Then we do into the true depth and breadth of having a strong foundation:
  • A strong foundation in fundamental principles with a bit more emphasis on physiokinetics.
  • A strong foundation on knowing, understanding and applying principles based multiple methodologies and appropriate force levels. 
  • A strong foundation of a system rather than a goal oriented technique based set of memorized applications. 
  • A strong foundation of a philosophy representative of a cultural belief system driven by the needs and conditions of the self, family and especially of a social entity. 
  • A strong foundation of understanding of concepts such as the OODA process including especially the, “Data-mining, analysis, hypothesis and synthesis toward your system.” 
  • A strong foundation of health, fitness, intestinal fortitude, honor, attitude and application of your system. 
  • A strong foundation of training, practices and applications of your system based on karate and martial arts, etc.
  • etc.
As can be readily seen one can now perceive that foundation in the traditional sense needs some adjustment while opening the mind beyond the basic, initial and limited understanding of foundations in karate and martial arts to include the many facets of foundational solidity to also include spirit, character and personality conducive to apply the full spectrum of self-fense and combatives by professionals. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

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Friday, March 10, 2017

On teaching!

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

I read a really wonderful and enlightening article this morning, i.e., 08:44 hours on 10 March 2017, from Mr. Rory Miller at his blog, “Chiron.” A link is provided below and you should read it in its entirety along with understanding that what I write in the following are my ideas about what he wrote as to how to be a good, solid and dependable Sensei. Here is the list I extracted from my reading as to my understanding at this moment of writing (for I reserve the rights to change as I study things a bit more and gain some experiences and better understandings).
  • “A good teacher doesn't tell you what to think, but shows you how to think.”
  • “It's about the student, not the instructor.”
  • “Provide a minimal example and demonstrate it so you can start, then practitioners can go play.” 
  • “The ability of the instructor is irrelevant, the training and practice is all about increasing the ability of the student.”
  • “At the instructor level, knowledge is insufficient. You need understanding.”
  • “When instructors have just memorized technique, they don't have the tools to explain and are left with mere dogma. With understanding you can pass on the rules, and the exceptions, (Very little about right/wrong. Lots about better) to the students.”
  • “There are lots of good teaching reasons to stay away from criticism.”
  • “ … there is no appeal to authority.”
  • “Extraordinary instructors are cool with not trying to force the statistical average onto the outliers.”
  • “Just as there is a natural movement for a human body, there is also a natural learning. Humans, like all animals, learn best through play (even better is when humans play in groups). … playing, ideally in the real environment, is what locks in a skill.”
  • “ … some of the things closest to our evolutionary path are complex problems that require simple solutions. Play is the way we cut that Gordion knot.”
Now, as a means of possibly learning something toward a better understanding I may make some comments after each extracted quote given above and that has absolutely noting to do with what Mr. Miller wrote, ergo read the article and draw your own conclusions useful to you. This is an exercise in learning and as he indicates should be tempered, like tempering fine steel, with experiences toward understanding. 

Some background: I have some experience and expertise as an, “Instructor,” and some as a, “teacher,” but I now begin to understand that what I did in those days was limited, stunted and missing some very important traits that would have made me a better one. I did continue to study such things but, except in one case, never received a formalized training on how to teach, train and mentor. I was left to my own devices and learned by “OJT” and through observation of those leaders I worked with and for. 

I formally taught a basic job specialty course to newly minted Marine boots at Camp Lejeune for the first four years of service. I then changed into a special job that trained me extensively in methods of recruiting along with several civilian courses meant to sales and public speaking, etc. I then followed in a job speciality where teaching was a good part of that work while outside that realm I learned and taught Marines, later military and dependents, the more combative and self-defense aspects of karate from Okinawa. 

I later took up providing the services of a IT tech service support person who also used skills to teach workstation users how to use, maintain and secure IT devices. I also taught formally physical security requirements, processes and actions for staff working in a secure and classified environment. 

In short, I do have some background and experience yet the following still rang my bell in one way or form or another because it simply takes me out of the paradigm of past understanding directing me toward a better and improved way of, “Teaching, mentoring and leading.” In short, it adds a lot to my current, varied, skill set. So, with that said, “here we go.” 

Extracted Quote: “A good teacher doesn't tell you what to think, but shows you how to think.”

Comments: In a society where many ‘expect’ someone else to provide certain things for them along with the assumption that certain perceived rights means other things are provided especially when those perceived rights are thought to have been violated still confuses me because it means they have pretty much stopped learning and therefor tend to fail in understanding things in order to make their own decisions. 

Once, long ago, another black belt in a dojo where I was assisting in teaching said to me, “You explain too much, you should just demonstrate one time then let them go at it all on their own.” I thought about that for a few moments because I learned that I tend to jump in such situations and then I said something like, “Well, for them to learn and discover for themselves I do need to provide them with information that supports the actions demonstrated so they can think on their own how that all works - for them - and how that might work - in reality - then allow for the synthesis of questions and comments the entire dojo can address so we all learn to analyze as individuals while in a group we all take the analysis to higher levels so the group can synthesize something that benefits both the individual and group.”

I believe that what he was taught is that in Japan, the sensei doesn’t say much and expects the students through observation to learn. While that works for the Japanese due to their culture and beliefs that doesn’t work so well with Americans. The form of ‘shi-kata’ was established over many generations in Japan where kata are how they do everything, mostly, and since all things tend to be covered by patterned kata it is culturally understood that through observation one can learn, practice and come to understand how things are done without resorting to that harmony disturbing asking of questions we Americans need, want and require to learn. 

Because of shi-kata, Japanese learn by observation while we Americans learn by not just observation but through the use of our senses, if we are lucky, and through an exchange of communications and demonstrative effort by sensei, deshi, sempai and kohai relationships.  A bit of study of human anthropological studies explains how humans evolved where group exchanges and efforts lead to survival then we begin to understand how teaching, learning and understanding work with only changes and diversions brought about by the process itself according to the environment, group or tribal dynamics and cultural beliefs. 

Extracted Quote: “It's about the student, not the instructor.”

Comments: In my mind, humans get caught up in status, ego and perceptions from others all relating to that same status, ego and such other traits all related to tribal group dynamics of, at a primal level, survival. This is especially difficult for those not exposed to brotherhood like connections found in a lot of the violence professions so they have to learn through social conditions and conditioning - assuming the social group has that knowledge and understanding. 

As teachers or instructors or mentors our most difficult trait is to stop looking at ourselves through the old monkey dancing egoistic brain and look outward to how we can service and provide knowledge and understanding to, “Those who follow.” If we are truly one of those who came before, Sensei, then we need to focus our attentions and efforts on that student who with doe like eyes of admiration and awe of a black belt looks to us for guidance, teaching and ability. 

If you teach, truly teach as a service to your students, then focus outward on them, not on how you look; how many students you can collect; not on how many accolades, awards and trophies you can get. Focus on them and adhere to proper, expert and authenticate teaching principles. 

Extracted Quote: “Provide a minimal example and demonstrate it so you can start, then practitioners can go play.” 

Comments: I can’t add to much here for me because I only recently realized just how critically important play is in this learning process. In my old life a certain serious stoic manner was the name of the game. My recent studies of the last decade have just begun to allow me to understand that such things are natural to our species toward our very survival. I avoided such things because I was an inward stoic person and that the connections in the dojo, much like tribal, were about a collective effort to learn things toward survival of that group including competitions such as done today for sport along with a collective communicative exchange that fosters our growth toward something evolving, if you will. 

Extracted Quote: “The ability of the instructor is irrelevant, the training and practice is all about increasing the ability of the student.”

Comments: In this I feel that because martial arts and karate are as physical, tactile, as it is most assume that one who teaches must be able to do as well as teach. Most of the schools I have known of look to see if the sensei has trophies and other trappings they feel indicate expertise and we who have a modicum of understanding know that more often than not those who have that may not be the best teachers. Sometimes, a good teacher who can communicate a concept, theory and principle can be ‘average’ in their own applications but understand that the student often can take it way beyond any level the teacher may have or done. 

I no longer get on the dojo floor, I have issues - no excuses. I did the dojo floor actively teaching for over two decades but now lean heavily, as to karate and martial arts, to the keyboard or as advisor in a dojo, without being deeply actively involved physically, to provide what services I can to assist students in their own discovery of their own way. Ergo, all my blogs and my participation in the current social media effort to pass on teachings, etc. 

Extracted Quote: “At the instructor level, knowledge is insufficient. You need understanding.”

Comments: Not just academic, but a visceral level of understanding that seems sometimes mystical, or better yet, “Primal.” I am taking my knowledge, past experiences or what I call my systems, and understandings, especially in the tactile world of karate and martial arts, to another mental-physical discipline to keep my faculties sharp (I am sixty-+ years along) that is much less tasking physically just so I can keep my mind sharp and actually use new knowledge to analyze, hypothesize and then synthesize skills toward teaching. 

I use the example of ‘golf’ with its long game, short game and mind games necessary to master that discipline but not actually golf. In golf, that at one time many decades past, appeared to the uninitiated to be a simple sport found after a time that actually it was a very, very difficult discipline. This discipline I am working on is similar that appearances and perceptions tend to give it that, “Child’s game,” view of the uninitiated. Since I began not long ago I have found this discipline to be as difficult as golf and even karate. 

Extracted Quote: “When instructors have just memorized technique, they don't have the tools to explain and are left with mere dogma. With understanding you can pass on the rules, and the exceptions, (Very little about right/wrong. Lots about better) to the students.”

Comments: I can now go back to my previous example of a fellow dan-sha who thought I was talking too much. The ability to answer questions and to explain things seems critical. It must come from within regardless of its source of either hands-on OJT experience, academics or even more critically from experienced professionals who, thankfully, give back by writing and teaching this stuff. 

One of the most difficult traits a teacher must discard from their tool box is this ego driven knee jerk reaction when something is asked of us that we truly don’t have an answer for and end up regurgitating fantasies to look good and maintain that presentation of black belt sensei. A true teacher knows they don’t know what they don’t know so I advocate a response of, “I don’t know and I will find out and get back with you!”

As a karate-ka and martial artist I know that even the most elder, the most advanced, the highest level of martial arts master and karate master cannot know all the answers to every question - we are human and that is not how our brains work. One reason groups are a human primal need, a reason why service to the group is critical toward survival and why the group dynamic of cooperation are so important because without it the species of us humans would not have evolved to the present state of life. 

Extracted Quote: “There are lots of good teaching reasons to stay away from criticism.”

Comments: I can only say that when I was doing some research on human social connectivity that the three things most caustic to human relations is, “Criticism (chronic is absolutely the worst), contempt and disgust.” When one, two or a mixture of the three is present, the relationship of humans is 98% doomed! So, criticism is one of those things if used sparingly and in such a way using influence compliance principles is a good tool but when used extensively and often - is destructive, caustic and dangerous especially in conflict with potential violence. 

Extracted Quote: “ … there is no appeal to authority.”

Comments: This takes me back to my military days of being an instructor. That was an easy task from one narrow perspective because in those days being in the military you had levels of authoritative power most outside of those domains would not understand. Students had to be there, they had to sit and listen (even if it never was heard or sunk in) and you, as the instructor (why I use this term in lieu of teacher) you simply spewed forth the material and as military expected them to follow orders and learn this stuff. Thankfully, things have changed a considerable amount since the early days of my military career. 

Ordering one to just practice basics is counter productive to learning and especially understanding. Think about that one for a while, you will come to a better understanding with a little effort, right? 

Extracted Quote: “Extraordinary instructors are cool with not trying to force the statistical average onto the outliers.”

Comments: Actually, no comment because I need to contemplate this one and re-read Mr. Miller’s article a bit while waiting for a continuation on his presentation of the subject. 

Extracted Quote: “Just as there is a natural movement for a human body, there is also a natural learning. Humans, like all animals, learn best through play (even better is when humans play in groups). … playing, ideally in the real environment, is what locks in a skill.”

Comments: Hey, I am just going to play with this one a while, have some fun, do a bit of research and testing then I can better present a understandable comment. ;-)

Extracted Quote: “ … some of the things closest to our evolutionary path are complex problems that require simple solutions. Play is the way we cut that Gordion knot.”

Comments: We, if I understand the anthropological stuff on this, tend to drive toward simplistic answers and actions to get things done. We naturally take the complex and work hard to break it down into simply terms but where I feel we drop the ball is when it comes time to take the many simplistic things and make them whole again - holistic so to speak as a whole. This is why I found the idea of analysis, i.e., breaking down of complexities to study, hypothesis so that one can be creative and finally after having some fun synthesize all the separate distinct renderings back into one whole thing that can be used. 

In closing, I really appreciate the work of professionals like Rory Miller, I like the exchange of ideas and theories and possibilities and I like providing my thoughts and mindless meanderings because after so many stoic steadfast adherence to standard dogma I find this new way kind of enlightening and learning has become a joy rather than a task that must be done - isn’t that kind of having fun?

Take a look, think about it, discuss this in your dojo and then come back and give me some data to crunch, it would be most appreciated!

Bibliography (Click the link)
Miller, Rory. “Vic and Toby.” Chiron Blog. Thursday, March 09, 2017.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Universe (Nature) has us in its Matrix

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

This may not be correct because it is limited to us and our planet, i.e., “ Phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.” We tend to forget that our planet is traveling at great speed through the very blackness of space within one of many galaxies also all speeding outward, it feels and appears to the sciences, taking us way out of the realm of nature into the realm of … what? 

Much like, or similar too, the movie, “The Matrix,” and its followup features humans are trapped in a software system that controls their lives in very interesting and unique ways making the movie an instant hit. So much symbolism and connections to our reality that we all can feel the DNA deep connection to its theme. But, what if the movie is closer to reality than we humans realize. What if, nature or the universe is only real because we are all in a matrix filling our minds with beliefs and fooling us into seeing, hearing, touching, feeling and tasting things that are just not there. So, much so, as our minds can already do, even the matrix like presentation to each mind can result in physical ramifications such as damage and death but, is it real or just the uni-matrix (universes matrix program). 

Consider that our minds, right now, see us as organic material with a life force and the ability to be sentient, is that really reality or is the uni-verse simply telling us it is as is the natural state of the human condition. You can or could really go nuts thinking of this shit but consider the discoveries found in the last hundred years such as, “There’s a study out there where scientists watching an fMRI could tell what decisions a subject would make as much as six-seconds before the subject consciously knew.” What the … 

Our brains are being fooled all the time and we tend to consider things as real that are manufactured by our minds to create a belief and existence that is somewhat comfortable, safe and secure yet if reality as it may be, according to our own minds exists, is not really reality but a uni-matrix effect of something far beyond our human ability to consider and perceive. Going nuts ….

Here, to ground ourselves in the subjects of my blogs, are articles I wrote about the matrix and how that plays out, philosophically speaking, in our disciplines of martial karate training and practices. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Style vs. System II or Why I Like “Ti (Te)!”

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Goju, Isshin, Shorin and its many factions and variations are all styles and that means they are all static or tied to one way, one person and one version of Ti. Ti, is just a symbol of a generic nature not tied to any one person, philosophy or way including individual perceptions and perspectives for it is so generic it falls under the heading of a, “System.” 

Ti, or Te in Japanese, is an excellent way to describe the indigenous system of self-civil-defense of Okinawa. It is and was considered a system because until individuals decided to make changes according to their individual perceptive distinctive ideology and philosophies then called them, “A Style,” the entire island in those early years didn’t differentiate according to any one person’s way but remained a way, a system, that the entire island depended on then one day, “Someone felt they had the answer, and they decided to teach it according to their way and because of egoistic influences needed to name it to fit their way.” 

To me, karate  is actually “Ti” without the segregation derived from naming styles. Ti is a system that works not on technique but on a system of principles, methodologies and force requirements that make it work in all situations, under all changes, in the face of chaos and without regard to any one thing but embraces all things in the arena of self-fense, fighting and combatives using the hand or hands. 

Te is a system while the various plethora of styles are … styles. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Styles vs. Systems

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Styles are like goals, goals are hard coded exact results of some activity used to reach said goal. Systems are not like goals, they are the very thing used to achieve better outcomes from said efforts regardless of what is set if goals were used. A system is that which allows change when one learns something of value as the system is run. To be in a system allows you to tame the chaos over time as you learn. A system is a process that allows you to learn where all the buttons, levers and obstacles lie as you apply the system. Goals set specific results and when the chaos of change through changing situations in the learning process occur it changes the path your on bypassing the goals fooling the practitioner into thinking they failed because, as required in a goal oriented dojo, they didn’t attain that goal. 

In a goal oriented dojo when those goals are not met it is always point out that the problem could be at either end, i.e., either being unrealistic or the performance was bad. Likened to, “Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.”

Systems are like, … systems! Goals drive styles, styles are like goals because they point to a specific way according to one perspective from one’s perceptions of a goal oriented way that is practiced and trained and TESTED. Goals are always tested for success or failure while systems are governed on continuous ongoing changing results. 

Styles are about techniques and basics and drills specified in detail and unchanged. Systems are about multiple principled based methodologies and multiple levels of force necessary to make the system operational and successful in the chaos of self-fense or sport competition or the combatives of hand-to-hand in combat. 

If one practices a style they are governed by the atomistic and accumulation of things and if one gets immersed in the system it lasts a life time embracing the changes of each moment and each situation and each successive time and environmental experience. A style is unchanged and held in dogmatic adherence to some tradition while a system lives and thrives in the chaos of nature, the Universe, Life and Chaos/Change. 

Some practice a style and take tests and earn belts and ranks and accolades while other involve themselves in a system that is not influenced and governed by goals, tests, trophies, accolades, belts or ranks. 

Why others fight so hard to maintain their styles or adherence to a style is to belong, why the rest work so diligently and continuously in a system is to, “Drain the swamp while angering the alligators and getting swamp water on our pants” to master the system independent of the needs provided in a style. 

Think, feel, breathe system; make the system yours; become one with the system; don’t allow obstacles, bindings or other things hold you static and stationary, allow freedom, creativity and progress to come using the system to achieve mastery, enlightenment and successes as an ongoing ever changing process. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Propagation of Misnomers (Misinformation to Misunderstanding)

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

These little tidbits of terms and often phrases meant to mislead and to misrepresent facts that are legends made up from stories of a more fictional nature then sold as true, factual and reality when in truth it is nothing more than a myth or folklore, etc. We humans often take reality and modify it into tales, fables fantasy or folk tradition meant to make history and such heritages and cultures more palatable to the listener because after all we all, us the human species, love a good story even if it is stretched a bit beyond reality.  No where is that more obvious to us in the martial arts and karate communities than in the stories told about our martial arts and karate. 

Some Examples of terms or quotes:
  • The word was  "Karate,” the Art of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
  • When asked of the Sensei, if he knew Karate, his answer was, yes! But, he would not teach it to the Marines because they would go out in town and use it on "each other".
  • There was nothing Sport about Karate in those days - it was Survival and the "Art" of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
  • Training involved firstly-fighting anybody, anywhere, anytime … This was my most effective way of training and learning, by feeling it! If it worked, you knew it because there was a casualty count.
  • Control in those days wasn't even discussed. The only control that counted was to control the hit to target with a measured strike that would either "Break" or "Incapacitate". 
  • You see, in the fight (hard-core, not for points) is where the real essence of the Art of Karate-Do comes into focus.
  • When you see someone stacking up to break or if it looks unbelievable, it is!
Now, I will be the first to say a good story, especially a locker room testerone driven story, are great to hear, cheer and drink beer too BUT when those same stories are used to teach those who are often gullible and easily impressed then maybe not so much. The above examples came from one source of a more aged perspective and when you take in the times and the environments and other such trappings you can see why things were done that way and the stories told in that manner - but there are a whole slew of newbies out there that would read this type of stuff and believe - not so good. 

The art of communications when it involves a person exposing themselves to possible grave harm or death, it is incumbent on us as teachers to present reality as best as humans can and teach from that point. I remember how we all thought that full contact karate, at the time, was brutal and in a way it was but to allude that by just adjusting one’s punch, strike or kick they can “Kill, Maim or Disable” an opponent or adversary is irresponsible to say the least and legally liable in my book if a practitioner goes out with that attitude and uses it only to find themselves in deep quicksand of the law and legal system. Here are those points again with my personal responses:
  • The word was  "Karate,” the Art of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
    • In my last forty years of study and research on karate I have not found one true factual acceptable source to say that karate is the art of maiming and killing. Yes, if used and applied correctly there is a possibility of causing great bodily harm, even grave, but the possibility of causing death is not directly related to the applied methods of karate but to things like gravity when one hits a person they often lose balance and fall resulting in grave harm or death when the head hits this unmoving hard stuff called Earth when covered in asphalt or cement, etc. 
    • Yes, karate practices do harden the body and does build a healthy, fit and strong one too but as to its applications in competition, social violence and even predatory asocial violence this just provides us an edge to survive an attack and hopefully allow us to use skills, i.e., multiple methodologies and appropriate levels of force to survive. 
  • When asked of the Sensei, if he knew Karate, his answer was, yes! But, he would not teach it to the Marines because they would go out in town and use it on "each other".
    • Really, now how do we prove that and prove this is not just another egoistic boost to impress others of prowess that is often part of being male and especially a Marine. I am a Marine and understand the need to bolster the body and especially the mind-set and mind-state for our job, in the appropriate theater of combat is to survive and make the other guy die for his country and beliefs. 
  • There was nothing Sport about Karate in those days - it was Survival and the "Art" of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
    • Now, how do you prove this because to prove a method will either maim or kill, you have to maim or kill someone. Hitting a makiwara or breaking boards and bricks is a great entertainment and demonstration of what we can endure and how durable our human bodies are but when push comes to shove in a non-social violent situation I am not as sure and I have faced live and death by hand to hand in a civil environment. I know that it takes more than even the karada-kitae benefits of a hardened body to truly maim or kill. Killing is not just done, it takes a lot of effort to get to a point where you can like othering, stigmatizing or setting apart us from them (another way saying to other) and even then our natural human instincts is to NOT maim or kill ergo why social violence is not as dangerous as many assume and believe.  
  • Training involved firstly-fighting anybody, anywhere, anytime … This was my most effective way of training and learning, by feeling it! If it worked, you knew it because there was a casualty count.
    • I don’t really disagree with this in spirit but the types of fights I envision are more often than not sparring with limited safety concerns in the dojo or in competitive environments. It is more of a social type of violence but the reality based adrenal stress-conditions type of training and practice didn’t exist until recently and even the training of Marines in hand-to-hand was based on kata like methods that help you take that first step to harm others, a step that even under the best training and conditions is hardest to take the first three to five times in violence. Not many ever truly encounter a true predatory attack simply because you can see in the fight and fighting forms on the dojo floor and in other areas it is not realistic to that type of attack. This is not just me saying it, I am addressing my understanding of the teachings of those who live and breath violence such as reformed gang like people, police, corrections officers dealing with violent criminals, etc. It just is made to sound cool, and it does sound cool, and it may impress those who do the training and practice to be tough, etc. and it does do that but to step across that line or to believe your using a kill or maim technique just because someone says so is not responsible teaching. 
  • Control in those days wasn't even discussed. The only control that counted was to control the hit to target with a measured strike that would either "Break" or "Incapacitate". 
    • This one is possibly obvious to most of us as a oxymoronic statement to say control was not discussed, alluding to a meaning not even used, yet turn around and say that, “Control that counted was …”, is counter productive.
    • Take into consideration one fact, karate in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was experiencing a conversion by the leadership on Okinawa toward a more watered down version acceptable to both sport implementation and being made an educational version to train youth in the schools. There is no doubt in my mind that the karate taught to Marines in the fifties and later was that educational sport oriented version and that the mind of Marines were influenced by such compliance influential efforts to feel, look and be of a nature that supplanted the already esprit de corps of Marines being killing machines. 
  • You see, in the fight (hard-core, not for points) is where the real essence of the Art of Karate-Do comes into focus.
    • What is that, what does it mean? Often in such statements most people don’t question it because it triggers that male testerone egoistic need to be the warrior who takes care and protects the family and tribe, a survival thing. It triggers a lot of the social conditioning that went on during WWI and WWII along with Viet Nam, etc., that conditioned a mind-set of the male of our species so we will be able to fight and defend our way of life but … think about it and that. 
  • When you see someone stacking up to break or if it looks unbelievable, it is!
    • Not really, its physics and trickery and entertainment to impress and add mystic to those who observe so they will join the club, put up the dues and become acolytes to the sensei, it is a sales pitch based on influence compliance principles much like that used in propaganda, sales, and especially in the entertainment industry. 
    • Caveat: Tameshiwari is an art form, it does have its purpose and benefits in martial arts and karate but as to unbelievable, mystical or extraordinary is not true although to the uninitiated it seems that way, it is about physics and other such things because poor choices of materials for tameshiwari even when the body is hardened leads to injury, mistakes and embarrassment. 
Now, this is where everyone, especially the person who used this set of examples or uses this type of mythical legendary egoistic tough guy stuff (I liked it then and now but I feel a responsibility to those I teach as to self-defense, fighting and combatives). I am not trying to disrespect the person or attack their personal beliefs. Many of them have made it a good enduring business of it and I applaud them for that is the American way. But, when it comes to the teaching of one to maim and kill over applying multiple methodologies and force levels to survive, stay secure and protect self, family and tribe I find it a bit - lacking and misleading. Truth in advertisement or at least allow those exposed to it to have the tools to see the wheat for the chaff so they are properly informed before making the decision to apply it or not. 

Now, also, if all we are doing is following a way of life and it is not about self-defense but exclusively a philosophy and not about maiming and killing or even self-defense then who cares but in these examples that is not clear or even remotely about a philosophy that does not involve actually trying to kill or maim. 

It comes down to responsibility, that of one who uses and teaches this way but, and this is critical, the individual personal responsibility to take control and fact check the very sales pitches the hear even when their ego and excitement tends to lead them like the monkey brain to believe in the unbelievable. It is first and foremost our individual responsibility to look out for ourselves and to fact check things that would expose us to danger, damage and death. In SHORT, don’t just accept this article either, fact check things by seeking our references for and not for, analyze then synthesize your own end facts and then believe that but don’t assume even if from experts or masters that what is said or written is true or even factual. 

Hey, "In my day we …!"

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Manliness in Martial Disciplines

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Honestly, I suspect - theorize - that the art of manliness is a fuse that will set off the explosive in conflict and violence. It is that belief along with the traits one perceives makes one a, “Man.” What is this thing we call, manliness?

Lets generalize, manliness is a tradition involving male qualities of being brave and strong. It involves what some call, “Masculinity.” There is this site that speaks to manliness, the site is called, “The Art of Manliness.” I have to believe that some of what they profess means manliness may be based on the fact that in ancient times manliness is found based on being a warrior but I tend to think it is about men who take on the social responsibilities of the tribe toward two major things, “Survival of the tribe and Procrastination of that same tribe.” 

Then we get into the whole set of traits used to denote and define a male who is manly. It may or may not involve the next set of traits, idea’s, theories and other such trappings but lets take a look:

A Manly Man must
  • Live by a code of ethics and honor.
  • To be the best man one can be.
  • To live a life of manliness through the cultivation of virtues like, “courage, temperance, industry, and dutifulness.” 
  • The art of manliness then states:
    • Strive for excellence and virtue in your life. 
    • Fulfill your potential as a man.
    • Be the best son, brother, friend, husband, father and citizen as humanly possible. 
    • Cultivate and live a life of courage, loyalty, industry, resiliency, resolution, responsibility, self-reliance, integrity and sacrifice. 
Then there are those tenants used in martial arts that spell out manliness but as seen from a perspective of the samurai warrior, i.e., such as:
  • Live a life of frugality, loyalty, mastery of martial prowess, and honor until death. 
  • Live a life where one cultivates and lives by a code, i.e., a code of eight virtues being ‘Righteousness, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Integrity, Honor, Duty and Loyalty, and Self-Control. 
  • To live with a strong sense of filial piety, to develop and live with wisdom and to create, develop and foster fraternity or a brotherhood of warriors. 
Here is the rub with all of this, when you read this you find an ambiguity of open translation, definition and perception as to what it is and what it takes to achieve this goal of manliness, of being a man. In truth, it always comes down to who you are and with what tribe you live and belong for it is the tribe and its associated social connections that drive what a man is, should be and what is required of them. It is the culture and beleif systems of the tribe, family and thus the individual. In short, modern gangs of criminals all demonstrate manliness and have a code and tribe like needs and requirements, etc., all geared by status and what they bring to the table in support of the tribes survival and how they propagate and absorb new blood to the group. 

Does the fact that to us, in our social communities, this is wrong, criminal and just plain inappropriate, etc.? No, it means they live and survive in an environment that is strange, bizarre and unfathomable to us in our world just as ours is totally alien to those who life in that social community. 

It comes down to this, manliness and manhood all depends on such socially driven mandates, requirements, beliefs and culture that drive its survival and ability to remain safe and secure while continuing to propagate the tribe without bringing down the house from all the other surrounding tribes or clans. 

In my culture being of socially correct moral standing, belief and way of life; being of integrity; being of courage and many others is what makes me a person of value socially, i.e., to the family, the tribe or clan and to the larger social group such as our country. 

One of the best benefits of a more traditional form of martial arts and karate is the value system that often comes with the discipline that ends up being a blend of Asian etiquette and culture along with ours of the West. It works and when others who enter the dojo come with an empty cup the brotherhood of the dojo provides a means, when done correctly and accordingly to social tribal standards, practices and requirements to which those empty cups fill up and brim over with manly like manliness, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)