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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Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Experts, Masters and the Knowledgable

Experts are those who have taken the time, made the effort and have shown due diligence in a discipline so as to learn, understand and know about that discipline but there is a hitch. 

The hitch is those who follow. If the expert, master and the knowledgable fail to convey that what they are passing is subject to correction, change and falsehood then those who follow fall into the pit that creates dogma, a dogma that is irrefutable and unchangeable. 

Through out history the experts have gone as far as killing others who refute or question their teachings and beliefs. When persons reach a higher level of expertise they often fall into the pit that what they do and their level of expertise means they know it all and no one can tell them about their discipline. 

Some times this leads experts into a false sense of superiority over anyone with less time, less knowledge and less experience. This fogs the teachings and often instills a certain attitude not only in the leader but in the followers. 

Experts, masters and the knowledgable are seekers of change, growth and progress, not just knowledge for knowledge can fool you into thinking there is no more and there is no chance that what is known is changeable and open to falsehoods created by self-limitations. Experts are aware that what they are experts in can become simply a stepping stone toward another different discipline and this is what expertise means, a means to a greater depth and breadth of life that stimulates progress, a progress with no end. 

Experts sometimes succumb to the monkey mind by labeling any attempt to expand and question a belief as blasphemy and blasphemy is a good excuse to validate the current dogma and to give excuse to punish those who don’t follow the doctrine. 

Liar, cheater, blasphemer! Experts see these traits as a signal that they must self-analyze and self-evaluate and seek additional validations of both their expertise and those questions, comments and criticisms that could open the next door along the path of that discipline often leading to a new discipline. 

Experts, masters and the knowledgable are leaders of those that follow and seekers of truth that will build upon and provide growth to the discipline along with the expert and those who follow. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Monkey

I am reading for the second time the chapter on the three brains, i.e. the human brain, the monkey brain and the lizard brain, in the book, In The Name of Self-Defense by Marc MacYoung. I thought I read it well enough the first time around but now that I am on the second go-round I keep feeling strange like, “wait a minute, I don’t remember reading this stuff.” I think my monkey brain is setting me up because it sure as heck doesn’t want me to know this stuff and to lock the door on his cage - Ohhhh No and I say, Ohhhh Yea!

As I read it again my mind sometimes takes a detour to things and events in my past that now seem different and totally and completely my fault. Those incidents that were of the conflict nature could and should have been avoided if only I had a conscious understanding of what it was that was taking me down that particular nasty road - my monkey brain. 

This really sucks BUT …. a big BUT ….. better late than never, yipee. We’ll see just how well I gain control over that stinking little crappy nasty mean monkey. He has run rampant in my life for damn near sixty years so I know it isn’t going to be easy but I are determined.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Student of Karate

To become a student of karate may seem simple enough when viewed through today’s model of karate. In a traditional way it could be a bit more daunting. It seems that finding a sensei in the pre-1900 era of practice that students just didn’t go to a dojo, walk in and sign up. It seems as if there were steps one had to “endure” to gain entrance and to train. 

It becomes apparent when studying the available historical data concerning martial arts that to gain entrance, in some cases, required a recommendation from someone familiar with the dojo and its sensei. In other cases one might apply only to be subjected to requirements that would reveal a potential students, “Patience, determination, courtesy, restraint, calm, determination, daily behavior, attitude, character, personality, understanding and the level of compassion one needs to learn, understand and control themselves through training into every day life. 

It also speaks toward the potential to display and live a life of humility. It seems that to learn a traditional system requires traits in the person to achieve an understanding of the full potential of that system as well as the ability to grow with it to achieve the same level of internal control necessary to practice, train and apply such a system in the dojo - dojo being a place of training and practice, being a place to practice and apply in every aspect and moment of life, in and out of the dojo proper. 

Karate training should expose its practitioners to scenarios that will test their abilities such as handling criticism and unexpected difficulties. To apply restraint when and at a level commensurate to any given situation. Ginchin Funakoshi spoke of daily life being considered as our true dojo, when one learns through karate practice how it applies to everyday life. 

While learning the physical a student should be exposed to the ethics of karate through Zen like koans or sayings they work out with guidance from sensei and senpai along with learning from stories told that exemplify karate-ka as to the same ethical requirements. Karate teachings should include how one practices in the spirit of humility so that in crucial moments one can be utterly and completely in that moment to handle said crises. 

Karate should enhance the students ability to behave appropriately while understanding how to apply the mental, spiritual and physical to achieve defense with the physical applications as a last resort. It is knowing that when the physical is needed that somehow the ethics and essence of karate was circumvented and the time to learn this is before it comes to blows. 

Being a student of karate is more involved than mere sport, it means making your dojo life itself where the training hall is everywhere and every moment between sleep and waking. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Kiai [気合]

The characters/ideograms mean, “Scream; yell; fighting spirit.” The first character means, “spirit; mind; air; atmosphere; mood,” the second character means, “fit; join.”

Used in martial arts as a means to bring about a meeting of both the internal and external energies generated through the proper application of fundamental principles of martial systems thus creating an instantaneous power transfer from the weapon, i.e. hand, foot, etc., into a target. Often assumed to be a shout or war cry but the cry is just a external manifestation that assists the practitioner with an audible cue that all the proper principles are finally applied in that one instance. 

It is used at certain points within kata practice but tends to be arbitrary since kata is about learning bunkai that will be assimilated or not assimilated as necessary to each individual and not actually a fighting scenario that is pre-ordained with specifics especially since a true combative situation is more fluid and chaotic with no set tactics, etc. 

Kiai is more of a method to create what some call an application of chinkuchi, i.e., an Okinawan dialect term about applying principles of power in karate. In the yin-yang concept as derived from ancient studies by Okinawan practitioners whereby the yin or internal along with yang or external energies are combined, coalesced and projected through principles into a power applied technique. This is something that should be applied with every technique applied regardless of any arbitrary rule that kiai must be placed at any specific point in kata, drills or kumite. 

Kiai is done without sound and it is also done with sound. In ancient times, much like the Marine’s OhRahhh shout is about instilling a fighting spirit while sending a clear signal to an adversary that a force of nature is coming and it cannot be stopped. There are times when the cry is necessary for psychological reasons and there are times when kiai is applied with no sound, but a strong exhale. 

In kiai, as with many aspects of a martial art, breathing (a fundamental principle) is critical to achieve true kiai as it is with the concept of chinkuchi. Kiai is not just a shout or war cry but a system that assists a practitioner to achieve great power, etc., in martial training. 

“No kiai (shout). Chibana Sensei explained that in the old days, karate training was done in secret, so silence was necessary. He continued that “ki" means spiritual or internal energy and "ai" means to meet. Kiai, then is the precise moment (meeting) when the internal and external energy is brought together. Kiai is synonymous with kime. Kiai can be done with no sound, but with a strong exhale. Kiai and kime then is the instant when the neurological and physical response become one.” ~ Nakata, Pat Sensei

Friday, August 1, 2014

To Study

Lets define this: “the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge on an academic subject, especially by means of books; a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation: look at closely in order to observe or read.” 

What does this mean to me, it means I want to learn, to become educated, to do the academic work on a particular subject by a detailed investigation and analysis of that subject. When it comes to martial arts like Isshinryu it includes close scrutiny of the physical aspects as well as the academic. It is to scrutinize, examine, inspect, consider, regard, look at, observe, watch and survey and so on to gain the most from the effort to study that particular subject.

What this means to me is I have to remain open minded to “all” aspects of that subject regardless of any one perspective, ideal or belief. It is overlooking any power structure and group dynamic that would stagnate the growth potential through “study.” It is about overcome any obstacles and restrictions that would impede the search for knowledge. 

If I were to fall into the trap of egoistic beliefs that disallowed the possibility of change and being incorrect, inaccurate or just plain stupid then all efforts “to study” that subject or discipline is doomed to failure. If I were to allow group dynamics and status to color my efforts toward bias then I am doomed to failure. 

There are no excuses when studying, i.e. discarding data or a set of data simply because it is outside my perceptions, perspective and beliefs leaves me doomed to failure. 

To study the views, understandings and knowledge of any other source regardless is to leave a gap that could have filled a void. Part of the effort to study is to check, double check and then check sources again until all doubt is driven away with one exception, that even those facts and data are subject to change again when new materials, etc. are exposed and to expose them is accomplished in only one way, to listen, talk and exchange ideas.

If you discard other views, etc. without first asking the question, “In order to understand what another person is saying (or another source is providing), you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of.” Then once accepted try to fact check it again, again and again. No one source is the end all of any subject or discipline but rather a key to open the door to all knowledge - that is to study.