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, October 31, 2014


You is a powerful word. You will find it used a lot in “Scripts.” It tends to make things “Personal.” It comes across as if in a battle of wills between you and someone else. You (see how I slid into that you) have to understand … lets change that to, “That is simply not true.” What will be found is the monkey will use that word a lot because it makes it personal and that makes it “Emotional” and the Monkey likes this.

When you are faced with the Monkey spitting out expletives with the use of “YOU” in there just remember one things, “It ain’t personal. The Monkey, either yours or theirs, does not care one twit about you the individual. It is NOT personal. Scripts require only a “Role” and not a person per se. The role can be place on anyone regardless. The Monkey does not care about the individual, not at all.

The word “You” sucks us into our monkey’s emotional mind-state. It always makes the recipient feel, think emotional here, that the expletives flying in your direction are actually aimed at you, the individual (think Monkey here), when in reality it ain’t you, it ain’t personal. It does pull us into a Monkey brain and since it is coming from outside it tends to create the “Monkey dance.” 

This is a problem that requires us to think clearly and work in a logical way to end the conflict. It cannot be done while under the influence of the Monkey. It requires one pull up the logical thinking brain to create a logical and clear answer to the situation (Note: I am constantly here working to stop from going to  the use of “You” and it is hard). 

Another thing to remember, “You is something the Monkey loves so the Monkey will work hard to make sure that the word is used as much as possible, it cultivates its usage.”

When the Monkey hears, “You, <add in any statement here>” the Monkey says, “Yea, I got this human brain. Take a seat and let me roll baby!” Then the Monkey begins with, wait for it, with “YOU … “ Then one Monkey triggers the other Monkey into a “You” loop until before you know it, you or the other person is winding up for an huge overhand blow or the stiff index finger in the face or nose and then the fight is ON.

Don’t use the “You” word. Stay in the logical human brain. What comes from the use of “You” tends to lead toward “Defensiveness, challenges, justifications and explanations (defensiveness-lite), accusations, etc. 

Avoid the script by acknowledging that the Monkey is driving the bus. Drop the use of “You,” because it will be received as a “Challenge.” Try using the word, “We, to help make it about cooperation and not othering, etc.” Most of all, “Do not take it PERSONALLY!”


Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 

Knowledge and Experience and Training

“ … Knowledge tends to not come out in a fight.” Rory Miller, “Advanced Class” post at Chiron Blog

This post is not about anything written in the above article by Rory Miller but is my thoughts on this particular quote above. I accept his premise and my post is an attempt to get others thinking of what they are practicing vs. what they feel they practice toward self-defense. 

Just think about this a minute, maybe a few minutes. Knowing your kata, knowing your basics, knowing what technique is used for what attack is not enough. Knowledge is about academics but to translate that into something functional in the real world is different. Modern martial arts has fallen into this false sense of functionality in self-defense when in reality they simply brought forward what would make promotions, along with fees, to higher levels, about income vs. what is perceived, by me, as relevant toward actually making it work for self-defense. 

I remember all the courses, seminars and training I received over the years with emphasis on those for work through the military and you know what, often we all joked that what we learned doesn’t work in the real world and we were right BUT what we learned told us two things. First, fundamentals about what we were going to be doing out there in the real world and two, a foundation of knowledge to work from in not just doing the job but gaining the experience as we travel along doing the job. 

Almost all the knowledge was made available for use in the real world but needed tweaking to make it work. In the SD world we hope that continued hands-on training after gaining the knowledge will be sufficient to make it work when under the gun of real life. MA tends to assume that what their Sensei taught them about SD was real when many Sensei never questioned or actually encountered SD and the use of those same defense techniques. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, as one professional writes in his books. This is where knowledge becomes important.

Knowledge is necessary to achieve a level of knowing especially discovering what it is that you thought you knew and what you didn’t know because it makes a difference. Yet, knowledge alone does not get you there in a fight and is even more so in SD. SD has many rules beyond what is most often presented as SD in the MA community. 

Knowledge is necessary but to actually make it work in the fight takes a whole lot more and you gotta get out there and do it along with, if it is your job, getting out there and applying it at work to gain experience. If you have no knowledge of what it takes then you will flounder when trying to find a course of instruction that is real. Seeking knowledge alone just won’t do it and that is the point of this post and I believe the quote Mr. Miller presented. 

In MA, knowing your kata, knowing the basics, knowing SD techniques is all fine and dandy (that works for testing for rank and works just fine as a basis for charging fees, etc.) but that won’t work in a fight and if this is about SD, it won’t work let alone be acceptable in a SD defense. You just don’t go to the car lot, purchase a car, and then drive off down the road. You have to gather and learn a level of stuff that is vetted in drivers education training so when you do drive off down the road you and others won’t be involved in accidents. 

I think there has developed a disconnect from reality in today’s martial arts - in general. That disconnect comes from, as I see it, ignorance or not knowing what you don’t know. 

I guess it comes down to what you do with the knowledge you gain. Do you just remain in the academic world or do you take it out on the road and test it out to see where you go and what you learn along the way. It is called reality for a reason and in the SD and MA worlds especially when combined means learning how to apply things so you don’t end up in an accident. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Respect Does Not Mean

Respect does not mean that one has to lay down and just let anything and everything go unquestioned. I have a lot of respect for those who came before me, those who taught me and those who still teach both physically and electronically and via media and so on. Respect is about something you give freely to another for a variety of reasons but it does not mean you cannot question what the person says, does, writes, produces and/or teaches. 

Respect comes from seeing one as something special to the person convey said respect while knowing they are human and fallible, just as fallible as anyone else. If you fail to question a person of respect then you are not actually respecting them as a person. Experts and masters often earn the respect of their students and practitioners and they will truly respect those experts and masters as long as they continue to do so in a way that allows both sides of that coin to learn and grow and prosper - that takes an exchange of information both ways, from the lower end to the upper end and from the upper end to the lower end. That is how folks build mutual respect.

If I were never questioned, I would lose respect for those who failed to question because questions, answers and the free exchange of knowledge through discussion is how one builds respect - thus knowledge and experience. 

Maybe I am a bit naive but respect such as I have observed over the years in MA circles seems to come from some misguided understanding that to be a traditional system of MA you have to do and not question Sensei, Senpai or Masters. That is just plain stupid. It is also egoistic and prideful to assume that anyone who is not at your perceived level cannot question because they have not achieved a level such as yours is also just plain stupid and it stinks of a total lack of self-esteem and often undermines a wrongful perception of the Sensei, Senpai or Master. 

I, personally, feel inadequate in MA and especially in SD circles. I expect those who have different perceptions, perspectives and knowledge to comment and question the things I perceive, belief and present. I only grow from the input and exchange from others. To assume that I am the all knowing and all able MA and SD person is ludicrous and just plain stupid. 

There are many who I admire for their efforts, experiences and knowledge but I still question them at least on area’s I am curious or in need of learning to facilitate what I know and understand. There are those who are so far in front of me that I seek out their input because I already have a good deal of respect for the path they chose and are on. I am pleased and often excited when they provide me comments and feedback because that helps me grow and prosper so why is it that so many Masters, Experts, Sensei and so on become brash, convey contempt and disgust and often criticize those who follow when they ask questions or discuss discourse on what they teach, etc.?

Maybe my expectations and naivety are that I expect so much from others and that I am disappointed when those who lead tend to be less than what I had expected. Even then, I find that within what they provide regardless still have gems that when dug out and expanded in research and study still provide growth and potential. 

Respect does not mean those respected should be put on a pedestal and vilified as something special for they are not and they are expected to lead as leaders, not gods or dictators. Don’t be blinded by respect given and don’t be obstructed by the respect you receive for you are still human and fallible till death. 

p.s. lets add in one more thought, if you wanted to earn respect does it mean you have to first, find out what criteria others will expect to gain their respect? What if that criteria is abhorrent to what you figure or feel respect criteria should be? What does that say as to your personal expectations to earn and have others respect? Can you actually justify gaining respect from others if that criteria is not perceived by others outside those who give that type of respect as “Respect?” Sigh

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My eBooks - Status

Just wanted to get it in that I have not forgotten about publishing my eBooks on the gokui and the terminologies. I work and I write all the time. One book is still being edited by a very good friend and I didn’t give them a deadline simply because I appreciate their efforts and the time it takes them to do this - for free. 

In addition, my time has been full and the books have taken a second place in my goals to mean my every day work along with my family and finally my desire to get my retirement in order for next year or the year after latest. You all know how scheduling and coordination of many things goes. I am working on the terminology book for publishing but editing as others know far better than I ii is a process, an important process. 

Ok, so I am making excuses but know this, I am serious and will publish eBooks in the next couple of years. I also believe it will be worth the wait. I have a solid plan to write often and publish faster when I retire either next year or the year after because I have come to really enjoy writing. I will admit that the other stuff necessary to write and publish are not high on my list because they can be tedious and boring but alas I also know, from my new study and understanding of self-defense thank you very much Mr. MacYoung and Mr. Miller, is similar where SD has a lot more than just the physical, i.e. writing has a lot more than just scribbling my thoughts and ideas on paper -so to speak. 

I am getting there, really, I am :-)


We have a lot of karate styles and until recent years it baffled me as to why. Especially when you finally understand all styles must adhere to the same fundamental principles to function as a system for combatives, fighting or self-defense. So, why do we have so many styles?

It wasn't till I read Rory Miller's books that I first realized the "styles" was about tribal identity. It is about survival and symbolism achieved to identify a group/tribe in a unique way. 

Style survival is dependent on that symbolism, etc.

No wonder there are so many differing symbolic identities in martial arts that end up being points of contention. It is to keep a tribe alive, surviving.

In a style? You are a member of a tribe. 
Are you affiliated with memberships, etc? Then you are a member of a tribe.
Do you vilify what other styles do? You are a member of a tribe. 
Do you tend to justify what your style is or does? You are a member of a tribe.

Do you make excuses for people with the same identity? You are in your monkey brain on that subject.

Are you hung up on the systems/styles trivia? You are protecting tribal identifiers.

If you are resorting to labeling, or engaging in a them vs. us thing, you are not solving the problem but engaging in tribal war.

It is all about identity and survival although the instinct for survival has nothing to do with styles or systems except that as humans we have not exactly outgrown or evolved enough to not need those survival instincts or at least to morph them into appropriate instincts for modern times. We are not trying to escape tigers, lions or bears trying to eat us but when we enter into a modern conflict those same instincts still get triggered. 

This, and many other factors, go a long way to understand why we humans tend to gravitate toward tribal things so when you see those many styles and then actually “see” that the differences are more window dressing while the fundamental principles underlying all styles is the same then you are beginning to realize the “why” of styles. 

Interesting perspective I think. We all, in the karate world, are actually practicing the exact same thing. We are simply creating identifying symbolic window dressing to our practice so we can identify the tribe in relation to other tribes. It is all the same, but different in a human kind of way.


Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Every now and then this subject comes up. In the martial art community especially those who provide self-defense training need to know how to handle this type of training.  It is more than teaching our youngsters how to physically handle being bullied. Often that is just a means to teach fighting and that is illegal even with juveniles. Teaching them simply the art of hurting and damaging others is not a full and complete way to counter the bullying of others. Do you teach them to apply the physical?” Do you teach them how to use purposeful compliance, i.e. other avoidance tactics such as “Just walking away?

It will be easy and it will be the first thought that runs through your mind that teaching kids about conflict and violence will lead to conflict and violence. Do you just reach the age of sixteen, jump in the family car and drive or do you have to learn about the rules of the road, the laws governing motor vehicles and the effects of motor vehicles when misused, etc. in accidents that result in vehicular violence toward self and others? 

There are many levels and nuances of violence and conflict. It is better to accept that we humans even at such an advanced level in life are still animals who use conflict and forms of violence both good and bad to achieve life’s goals.  When you yell at one another you are committing violence. Social violence is a way of life in all its forms be it an argument of a point of view all the way up to the beating you get to enforce the rules of the group for survival. It just is and ignoring it is counter productive to changing human emotional ignorance into intelligence. 

Like self-defense, this is a very complicated topic and the following is simply a set of ideas, theories, that hopefully will lead toward the minimalism of the bullying of others especially regarding our youth.  

Bullying is, “Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants; to persecute others; to oppress others; to tyrannize others; to browbeat others; to harass others; to torment others; to intimidate others; to strong-arm others; to dominate others, etc.”

How does someone learn or train to counter a bully? First, teach the bullied how to stand up for themselves. Teach them how to cope with being bullied. Teach them about conflict, violence and defense against such violent acts as bullying. Teach Emotional Intelligence to everyone as well. Avoiding and refusing to accept bullying as a violent act and that violence is wrong when we all face conflict and violence in all forms as humans in every day life is not a way to counter bullying. 

Would it be appropriate to teach the bullied self-defense? Yes, provided it was a complete and comprehensive model of self-defense, i.e. it encompasses conflict communications, avoidance, deescalation, awareness of all kinds, the physical and its repercussions using appropriate physical teachings such as force decisions and so on then the after-effects of taking it to the physical such as legal ramifications both civil and criminal. Teach them about the repercussions toward others with emphasis on family both emotionally and economically.  Provide some sort of appropriate recourse to the bullied and the bully. 

Train everyone (I would suggest that parents of both bullies and the bullied also attend such training since research would indicate that a bully is a product of a lack of EI at the parenting levels) about EI and how to develop a balance emotional life and both the bully and bullied benefit overall but it must be connected with the above knowledge supplemented with experience that is both class training as well as real life adrenal stressed reality training that is found through appropriate SD reality based models.

Avoid making the bullied a victim. Avoid validating the bully as a strong superior individual. Set the proper societal status of the bullied for acceptance of   the individual while setting a status appropriate to discourage the bully while teaching them such EI as to promote self change toward a more acceptable behavior. 

Although this suggest some ways to handle bullying it is not comprehensive or even fully vetted by professionals yet the use of materials in the SD and EI world will go a very long way toward countering any need to be a bully and to be the recipient of bullying. 

MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training &amp; Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995

Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


It suddenly occurred to me, “Why do I have this fascination with MA, SD and Conflict/Violence?” Yes, you would have thunk that maybe I would have addressed this question at one time or another but those questions were more in line with, “Why do I practice a martial art?” or “Why do you know about violence and why?” type questions and those do no really address the question of fascination or maybe a better term would be “obsession.” 

I think this can be a very complicated question with an even more complicated answer given any great thought toward it. I am actually giving it free reign while I type my thoughts because, for me, that is sometimes a really good way to find out what I truly think. Maybe more of a feeling rather than a thought. 

I suspect that it is because we as humans are evolving but until we actually reach that level we are still tied closely to conflict and violence. I am actually of the feeling that we, as humans, will never truly disassociate ourselves from conflict and/or violence. We are tied to them as a normal human condition and humans cannot associate socially without either as that is part and parcel to human communications (maybe this is why Mr. Miller and Mr. MacYoung call what they do “Conflict Communications?”).

In addition, at the start, it was about an ability to defend myself as a youngster. First in my pre-teens against a bully then again against bullies in junior high and then high school. You know, much like many of us remember but of course my situation was “special ;-)” Then, to continue that need to fill that need I went on the join the Marines, to become a professional warrior defending my way of life. Then it became about how to use my body to its absolute best in combatives. Then it became about handling more civilian violence of which I actually had a few situations that self-confirmed my needs. (Note: I didn’t really begin to understand just how self-confirming my actions were until the last ten years but I was always a bit late on the uptake)

Now, it has become a means to self-improve while connecting to my natural tendency, as all humans, toward conflict and violence. Actually, now that I think of it, these last nineteen years searching out the truth of our human condition for the purpose of MA and SD has actually taught me more about humans and living without actually succumbing to conflict and violence (Note: when I say this it is with tongue in cheek cause I realize that almost all we do as humans with other humans comes from the application of conflict resolutions and violent encounters of the mild kind, etc. yadda yadda yadda)

I think you get the picture. Along with my having, at one time, a violent sometimes raging temper (of which this study has provided me the knowledge and therefore the tools to get a handle on that monkey shit) the need to know about and deal with conflict and violence has resulted in a more Zen like attitude that seems to fit or inter-connect with the philosophy we westerners associate with the study of MA. 

Anyway, this is “why” I do what I do. It is not often known and I would not normally present this side of me to folks simply because of their societal mind-washing toward violence is bad, violence must be avoided, violence must be wrong types will find me a bit more “wrong.” Anyway, think what you will cause I can tell you now that I am a kitten compared to some cause there are some that make my life look like a walk in the park and those guys know other guys who scare the piss out of them. 

Conclusion: there are many who are just plain blind and ignorant about what humans are instinctually and naturally. On the grading of humans on conflict and violence say from 1 to 100, I am maybe a .25 (that is a point or period 25) when others sit around 50 or 75 with a few that exceed 100. Go figure. (note: just my conclusion and only one of them)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Philosophical Perspective on "Knuckle Pushups"

An exercise sometimes used in karate dojo as a part of karada-kitae or body conditioning. I remember that on occassion I would visit an Isshinryu dojo where they did pushups on the knuckles. They also had a makiwara, traditional piece. I have done pushups on my knuckles but not because I wanted to for karada-kitae but because doing normal pushups on my palms causes some considerable discomfort to one of my wrists. One reason why I love the pushup bars available that not only remove wrist issues but actually allow a deeper pushup to stretch and develop those chest, shoulder, back, arm, etc. muscles, tendons, cartilage and so on. Matter of fact, pushups are one of the best exercises anyone can use.

Back to the subject, knuckle pushups. I am not a medical professional and not a physical medical professional either standard or sport oriented. My view on this is personal and based only on my personal use of this type of pushups. 

Let me begin by reiterating that I do them with knuckles for a reason and only at certain times when I don’t have pushup bars to use. I like and hate pushups and have been mediocre in doing them for some reason that may simply be psychological since I have detested them from the moment I was in pushup position during PT (Physical Training) at Parris Island, South Carolina. 

I don’t recommend doing knuckle pushups and if you do them then I recommend highly you do them with some sort of cushioning material because knuckles to hard ground or cement is not good for them, period. Even makiwara have a padded surface with give when striking. Makiwara are another subject but in a nutshell using one does not mean hitting it as hard as humanly possible. After all that device is best utilized as a tool to teach you how to hit properly rather than simply as hard as you can. It also provides a means to train other aspects of martial arts.

Knuckle pushups on a hard surface put way to much pressure on that knuckle and its associated parts. When you strike a makiwara properly you have complete control on the pressures, etc. When you do pushups there is a constant and consistent weight and pressure placed on the knuckles, i.e. depending on how you do them such as just the two fore-knuckles vs. the entire face of the fist.  In the dojo’s where I trained and/or taught most insisted doing them on the two fore-knuckles and I have to admit during those days I blithely and blindly dropped down and did them without questions. I was young so much like many such things I just ignored any discomforts.

Now, I don’t have any medical issues because I did them or do them on occasion but then again except in rare cases I don’t ever do them straight on cement or hardwood, etc. because that tends to cause discomfort that could possibly result in some type of medical issue. As I enter my winter years, sixty years or older, I tend to consider things like that a lot more. 

Actually, with all the various and variety of ways we can get exercise to strengthen our bodies it seems not necessary to abuse our hands, by the way the hands and the skeletal system of the hand are pretty darn complex yet subject to being a bit more subject to injury and long term issues, in this manner to achieve some level of hardened hands for martial arts.

Another aspect to consider is, why do we need them especially since we must know and understand the concept of hard-to-soft/soft-to-hard applications. Add to that a hardened or conditioned hand DOES NOT MEAN they will not break in the fight. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from karate-ka who train makiwara who have sprained or broken bones in the hands because of the target and application or technique applied in sparring or sport competitions. One of the guys, a professional, whose blog I read wrote an article on his training where dependent on an application to a target either suffered no adverse issues or with the same under slightly different conditions actually broke their hand. 

I have utilized the makiwara my entire martial art life and I learned early on that although I like how it trains me in regards to certain principles, etc. that it does not preclude me from injury. Consider this, in a SD situation you have to deal with chaos and getting into that type of situation is about chaos and in chaos anything can happen and usually does. Not considering such things in training before you encounter violence, such as five types of impact and how to apply them along with principles of martial system applications, does not mean you are immune to injuring hands or feet regardless of whether you conditioned them or not, it is chaotic and unpredictable so training and practice should encompass those possibilities to “Minimize” injuries. 

Another aspect of knuckle pushups, especially on cement or hardwood, exposed those knuckles to stresses that might, no one has ever tested or proven this, lead to an arthritic hand and/or fingers. Or, just pain and discomfort from the built up calcium deposits that often come with karada-kitae.

Now, this is not to say that I don’t do karada-kitae, it means I still do so with an emphasis toward moderation to achieve results that do not include building up massive and somewhat ugly knuckles that symbolize karate under a somewhat questionable symbolic meaning. Even the leaders of Okinawa karate will have issues with karada-kitae as to its application in training more than its functionality in self-defense.

So, in a nutshell, although I practice karada-kitae, I don’t recommend it as something required for SD, Karate or as a traditional means of training but I do have certain recommendations to students who are hell-bent on doing it. In my days teaching I would have a makiwara and would expose students to it for educational purposes but always with reservations both mine and for students. 

In the end whether you use a makiwara or knuckle pushups, it is a personal decision and if nothing else my goal is to provide enough information for a more informed decision making process by all practitioners. The Information Age, ain’t it great?

Note: In an effort to find snapshots of knuckle pushups most were on the flat of the fist vs. on the two fore-knuckles. 

Note II: Understand, the practice of karada-kitae, especially of the hands, does not mean you perform the process till the point of abusive as shown in the last snapshot below. You can condition and learn and teach all the benefits without the adverse results by the way you practice, that is important. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bamboo (A Philosophical Symbolic Representation)

It might be noticed that my avatar photo has bamboo in it along with a hummingbird. There is a philosophical reasoning for that, both have a Zen Koan like meaning behind them so I adopted that as a symbol for my training, practice and teaching/writing/posting on martial ways. Here is one quote from Bruce Lee on the attributes of bamboo that symbolize a bit of what a martial art is, “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” - Bruce Lee

I quote, “In Japan, the symbolism of the bamboo plant runs deep and wide and offers practical lessons for life and for work.” This begins to explain the role of bamboo as a symbolic representation within the culture but also much so in the culture in the martial dojo. 

A martial artist must be flexible yet able to create a grounding ability through being rooted, i.e. bamboo are flexible yet they hold firm to the earth through their roots. They have a flexibility that allows them to bend a great deal without breaking much like a martial artists must be able to find root to the earth yet remain so flexible they spring back from all obstacles encountered. 

Bamboo sway easily with even the slightest breeze or bend down to touch the ground under the onslaught of a typhoon. It has such a solid foundation due to having roots firmly in the earth much like martial artists applying principles, etc. It never tires, it bends but does not break, yet it remains standing tall and still. 

This equates to the traits of a martial artist who shall go with the flow of things and when confronted by adversities bends and sways always returning to stand tall and still with roots deep in the event one applies the craft. 

Bamboo is ready for whatever nature brings, it is hollow or empty yet firm, resilient and flexible on the surface as if allowing for wisdom through an empty mind of no mind, etc. It is a very useful plant that is simplicity itself. 

The hollowness of the bamboos is symbolic of the Zen concept of emptying the mind so that present mind ability is achieved. Only the empty mind can allow the instincts of the mind rise up and achieve control in conflict, conflict being life itself. When the mind is obstructed and cluttered with various mind chatters it cannot lead the body and the body cannot act. Freeing the body is freeing the mind thus achieving a mind-of-no-mind as symbolized by that hollowness of the bamboo. 

A story goes somewhat like, “Bamboo catch a deep winter snow covering it till the weight bends it down just touching the ground until a good breeze of a tremor of the bamboo causes the snow to drop to the ground springing back to its upright station ready for the next flurry of snow.”

Now, the humming bird is another matter and its traits symbolize many traits of a martial artist. Speed is just one small part of what a hummingbird is about but many don’t know that they are also about endurance and diligent daily ability. One breed along takes the time to train then fills themselves with fuel and than fly non-stop from upper Florida across the entire Gulf across to South America. That type of endurance and discipline and ability and perseverance is what martial arts are about along with many other factors. Using the hummingbird to symbolize the martial artists and to use the bamboo to symbolize the system or style itself conveys to fledgling practitioners the goals and achievements possible simply by applying oneself toward the full spectrum of learning, practicing and achieving proficient ability in a martial art. 

Look at the above as a tease to seek out and learn more about martial arts. It is full of history and culture and symbolisms all meant to provide an individual the tools to win the great victory against the greatest of all adversaries, the self. 

Some insights that I felt were traits symbolizing a martial artist one can see when reading about the basic characteristics below. One example is body mechanics or physiokinetics are expressed in describing their wings then there is the speed aspect, i.e. it is virtually impossible to perceive the flapping of the wings. 

Read also: 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Its Tribal :-) - maybe ….

I want to provide a quote first, “Tribal thing, if you are not a part of someone’s tribe, the rules of social violence don’t apply to you. If you don’t consider certain people as part of your tribe, you can hunt them. You can prey upon them. You can steal their resources, so they starve and die. And who cares? They’re not one of yours. You can kill them without regret. And the only thing that does is bring glory to you and your tribe. You can enslave them. You can oppress them. They are lesser beings. You can use them. You can sacrifice them like pawns in a chess game … and you will not lose a night’s sleep, If it is a member of a hated tribe, you can take sadistic glee from their setbacks and losses. Or you can actively work for that tribe’s downfall and not only sleep will, but believe you are doing god’s work by lies, sabotage, torture, and murder. (God’s work even if it is in a secular cause) Or you can ignore them, dismiss them and their plight, and profiteer from it. And again you will sleep well that night. All this is made possible by the act of OTHERING, … you reduce anyone not in your tribe ti being less than human.”

How often have you wondered why those guys so easily rob us, hurt us or just relieve us of our “hard earned” resources? In our mind-state we can say to ourselves, “How could someone do that to another human being?” When I read this I think that maybe this is the answer and that this does not provide us a way to make it go away. Why?

Because, as I am understanding things, this is all part of being human and all part of the survival instincts. It is pretty much hard coded in human psyche, the lizard part of our brains. It also tells me, personally, something very, very important, we are and still will be tribal no matter how many lies we will tell ourselves to make us feel safe, secure and a part of a much larger whole that becomes society. 

I am able to see it a bit more in everyday life. Like work, where the management often say we have to unite to become successful, we have to remove he silo’s (actually they should call them tribes and tribal mentality) and we have to become one whole unit (can you say tribe) to be the greatest <add in name of unit, division or company name here>! If this is true, why has it failed in implementation for the last six years of constant changes in the effort to become more successful and more economically viable?

Lets just say for the sake of this discussion that the quote is “right on.” If so, then why should we endure such emotional turmoil when we see video’s of those terrorists when they do harm to “others?” After all, if we understand that because we are not of their tribe and especially of their religious tribe we can begin to understand why they do this and why they seem so “unaffected” by the actions we might be able to start to understand ways to overcome this tribal mind-set and enable them to allow us to occupy the world side-by-side. Big IF here.

Taking it back down to tribal, honestly we all still do the tribal thing and other other groups. At work we in the Sysadm group are a tribe and therefore everyone else and every outside group is not our group therefore we find good reason why we resist the diminishing of our group to be absorbed by another group not our group, right? 

Lets go another direction since this is a MA blog, one style or system is a tribe. A big tribe, but all the same a tribe. Look at the style/system as a particular society. As humans go this is much to big a tribe so we will naturally go to a much smaller one for survival therefore although we are of the style/system tribe will will make our own smaller and more acceptable tribe, i.e. the local style/system as a dojo, so to speak. Now we have a local, more cohesive and manageable and acceptable to instinct tribal sizes to survive. 

Now, even the the acceptable tribe that is the local dojo we still gravitate toward smaller and more emotionally cohesive tribes, i.e. we now have the “Kyu” tribe and the “Dan” tribes. In other words the hierarchy of the dojo tribe. Within those tribes we will have more hierarchies but overall we know and accept the dojo tribes governance for survival. See the picture here.

This also means that although we may be members of that very large tribe we will still other them because they are not of the immediate tribe and we can see this in those big associations where the individual tribes pretty much ignore the big tribes requirements, especially those they feel are not conducive to the local tribes governing rules and scripts, except when it suits them.

Even when you look a the much larger honbu dojo style/system there are factions, local tribes, consisting of like minded sub-tribes that still do their own thing except when a gathering of tribes occurs then there is a whole different set of rules and scripts the smaller tribes are willing to endure until they return to their home turf.

Back on track, this may be an understanding that allows enlightenment as to why we all do what we do, we are all associated with sizable tribal stuff that is way beyond our instinctual survival instincts capacities and why we gravitate toward the smaller tribal settings, i.e. why we stay with family and the local friend networks.  Why we tend toward smaller groups or units within a larger faction at work being the departments and actual business as a whole, it is a tribal instinct that is subconscious and may be the root of a lot of the stress and anxieties we all experience in an over crowded world of more and more people as we continue to expand faster than our humanity is capable. 

Just sayin and just a thinkin!

Goleman, Daniel. “Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition].” Bantam. January 11, 2012.

MacYoung, Marc. “In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It.” Marc MacYoung. 2014.