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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Monday, August 31, 2015

Where and When Did MA’s Begin to Pose

I can only guess that when martial arts started to be vilified in magazines on the subject then the defacto photo processes began, i.e., in order to sell we need the photo’s to look this way. Now, more than ever before and due, I believe, solely to the advent and rocketing of social media I see more and more personal photo’s of martial artists that are, “Staged, posed.” 

I have read articles on how framing, as I explain in the cell phone video productions that end up on the web and go viral, of photos when publishing books to best display how a technique should look is just that, framing and not reality. It is a bit like making movies where actions are staged to best display the drama and action on the “Big Screen.” 

The trouble with all of this is that it has skewed how martial arts are perceived and as many of the self-defense articles have presented, it skews how the legal professions perceive things toward self-defense. 

What to do, what to do? We are not going to get rid of what sells unless we reduce or stop the “Supply and Demand” of such things and that will only come from the education of the public to the reality of conflict and violence. 

I don’t think I am going to hold my breathe on that one!

Mario Higaonna Karada Kitae - A Traditional Practice

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

In a recent posting on Facebook a concerned practitioner encountered a less than stellar review on the practice Higaonna Sensei uses, his personal practice not required by his students at least to the degree he goes, for hand and body conditioning. The end of the comment provided the following question, i.e., “Do you think that this kind of conditioning and other types of ‘extreme’ training have an added value for our modern time practice or should they be regarded only as a historic fact that is now practically useless.”

I find the question a good one and a question often answered according to individual cultural belief systems of individuals that answer it. I am no different, my answer would be thus, “It depends, it depends on the goals, desires and results each individual considers before walking a path of body conditioning at any level up to that of Higaonna Sense and those who practice systems like, Uechi-ryu.” 

If I were to be asked as to its benefits, overall I would say that it does have certain benefits such as learning how to endure and ignore pain, how to apply principles properly such as by use of the standing makiwara (Note: it ain’t about toughening the hands or callouses but proper application of principles for force and power, etc.) to demonstrate force and power through a proper structure, alignment and application of momentum to achieve force and power, etc.

Simple questions such as this often do not have what is desired, “Simple and concise answers,” because in such disciplines one question leads to another and another and another so that in the end you have to chain them together to make one whole, holistically wholehearted, answer that itself will float and flow chaotically dependent on situations as they arise. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Friday, August 28, 2015

There Art No Masters

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

Yeah, I said it, regardless of all the titles and all the highest of grades you see in the MA Community there are actually no masters, none; zilch; nadda; no why no how there ain’t no masters.

What makes a master is interesting depending on who and what org you talk to but in reality the old meme of, “Jack of all trades, Master of none,” applies here because everyone is so hell bent on accumulating systems, styles, grades, ranks, levels, accolades, awards and trophies they have missed the boat leading to mastering a martial art. 

Just think, would Tiger Wood be the master of golf he is if he had practiced and played golf, football, basketball, tennis and a plethora of other sports? I really do doubt that, really. He would have been mediocre at best and just another “Jock” at worst. 

Then there is what one focuses on when deciding what they want, not need but want, to become a master of a martial art. Most focus, as previously stated, on longevity, social connections, and the quantity of things vs. quality of one thing. You cannot master anything by pinging on everything that catches your eye like the glitter of metal that attacks birds. It is distracting rather than focused. It is a way of life now with all the instant gratifications and constant changes toward technology and so on and yadda yadda yadda. 

Someone said to me a while back, “Well, to master karate you really have to master all the styles or systems (he then emphasized the main ones over all but that is still a lot) because karate consists of all these various styles and systems.” Well, no you don’t because every single empty-handed style or system all have one main thing in common across the board without fail, principles. 

Take a look at Rory Millers DVD on Joint Locks, you will see him teaching the principles of joint locks, not separate uniques individual joint locks but the principles that drive every single joint lock you could possible use. It, to me, is advocating how knowing and understanding a hand full of principles gives birth to any number, infinite, of techniques and methodologies, etc. 

In order to master a martial art you have to find that “One wholehearted Thing,” that transcends personality, ego, perceptions, perspectives and belief systems and can be seen, felt, practiced and applied no matter what system or style or anything you would use for self-defense.

Hey, there ain’t no martial arts masters!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kata and Self-Defense Applicability

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

A person once stated that Okinawan’s didn’t practice contact practice like kumite because it “Eschewed the concept because their techniques were too potentially lethal.” I get this itchy feeling whenever I hear someone spout the deadly applications of karate. Granted, at one time long, long ago - historically speaking of the early 1600’s - the techniques applied as Ti or Toudi may have been devastating but as to deadly I perceive that as more a result of gravity or weapons over Te (karate as it is called today). 

In the early years as karate was introduced in this country it was almost exclusively about kicking and striking. Seldom was any other, regarding karate in a strict sense, methodology referenced toward self-defense. Mostly, it was about competitive aspects and we all know that competitive aspects has nothing to do with self-defense, fighting or combatives of the empty hand, i.e., hand-to-hand, kind. 

Personally, as I have come to understand, karate as to striking and kicking has its human limits governed by survival of the tribe and the human instinct to communicate through violence, when necessary, in a way that is guaranteed to prevent grave bodily harm or death, i.e., those proverbial potentially lethal applications. 

Striking and kicking are about getting what you want and enforcing rules that often govern human interactions be they in a family environment or a more tribal societal family like environment. It was not meant to be a deadly lethal system. I repeat, karate in its bare educational sport oriented form, was not meant to be a deadly lethal system. 

If you goal is to cause grave bodily harm or death then your best bet is to get a weapon and apply it with a killer mind-set/mind-state because unless you accidentally cause an adversary to fall where gravity kills them karate ain’t going to get the job done. Violence, except in rare cases predation violence, seldom results in grave bodily harm and/or death (here agin is where accidents happen). As one source indicated, it is about communications. 

Bunkai, Henka, Ouyou-bunkai, Omote-Ura and Embusen are being touted as the way of self-defense but in reality those training paths are about learning concepts and principles but fall way short of providing the kind of defensive goals one needs in conflict and violence. They are paths a novice needs to open the conepts up for interpretation and understanding but are NOT about defense against violence of a predatory nature. 

This brings me down to self-defense. SD is about avoidance, avoiding the socially emotionally driven monkey dances almost all humans, especially males, endure from their testerone overloaded youthful interactions that don’t often end in grave bodily harm and/or levels of lethal force that would end in death. This comprises what I would say is about 98% of modern violence. I would also say that 98% of martial arts in modern times is about sport competition rather than self-defense. I would go a bit further to say that the teachings of modern martial arts is about 98% ineffective in real self-defense, i.e., a predatory resource/process situation. I would say that for 98% of martial artists who believe they know self-defense that only about 2% of those will ever deal with a predatory resource/process type assault. I will go even further to say that 98% of martial artists who believe they know self-defense that only about 2% of those actually know and understand the full comprehensive understanding of self-defense. 

I will also say that 98% of all martial artist who believe they know self-defense have no experience nor have they received training from anyone with experience in self-defense, fighting and combatives. Lets add one more, 98% of all bunkai taught as being applicable self-defense, fighting and combatives is not valid, i.e., they won’t or don’t work in self-defense, fighting and/or combative situations. 

Kata is not training self-defense. Kumite is not training in self-defense. Sport competitive participation is not self-defense. Bunkai do not teach self-defense techniques. Martial arts self-defense models do not teach self-defense that works. 

I could go on but I sense that it may be overkill. Karate, all martial arts, have benefits and are beneficial to all who partake of its studies but as to kata or other distinct parts they are not the means to achieve proficient ability in fighting, combatives or self-defense (especially SD).

Note: Such terms used in a teaching model like bunkai, henka, ouyou, omote/ura and embusen are just excuses to tell ourselves we are actually learning a combative fighting defense system. Yes, they have purpose but in the end they are just ways to describe things so the initiate can achieve greater understanding toward actual hands-on ability to fight, defend and apply combatives in a violent way. 

Note II: Being traditional or classic or even modern does not equate to ability in the fight. It may get you started but it won’t take you the entire way. This stuff has been a bane of discussion since the first moment the caveman lifted a piece of tree to club an attacking beast over the head for protection. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dan-i: A Martial Ranking System

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

The ranking system of martial arts holds a special position in that community. It is a hierarchal system much like any other system especially military. Since this system, called in Japanese the dan-i system, comes from Japan you can make a pretty good assumption that it is based on the feudal hierarchal system that governed the entire social structure. It would best be remembered that this type of system is also, fundamentally, a survival system and yet a whole lot more. 

This socially feudal driven survival system gave birth to the dan-i system. We can best relate to that from our military system, i.e.:

Enlisted ranks of E-1 through to include E-9 can be represented by the “Kyu or Mudansha” system, i.e., 10th kyu up to include the Ik-kyu rank. Then there are the Officer ranks of O-1 to O-10 that would be represented by the “Dan or Yudansha” system, i.e., Lieutenant to four star General, i.e., in dan-i it is “Sho-dan up to Ju-dan.” Granted there are more enlisted ranks or levels than in dan-i with the same being said regarding the officer ranks or levels in the dan-i yudansha system. 

Now, as to the military ranking system there are criteria that are used to determine how one rises in the structure. Normally they consider both “Seniority” and “Time in Grade.” There are means to determine “skills, proficiency and performance” as well. This resulted in efforts of individuals to stand out by demonstrating there being special to gain rank. This seems adequate but one factor few see or consider in the military are attributions due to end of service or death in combat. Add in another concerning experience and performance in combat. Although both of these are important for military they are not exclusively required simply due to periods of peaceful existence where combat experience is not possible. Don’t forget, once a military combat operation is triggered and military personal enter harms way things can happen fast, i.e., those without the potential tend to either get gravely harmed taking them out of combat or they simply get killed. Lets not forget that a hierarchy ranks structure is also about survival as well with a goal that military enter into the profession because of a need for social or societal survival in a world still about conflict and violence.

Now. what I thought of as an Inactive Martine who experienced ten years of that military system I began to think and theorize a model that would be similar to achieving rank through the dan-i system for martial disciplines. Consider that in essence martial disciplines are about conflict and violence so it goes to show that similar requirements should be in place to qualify for grade, rank or levels. Hmmmm …

Dan-i therefore should consider the following as minimal criteria for rank/promotions, etc.:

1. Skills.
2. Proficiency.
3. Performance.
4. Time in Service.
5. Time in Grade.
6. Experience toward Understanding.
7. Combat Experience.

The following are some clarifications to this list. Look to the numbering to relate to the list.

1. Skills mean those necessary to become proficient in applying all aspects, models, traits, etc. that make a martial practitioner.

2. Proficiency not just in the application of technique but a full and complete understanding based on principle based training. Proficiency may not include actual combat-like experience simply because in modern times for self-defense it is best to reach goals like avoidance or escape and evade to remain within that SD-square but to have hands-on experience would be a bonus. If this is about professionals, i.e., military, police or corrections officers and so on then you can expect to gain experience with understanding OJT or “On the Job.”

3. Performance will be one of those most difficult aspects to perceive by mentors, teachers or instructors but is doable. It is about avoiding a “Technique based training” model but rather a model that allows a more natural but chaotic learning where the such ROTE systems open to criticism over a principle-based training involving a fuller and more comprehensive understanding of principles and how to apply them while in a chaotic environment, i.e., under attack dealing with adrenal stress conditions, etc.

4. Time is service actually refers to time on the dojo floor. Not just going through the motions but actively working to “Make things work” while in as close to chaotic and stressful conditions. This is a true balancing act so like 3 above warrants a considerable amount of study, etc. 

5. Time in grade is meant to make sure one takes “Time” to achieve goals. It is one of those fluid things that has to be judged solely on an individual basis. Why? Because each of us are unique and progress in different ways. It gives time to allow for a building of experience and understanding. It gives time especially in a case where actual live experience is encountered - rare as that may be. If a professional that time also allows for group dynamics of a team to develop so they all work together to get the job done especially when life and limb are on the line.

6. Experience toward understanding is one of those things that never gets considered in modern martial discipline ranking. As one professional stated in an article, “Understanding comes from actual experience. Play can be a start and may provide insight but experience is required.” Understanding as defined HERE ( ) means “Understanding principles and applying them in Chaos.” Don’t confuse “Knowledge with Understanding.” One needs the other like yin-yank but as to Understanding - that is different in this instance.

7. Combat experience is actually experiencing conflict and violence from the lowest levels to the highest where grave bodily harm and death are on the table. Not sport competitive; not sparring; not kumite; not drills and especially not fantasy driven commercial types but real-reality-based stuff. 

Don’t “ASSUME” what I am suggesting herein is the end all and definitive answer to the topic. It is just a suggestion of what would be a minimum set of requirements toward grading, rank or achieving a certain martial discipline level. 

Will you find this in modern martial disciplines? No, nope, never happen for so many reasons it ain’t even funny. The current system and community is well entrenched in society so it is here to stay. When you consider humans and human nature you begin to see how I can make this statement. Even when I propose, comment or even recommend such theories, thoughts, ideas and truisms in groups, threads, forums and so on the thread will always go directly to what the individual knows and believes over anything stated otherwise. Rarely do any of them actually experience a shift away from that teaching and belief but when one does, it is awesome!

Note: being honest with myself if this were true and actually used then my rank, grade or level would still be somewhere in the lower mudansha area, maybe. I am ok with that, for the moment :-)

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Third Precept and the Essence of Karate

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

Often the question comes up, “What is karate?” Some say it is a sport, some say it is a combative system for use in unarmed combat and some say it is to apply skills for self-defense. Then you have the more philosophical model where some feel strongly it is a physical manifestation of a meditative practice toward self-improvement and so on. Some even think that all of these are applicable. 

Truthfully, from my perspective and perception, I believe that most of the above should be a part of karate, i.e., under the heading of principles of theory, physiokinetics, technique and philosophy. This seems to encompass a more traditional and classical study of karate-jutsu-do.

One of the leading luminaries toward the acceptance and spread of karate from Okinawa through Japan was Sensei Gichin Funakoshi who wrote the following statement as a part of his, “Third Precept: Karate Cultivates Justice.” (Read about it HERE: )

I quote, “Karate-do is an unarmed martial art because your hands and your legs can be used like swords. You should not use karate-do for injustice or outrageous behavior. You should be in a position of justice and use karate-do only in emergency situations. Then its power will be seen.” - Funakoshi Sensei.

If the karate and martial art communities accept this as truth then it goes a long way to tell us what the true essence is of karate. When I read the part, “You should not USE karate-do for INJUSTICE or OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOR,” I lean heavily toward the understanding that the true essence of karate training and practice is about the use of karate for self-defense/protection only in situations where the use of karate skills is necessary and appropriate to the forces used against that individual. 

Read his precept again, the quote also has contradictions but only if your definition of karate-do and martial art are about the more philosophical benefits. The majority of the quote does focus heavily on its use as a combative type application toward defense but in his day with the upcoming World War he may have also meant it as a means to gravely damage and/or kill the enemies of Japan. After all, the article written about this third precept does involve most of the actual statement as a War oriented honor and justification for Japan and its citizens to take up arms against the U. S. and other Asian nations of those times. 

His other remarks toward its use as to justice, justice of the sociality, the governing bodies of that society and its members is clear in that karate should be used to enforce the mandates of that society and government. But the question does arise, “Do we use that as a basis for modern karate?” I ask because we all have to remember that many of the beliefs, precepts and maxims that drove karate practice were relevant then but may not be now. Yet, if one of karate’s founding fathers wanted his karate, note I stressed “his,” to be used only for the purposes discussed and quoted then we can possibly extrapolate it to mean that karate, in essence, is NOT sport; not a method of self-improvement in a more philosophical sense and not meant to be used to earn money as if a studio or club for fitness and self-gratifications, etc. 

Many of those professionals of these modern times also tend to say that martial arts, including karate, are about damage and death, not winning trophies or accolades or grades or control and so on. It is about using the mental-physical violent actions to stop a threat and safeguard the clan or tribe as well as societies mandates. Anything else is just human egoistic self-soothing manifestations derived from a more academic oriented educational form of a physical discipline misnamed as “Karate or Martial Arts.” 

Look at this perception and perspective as one would an “Armchair Quarterback,” for Sunday Football. They have never played but they tell themselves they are experts and often express that loudly during the games. Ain’t we special!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Secret “Anything!”

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

Kind of a "Double Negative," i.e.,
Hidden and Secret as if "Something
Special Here."
How can something be a secret? If it is, then we cannot possibly know about it so how would or could we tell anyone that we have or found a secret? In the military they have secrets. Those military secrets are generally known about but as to particulars only those few allowed access can view such secrets. Those secrets are often classified according to a specific set of requirements, etc., i.e., you have confidential, secret and “Top Secret.” There are other classifications but guess what, those are secret so “I would have to kill you if I wrote about it ;-) “

Here is the rub, if a secret is told to anyone outside the “Authorized” parties it becomes an “Unauthorized” access and makes it open to reclassification dependent on actions and requirements as the unauthorized access is investigated and adjudicated. 

When a government secret is declassified it is no longer a “Secret.” You don’t communicate that as, “The secret of <fill in blank here> is now this or that.” It it is now an “Unclassified (possible labled as formally a secret document)” document with reasons associated as to why that document is no longer secret.

Granted, in the media for the sake of drama and sales the headlines might say, The secret of <fillin here anything secret, etc.> has been released or exposed or what ever. But there is ONE very important thing that must exist before a secret is a secret and before a secret is released to to either certain authorized persons or to the general public. It has to have been classified by an authorized authority such as a government to be a secret.

Secrets can be designated and authorized by almost any authority but that is also dependent on certain criteria such as a company whose earnings and survival in the world of business thereby may make some entity or product a secret or the process by which the company makes something, i.e., such as a “Secret Recipe” that when or if exposed would result in huge economic loss and so on. 

Now, we have a person who runs a dojo who suddenly finds they have either come across some information that was previously not known or they discovered some historical document that was previously not translated and known and then they suddenly label it as a “Secret; either hidden or some such status as they decide.” The question then becomes, “Is this a true and valid secret?” Who decided it was a secret and why is it now being released and for what reasons? Is that person or dojo actually an valid authorized entity who can both classify and declassify this so called secret? 

Such terms abound in the martial arts community, a community that bundles up the various forms and models of martial discipline including combatives, fighting, competitive endeavors and self-defense like Safeway bundling a market for food, a store to rent video’s, a auto supply department and a bank to get out money and do investments, etc., into one-stop buy all you need venue. 

It seems in our modern times with our modern means of research, THE INTERNET/WORLD WIDE WEB, we are suddenly exposed to some what “Questionable” sources where we see or hear or read of something previously not known to us or that person or persons and whalla, “We have a new SECRET meaning, bunkai or something or other historically significant piece of data” that suddenly finds itself in an article espousing that dojo or training one-size fits all model the new secret meaning, etc., of your or his or her or anyone’s style, system or whatever.

Is it truly a secret? If so, where did it come from and who said it was and how would you prove that it was a secret? Interestingly enough, many new concepts of modern martial arts are simply thoughts, theories and ideas the community has that “Seem New and Fresh” thereby qualifying under questionable criteria as “Newly discovered SECRETS” because the word “Secret” holds a certain mystic to it often derived from exposure to media headlines and the movie and television industry. It seems to come down to what we can come up with that will trigger the imagination and emotional monkey of humans so they naturally and speedily gravitate toward our version of the secret over some other.

I have to admit that if I advertised I had discovered a recent way of doing something and said it is not known generally to the martial art community and promoted it as how I teach that martial discipline it doesn’t grab the attention of possible students. If I also advertised that I have no experience in fighting, in self-defense, as a conflict and violence professional yet said I could and would teach a person to defend themselves in all probability no one would come and sign up for classes let along pay me premium fees for that training. It just doesn’t happen.

So, we will always see headlines, titles and ads about “Secret, hidden, warrior combat defense, etcs, programs newly discovered, often hidden until released to only Uber Master Sensei Warrior Me to teach just those favored few who “Sign up today before the class fills” before you “Lose Out on such a good deal” type thing.

That brings it back to, “If all this is true why do we all continue to fall for it” time and again. It has been going on for decades now, something to think about. 

So, when I see some ad or headline such as, “The Secret Meaning of <fill in something here>!” I immediately have a doubt but even so I tend to still take a look because even if it is not truly a secret or hidden thing it can still have merit, meaning and applications in the martial arts self-defense world. It does make me wonder at the person using such language, what are they selling and for how much. Especially if they only give you a hint then tell you to “Get the full disclosure you just have to send me $29.95 with an self-addressed stamped envelope” to get your secret today. 

Kind of funny, ain’t it? Hey, with all the secret and hidden stuff presented over the last forty years I am totally surprised that there are still "MORE" secrets and hidden things in martial arts still hidden and secret waiting only to be discovered by the next great master of the martial arts to present to us in the next article, ad or video. 

Bibliography (Click the link)