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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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Police Gear and more …

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

Caveat: I am not a police officer; I have never been a police officer; I do not profess that I know what it is like to do the job of a police officer and I would not want anyone to even consider this article is accurate or even correct BUT it is my opinion and perception as uninformed as it may or may not be. Take it as an effort to get others who have no clue to give some consideration as to the huge responsibility involved in Police work. 

Police Officers wear: 

  • A uniform.
  • A Bulletproof Vest
  • A duty belt: firearm in holster; magazine pouch with full mags; flashlight; Taser; Baton; Handcuffs; Pepper Spray; key holder with keys; disposable gloves; knife in knife pouch; Radio and radio pouch, etc.

Police wear a lot and for those of us use to the martial art uniform and the freedom of movement they provide you can try to imagine the restrictive aspects of wearing and carrying all that gear. Add in that they need to wear it a certain way for ease of use for retrieval under stress conditions, etc. then you begin to get a better understanding of how that changes the way they do things required in the job.

Add in coats and rain gear that cover all this up where an officer may be required to retrieve things along with all the other conditions necessary to do the job then you will understand the difficulties involved with protection and service of a police officer. 

All that gear must be practiced enough so that when an officer needs a piece of equipment they can retrieve it quickly because fumbling around means they are not focused on the threat but on the gear and that ain’t good. Add in that if they are not thoroughly familiar, practiced, efficient and proficient in gear retrieval and usage they could pull the wrong gear making things even more difficult. 

Now, imagine a strict set of rules on what equipment that you are required to carry and how you can use them and to what extent with no slippage, no allowance or no leeway in what, when, where and how you can use that equipment along with adrenal stress conditions brought on by criminals and crowds not to mention or forget to mention media coverage by anyone with a phone where escalation to dangerous violent situations is more often reached than not you get a dangerous mix that effects actions and levels taken to do the job. 

Here is the rub folks, I can see all this and I am not a police officer nor have I had to deal with or do anything that involved so much often requiring decisions make in an instance while maintaining a presence in the “Police Policy Square (thanks Marc MacYoung, I kinda borrowed your square analogy)!”

I would then like to suggest you add in a scenario where people come to a scene involving police with agenda’s that are meant to force officers to break with policy so that they can promote such agenda’s as Police Hate and so on. Where protestors deliberately and inadvertently present attack postures and perceptions of higher levels of force that would mean grave bodily harm or even death so that police will react as they are trained for our safety then record that as police brutality and so on. People and situations often put Officers in positions they fail to realize put not just the officers in harms way but themselves in harms way. Then they assume the officers, when it goes bad, are going to keep them safe and secure ….

None of us have even an inkling of what it takes to do the job, do it safely and to remain safe, secure and alive but the Police do and they do it well even under the most stressful and dangerous circumstances most of us could never imagine.  

Now, imagine ever single thing you say or do during your work day is scrutinized, critiqued and criticized by everyone who holds superior positions over you then add in the political superiors who have no clue about conflict, violence and police work holding sway over you and your job who change their views and requirements according to any given moment of political influences, now go out and protect and serve. 

Very few of us can imagine the difficulty of doing such a job and yet we scream and shout of our perceptions of injustices done so we can self-sooth and feel good about ourselves while making it more difficult each moment, each day, each week and so on for Officers to do the job. 

Ask yourself, “Who is the real danger out there? Who is really making life more dangerous for all of us? Who will be there for you when you need them the most if we continue down this path?” Ain’t life a hoot? 

REMEMBER: If a police officer is present and requires your participation in their work, remain polite and comply with their requests and instructions. Make everyone’s day. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

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

To classify any system or style as “The Most Dangerous Martial arts in the World,” is just plain ludicrous, stupid and agenda driven. The question was asked by Hoang Anh on FB at Ryukyu Martial Arts research and general discussion wall, i.e., Some people told me that Krav maga is the most brutal martial art in the world, as its real war is very high, with a particular targeting the body's vital and ended in a strike. this true?”

First, think advertising then think second, commercialism because this type of rhetoric is about making money and increasing membership as well as a plethora of other agenda driven issues and items. Fourth and most important NO system or style regardless of being martial arts or other combative system can achieve a distinction of “Most Dangerous.” 

In truth, if you were to give such a distinction to anything or anyone it would be about the person applying the system or style, not the system or style itself. Saying such things are actually triggers to set off the egoistic pride of the male testerone driven monkey minds out there searching for compensation driven activities to self-sooth and stroke egos and pride so they feel good about themselves. 

Fifth, Krav Maga as described uses the references of use in combat by the Israelis where the actual commercialized versions being sold as the most dangerous martial arts in the world are the “Adjusted Versions.” Adjusted for safety and sport applications and that includes the self-defense versions.

Consider this, there are so very few experienced instructors of Krav Maga and what I mean by experienced is those who have experienced the original teachings and actually applied those teachings in a combat zone. I am saying combat zone and not some monkey dance in some bar somewhere or through some sport oriented so-called full contact sport competition. 

REMEMBER, this article is not to denigrate the current Krav Maga taught in all its forms because as a Martial Art is is pretty darn awesome. I like what I have experienced, minimal experience that is, and I like what is taught but what I don’t appreciate is the use of such inappropriate advertisement that presents a perception that cannot be true and is not true. How many times over the years have all martial artists heard about the best style, the most traditional style or the most effective style and so on? Personally, I can’t tell you how many articles, ads and seminars I have read about, heard about or actually witnessed where someone stood up there and said such things. 

There is NO such thing as the MOST DANGEROUS system, style or martial art! There are dangerous people and even those cannot take on or assume to be the most dangerous in the world. Remember, even a very dangerous person can be had if the situation and circumstances provide opportunities to an attacker - it is just the way of life. 

So, Hoang Anh, to answer your question, “Is this true?” Nope, No way, Not a chance and Ain’t no way dude!”

REMEMBER (ATTENTION): This is not about putting down Krav Maga or any martial art, it is about using such crap to promote a system or style with unreasonable and irresponsible advertisement that is untrue, irresponsible and just plain wrong. Krav Maga, the sport and defense oriented models found today are just as good as any and all other styles and systems of martial arts. To me it is more about a system and styles “Personality,” where a student must find that system or style that best matches their personality - now that is true, relevant and beneficial to any student seeking out martial arts training!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cult of the Dojo - Really!

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

I was reading a fictional book, mystery type, when I came across some passages regarding cults. I began to consider the possibility that a lot of our associations as to group memberships as a form of cult. One such group matches a lot of the criteria of being a cult so I asked myself, are martial arts dojo, etc. actually a form of cult? 

Dojo do offer you something and often you hear about some special knowledge you will receive if you sign up now and pay this low, low fee for a certain period of time. Dojo often teach and profess that some ancient secret recently discovered will be yours if you remain a long standing and dedicated student. The Sensei will say that they are the only ones who have this special secret knowledge and only an active member will be the recipient of that special secret knowledge. 

Once the practitioner or student gets involved then group dynamics kick in where the other members begin to treat you, as long as you adhere to the dojo and Sensei’s rules and requirements, special using a type of operant positive feedback conditioning to solidify your membership with this special secret super effective traditional system or style. 

In this dojo under a more or less charismatic knowledgable and exclusive secret special knowledge only imparted to those who are direct students of the Dojo you will be a member for life who will in all likelihood begin to look upon Sensei and Senpai as an entity of devotional attitude and belief. Thereby creating a symbiotic relationship that provides for a willing recipient of extraordinary control by the Sensei and Senpai. 

All of this also falls under an organized psychological and social persuasion using the doctrine of the system, style and dojo while our natural human instincts of group dynamic survival instincts push from the subconscious side further solidifying the connection to the individual to the dojo and its members. 

Such dojo tend to teach a way of life using other triggers of manipulation, deceptiveness and a unique ideology that sells the cult like style and dojo, it creates an exclusivity in membership and it provides a seductive aspect that you, as a member, are chosen specially for this secret and special way by Sensei and his acolytes, Senpai. You as an exclusive member will receive all thise very special kinds of benefits no other can get without membership. 

So, take a look, are you a member of a dojo or are you simply being added to one of many types of cults? Interesting question don’t you think and explains a lot as to why one might refuse to change, change a way of belief and to accept outside information and influences that may contradict the dojo edict. 

Then again, are clubs and such simply the same type of thing using those influences to increase income, to make more money and to be that very special exclusive club? 

Here are those passages that stimulated this train of thought for today’s article :-)

“Cults form around a charismatic individual who promises something. This individual professes some special knowledge. Sometimes the claim is access to ancient secrets, sometimes it is an entirely new discovery to which he or she alone is privy. Sometimes it is a combination of both. The leader offers to share the information with those who follow. Some leaders offer utopia. Or a way out. Just come along, follow me. I’ll make the decisions. All will be fine. In a cult it is this charismatic leader who eventually becomes the object of devotion; in some cases he is actually deified. And as that happens, the leader comes to hold extraordinary control over the lives of his followers. Cults use organized psychological and social persuasion to produce attitudinal changes. They come to exert control over their members. They are manipulative, deceptive, and exploitative.”

“Cults create a whole new reality and thus create a dependence on the organization and its ideology.” 

“Cults come in all shapes and sizes and promise all kinds of benefits.”

“It is seductive to think that you are elite. Chosen.”

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. when you read “Cult” I bet you dived right into the most negative perception when in reality cults, like almost all things in this Universe, have a yin side and a yang side where the yin side is beneficial to those who become members while still accepting input from others or outsiders, etc. Something to consider don’t you think? 

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015


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

An unknown author and assumed practitioner of martial arts stated, “Skill is acquired through continuous practice, sophistication & depth (are achieved) by giving thought to it.” This meme may provide a solid sound-bite oriented toward practitioners and future practitioners but in reality does not provide for the depth and breadth of what it takes to develop skill. 

First, what is skill? Skill is the ability to do something well, an expertise in a particular ability or discipline. It is, apparently, a learned ability to carry out a task with pre-determined results often within a given amount of time, energy, or both. It is an ability one possesses that is either domain-general or domain-specific as to the skills. 

There are a variety of fundamental skills humans are able to achieve, i.e., labor skills, life skills, people skills, social skills, hard skills and mastering skills.

Labor: a craft that one achieves a certain level of expertise in such as electricians, carpenters and masons, etc.

Life: problem solving in personal affairs that involve human skills such as teaching, through direct experiences and are about handling problem solving issues common to daily life. 

People: understanding self, response moderation, effective communications, empathizing accurately, building relationships with trust, respect and with a outcome of productive interactions. 

Social: the ability to facilitate interactions and communications with others through social rules and relations. 

Soft: a sociological term relating to a person's "EQ" (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people (personality and character of a person).

Hard: Hard skills are any skills relating to a specific task or situation. These skills are easily quantifiable unlike soft skills which are related to one's personality.

Mastering: Mastery pertains to perfecting a particular skill set. To reach mastery, experts claim that 10,000 hours or more of work will have to be put into training.

When discussing martial arts you could include any number and combination of skills mentioned in general above in reaching that goal of acquiring skill. One way, especially in a physical discipline like martial arts, continuous practice is a way toward skill but not exclusive and definitely not when coupled only with giving thought to it. There is a huge amount of information left out, missing, lost or deliberately glossed over for some reason. 

To gain skill in anything you first have to attain a comprehensive and complete knowledge of that discipline. Next is to attain a complete and comprehensive, “Understanding,” of that discipline as well. Then add in both the soft and hard skills of character and personality because that encompasses some very important skill sets toward mastery of a discipline. Only through skill can one achieve mastery and only with a blend and balance of all the seven fundamental skills can one attain, “Skill” and mastery of any discipline. 

To gain skill requires a mind-set and mind-state with a huge amount of dedicated and continuous time, effort, sweat and dedication. Attaining skills is not just a repetitive process and takes inventiveness and a mental skill set toward things like visualization with emphasis toward such practices, training and applications under stress such as the adrenal stress felt often when performing such skills in reality, real life. 

As a possible replacement to the opening quote I would suggest another by an unknown source, i.e., “An ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or job functions involving ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and/or people (interpersonal skills).” - unknown

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Urban Legends of Martial Arts

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I was told by a person who I find reliable that there were two more gold stripes added to the current teaching recognition system of , Renshi = 1 stripe; Kyoshi = 2 stripes; Hanshi = 3 stripes.” The additional two stripes that would provide recognition for the following, i.e., “As head of your own system or style = 4 stripes; as an intangible Okinawan cultural asset = 5 stripes.” 

As martial artists we are all aware of and have been exposed to the proverbial “Urban legends of martial disciplines.” We sometimes recognize them for what they are and sometimes we are sucked into believing them wholehearted, especially when they trigger a personal feeling of our own martial belief system. It is kind of like the excitement a practitioner gets when the label, “Warrior,” is used to address them but in reality they know deep down they are not true, real warriors. 

This information seems to me, on the surface and with a smidgeon of research, to be another one of those urban legends that will soon permeate every corner of the martial arts community. 

Consider this, one such legend is a western belief that one Chinese General famous for his efforts during a certain dynasty is now believed to be a, “God of War as well as a God of Martial Arts.” It comes from the western gaming, video like games, we westerners find very entertaining. My relatively small research effort turned up only one seemingly relevant comment on the subject referring directly to a western influence giving this Chinese General that status, not in China apparently, here in the West. 

When viewing the various statuesque representations of this General it is easy to accept according to personal beliefs and agenda, without really digging into verifications through resources, etc., these representations since they actually relate well to actual historical information. It is, so far as to my personal research, just not true.

Now, as to these additional stripes. First, when you understand the first three designations and their respective stripes you see a direct relationship to martial arts and disciplines. These particular designations are given, mostly, in the MA communities around the world, are recognized directly and indirectly by almost all MA officials and organizations and they are almost exclusively represented by the stripes on martial arts “obi or belts.” 

The next two designations are such that they are not directly and exclusively about martial arts, at least the one about cultural asset. As to the other less direct reference to a head of a system or style it eludes me as to what is special about being the head of a system or style over teaching accolades and recognition or being a cultural asset. 

In Japan they assign the honor of cultural assets to just about any discipline that meets or exceeds the required qualifications and perceptions of the cultural society itself. Japan sees and honors a famous Sumo as a cultural asset as well as a famous “Sushi Chef” also a cultural asset. I am sure beyond my own possible doubt that Okinawa has the same thing so why any possible need to add either a dojo/system/style official recognition as the sole head guy or being awarded an honor of cultural asset. After all, as to the cultural asset that comes from the Okinawan government and people both a part of the MA world and not a part of the MA world. 

It comes down to my perception that a need for these two titles and stripes comes almost exclusively from someone or some entities egoistic needs of recognition, they lack a proper level of esteem therefore have a need to show, be seen and have recognition to something that in one case I can’t see of an Okinawan who was recognized as an Okinawan cultural asset. 

Now, I have made inquires to the Okinawan’s in the martial arts world and hope to get a response that can at least shed some additional light on this other than my efforts. A bit of light that would include an explanation as to why the martial art world would need such a seemingly trivial thing. 

One more thing, what if an Okinawan karate-ka was recognized as a cultural asset or head of a system but didn’t receive any of the three teaching recognition stripes so they put the five strips on the obi, wouldn’t that cause confusion making others assume they were Hanshi as well, 3 strips plus the two and wouldn’t that also assume they were both a head of a style and a cultural asset too? You can be a cultural asset and not a head of a system or style and not a Hanshi as well, right? 

I am getting a strong sense someone in the West has gotten some clever idea in their mind to add another stripe but then again we in the West tend to add a stripe for every single grade of black belt we get up to ten stripes but who is watching and counting anyway?

I vote that this fourth and fifth stripe is an urban legend and if it is not and adopted by the Okinawan martial art community they my respect and admiration for the Okinawan martial art community has gone down a lot of levels, grades and points - shame on them, they are letting the commercialism of the West pollute their karate and that sends the wrong message our original karate guys taught in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. if I find out more I will come back and update this article, promise. 

Good Intentions to Laws to Dogma

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

I heard this on a recent documentary whereby humans, in general and fundamentally, tend to always have good intentions even when those intentions are misguided. Good intentions when held by a larger group tend to gain a hold as to the belief system that drives that group thereby giving pause as to the enforcement of those intentions as manifest to the entire group.

At this stage the group begins to embrace those intentions through an emotional attachment steering it toward a need, emotional over logical, causing the group to make rules, requirements and laws that govern, and often times force, adherence to the spirit of good intentions. 

Now, we have rules, requirements and laws to enforce the original intentions of good people but then as written and understood tend to shift toward meanings not necessarily for the good of the group and survival. Now we have to establish positions and status of group members toward a rule, requirement and law enforcement. Interpretations, perceptions and distinctions now get involved that are composed of both emotions, as dominant, and a logical mind. Another shift in intent, meaning and therefore understanding that tends toward a state of indisputable resolution toward the now changed original good intentions. 

The rules, requirements and laws now take on such importance they once again become something new, it becomes a truth to the true believer of the change good intentions thereby making them unchangeable regardless of any new intentions, suggestions and proofs. They become dogma and dogma means that it is now a stone tablet with the now changed good intentions written into rules, requirements and most important laws, laws considered absolute. 

Now, we have reached a point where the dogma becomes the sole belief of the group making it a cultural belief dogmatic stone tablet unchangeable under any circumstance. The dogma, although originating form original good intentions, becomes a chink in the armor of security and protection of that group making it subject to outside influences and attacks where the group entrenches itself deeper and deeper giving credence, proof and validity to the old maxim, “When digging yourself into a hole you find danger so you urge one another to dig deeper.” Ain’t that a kick so isn’t it fair to perceive a need to become group-aware as well as self-individually-aware to such trappings so that dogma can be avoided leaving the group flexible and capable toward survival, security and ultimately group safety and prosperity?

Good intentions originally remain good until humans get involved in making them dogma, i.e., power, control, status and dominance seems to be the underlying principle of how that works. 

When Sensei adhere to dogmatic belief to control and maintain the status quo of their system and style suppressing thought, questions and theories leaves things as they were but stifle the growth of the disciplines depth and breadth toward evolvement seems a shame. 

Maybe this concept is one sense of a true philosophical and physical manifestation of things like, “Shu-ha-ri and Shin-gi-tai?” To many groups throughout history have gone to dust over dogma from laws, rules and requirements derived from human good intentions. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


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

Self is an illusive concept of human existence. It is essential to being human distinguishing one from another human and deals with a persona introspection of oneself in particular. It is our experiences with the Universe, it is about our emotional awareness, our thoughts at the moment, it is an accumulation of experiences and it is a perception of self as an individual person as an object of consciousness. It is a philosophy, a psychology, a religious belief, a culture with its socially driven cultural belief and so on. It is about our essential qualities that constitute a person as both essential to the group or trive while promoting a uniqueness to feed the ego with caution and moderation. It is our identity as a product of our experiences, learning, understanding and practices.

It is about social identity and acceptance therefore subject to change accordingly even when the change creates stresses of the mind and body. It is about ego as affected by external influences as they effect our personal pride created from our self.

Ego does not necessarily mean the mind since the ego is a lot about emotions and the monkey brain. The mind, as a simplistic model, is divided into three parts that we humans use, i.e., the logical Spock like brain where we handle common sense, etc., the emotionally driven pride filled testerone driven monkey like brain where we handle our emotionally driven crap and is the main stay of humans that leads to conflict and violence, etc., and finally our instinctual automatic lizard brain that nature uses to handle the more automatic aspects of the body such as breathing and blinking while assuming the role of survival models when our monkeys dive into its emotional driven crap or when nature attacks, etc. and the lizard has to bring up those actions necessary to survive like freezing or running or fighting, etc. Martial arts are about learning what our three minds do and training to be aware of those aspects of self so that we can at the very least try to rein the more dangerous aspects in for survival. Example: We become aware that our logical brains are too slow in survival mode, the monkey brain is an emotionally driven ignorant stupid don’t give a shit mind that often escalates us into grave bodily harm or death while the lizard is auto pilot so training and practice must be geared to bypass the logical brain, the monkey and pick the appropriate operant conditioned principle multiple response type model that will allow survival while remaining within the proverbial self-defense square. This is not truly about such responses because once aware of all that encompasses conflict and violence you should therefore have the logical mind through awareness trained to stop the process of conflict and violence for avoidance and so on. Only by studying our “Self” and its three minds can we become aware and recognize when they are leaving the train station so we may apply more control so that our “Self” does not succumb to the monkey, etc. and do bad things. 

Protecting the self is important for the self is that accumulation of both internal and external perceptions, distinctions and lessons that make us who we are as persons. It is exposure to such experiences that create a self that can be good, bad  or predatory with all these able to do good or to do bad, this is the self for each of us, that composition of all we encounter in life that makes us humans with the appropriate humility, etc., that speaks to good, etc. 

Remember that our encounter and exposure to any given moment in life, our race, our gender, our age at any moment, our professions, our politics, our religious belief system and our general socially driven belief systems, and countless identifying and defining characteristics and affiliations tend to drive our “Self” and effect what we see, hear, feel and perceive at any given moment with all that entails creates within us our, “Self.” Most humans never even realize, understand and are totally unaware of these ongoing processes and that is what our monkeys live for but once we become aware of our “Self” then we can understand the “Self of Others” and then create a mind-set and mind-state that takes into consideration all the ways we can avoid, deescalate and communicate to control conflict and violence. 

This is my initial foray into my “Self” and I try to train, practice and apply these in my martial discipline and life with a modicum of success and a lot of failures that teach me about how to be more successful. 

Philosophy will never truly define the self simply because like fingerprints the self is so unique and so different that defining it in one way is impossible for to define the self would require us to know, understand and appreciate every single human in existence at every moment throughout one’s life and that is impossible but to know that one must be aware of their “Self” and then work from there is a common principle of self and character and personality and so on. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What is it to “Be A Man”

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

When I started to contemplate this was after reading the article posted or shared on Marc MacYoung’s FBWall, “Our Kids Don’t Need Gun Control Laws, They Need Fathers.” In one of the comments that followed Mark Burns mentioned, “be a man.” This reminds me of the constant discussion and disagreement as to what is considered “Traditional Martial Arts.” Emphasis on the definition of traditional. 

Being a man seems to be a very subjective phrase that results in as many different thoughts than does the discussion of traditional martial arts what ever that really means. I began to contemplate as to what it takes to “be a man.” 

Being a Man: First, do a search on being a man and at the top of the google search I used it gave the stats of about 1,680,000,000 results in only about .65 seconds. Second, amazing time to achieve that many results in so short a time, thanks google search engine. Third, this simply means that defining what it is to be a man is subjective and dependent on each individual, that individuals perceptions and distinctions according to the various influences such as their fathers, their families, the social structure of that family in its local social tribe and so on. Don’t forget that for all of these it does include the cultural belief systems at each and every level. It also comes from the longer line of ancestry involved because ancestry has a lot to do with how that cultural belief system evolved over a long period of time, say at a minimum of three hundred years. 

Every man must become the man that his social community requires as to that groups survival. Think of survival as what each generation teaches the one that follows so that it maximizes that groups chance of survival. If any one generation fails to transmit that social cultural belief system, including what it is to be the man in that group along with other beliefs, then they have allowed a weak link to effect that groups chance of survival. If the group actually has its shit together that weak link will be readily detectable and therefore the group will either correct it or remove it but in modern times this part may not be available now. 

Being a man has a lot more involved than merely acting in a macho manner. There are all kinds of descriptive terms and phrases that would give some modicum of information toward what it is to be a man but to remind you, that changes according to the social construct and the survival instinct of that same social entity. There is a huge amount of diversity in that thought and it also provides me a theory as to why humans should have remained in those ancient groups or tribes. Such descriptive terms as, “Selflessness, consistency, humility, integrity, respect, courage, honor, compassion, honesty and sincerity as well as duty and loyalty.” All of these then therefore depend heavily on how that particular person, family and social community defines them and then that definition is instinctually modeled toward the tribe or groups survival. 

Then there are how such definitions are affected by group dynamics such as where a person, a man in this case, sits within the groups hierarchy, their status at that level within the tribe and finally their duty and responsibility to the tribe or group with emphasis on its survival. 

Now, I would add in how the effects of the society at its current standing effects being a man. Modern society compared to a more simplistic social standing such as Medieval times would create what it is to be a man to self, the group and the social tribes involved. Modern times seems to me to have put a socially conditioned different spin on what it is to be a man.

For instance, being a man to me means having the intestinal fortitude to solve your own issues, problems and obstacles but modern man as of this time seems to be conditioning men to seek others in solving issues, problems and obstacles. Modern society is actually distancing everyone, men especially, from the natural human instincts that provided for survival of the tribe making for men who no longer have the knowledge, understanding or tools to cope and resolve conflicts along with the sometimes resulting violence. We are forgetting our ancestry and roots especially those aspects that have not been removed by nature through evolution. 

A complete lack of knowledge, understanding and the resulting tools to cope with conflict and violence, a very natural state of human existence that is not going anywhere any time soon, means when the natural human conflict arises we either try to force its resolution onto others so we don’t have to deal with its stresses or we try to ignore it until frustrations rise to a level causing anger, escalation and violence, more violence than what we originally wanted to rid ourselves of to begin with by sticking our collective heads in the sands of ignorance. 

In that light lets say that to be a man is to learn and understand what it is to be human, collect adequate tools and knowledge and especially understanding so each man can deal with human conflict and violence, at all levels. A man does rely on others to assist but deflecting the entire situation to others is simply cowardice. A man then through knowledge, understanding and awareness knows how to properly apply the coping skills to avoid, deescalate and resolve said obstacles, issues, problems and obstacles. A man knows when to “hold-em, fold-em and when to walk away” as Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler, would say. 

Being a man is accepting the world for what it is, having the courage to deal with the world and then finding ways to make for a better world using the tools the world has and works under. Hiding and othering and ignoring and forcing others to take on and handle our responsibilities is cowardice, stupidity and just plain wrong. 

Maybe being a man is as simple and as complex as understanding we have a responsibility to ourselves, our families and our tribes to do the best we can for our survival. Maybe those are the underlying principles of being a man while all the others such as being “Selfless, consistent, with humility, with integrity, with respect, with courage, with honor, with compassion, with honesty and sincerity as well as with duty and loyalty,” will help each man to understand what it takes to be a “Man.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Physical Expression of Karate

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

“Karate, like all budo, is at its core a physical expression of mental volition. It’s realized not through intellectual effort but through action. To forget this, or to minimize it, is to sabotage any effort to master karate as an art.” - Dave Lowry, Black Belt Magazine Article

Karada de oboeru: learning with the body. 

Saying you understand is not a bad response when asked if you understand a lesson. When Sensei or Senpai asks, “Do you understand?” You can understand it in a sense but to understand it as it is physically applied, maybe not. You can know of the thing but the doing of it becomes a bit more in need of understanding. The issue is an interpretation of understanding. When studying, learning, training, practicing and applying a discipline you need to understand two distinct things, i.e., the principle of philosophy applies here using the sub-principle of “Yin-Yang,” where the Yin equals the academic knowledge necessary to the Yang that equals the physical manifestation. Seldom is academia and intellectualization enough to do the job vs. understanding the job itself.

I equate this complexity to the training, classroom, we received as Marines. Usually the classroom instruction is intense and tends to jam a lot into a very short period of time. Where true knowledge, understanding and ability or proficiency come into play is when you apply that knowledge on the job and in the job, i.e., doing is the real education toward a goal of understanding. 

In this instance then the true question must be adjusted if you want, especially the western mind under the western cultural belief systems, to truly get a correct and accurate response. This concept is one of the critical ones I mention when someone decides they want to take up the discipline of Sensei, to teach, instruct and mentor novices, students and practitioners in the martial discipline. 

When I ask if someone understands and they give me a “Yes,” I then follow up with, “If you understand can you apply that understanding through action?” I expect most to understand concepts intellectual or the conversation continues until all vagueness is gone then I also expect a more tactile lesson to help implement that knowledge and understanding toward the action of doing the marital discipline. 

It is best to remember that one’s definition and meaning toward, “Understanding,” tends to differ vastly between each individual. A huge part of martial discipline especially as it applies in the doing for defense, fighting and combatives is, “Communications.” Conflict and Violence communications are critical on several fronts, more critical than the intellectualization and physical doing of technique(s), etc. You have to know, understand and apply those communication skills to first perceive conflict and violence long before it goes physical, communicate to deescalate and avoid to keep from going physical and finally to articulate adequately what you did, why you did it and how it was applied, etc., for the aftermath of conflict and violence. 

Finally, just having the academic knowledge, an understanding of it both mentally and physically and then a concept toward its real-life applications does not mean you can “Do it.” The doing of it must also be trained against all the other principles of martial disciplines with the principle of self-defense and the chemical dump through reality-based training scenario’s. 

Now, with just this tidbit of information you can begin to grasp the significance of “Understanding” that involves such disciplines. The doing and effects of such knowing and doing tend to be complex. Answering the question, “Do you Understand,” tends to come from the intent of the instruction, the question and the possible answers. 

Making things work in the real world has always been the bane of understanding for humans especially when it comes to those disciplines that result in dangers to the individual, the tribe and its society in survival. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Innate Goodness and Moral Relativism, etc.

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link) NOTE: I do not disagree with GB’s post/article but I do question some particulars that inspired this article. She is right but my effort is to allow for more questions overall with emphasis on “Innate and Relativistic” etc. 

It was written, “ … the innate goodness of Humankind, and/or moral relativism,” and I then asked self, “Self, is humankind good and is that an innate aspect of being human?” What about “Moral relativism?” 

Is goodness actually inborn, natural to humans? When we are born, are we naturally inclined toward a form of goodness? I think not says I. When we are born there are certain things we have from nature, encoded in our DNA so to speak. We do have a natural tendency toward survival although as new borns that effort is useless ergo why we need parents and tribal participation to make it to an age where we can actually start to do things necessary for our survival.

When we think of philosophy when discussing goodness and inborn or natural, innate, human goodness a new born child has no concept of good or bad, they are just there. They tend, I believe, to form good and bad from their environment, their families and the social effects of the tribe to which they belong. I really don’t believe that one has an “Innate goodness” to them when born. I do believe there is an “Innate Ability to Learn” in all humans and therefore have the potential to learn, develop and apply goodness, or, badness. 

How does one achieve the proverbial innate goodness of humans but through operant conditioning such as humans providing rewards and punishments according to the tribal laws, rules and requirements, i.e., we award behaviors and condition toward them in ways such as awarding a badge for an accomplishment in the Scouts. We award colored belts in karate when a practitioner accomplishes lessons well and hold back the same if they fail to achieve a certain level of results from said training and practices. 

It takes a “Village” to make for human goodness. We humans, although it would be awesome to be born with an innate goodness, are born a blank slate where goodness and badness are up for grabs. The tribe, village, are the authors and creators of human goodness and kindness and empathy and enlightenment through social conditioning, the real source of human goodness. That is why we have “Social Conditioning,” because once we are brought forth into this world we child humans are extremely “Vulnerable.” 

The only way we can build ourselves up to the survival levels is through the efforts our tribes and if that tribe, village, just happens to be built on badness then you can expect the offspring to develop badness.

Of course, all this is subject to what I, and certain philosophies call “Karma,” call karma where for some strange and unknown reason a person is able to distinguish between good and bad even when bad conditions them to feel and think their badness is actually good where that unique person is able to overcome the bad conditioning to be good. 

GB’s quote as follows addresses how easy it is to be conditioned as bad while creating or conditioning their minds and spirits to feel, assume and perceive their badness as goodness or at least acceptable toward their survival:

OC refers to Operant Conditioning: “I did all my chores and still got belted” is OC. “I committed X crime and all my friends said I was super cool ” is OC. “I was hungry and stole some food and then I wasn’t hungry anymore” is OC. Over time, it can result in kids who get a buzz out of committing all kinds of illegal, unpleasant, or immoral acts. They don’t have to overcome an aversion beforehand and deal with their guilt afterwards: doing what we could class as “being bad” feels good to them. It’s their default setting, and its own reward.

This default setting has nothing to do with any human “Innate Condition” of either good or bad, it is a setting created by conditions from the moment a human is born into this world all the way up until they are exposed to other conditions that teach them about what most consider as, “Good vs. Bad.” 

In a nutshell, “Innate Human Goodness,”  is not “Inborn or Natural,” as the accepted definition of innate might indicate. It is a good meme and conveys a lot about what we as humans would like or want to be true to all humans but that is simply deluding ourselves of the fact that goodness and badness mostly depends on social conditioning, called operant conditioning. It all depends. 

Now, about “Moral Relativism?” Well, when you add that to the original quote it kind of, from my view, contradicts the first half much like I do above concerning innate goodness. Moral relativism as defined states, “Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person's individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves.”

In this definition I would agree, mostly, and yet disagree, a bit, because of two items of concern. First is about individual choice, most often humans as they grow from infants to adults do not truly have a personal and individual choice in anything. As infants their conditioning, socially operant in nature, is being done through social environments such as parent, family overall, neighborhood as is those social connections that make up groups, tribes or villages. Add in a lot of socially driven beliefs systems along with cultural influences that come from historical conditioning then you begin to see how one may not actually, except in rare instances, have personal and free choices. 

Remember, we humans need to survive, even in these relatively safer modern times. Survival for humans throughout human history is about “Groups or tribes or villages, etc.” Alone, it is very rare indeed for anyone to survive in this animal kingdom of which the human animal is a part. Our group needs even in modern times is felt through the absolute need of humans to be close to and associate socially with other humans. How often do you hear of research that says, “Humans live longer and healthier lives when socially connected, etc.” We need groups and tribes and villages.

In order for those tribes, groups and villages to connect and get along they have to develop thinks like group rules, group hierarchy, group status, etc. that govern and control group interactions and that means offspring have to be conditioned to follow those rules, etc. of the group. It starts with the immediate family and adds up from there.

So, in a nutshell there is actually no real influence from persona choice except the choice to follow the family and groups rules, regs, beliefs, etc. and in reality except in rare cases that pull, that group dynamic and that group connectivity coupled with a strong instinct to belong makes that a bit iffy at best. 

Now, as to the first half of “Moral Relativism” of “Culturally based” conditioning that to me is “Spot on.” I do believe that the group at all levels is where humans become good, bad or a combination of both from the groups conditioning of “ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong and so on,” are conditioned, called social conditioning that is about operant conditioning of social needs and requirements. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. Oh, and the definition of moral relativism states at the end, “We can all decide what is right for ourselves,” is questionable. All things considered can we really and truly decide for ourselves? Communications is one of those things that can manipulate humans into believing and doing some pretty strange things. In the end it is rare once a belief is set that a human can actually see it with clarity and then change it according to new knowledge and understanding. Oh, I am such an “???”

p.s.s. I do wish to say that at some level humans do have an ability to change and control but to what extent is up for grabs. 

p.s.s.s. Nothing is written in stone, the future is not set and humans when least expected do the strangest, oddest and sometime very bad things.