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, November 30, 2015

How Many Kata?

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

A question bantered about the internet about mastering kata, i.e., is it better to master six kata as to depth and breadth of knowledge, understanding and proficiency as to mastery or is it better to learn a slew, i.e., twenty or more kata, of kata superficially yet beautiful as to presentation. Then there is the often asked question relating kata to ability in self-defense. 

Focus is so heavy on kata as to quantity vs. presentation vs. application we fail to recognize that it is not a matter of how many kata we learn or how well we understand those kata. We fail to realize that we don’t have to actually learn one or even one hundred kata but what we actually need to learn are those principles found in all kata regardless of its origins, i.e., as to a personal kata by an individual to those of a system or style created also by an individual perception and perspective, etc. 

All basics, both upper and lower; all kata, regardless of style such as Isshinryu, Gojuryu, Shorinryu and so on and all drills contrived from kata and basics are all based on and rise up from principles such as, “Theory, Physiokinetic, Technique, Philosophy, Self-Defense and Chemical Cocktail.” This with a strong emphasis on the physiokinetic principles of, “Breathing, posture, triangle guard, centerline, primary gate, spinal alignment, axis, minor axis, structure, heaviness, relaxation, wave energy, convergence, centeredness, triangulation point, the dynamic sphere, body-mind, void, centripetal force, centrifugal force, sequential locking and sequential relaxation, peripheral vision, tactile sensitivity, rooting, attack hubs, attack posture, possibly the chemical cocktail, Multiple Methodologies [actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression, etc. are best for stopping a threat].”

There is an old story of a student who was required to practice certain basic fundamentals of an art form for years. The student was learning about the art of telling a story. He got a bit disappointed that he was not taught other stories so he finally got to a point where he just quit. He was traveling the roads when he stopped at an Inn to beg for food and drink. There was a round of story telling occurring at that Inn and he was asked if he knew a story to tell. If the story was good he would be fed and given drink. The young student told his story. During the telling the room got very, very quiet, i.e., as if a hush of emptiness enveloped everyone so that they could hear every word, syllable and nuance of the telling. When the story finished everyone within hearing simple sat with dumfounded looks of surprise and satisfaction. The Inn keeper immediately brought a plate of his very best along with the most expensive drink he stored at the Inn and simply placed them reverently in front of the student. The student thanked him profusely and asked what was the matter as the atmosphere had changed significantly after his story were told. The Inn keeper simply stated, “We have heard from a Master story teller.” Needless to say, the student was totally taken aback but then realized that his teacher’s methods were in and of themselves masterful and the student realized why he was required to practice the same story over and over again toward certain foundational principles rather than many, many stories. The master was providing the student with those principles that would provide a masterful story regardless of what story was told. The student finished his meal and drink, excused himself to all those at the Inn and especially the Inn keeper and sped off back to the Master where he requested he be allowed to continue his studies.

As can be seen it is not a matter of what kata or how many but how it is told. If the foundation is solid and the principles mastered then no matter what kata or basics or drills practiced all would show mastery regardless. Any kata, basic or drill learned would be learned rapidly and the underlying mastered principles would make that kata, masterful. 

Herein lies the secret to kata and to how many one should learn. Learn the principles and practice those principles and no matter the system, the style of the individual kata - all will be as if a master was demonstrating the discipline. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sensei to Deshi; Senpai to Kohai; Tori to Uke - To Teach, To Coach and To Mentor

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

Idea/Ideology: Reading an outline of the Marine Raider leadership outline three distinct traits came out that I felt not only apply to military training but also to martial arts training. This is especially critical because the type of training I tend to advocate in martial arts is one toward self-defense where grave bodily harm or even death are on the table. 

I found that to teach, to coach and to mentor a practitioner in martial arts for self-defense requires this unique form of teach, training and application. It describes fundamentally how a Sensei, a Senpai and a relationship of the Tori-uke are necessary to provide the level of capacity in expertise to fully integrate the high level of skills and innate talent necessary to apply MA-SD in a challenging, changing and chaotic environment of conflict and violence. 

Teaching: this aspect is about building a knowledge base that is ever changing and growing. It is concerned with the teaching of skills with knowledge and understanding. It is a synergic effort instill an environment, the dojo at first, that is open and effective in a more academic environment. It is in a formal yet not formal classroom like place and it means the sensei, senpai and tori-uke models must use their positions as a knowledge base that includes sourcing to other knowledge bases for data-mining, etc. Key to success in teaching is the ability to remain open to idea’s and skills that change constantly along with updates to academic knowledge, etc. 

In teaching to build a fundamental foundation and base to build and construct knowledge and understanding you teach not to impress but to inform and deliver as well as receive and update knowledge therefore creating individual confidence and enthusiasm. Teaching is to teach all those aspects toward proper, efficient and productive performances not just academic but also physical, mental and spiritual. 

Teaching is one of those things that seems to stand alone in most martial classrooms because, in my view and limited experiences, those classrooms don’t know that teaching alone is not enough for a physical defensive system like martial arts. Teaching is the first of three, a triad of teaching, couaching and mentoring. Sensei, Senpai and tori-uke must achieve a full triad to be sensei, senpai and tori-uke in a dojo.

Teaching naturally requires coaching, the ability to take the knowledge, experiences, understanding and skills of the system and create a holistic whole of the individual practitioner into what makes them a whole martial artists in self-defense, combatives and fighting through a physical, mental and spiritual holistic whole to make a wholehearted practitioner of MA-SD.

A teacher-coach must have the ability to take all the myriad skills, abilities, knowledge and understanding of the system through the user of personal example, experience, motivation and inspiration to develop the techniques, tactics and strategies necessary to transmit the system over just teaching. The teacher-coach must be a participant as well, a player if you will. This is one of the reasons why participation of an active nature is critical in MA-SD, it is how the teacher-coach transmits by example through his or her base of skill, etc., that will build the same in the individuals so that both can “Concurrently” develop, build and apply the system along with creating a cohesive bond thus increasing skills progressively ergo the use of the Sensei-Deshi, Senpai-Kohai and tori-uke relational-training symbiotic connection.

The teacher-coach role naturally requires the final leg for the triad of teacher, coach and mentor, that builds and supports the system into a dynamic whole best suited to build a solid foundation toward a system that will result in higher levels of expertise, experience, knowledge and skill. The final leg of the triad is “Mentoring,” a more individual aspect.

Mentoring is the absolute corner-stone of the dojo, the system and they style that is martial arts self-defense. It is about inspiration of both the mentor and the mentored. The relationship already built becomes solid as if in a brotherhood survival group dynamic that adheres proponents in an physical, mental and emotional connection unparalleled in the nature of group survival instincts and so on. It is one of those connections that comes from an open and cohesive bond between individuals with emphasis on a desire toward professional development, personal interactions more conducive to proper learning and conditioning, and to future aspirations in the profession. 

Look at the mentor as the proverbial “Sage,” a counselor to the younger, inexperienced, dojo member. Mentoring is a holistic blend of teaching and coaching aspects of performance overall while cementing a bond that makes for the Sensei-Deshi, Senpai-Kohai and Tori-Uke model in martial arts. It provides a connection built on trust, respect and proper attitude so that communications remain open and accepting in concern for the indificual, the group and the dojo. 

It becomes important to anyone seeking out martial arts for self-defense, combatives and fighting to seek out those who have embraced the teaching, coaching and mentoring model. It is a absolute critical aspect of military leadership but also can be found throughout all disciplines of the physical, mental and spiritual. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Effortless Technique

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

In a recent post, here taken I am sure out of context, it was stated, “The reason I practice and constantly repeat practicing until my technique look's as if it is perform effortlessly.” Now, I am sure that the author of said quotation had more meaning to go with it but in the written form as it appeared it lacked that greater explanation that would have led to a fuller understanding of what was meant, i.e., assuming that I actually understood what the author meant but until it is questioned we may never know. This is a particular issue with teaching by the written word or through video’s and often as it true of modern martial arts what is said in the dojo when explaining things.

I remember long ago another instructor came up to me after a session and said fundamentally that I talked to much, gave way to much information to which I politely disagreed. He meant that to remain true to the traditions of martial arts from the Asian theater we must be less vocal and allow the student to seek out and discover things for themselves to which I politely disagreed because that way of instruction is about their cultural system where shi-kata dominates and the expectation that observation and the demonstration thought the kata system (not just martial arts but socially in all disciplines in this society). We don’t live or even practice in such a belief system and our culture is vastly different. Americans need, want and must have such conversations to derive a full and complete understanding therefore helping along with explanations is critical along with other operant conditioning type instructions, etc.

Granted, trying to provide way to much information verbally often gets lost because humans only retain a certain amount but that is where true repetitive practice and study come into play because over time students will have these “Oh crap” moments where they will come to realize, “Oh, that is what sensei meant, I get it now.”

So, when I read the full statement with this one quote in it, i.e., “The reason I practice and constantly repeat practicing until my technique look's as if it is perform effortlessly.” I got a bit concerned that for those without more experience, training, study and understanding might “Assume” that to achieve proficient application of martial arts in fighting, combatives and/or self-defense you just have to practice a lot and repetitively and truthfully that “Just ain’t so.” 

Now, we can not assume that the student/practitioner knows and understands what “Practicing” means to its fullest such as knowledge of self-defense in modern society, adrenal stress-conditioned reality based training and actual use of said ability toward force levels and so on. The last thing any self-respecting, dedicated and morally driven instructor wants is for a student facing a violent situation to find that they cannot defend because they assumed that simply repeating a movement will actually make it work in reality. One of the reasons I write and teach with this in mind is I would feel awful if one of my students got badly hurt or died because I failed them in teaching the proper way. Knowing of the person who made this quote I feel they would have the same feelings for their students as well. 

Now, I also disagree that constantly repetitive practice along until my technique “Looks” as if I perform it “effortlessly” does not jell to well for me as to its viability in a self-defense or combative situation.  I believe a huge fallacy of most martial arts instructions is “Making it LOOK powerful” actually means its performance tends to look good but often means bleeding off of energy in the body in lieu of energy, power and force being transmitted through the body and into a target (another complete article all on its own here).  Most of those demonstrations are about looking good but violent the fundamental principles you need to achieve proficiency in such situations of conflict and violence. 

Effortlessly is also misunderstood because an effortless application actually is very hard to detect and maximizes the energy power and force transmission to where one perceives something but cannot put their finger on what that is. It also boils down to what one perceives as effortlessly because I don’t see to many article defining what performing effortlessly means. Just because it makes something assume that the performance is being done as if no effort is required does not truly define that effortless effort.

An effortless effort is a complex thing and explaining it will take another full article at a minimum but to actually know when you reach such a level is when you are in a violent encounter, often when you failed to actually use self-defense, and your effort results in all the physiokinetic principles such as structure, balance, centeredness, etc. align like the planets in the heavens and your attacker actually demonstrates how the body reacts when it is the recipient of all the power and force you can actually generate and transfer to that persons target. Even this explanation is limited and incomplete. And NO, I will not give you that excuse too often used that you MUST learn it hands on and in person with a qualified instructor ON THE DOJO FLOOR. When that happens I have seldom witnessed anyone actually convey it that way ON THE DOJO FLOOR.

I use a forum on a blog to demonstrate why meme’s and quotations are great learning tools but always require “Full and Complete” explanations, etc. to begin to understand. I call this site a Karate Koan like quotation where I provide comments to help explain but also say that continuous and repetitive study along with training, practice and mental/physical meditative contemplation over the life of study and practice are necessary to achieve a more enlightened understanding are REQUIRED. YOU CANNOT TAKE OR ASSUME THAT ONE READING OF A QUOTE CONVEYS ALL MEANING because that just ain’t so.

In the end, a caveat should be presented that with article and especially singular quotations must be accompanied by either a greater explanation as to meaning or that it requires that along the path of study, over time and with experience. Otherwise the meme or quote is just a neat thing to attack attention or make yourself look wise and enlightened.  

Effortless effort, looking a certain way, repeating practice are not the end all of martial arts study and practice. One reason it is something you can do for the long haul in life. It can lead you to many ways, many paths and many perspective preceptive views all unique to each individual either presenting or receiving. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. remember, like all this of this nature, it is true that "Effortless effort" is a part of overall training and practice but as to how that manifests is the hard part of it all and it is not what folks think it is …

Friday, November 20, 2015

Aging Martial Artists - New Blog

Link to right of page, click for larger view.

Yudansha and Kata

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

In a recent posting somewhere out there is iKarate land it was asked, “ … a style where you learn all the kata prior to or upon becoming a Yudansha?” Interesting, but that is a whole nother subject - Isshinryu seems to be one of those styles that at a minimum require one learn, superficially, the movement and patterns of all the “Open Hand Kata” to receive a black belt. There will be some argument over that one in the Isshinryu community. In this I don’t count the kobudo kata.

There in lies the rub to such a question because to gather appropriate data I would have to define the style as to all the kata within and that would include all the kobudo if for no other reason that kobudo is considered both a separate system as well as an intricate part of the empty hand systems.

Then I would have to differentiate between systems, i.e., karate vs. kobudo vs. iaido vs. judo vs. jujitsu, etc., then I would have to differentiate between systems and styles that may not even have kata. The list goes on ….

So, I would rephrase that question to, “In Okinawan karate does your system or style ask/require you learn all the kata prior to or upon becoming a Yudansha?” In Okinawan karate that would mean both open-hand and kobudo - a lot of kata. I also would assume and suspect that none of the Okinawan systems or styles require all of the kata to achieve black belt. Too many use various kata, both open and kobudo, to be required for the rankings from kyu to several levels of dan-sha. 

Then I would address the reasoning why any or all kata are a prerequisite to dan-sha in any system or style. Add in what it means to learn a kata vs. knowing a kata vs. understanding kata, i.e., where you relate that knowledge and understanding toward applications, not necessarily directly derived from but more about a holistic one where it is applied dynamically, etc.

All too often “Learning a kata” is defined more as learning the patterns. Most of the black belts I encountered in my early days only knew those patterns while things like principles along with a certain rhythm, cadence, etc., were pretty much unknown, not acknowledges and seldom taught along with the what, when, where and why of that learning. I have practiced and trained and taught for over twenty-five years and only in the last ten years of my thirty-nine years of study have I finally begun to understand kata and its purpose along with principles, etc.

In lieu of “Learning Kata” to achieve dan-sha status and recognition I would recommend using the prerequisite of knowing, understanding and applying the fundamental principles of martial disciplines as the thing to “Learn” to achieve dan-sha recognition.

Oh, then there is the whole definition and meaning of the dan-i (dan-sha) system and that one can be debated for decades and still not get to a consensus accepted by all the martial community - oh, shit, wait a minute as that debate has already gone on for about forty or more years already!

Yeah, take out the technique based model of teaching and put in a principle based model to teach martial arts, that would be a solid universal way to rate one as a black belt - all other things considered and all participants reaching a mutual consensus on those areas too. 

Ok, I know, the current model is so entrenched that the technique based teaching regimen will endure for decades to come so in lieu of trying to convert it would be beneficial and acceptable if principles based training were at least added into the current model as another part of teaching martial arts especially as it is applied to fighting, combatives and self-defense. I can dream ya-know!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Situational Awareness, What is it good for …..

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

First, define situational, i.e., situational means, “manner of being situated; location or position with reference to environment; a place or locality; condition; case; plight; the state of affairs; combination of circumstances; Sociology. the aggregate of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors acting on an individual or group to condition behavioral patterns.”

Second, define awareness, i.e., awareness means, “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact (consciousness, recognition, realization, etc.); concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development (understanding, grasp, appreciation, knowledge, insight, familiarity and cognizance.); the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human's or an animal's perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event.”

Third, lets see what comes up when we try to define situational awareness, i.e., “the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regard to the mission. More simply, it's knowing what is going on around you; the perception of environmental elements with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event; being aware of what is happening in the vicinity, in order to understand how information, events, and one's own actions will impact goals and objectives, both immediately and in the near future. One with an adept sense of situation awareness generally has a high degree of knowledge with respect to inputs and outputs of a system, i.e. an innate "feel" for situations, people, and events that play out due to variables the subject can control.”

Talk about a mouth full, it helps to understand why this particular term used in self-defense teachings can stray far and away of what one would really need to be situationally aware when in situations that could lead to violence. When discussing situational awareness the student must also understand things like, “Situational understanding, assessment, mental models, and Sense-making.”

Situational Understanding: In the context of military command and control applications, situational understanding refers to the "product of applying analysis and judgment to the unit's situation awareness to determine the relationships of the factors present and form logical conclusions concerning threats to the force or mission accomplishment, opportunities for mission accomplishment, and gaps in information".

Situational Assessment: it is important to distinguish the term situation awareness, as a state of knowledge, from the processes used to achieve that state. These processes, which may vary widely among individuals and contexts, will be referred to as situational assessment or the process of achieving, acquiring, or maintaining SA." Thus, in brief, situation awareness is viewed as "a state of knowledge," and situational assessment as "the processes" used to achieve that knowledge. 

Mental Model: Accurate mental models are one of the prerequisites for achieving SA. A mental model can be described as a set of well-defined, highly organized yet dynamic knowledge structures developed over time from experience. Experienced decision makers assess and interpret the current situation and select an appropriate action based on conceptual patterns stored in their long-term memory as "mental models". Cues in the environment activate these mental models, which in turn guide their decision making process.

Sense-making: situation awareness is about the knowledge state that's achieved—either knowledge of current data elements, or inferences drawn from these data, or predictions that can be made using these inferences. In contrast, Sense-making is about the process of achieving these kinds of outcomes, the strategies, and the barriers encountered;  Sense-making is viewed more as "a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively", rather than the state of knowledge underlying situation awareness; Sense-making is actually considering a subset of the processes used to maintain situation awareness; In the vast majority of the cases, SA is instantaneous and effortless, proceeding from pattern recognition of key factors in the environment; Sense-making is backward focused, forming reasons for past events, while situation awareness is typically forward looking, projecting what is likely to happen in order to inform effective decision processes.

Situational Awareness is a critical decision-making state of mind. It is not a constant state but one that is usually triggered by instincts developed through experience, training, practice and understanding so that a trigger event will turn on SA and that will allow the operator to achieve proper defensive states to achieve goals be it civil self-defense for a non-professional to proper tactical and strategic goals for the professional. 

What constitutes the atomistic of SA comes from implementation of the other related concepts, i.e., SU, SA, MM and SM as described above. Each environment, each social group dynamic, each social belief system and so on dictates in any given moment what happens and what should be done to achieve goals, i.e., restraint or defense, etc.

As can be seen just in this short terse article the concepts toward awareness in martial arts training for professionals or civil self-defense can be complex. It is imperative students of MA-SD be exposed to, trained in and application of awareness if for no other reason then to identify the road markers that broadcast danger is down the road and it involves violence. It also speaks to how a person should become aware of themselves and as to their thoughts and actions according to any given moment because a lot of violence can be avoided by that type of awareness, i.e., in any given situation having an awareness of our own monkey’s, the monkey’s response and making a conscious decision to ignore the ego emotional monkey crap and make good decisions, etc. 

In closing, there are a variety of awareness concepts that should be made part of self-defense martial arts training or self-defense training all used to set off your spidey sense so you can actually avoid violence, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. Hey, nobody said this shit was easy and if they did you need to walk away and find someone else to teach you. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Focus on Fists

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

Why do we spend such great amounts of time and effort on the fist? In one article by Sensei Victor Smith, he discusses one such fist, i.e., “Secrets of the Old Okinawan Fist.” ( Nice and interesting article and I will admit right off that I have written many articles on the subject of the fist, Tate-kin, the vertical fist. 

My answer here comes from my personal perceptions, the fist is a subject of focus because it often talks about karate where karate is defined, classically and basically, as “Empty Hand.” Karate is predominately thought of as a striking system. It uses, predominately, the fist as its primary tool to strike another human. 

Is this focus valid? Not really because karate, empty hand, as I have mentioned lately in other articles is about the use of the hand in fighting or defending “hand-to-hand. (note: it also is about hand-to-weapons type stuff since an attacker or adversary may or may not be empty handed or have a weapon of some sort which will drive your use or not-use of empty hand.)” 

Empty hand has long since been accepted to mean, the fist. In reality empty hand means, “Empty hand.” As in a hand that does not contain any type of weapon be it a stick, knife or even (in modern times) gun. In this instance the hand can be formed in a variety of ways such as open as in a slap hand or closed as in fore fist or even hammer fist. 

It has become more accepted that the fist is not a really good weapon in a fight but my belief is its use comes from human instincts toward a more group communication and enforcement tool that results in less damage over a more physical way of communicating a group rule or law. It is also being made more known that the use of an open hand to cause damage, great bodily harm in defense when that force is necessary, is more effective vs. the closed fist. (clarity can be sought through reading the book by Marc MacYoung, “Writing Violence III: Getting Hit and Hitting.”)

Then add in reality that Multiple Methodologies [actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression, etc. are more effective than simply striking with the fist, etc. then we begin to understand, me anyway, that such a focus on the fist kind of detracts from using karate or any martial discipline from its very essence, to defend in some violent situation. 

To take up such discussions are informative and build understanding, understanding when it encompasses all possible aspects and intentions of the discussion. It is about distinctions especially if it is studied and practiced toward avoiding, deescalating or applying defense of conflict and/or violence. 

Needless to say that is why my articles have begun to take on a different perspective in trying to convey that principles are far more important than a technique based teaching. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Freudian slips

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

Verbal mistakes are simply an inevitable part of life. In an article for Psychology Today, writer Jena Pincott suggested that people make one to two errors for every 1,000 words they say. This amount to somewhere between 7 and 22 verbal slip-ups during the average day, depending upon how much a person talks. Some of these errors might indeed reveal unconscious thoughts and feelings, but in other cases they are simply cases of misremembering, language errors, and other mistakes.

When I think of freudian slips I often assign them to effects of inattention, stresses and the commonality of humans to simply speak without conscious thought as to what they say. I add in that perceptions from life along with distractions and inattentiveness lead us to say things that might closely sound the same as what was intended. This is one reason why it is important to speak only when you provide conscious thought to what it is you want to say before saying it.

In self-defense, this can achieve deescalation over escalation thus allowing us to avoid physical confrontation. Now, if I simply began, due to the adrenal dump and the adrenal stresses of conflict, to speak about the situation my mind may fly toward all the material I have come to understand regarding conflicts and if my experiences don’t connect properly I could inadvertently say, freudian slip if you will, something that would result in escalation when I intended to deescalate. 

It is sad that this occurs but it does and it is not about, in my mind, saying something you actually intended to say over what you would say for social harmony, etc. but the minds search of fragmented information where something that may seem in that unconscious instinctive instant as appropriate will actually be far removed from the human minds intent. I look at it as the monkey brain taking charge and reaching down into that convoluted and confusing memory data and taking what it thinks is appropriate to accomplish its egoistic pride driven status seeking emotionally driven data and using it to achieve a goal that is not necessarily a avoidance and deescalation goal. 

Freudian slips can be mostly controlled if we can recognize the adrenal stress-conditions we are often thrown into like a non-swimmer into the deep end of the pool and make conscious, human brain logical, choices to say things that will actually accomplish the goals of avoidance and deescalation. This would include the junk the monkey floods our mind into thinking even before it reaches our mouths and becomes audible to our attacker. 

If you are exposed to such stressful situations then any and all information and thoughts from previous experiences and perceptions will try their best to reach a point that will actually overtake logical thinking and replace what would be best with what adrenal stress-conditions drag up as “Possible.” Such speed and force of thinking through stressful conflict tend to overtake and overcome just like the monkey works hard to overtake and overcome the more human logical words, deeds and actions that would avoid and deescalate vs. escalate and partake in conflict and violence resulting in a possible death or grave bodily harm to either or both parties. 

Learn to control the monkey, learn to work with the human brain and make an effort to think before you open your mouth. Most often in many conflicts the road that leads to physical violence can still allow time to think and talk but also train to act instinctively through the lizard with properly trained actions if all else fails and physical violence is on its way. It is rare that asocial predatory process and resource violence happens and even then if you follow the scripts appropriately to the situation you can still think, pause and then speak if necessary, etc.

These are simplistic thoughts meant to make you think and consider options that may not be known or you may not know you don’t know about - do it in training, not in the active situation. 

Consider this, “Linguistic slips can represent a sequencing conflict in grammar production. From this perspective, slips may be due to cognitive underspecification that can take a variety of forms – inattention, incomplete sense data or insufficient knowledge. Secondly, they may be due to the existence of some locally appropriate response pattern that is strongly primed by its prior usage, recent activation or emotional change or by the situation calling conditions.” Meaning that a slip with a person may actually be meant for someone else rather then the current recipient. If a prior situation was strong enough it may cause memory to create and configure a comment in an inappropriate way not meant for the current listener. Again, think first then speak - it is a good way to avoid conflict and escalation of conflict. 

In closing, freudian slips “May” reveal what is truly on your mind but it “MAY NOT.” If you accidentally describe a person as “Titsy” vs. “Ditzy” it may be inadvertent and not mean anything. You can see how it sounds close to what you wanted to say and under stresses and a quick verbalization without thought could allow such slips. Then again, it just might come from the gender and physical presentation of the person to you as you begin to describe them. Regardless of “May or May Not” it tells us we need to stop and think just like active listening, listen to the entire spoken comment; confirm with your counter part what they said by reflecting thoughts back and then think a moment if a comment in return is appropriate. Hmmmm, give me a moment here …. ;-)

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Karate Kata - Perspectives, Perceptions and Intent

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Today while viewing a wall I read the Okinawan karate meme or maxim of, "Karate begins with kata and ends in kata.” As with many things it made me stop and think, “What does it really mean?” and “How can karate begin and end in kata?” and “What is is about kata that makes practitioners, teachers and students think karate begins and ends in kata?” 

I know it is a type of meme that is similar to a Zen Koan, at least from my seat at the keyboard. Kata is one of those deeply ingrained aspects of karate (karate yes, but kata are also a huge part of other martial systems and disciplines. Everyone who has read my diatribe on the subject knows my view is wide but what about this meme or maxim?

Is it some easily rendered quotation, meme or spoken/written maxim that due to its connectivity to the teachings of modern karate it is just an accepted maxim where those who use it, speak it, or write it blindly accept it without question and by osmosis simply continue repeating it as each student becomes the teacher? 

Take a look right now by Googling it and see what comes up, does any of the results actually explain the meaning behind this meme/maxim? I put the actual quote provided herein and got exactly six results where three of those are paid “Ads.” Normally when a quote or question is provided in Google you end up with thousands and even millions of results or returns, hmmmm.

I even removed the quotations and tried, “Okinawan maxim karate begins with kata and ends in kata,” to see what I get. Now, I get about 221,000 results and just reviewing the top five returns found the meme/maxim used but not explained. 

Lets try this, lets break it down. Does karate actually and literally begin with kata? Not really, in the modern dojo I see them begin with some explanations of certain traits that sometimes are style oriented such as the styles connection to somewhat unique methods such as the formation of the fist or other attributes that are supposed to give a perception of specialness, etc. Then I see the next introduction being that of what we all have come to call, “Basics.” Basics being technique oriented exercises of upper body punching and lower body kicking. There may be other things taught in between but literally most karate I have encountered actually begin with those so-called basics. 

Karate ends in kata is also misleading because although kata are a mainstay of karate practice and study often what karate ends in is more about fighting in competitions, etc. and given lip service as to actual fighting for defense or even combatives. 

Maybe they are referring to some traditional historical model of training and practice but why, if true, is this not explained to modern students. Even in some writings and publications the maxim or meme is used but finding the meaning usually gets you, “Just shut up and do basics (in other words train).”

In truth and literally kata are more of the middle main training, study and practice tools of karate. It is a tool of modern commercialized test oriented belt system type dojo. Saying this does not lesson the kata importance but does open to the concept and perceptions to which kata are used in modern dojo. 

One search result does change this meme a bit to “Karate begins and ends with kata,” while following it up with a statement that kata is the essence and foundation of karate and that seems appropriate to me. Literally still, it does not actually begin or end with kata, it does rely heavily on kata as a teaching tool and is the best way to catalog and transmit certain aspect of karate to generations that follow. 

This meme/maxim also does not direct a practitioner toward the very foundation this last paragraph alludes to and that it is not technique that must be taught through kata but rather the principles that underly all technique. The actual maxim/meme, without adequate definition and explanation, allows one to lose site of principles resulting in a technique based teaching model that is not practical toward the reality of kata toward fighting, combatives and most important that of self-defense ergo why karate is not considered by many professionals as adequate for self-defense as it stands today.

Back to topic, remember that modern karate it taught, “Kihon, Kata and Kumite.” If this is true then actually karate begins with kihon and ends with kumite.” Hmmm, just wonder how one resolves this to students? In my mind karate does NOT begin or end in kata and to allow one to focus the mind with greater emphasis of kata practice without the clarity of the whole over the atomistic view tends to lessen the lessons, so to speak. 

Bringing an entire system under meaning from such an inadequate view, perspective and limited intent seems to be a dangerous teaching while a more comprehensive teaching of meaning provides a full depth and breadth to a very complex system and model. Don’t assume just because someone in authority within a discipline says something like this meme or maxim makes it so, cause often it doesn’t make it so.

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