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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Monday, December 21, 2015

Ikken Hissatsu [一拳必殺]

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

The characters/ideograms mean, “One fist certain kill.” The first character means, “One,” the second character means, “fist,” the third character means, “Invariably; certain; inevitable,” the fourth character means, “Kill; murder; butcher; slice off; split; diminish; reduce; spoil.”

While the first two characters when set apart from the second pair means, “one fist,” the second pair alone means, “certain kill.” Yet, when all four are set it means, “One fist deadly.” Some other interpretations follow:

“One Fist, Certain Death” “To annihilate at one blow” “one strike, one kill” “Kill with one strike” “One punch kill” “One hit, one kill” 

All the interpretations lead to one accepted belief in the karate communities, i.e., that one is able with sufficient training to kill another human being with one strike or blow or punch or hit, etc. This article expresses my views as to the possibility or impossibility of this ability.

Yes, karate has achieved a reputation of being a very capable system of fighting and in our modern era it also has great potential for self-defense. It has great potential if the practitioners train in an appropriate manner to achieve that goal while in most cases, to date, that is just not true. At least from the auditorium seat where I sit.

I have spent some considerable time studying self-defense and the system of hitting or striking as is practiced in the Okinawan system of karate. It has come to me that the human body was not created to apply such deadly force, i.e., an ability to kill with our bodies. Even when it does it is often a fluke of a particular situation or a result of other than human body such as curbs or other such hard and unmoving obstructions and obstacles that kill, i.e., the human body may have struck another human but if death occurred it was more from say, “Gravity,” pulling the body and head to fall, strike a hard object and result in that person’s death. 

When I was first introduced to the information recently presented and published about hitting someone and being hit by someone especially in a chaotic fight it began to dawn on me that the so-called one strike, one kill meme or maxim was false. Even with karate’s karada-kitae or body hardening that includes makiwara for conditioning the hands and feet the variables that would have to align make the possibility of a killing strike, punch or hit almost impossible (allowing for that one fluke when certain other issues allow a hit to kill, i.e., hit someone who happens to have some medical condition resulting in death when hit, punched or struck (then truthfully, you could not truly say it was the punch but the physical medical issue like with gravity, etc.). 

There are many karate professionals who will refute this claim of mine and will show or demonstrate their perspective by a demonstration of their immense strength, ability to break bricks, etc., and how hard they can hit solid objects like the makiwara and other surfaces. There is a community of body hardening enthusiasts out there who earn a living and a reputation in such demonstrations. When viewed even by experienced karate-ka it would feel, seem and be perceived as the ability to hit someone so hard they would die but in reality this is just not true. 

Ikken Hissatus or one strike, one kill, may be a great meme to impress fledgling students and to motivate practitioners into believing their ability to develop a hard body will equate to having skills to stop an attacker with just one punch (leaving out the killing part altogether).

Even a one hit to stop an attack is rare, most will be unable to accomplish this and it can be seen in competitive sports like boxing, MMA and UFC fighting contests. If this were possible then those professional competitors would be knocking folks out very fast and we know that would not be the exciting events we pay to see, right? 

So many physical and mental things must come together and align while in the chaos of an attack under the adrenal stress conditions induced in violent conflicts that achieving such a lofty goal is reduced by a considerable margin. Even in training under controlled conditions not many can perform to such levels including “Karate Masters.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Constructive Criticism

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

Criticism, a very destructive trait of humans to criticize another human but often the one criticizing feels they are actually helping others by this personality trait but is that true?

Consider it from the receivers perspective, criticism is often perceived as an expression of disapproval often based on the giver’s perception of faults or mistakes. It is about another human being who makes a snap-judgement or analysis and judgement of the faults of others. Considering this as either a recipient or a presenter, is this a positive thing, i.e., is it kind; is it true; is it necessary. This also brings up the rights of a human to speak their minds, i.e. where they remove the social filters or they never developed social filters where it isn’t about their right to say what they want but questioning whether they “Should” say what they want again by asking themselves is it kind, is it necessary and is it true. 

There are so many problems with assuming one has a higher knowledge and understanding over another especially when the one cannot fathom the mind-set and mind-state along with that persons feelings, perceptions and beliefs to make such a huge decision to criticize.

There are three traits, if you will allow some latitude, humans take on that are, in most cases, toxic both socially and personally, i.e., to be critical of others; to express disgust when communicating with others and to also express contempt when communicating with others. The highest toxic contamination one human can heap on another is a combination of contempt and disgust while expressing criticism. 

Then there is a point of view that constructive criticism is, “Constructive.” Constructive criticism is a process where a person offers (better if asked by the recipient as to advice that may be constructive criticism) a valid and well reasoned opinion using both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than tn oppositional one (criticism with contempt and/or disgust, etc.). A huge question one should add to the, “Is it Kind? Is it Necessary? and Is it True?, is to ask oneself if the “Constructive Criticism” is to improve the outcome. 

For me personally, criticism of a constructive nature should be asked for by me and it should be expressed without add-ons, etc., that are destructive, etc. One should leave out words like, “You,” when discussing issues of concern warranted reasoned opinions that may be perceived as counter to the recipients point of views and beliefs. It should focus on that issue and not the person. 

The Art of Verbal Self-Defense uses a phrase that should keep the criticism neutral and beneficial, i.e., focus on an action separate and away from the person and it must be the type of criticism that can be verified and proven, i.e., emotional rhetoric cannot be verified or proven, etc. 

For example, when someone fails to achieve a goal asked by another the other person may say, “When the dishes are not cleaned properly, it makes me feel disappointed because I have to redo them.” Neutral non-emotional statement of logic without distaste, contempt or disappointment that is not about the other person as will be perceived as a personal attack. It was kind as it was not aimed at the person but to the chore and the object of that chore; it was true if you can see that the dishes are still dirty and it was needed to allow the recipient to see and recognize how it affected the person providing the criticism in an attempt to reach a more positive outcome, i.e., the person expressing the criticism will get recognition on how they feel, the dishes will in all likelihood get cleaned and overall both parties will walk away with a positive outcome. 

Look at it as the GAVSD three part statements, i.e., remember it is a statement and not an accusation, etc., “I feel …; When … describe the behavior or under what conditions you feel this way; Because … explain those conditions or behaviors you feel this way about.” 

Makes sure you avoid “Blaming the recipient.” 
Make sure you are accurate and not hostile in expressing those feelings, etc.
Make sure it is true, it is kind and it is necessary.
Make sure to avoid or minimize making the other person feel guilty, put-down, and resentful.
Make sure you avoid expressing disgust and/or contempt. 

Note: This is an outline and to get the full skinny on GVASD three part statements go to Dr. Suzette Elgin’s books listed in the bibliography and as follows:

Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Self-Defense at Work." New York. Prentice Hall Press. 2000.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995
Elgin, Suzette. "Staying Well with the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." MJF Books. 1990.

The only way to actually present constructive criticism is to make use of the three part statement described but with emphasis that it must first pass the following questions:

Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Will it be non-toxic, i.e., critical of the person, be conveyed with disgust and/or contempt and will it be about the issue and not about either party? 

Criticism is one of those things humans use that should be used sparingly and only with the above concepts because more conflicts and psychological attacks occur because of the verbal attacks using criticism, disgust and contempt being directed at someone rather than at an issue. 

If you find yourself using criticism as an everyday, normal, mode of communications and if you also find that your attitude comes from disgust and/or contempt it is going to end badly, for you. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. There is no such thing as "Constructive Criticism of a Person," there is only valid criticism of issues. Even when there are issues one should criticize only sparingly. This is absolutely critical. 

Temperament -n- Personality -n- Character

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

How our temper men effects how we handle conflict? Is it one of those defining factors Sensei of old used unconsciously to determine a students nature in learning karate and martial arts?

Is this more a Japanese thing in okinawa's attempt toward assimilation and acceptance they sought when assessing potential students?

Was the teaching of Ti more about teaching select persons who lived in the sensei's village and the relationship as village members similar to tribe survival group dynamics, etc.?

Would the Shi-kata model have been assimilated by the Okinawan natives as far back as the 1600's occupation by the Japanese samurai?

It should be noted that, as far as my personal studies would indicate, the Okinawans would only assimilate and adopt those socially driven constructs if they benefited from them and felt they were worth while even while under the sword of the occupiers. As to being under the sword it also appears that they actually took the logical course when the Japanese came to conquer in the 1600’s because they still had their ways as a dominant social construct. 

As you are already aware, temperment is about a person’s nature, especially as that nature pertains to their behavior, i.e., as in their disposition, character, personality, mind and spirit, etc. 

When a Sensei of old would consider a prospective student to learn his system or style they often wanted to see that person’s personality, i.e., temperment, under action and helps explain why stories about prospective students performing seemingly useless chores, etc. around the dojo. It was a means by which the sensei could observer over time how that person’s temperment handled certain tests. 

Sensei today don’t necessarily test out the personalities of a student but to teach one should try to ascertain the students temperment where the way sense teaches can be geared toward things like the student as to being an introvert vs. an extrovert. As I continue trying to understand the complexities of the temperment as to how that is a part of our personalities and by its action produces one’s character we can get a hint as to how we can train them toward maximum productivity.

Other aspects that are “Tells” to the temperment and personality of an individual are optimism, short-tempered or irritable, analytical and quiet, relaxed or peaceful and so on where these traits combine to make up that persons temperment therefore personality and overall their character. 

A person who trains in karate and martial arts with a trait of being optimistic tends to have a trait toward confidence and positive, cheerful and bright mind-state as with minimal, in comparison to other effort levels, encouragement will prosper, learn and grow in these disciplines while a person who lacks optimism and leans toward pessimism will find reasons to doubt themselves and look to the lesser or worst aspects of training, practice, application and growth.

Know such aspects of a person allows sensei to evaluate the forms of training and practice best suited to that persons ability to learn, absorb and most of all understand in all levels of psychological, physical and spiritual. 

When you begin to discern aspects of individual temperment in their personalities you get hints and clues as to how to maximize their learning and understanding but even more important the fun they can have overcoming struggles, obstacles and growing pains of karate and martial arts, i.e., the trials and tribulations of learning a discipline that fosters, builds and creates a greater psychological, physical and spiritual self that will benefit the person and their lives in the social constructs of their personal belief systems. 

This is just another understanding as to the difficulties of teaching but more importantly the responsibilities a teacher, Sensei, assumes when they step in front of a group of students. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On, “The Japanization of Karate”

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

“ … my comments herein, it is best to take it all, including this paper, as a valid and authoritative source, with a grain of salt. … “

I didn’t get more than one paragraph into reading when I came across this comment or quote, i.e., “at base a martial art but also a cultural practice inscribed with relationships and ideas inherited from wider Okinawan society.” The use of “martial art” tends to bug me a bit because in reality karate is NOT a martial art. 

Martial Art defined: According to just this one source, the Merriam-Webster dictionary on-line, the term is, “Of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior; relating to an army or to military life; experienced in or inclined to war.” That is the martial part, art according to the same source, i.e., the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination; the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.”

If we accept these somewhat “Official definitions,” then we can say that a martial art is, “An expression or application of a human creative skill of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior.”

Then we can surmise, especially since historical documentation from any true official sources, that karate of Okinawa is not an expression or application of a human creative skill of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior. It was a civil system of protection that was used sometimes as a prerequisite to weapons training but not used in actual war by warriors or the warrior classes as in an Army or as to Military life where it was experienced in or inclined to war. I say this because of my studies, a total lack of documented proof and because it was not used as far as anyone can tell in war. Remember, war and its conduct would not, should not and often unless as a very, very last resort ever, ever use empty hands to achieve strategic goals of war itself. It is just not done.

The stories that abound as to karate’s creation to combat the Samurai who, like our modern military today who reside on the island, as occupiers of the island did NOT come about to fight sword wielding samurai, that is just not true. I use my studies and experiences with military and especially those who participated in War itself and had experience in combat to believe that empty handed or “Hand-to-Hand” combat was always a do-or-die tool for war. Many of those professionals would have used hand-to-hand like skills but mostly that occurred “On Liberty or Leave” in the villages of places like Viet Nam while enjoying drinks and music at bars - in other words like most of us here in the U. S. who participate in the “Monkey Dancing” that adrenaline induced testerone driven male dominance and contest games that more often than not lead to a watered-down non-deadly version of empty hand.

 When we take into consideration that almost all hand-to-hand involves such “Socially driven fights” we then understand that it is about those social situations where killing as in combat is NOT a goal, not even close. The military know from experiences over their history that hand-to-hand is not how you kill the enemy and at best it may be a means to escape and evade especially when weapons are not available. Even then, if something in the environment is usable as a weapon almost every one of those professionals will take that up and use it before relying on hands to live or die. 

Karate, like many other hand-to-hand systems, is about fighting and defending where the intent is to communicate rather than kill. It is about such violent communications where the only way the recipient can learn and understand what is communicated is if they, “Live to learn.” 

Now, lets add in principles (cause I always talk or write about principles) where the human body itself has to many flaws to overcome in order to make an application of force and power enough to kill as a useful tool in combat. There is way too many variables that actually bleed off energy for power and force and this is why it is extremely useful as a socially driven communications tool. 

Even in training as a Marine the type, at the time, of hand-to-hand was provided but with a “Lip service” model to lead into other training models far superior like bayonet training, etc. 

Karate is NOT a martial art and although it is called one (I use it all the time) that convention is more about ease of communicating and commercially driven understanding already instilled in the minds of civilians than truth and fact. The fact of the matter is karate is not a martial art, it is a civil system for defense and a tool to train toward weapons work. 

I do hope that things in this particular publication, especially since its presentation actually infers some official and credible source, tells the story a bit more clearly rather than just present self-created evidence to support a belief and an agenda. Karate is a great system that provides many, many benefits so it does NOT NEED to be glorified and symbolized in such a way - that is simply smoke and mirrors to achieve a commercial end. 

Addendum dtd 15 December 2015 at 08:25 hours:

I went back after writing the above material to finish out the opening “Abstract” paragraph used to introduce the paper and this quote hit me:

“The active agency of both parties reveals that this interaction was a negotiation between the samurai core-subculture of Japan and the karate practitioners of Okinawa, rather than simply a one-sided assimilation.”
First, the active agency in regard to the effort toward Japanese acceptance of Okinawan karate was not between any samurai core-subculture of Japan, it was between Funakoshi Sensei and other Japanese Sensei like Kano Sensei of Judo. It was the martial arts organization that governed the more modern sport oriented/philosophical oriented practices of things like Iaido, Kendo and most importantly Judo. As I believe there was no negotiation, Funakoshi Sensei connected with these folks to find out what it would take to change his karate so it would be “More amiable and acceptable” to the Japanese martial arts leaders. 
As I continue to study it appears that the samurai class no longer existed. Most Japanese until the creation of the Bushido tome by Nitobe in the early 1900’s didn’t even use the samurai label but added it back in to use the newly created model of Bushido as it was being related to historical inaccurate understanding of that class of the feudal era samurai. 
You can stretch things a bit by saying that the newly created sport like studies of martial arts like Judo were created from the off spring of other martial arts practitioners who were of samurai class (even tho those actual samurai were not truly warriors but more like governmental type professionals, etc.) and because of that heritage may have felt like a sub-culture based on the samurai class (but remember, that was from the Nitobe publication of bushido; a term not used for or by samurai or any Japanese before its adaptation for the war effort in the early 1900’s, etc.). 
So, at this point barely one paragraph in to the “Supposed Anthropologic Study” that actually smacks of agenda driven justification and validation rather than a true study of anthropology as a science has gotten off the a very rocky start for me. 
Now, I am happy to say that my foray further into this paper, the Introduction, and first paragraph hints at a bit more valid view of Okinawan Karate - in general. I will continue this article when the entire document is done.
Bibliography (Click the link)

Addendum dtd 15 December 2015 at 11:00 hours:

The paper goes on a bit and leans toward believability at least to my perception (this article is only about my perception of karate and this particular paper after all) where the next quote actually is my perception on karate - in general.

“Karate is a creole of practices that were combined together on the island of Okinawa. Originally referred to as te, karate combined indigenous fighting techniques with knowledge and practices from China, Japan and possibly from Thailand, the Philippines and other countries in the area. However, the major influence was Chinese.” - Krug as related by the paper’s author
First, creole may not actually apply to describe the idea that practices were of mixed Asian descent and formed from the Okinawan contact of various business associates such as the Chinese, Japanese and other Asian societies. The word creole describes how a person of mixed mother tongue language or mixed race like, “European and African descent but it works. 

In general and fundamentally I agree with this view - pretty much. I would also say that as to the origins of Karate (as the characters would define it, Chinese Hand) grew from the indigenous system called simply Ti or Te, depending on the dialect used. I think in our beliefs and concerted efforts to discover a historical explanation of karate’s or better Ti’s origins we will perceive and believe to validate when further study tends to invalidate and therefore makes it difficult to accept since the belief system has already entrenched itself in our very core. 

Regardless of all this, the quote stands pretty good as to at least a possible belief of its origins. To say as the author states, karate is an amalgamation of practices and techniques, from all corners of Asia, that were incorporated into the Okinawan art of Te (I believe it more appropriate to say Karate as in China Hand).”

Continuing my read the following statement was written, The original name for karate was Toudi, or Tote (Tang hand), denoting its roots in the Chinese martial arts” I would say that this may be a slight bit of accidental misdirection because listening to the current karate masters of Okinawa they advocate that the original name was, as already mentioned, Ti or Te with Ti being the Okinawan dialect of hand or in Japanese terms, Te. The reason I am nick picking as I read is this, when you make such tiny and seemingly innocent mistakes you “Lead the readers” to a predetermined perception of the author in liue of presentation in a generic nondescript and literal way that should be how a paper is presented. 

This is what makes papers such as this or even articles like I write so hard to understand and accept because they tend to do what I suggest because it is the most difficult state of mind for a human to achieve, i.e., a non-biased presentation over one strewn through with tiny misleading things that tend to sway and manipulate toward an agenda driven goal. 

This author I would assume has all the good intentions and great ethics one needs to be an anthropologist but to truly write a paper it might best be done by someone who does NOT have a vested interest in the subject discipline as well as the outcome of the study.

This is one of the most disconcerting aspects of my studies, to achieve a non-biased view worth consideration regardless of whether the reader accepts and/or incorporates it into their study of karate.

In short, regardless of my comments herein, it is best to take it all, including this paper as a valid and authoritative source, with a grain of salt. 

Addendum dtd 15 December 2015 at 11:30 hours:

In the authors comments on the, “Nature of Karate,” the author alludes to a concept that regardless of the influences of other societies toward changes and adoption in the Okinawan version that such effort comes to mean, Though karate did not spring wholly formed on the Ryukyu Islands, it is not necessary for it to have done so to be considered an Okinawan cultural practice. AND It is this relation to Okinawan society, rather than its origin within that society, that makes karate an important piece of Okinawa's intangible cultural heritage. This relationship is constituted by the overlaying of cultural beliefs and process onto the apparatus of the practice (i.e. the human body), and its limitations. This combination of objective parameters and subjective motivations creates meanings and purposes within karate that are unique to Okinawa.”

This states to my perception that regardless our practice and unique way of karate here in the West makes it, more or less, a cultural practice of the United States as it now relates heavily to our social system rather than the system or society of origin, etc. This makes me question modern American karate as to its cultural meaning as well as it’s now new origins because we have done exactly the same thing professed in the paper, i.e., we took what we wanted from Japan and Okinawa, etc. and then made it our own leaving only a possibility that it retain its social heritage origins of Okinawa if one actually studies, practices and applies it as a traditional form of karate. That would make our karate both a cultural belief origin of Okinawa and a cultural belief driven origin of the United States. 

It also means that the historical setting be it Okinawan or American is a corner stone as to who, what, when, where but most important HOW one studies and practices matters. For sure each participant society must contend with their own cultural influences as perceived by each individual Okinawan along with that of the family unit, the village social structure, their class influences be it as farmers or as a higher social class, etc. 

This also brings up the question as to all the other social cultural influences that do appear in historical documentation or history, i.e., the concerted effort by the Okinawans to adopt and adapt to those socially driven cultural influences of China and other Asian countries who held business with Okinawans. 

All this atomistic influences tends to change the culture so that the original culture that may have resulted in the creation, use and teaching of the so-called indigenous hand-to-hand defense system to become more convoluted as to its history and connectivity to what one may or may not accept as a culture. Simply because the original culture over time and influences both accepted and pushed at them made it a different social cultural system.

Such considerations makes for a more chaotic and convoluted end product even for this paper as to its relevancy and validation. Since the history books of Okinawa are not as well documented as we Americans would want and are used to that leaves a wide chasm to insinuate and manipulate data to achieve a goal set at the start of such a study especially if the author is biased due to their connection and participation in the subject matter. 

To the credit of the author of the paper I am studying at this time I can say that the author did address all of these possibilities, i.e., Caught in the middle of the turbulent history of Sino-Japanese relationships, invaded during the Japanese civil wars and in 1945 by the Allied Forces, Okinawa has been constantly transformed and its cultural practices threatened by the waves of different cultures that washed over the island. Thus, from its inception, karate was never a single thing but an evolving set of practices linked to local knowledge as well as prevailing cultural beliefs. It was, as well, actively evolving in many directions and idiolects or styles.”

This, therefore, also applies to the possibilities that American karate as derived, adapted and adopted to the American culture and social rendering, i.e., sport oriented, tends to make the possibilities of the Okinawan connection except in a very tenuous connection almost impossible. Maybe as I continue this study that will come out. 

Addendum dtd 15 December 2015 at 15:00 hours:

There are definitely some redeeming insights written into this paper although that does not sway me from doubting the “Paper” since it is presented that way as a anthropological paper maybe meant for a doctorate but I digress for he makes a statement that I appreciate and accept - mostly.

Karate on Okinawa was taught in an informal manner. Students were assigned tokui-gata (individual forms) at the discretion of the instructor. No ranking system existed, so there were no established criteria for advancement. Students were either sempai (senior) or kohai (junior). No recognizable uniform (gi) was used. Karate was indiscriminately referred to as di, bu (martial arts), or Toudi. This individualism was alien to the Japanese concept of wa (harmony). Japanese martial arts were structured around the ryuha system propagated by the Dai-nippon Butokukai. A ryuha included a historical continuity, methodological transmission, and pedagogical style.”

Yes, karate had been taught informally on the island even for a short period after the end of World War II but it soon adopted the Judo Dan-i system and uniform - mostly. Yes, what was taught depended on the desires and whims of the instructor often simply referred to as, “Pappa-san.” Karate, as I have stated, is a new term that comes from a more modern approach around the latest of the 1800’s but probably more toward the earliest 1900’s and the sport aspect was already well on its way. This includes the time of the Japanese adoption of the newly coined term of, “Bushido,” now used to govern how to convey to the populace a sense of warrior like attitude so that led to the educational version of martial arts including karate in Okinawa. 

This educational version embraced a simply group dynamic of teaching that become dojo or training halls where a greater number of students were taught, trained and tested using the dan-i rank system and the need to have kata, etc. as a means of testing and grading much like a schools subject oriented model in lieu of the older tried and true student oriented training or teaching model. This began the so-called “Criteria for Advancement” effort that has since grown to a mainstay of the more commercialized systems of instruction over the smaller teacher to student ratio that fosters individual learning according to the needs and requirements of the individual. 

I cannot address the senpai and kohai titles as to old karate but the early modern karate period started to use such titles. In the late fifties and early sixties it was actually the influences of the occupying American military who made up the majority of students and income of the Okinawan masters that changed the title of Pappa-san to a title of Sensei and therefore may have inspired the additional title use of senpai and kohai as well as other terms used by the Japanese. 

Once the system of Okinawan karate was accepted and implemented it resulted in the creation of the educational version instituted into the school systems both in Japan and in Okinawa. Kata were added and changed to fit the youth who would take classes and it was this mind-set that created a more acceptable citizen who would be ready and, hopefully, more willing to enter into military service for the upcoming war. 

Yes, the uniform didn’t exist but was adopted with changes in the late fifties. Individualism is a concept that is foreign to the Japanese who have based their society of that and the “Shi-kata” systems so when the Okinawan’s were accepted they were required to make the changes whereby harmony through a group dynamic became a higher priority yet the Okinawan’s tended to remain steadfast to a certain degree to their own culture and beliefs but outwardly would appear to be complying much like they did for the Chinese and after Japan came and occupied and controlled the island in the 1600’s. 

As to the structure that is explained by the shikata system of Japan that actually permeated every facet of life from the feudal era to modern times. It is what makes them masters of what they create like products and the coveted collectors item, the Katana or Samurai sword. The ryuha also was adopted around the early to late fifties as well.

The only missing components and are still considered missing are those requiring a historical continuity, historical documents don’t supply that about karate. There is no approved or sanctioned method of transmission for karate even today. It is still a hodge podge of creations that changes constantly and continually.

I can say that some effort has been applied at least since the early 1900’s to create and pass down a pedagogical aspect to each style or system but that is left open to discussion and debate as well.

Addendum dtd 16 December 2015 at 0800 hours:

I quote,During the 19th-century the diverse variants of martial practice in Okinawa coalesced into two main schools of karate. Conventionally, these two styles were referred to as Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu respectively.” 

As best as I have been able to determine and it must be noted that most dojo and Sensei of Okinawa did not keep records and when they did it was spotty yet I do remember that karate was divided into these two factions (allow me some leeway on using this term :-). My system of practice is listed under the Shorin-ryu list.

As to the heading of Shorei-ryu, of that one I am not as certain and I would have thought it would be the yang to Shorinryu’s yin, i.e., Goju-ryu or even Uechi-ryu. Anyway, I can’t contest either way this particular factoid.

The one aspect I do speak toward is the general 19thy century as a start period when it is my understanding that in actuality this division came about in the early 1900’s (and there is a huge difference here). Regardless, this is how the island of Okinawa and the karate communities designate their karate.

As to the separation of cultures while being assimilated into the Japanese kingdom I suspect in reality that the original culture of Okinawa has changed considerably but still holds a certain difference that makes the Okinawan people unique. It is a bit like how we Americans divided and separated our same styles into different factions, it is about identity and groug dynamics all tied to our natural instincts to gravitate to groups of like-minded humans as it would have occurred long ago for, “Survival.” Those instincts and such are still alive and well in all of us even tho most of modern society is trying very hard to socially condition us into believing they don’t exist somewhat like the effort to hide from human need for conflict and violence.

We separate ourselves all the way down to the family unit so it would be natural and instinctive to gravitate toward what has come to be different systems, different styles and even within those styles and systems factions unique to the sensei and its members. Take Isshinryu of Okinawa, it began as a creation of Shimabuku Tatsuo-san in the fifties but as it spread with the military, who dominated students in Tatsuo-san’s dojo’s, to different parts of the United States. Those who started dojo in those different area’s ended up creating, by accident and instincts not alway recognized and accepted, different factions. Those factions were headed by what is called today, “First Generation American Students,” of Isshinryu. 

When you look at the way they all practice and conduct business under the heading of Isshinryu you will see, “Differences,” that can be attributed to the unique nature and method of teaching by Tatsuo-san, unique in that he taught different ways and things to different students as well as how each learned according to their unique perceptions, perspectives and most of all cultural belief systems. I attribute those factions under the names of the luminaries who brought Isshinryu to the America’s, i.e., Advincula Sensei, Armstrong Sensei, Long Sensei, Nagle Sensei and Mitchum Sensei. 

When you take away all the attributes that come from individuals and there perceptions, distinctions, knowledge, experiences and understanding as to their practices when they began to teach they naturally and instinctively named and created, “Different systems/styles,” so they could be a part of a group or tribe or Dojo. When those attributes are gone all you have left are the underlying principles that transcend the human factor into nature and physics in applying a human body toward energy, force and power when applying that, not necessarily individual techniques, to a target.

Note: When doing a bit of data diving I visited the Okinawan Traditional Karate Liaison Bureau where inside they list karate styles and schools so I took a look at the list of karate styles. 

Yes, this paper says there are or were two main schools of karate during the 19th century and I admitted to one but the other I had doubts. So, as of this moment - today the 16th of December 2015 - there are now listed eight karate systems (note: eight is also the number of gokui from my system). Also of note is that my system, as I previously stated as a sub-style under the Shorinryu label, is now the eighth listed karate system on this site on the island of Okinawa. The others are: Shurite, Nahate, Tomarite, Uechiryu, Ryueiryu, Motoburyu, Shorinryu and Isshinryu. Interesting development wouldn’t you say? 

Click to see largest view.

Addendum dtd 16 December 2015 at 10:00 hours:

Another quote discussed in this paper states, “During the 1870's ... Language, Religion and especially education were brought under the control of the [Japanese] government, and the newly created public school system became a great propaganda machine. Part of this approach to child development included the belief that students should be taught the martial arts. It was the government's position that martial arts instruction would lead to healthier students that would make better citizens. Moreover, such training would instill in them a martial spirit-making them ideal conscripts for military service.”

I say this with a bit of skepticism that as to the educational effort of karate it may not have actually occurred, in Okinawan, until around 1904. Regardless of this understanding on my part I have to say that the quote is right-on or very, very close to reality. 

This is also how Nitobe’s book on Bushido turned from being considered a claptrap of nonsense into a means to promote this propaganda effort by the Japanese government. It was about health and a change to the mind-set of the Japanese peoples that included the Okinawans. 

Of note, and is insinuated in accordance with my perceptions when reading more, is that this education effort resulted in, “Simplification and modification of the art was required.” This brings up my theory and belief that what karate was taken from Okinawan later in the mid-1900’s by our military may have actually been this simplified and modified version. 

Take this into consideration that a lot of the karate being taught was simplified and modified to fit the educational system and toward a perception of teaching karate to young adults and children mandated what some believe as the more “Deadly aspects” of karate. It also is my beleif and perception that the simplified and  modified version being well known and understood by the sensei of the fifties and sixties, when the military become really involved with it, knowing of this version along with understanding the demands of those military students decided to use the educational version thinking that anyone who stayed longer than the normal tour of duty lasting nine to thirteen months who returned or stayed to learn real karate would be considered for lessons to reach those goals. 

If one takes a look at the teachings of those who brought karate to the America’s you can see differences that most likely spell out a simplified and modified karate vs. a real traditional karate.

Addendum dtd 16 December 2015 at 15:00 hours:

The paper goes on to talk about the “Translation of Karate” then mentions the efforts of Funakoshi Sensei as well as Itosu sensei who was instrumental in creating the simplified and modified version of educational karate:

“As Itosu and Miyagi had simplified the system in order to make it more appropriate for introduction into public schools in Okinawa, so too did Funakoshi:
‘At this time, numerous techniques and teachings of karate were systematically removed from the bunkai (explanations) of kata and from the kihon waza (basic techniques). The system was reduced to punches, blocks, kicks, and weapons, while advanced techniques were considered unsuitable for school children or the general public. This deskilled karate became the public face of the art”
This information goes a long way to validate my views on karate being modified and simplified and to the possibility of it being the form taught to the military occupiers of the fifties and later. Who knows, for all we know, most of today’s karate in Okinawa is the educational versions currently going through a transitional phase, as is the U. S. karate, toward a more realistic and ancient traditional teaching. 
As can be readily read the modifications left what was taught and practiced by the American military because most of them learned how to, “punch, kick, block and a smattering of weapons.” I remember my sensei who trained at the Isshinryu honbu dojo way back when where the criteria for sho-dan was to learn the rudimentary - modified and simplified - kata pattern for eight empty hand kata as well as one to four kobudo rudimentary kata for sho-dan (there was contests but that was never, at that time, a requirement for sho-dan). 
The paper goes into a bit of depth explaining what led to the statement or quote I present as example above. It goes into some description on the absorption and modification of karate from its Okinawan state to the more acceptable, to the Japanese, Japanese martial art state. A good example is the ritual with bow in the dojo along with reciting the dojo kun, i.e., “the ritual of the bow and the recitation of dojo kun (the precepts of the dojo normally recited at the end of a training session) as key markers of a ritualized behavior that serves to create a privileged space in the dojo. These practices also signal a distinct shift from the karate practiced on Okinawa as described earlier and mark the beginning of what is thought of as 'karate' today.”
The paper, rightly so, goes on to describe,The adoption of uniforms and standard ranking, the development of militaristic and sporting practices, and a purposeful effacement of the art's origin, were all programs aimed at making karate popular with the Japanese.”

Adoption of uniforms may have gone this way at Funakoshi Sensei’s dojo but in a limited way it was provided to the Okinawan dojo where, in Isshinryu’s case, the uniform and obi were gifts to Tatsuo-san who ended up wearing the pants and giving away the jacket.

When the author mentions the militaristic practice I really don’t believe that comes from Japanese budo, etc., but from the influences of the major practitioners of the time after WWII, our military occupation. Yes, the Japanese did use a militaristic type of social requirements but that was more about the shi-kata system that drove a kata like social effort toward doing all things and not just in the dojo. A good example is bowing, that permeates all of the Asian societies but to Americans who were first introduced to the ritual of bowing in the dojo made the incorrect assumption it was a dojo etiquette requirement when in fact most sensei from Japan would convey to American practitioners that practice, training and teaching in the U. S. should adhere to the customs, etiquettes and beliefs of - Americans. We American loved the mystic of the Asian dojo so adopted and adapted it to our use.

LAST: Addendum dtd 17 December 2015 at 09:00 hours:

Although I nit-pick material in this paper I do agree with many of his views and theories but still question the entire content as to facts because as with anything, including my views in this article, it is about each persons reality based on any agenda’s that may not be at a conscious level while being of a very subjective nature also influenced by a persons emotions, i.e., emotional maturity, etc., their biochemistry, beliefs, assumptions, experiences and how that all governs their interpretations - all that appear uniquely in each individual faster than thought. All that strongly influence and affect what we see, how we see it, how we feel about it and what conclusions we come to because of it. 

It neither makes this paper or my article either right or wrong but just what it is, an effort made honestly to achieve greater knowledge and understanding about a most complex subject that is often vague and without adequate faction historical documented references. 

This also makes it difficult when using those stories and articles, etc., written in the early years of Western involvement in karate or martial arts because those authors had to deal with the same obstacles and obstructions. It too does not equate right or wrong, correct or incorrect as well as agenda driven validating efforts - it is what it is and best suits each individual accordingly. 

It is one of those things that make distinctions or distinguishing between reality and actuality and fictional and creative articles, stories and historical renditions of a subject - most difficult to almost impossible. Remember, it is the joy of the journey that really matters. 

FINAL ASSESSMENT on this PAPER: Generally I feel this paper to be a most excellent presentation of this individual personal studies, research and perceptions of a most contested and difficult subject that often triggers great emotional upheaval to its practitioners. I don’t agree the use of his profession in Anthropology because it tends to unconscious present the paper with a higher level of status and validation and believability than it actually earned and warrants but that is just my un-professional view.

I would like to have seen more on how it qualifies as a Journal of Contemporary Anthropology. If this is his actual presentation to achieve his Ph.D. in anthropology then I would be interested in its success upon review of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Iowa. Even if it is accepted those reviewing if not well acquainted with the subject and the discipline still don’t give validation and credence to the actual material but will validate the work and paper itself as more acceptable, “Anthropological Oriented Paper.” 

I do applaud the author and wish him luck in his pursuit of recognition as a qualified Anthropologist, that would be very cool to achieve a Ph.D. I also applaud his paper especially as it is on a subject that most might find questionable for a thesis paper but since I are not a Ph.D., I would have to accept that fact as a obstacle in the assessment. 

Look at this paper and my article this way, like the use of statistics to promote and validate one’s agenda, it looks real; it feels real; it appears official and from an expert source; and it makes one who already believes, believe it all validates their discipline. When you reach deeper into the statistics and research the references and sources you can find, glitches and inaccuracies that validate but are still somewhat lacking. Look to my effort here and the article the same way, it is best we all do this on every seemingly expert presentation regardless. 

Using a five star grading, I would grade this paper on Okinawan Karate, etc. at 3.5 stars to a possible 4 stars. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Student -n- Teacher Relationships

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

Questions asked by Jeff Day o the Ryukyu Martial Arts FB Wall:

First, his comment: I'm not used to pouring information out freely to people that I do not have a sensei/student relationship with.”

My Response: First, my suspicions rise up high on this quotation as it makes no sense to me until I put on a hidden agenda, my perception that may not be Mr. Day’s actual intent,  and that agenda is “Income based economics.” Unless the person providing or pouring out information feels a strong need for reciprocity of the monetary kind pouring out information is what teachers do to help educate, build knowledge and foster understanding. 

Take my stance for instance, I blog on about nine different blogs all about the martial arts and I am compiling a book, eBook version is the goal, on a modern bubishi of martial arts that will be presented for, “Free,” just like my blogs are for, “Free.” It is about being a Sensei, one who came before, where I mentor others toward a fuller understanding of that thing we call, “Karate.” 

I have enough out there freely given that span an excess of ten years of writing with an average of one article per day that relates my personal perceptions and perspectives on those many things we inadvertently and incorrectly term martial arts that actually are about karate, the Okinawan system of using the empty hand for defense. 

In this comment or quote it is stated, “do not have a sensei/student relationship with,” that I sense is a way to manipulate the reader into believing some grand idea that one must have this relationship to pour out information freely when in reality information is just what it is, Information. You can either pour it out there to teach and mentor or you can hold it close and dear until the person commits themselves to a relationship along with the associated fees one would require. 

Even in a back-yard dojo where no fees are collected requiring a commitment to a teacher-student relationship is more a perception of a crutch to maintain control and have power then to teach and pass on knowledge and hopefully more esoteric information, etc. 

Q: How you you all feel about "teaching" people that make no commitment to you as a student? 

Comment: I feel just fine about it as I see anyone who is willing to listen, question and learn from me a privilege. This privilege puts me in a position of responsibility because what ever I transmit and mentor to a student has a huge influence and impact on their beliefs, perceptions, perspectives and intent in all ways regarding karate. This is a huge thing and provides a personal feel of accomplishment when that student demonstrates the learning outwardly without the encumbrances of such trappings as contracts, obligations of a monetary nature and a subject driven teaching model that has limits over a student teaching model that has no obstacles other than a commitment by the teacher to give their all and by the student to be accepting of all the possibilities open to them in a relationship that is felt rather than required. 

Q: Is the Internet destroying the sensei/student commitment? 

Comment: No, it opens the door to a greater level of information that teaches to increase knowledge, frees the student from the encumbrances often required for power and control and provides a means of understanding through such efforts as on the FB Wall where these questions originate bringing up why one would concern themselves with a pouring out of free information when the questions and the membership on the wall, both free, indicate the questioner feels a certain right to gain knowledge from the questions from other sources more willing to power information out to others freely. 

Q: What happened to students earning information?

Comment: A student who listens, a student who pours out their most ardent effort, a student who questions, a student who researches and a student who puts out every effort to learn, practice, train and study is actually earning their way. This question also supports my theory that the hidden agenda is one where the author feels they are losing something, almost always of monetary nature, in the exchange. A student who fails to carry their side of the equation loses, not the teacher who tries to teach regardless.

Closing: I don’t intend to be down on the questioner as this is the why to which I write herein, a student to teacher to student exchange. My goal is to provide a different perspective in the off chance it might change a way of thinking be it this person or merely the readers. If I have caused discomfort and a feeling of “Dissing the author,” I apologize. 

How we view things, our perceptions toward our belief systems, matters. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Knowledge instead of Grade - Intrinsic Reward instead of Extrinsic Reward

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

In a recent article in the news regarding University Education the following quote stuck me as something a person can and should live by in all their endeavors. Knowledge toward Understanding while achieving extrinsic rewards over the more intrinsic that is often an obstacle rather than a pathway. 

“I studied for knowledge instead of a grade. I relied on intrinsic motivation, instead of going for the extrinsic reward.” - Afi-Odelia Scruggs

When a person relies on external approvals they will find it an easy excuse toward any failures they encounter while relying on their own internal approvals from their own internal goals is far more rewarding. This is one of those lessons one learns from the more intrinsic study of martial arts. 

Grading in martial arts tends to lend attitudes toward the extrinsic rewards dependent on the beliefs, intents, perceptions and attitudes of others rather than on ourselves. It is great to receive input from others but it is important to make judgements about that inputs worth as it would benefit you, the individual, and your goals both in life and in martial arts. 

Martial Arts principles address this aspect of training, practice and applications, they call those principles, “Theories and Philosophies.” 

PRINCIPLE ONE: PRINCIPLES OF THEORY (Universality, Control, Efficiency, Lengthen Our Line, Percentage Principle, Std of Infinite Measure, Power Paradox, Ratio, Simplicity, Natural Action, Michelangelo Principle, Reciprocity, Opponents as Illusions, Reflexive Action, Training Truth, Imperception and Deception.)

PRINCIPLE FOUR: PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY (Mind [mind-set, mind-state, etc.], mushin, kime, non-intention, yin-yang, oneness, zanshin and being, non-action, character, the empty cup.)

Often MA’s give lip service to things like suppressing the ego and pride, ego and pride when left to their own devices tends to lead toward conflict and violence but to suppress it or rather to control it means depending not on others but on ourselves to regulate, control and become more a person of integrity and humility through knowledge that leads to understanding, understanding being that enlightenment that allows us to take responsibility upon ourselves do do right, correct the wrong and achieve our goals in a more positive and beneficial way. 

Grades in martial arts tends to steer students toward the criteria of others often with requirements that are minimal, minimal being the least amount of knowledge necessary to make that grade. The grade becomes the extrinsic reward often controlled and dependent on others as to their mood, intent and esteem levels, etc. Spending out time focused on building knowledge and understanding actually creates in internal knowledge base where one can determine at what level of success they achieve per their own goals, intent and understanding. It actually allows the individual to perceive a true level of martial enlightenment without regard to what others may or may not believe. It creates within ourselves a mind-set and mind-state that often far exceeds those others who rely heavily on validation and approval of others. It also creates self-reliance, self-discipline and self-esteem far above others and their expectations, etc.

Knowledge instead of grades, trophies and the validation from others to achieve a greater understanding that is the cornerstone of enlightenment while validating the self through our own intrinsic reward systems. How does that feel to you? 

Bibliography (Click the link)