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

Hey, Attention on Deck!

Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

Search This Blog

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Realistic Bunkai: Basics, Kata, Drills and Kumite

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

Are we training and practicing appropriate karate and martial arts bunkai for our times? We live in a different social environment and under different conditions then our karate/MA forefathers but in many cases we still train and practice BKDK appropriate, we think or theorize, for more ancient and primitive times on Okinawa and even Japan. 

I completely understand when a traditional dojo practices the very things the system or styles originators created those many years ago in a way that pays tribute to them and the historical significance of the system or style. Where things tend to drop off is when modern students try to make those same historical traditional practices into modern self-defense or combative model. 

Yes, in essence fighting tools are pretty much the same, i.e., the principles underlying every type of perception of said methodologies is universal and unchanging except in an individuals manifestation in the more outward rendition, i.e., principles don’t change but perceptions and models appear different making up the styles and systems. Yet, the environments and methods used for fighting to include socially driven perceptions and legal distinctions make things a bit different along with different repercussions both for the individuals, their families and society itself. 

How we practice, train and apply those principles as seen as an outward book cover, i.e., comparing styles presentation of principles, can be either effective application of principled multiple defense methodologies or they can be inappropriate and ineffective defense techniques. 

Two examples to provide a possible distinction to convey the idea I am trying to present. First, the proverbial head lock bunkai. In a school yard type scuffle between young adults may be realistic to that environment but in the world of fighting, combatives and self-defense - not so much. As to my personal experience the only time I ever saw a headlock used was in wrestling, the sport, or in some socially driven monkey dance between angry testerone driven ego status seeking men. In a real fight, especially in a real predatory attack, I have never experienced nor observed a headlock, Never! Lets look at a predatory attack of the kind I visualize, i.e., “A surprise attack from the rear or just off to the side rear; a total blitz that disrupted my balance and structure stealing away any type of response with force or power; the first of many a flurry of hits started just behind my ear, a real show stopper there.” No headlocks and no need for them. Attackers, etc., are well versed in what works and what does not work and I feel their using a headlock is not effective at all and does not give them the advantage that allows their success as predators. 

Second, as I described above and that is presented by one professional in conflict defenses, etc., stated, “A surprise attack from the rear or just off to the side rear; a total blitz that disrupted my balance and structure stealing away any type of response with force or power; the first of many a flurry of hits started just behind my ear, a real show stopper there. (reworded a bit for this article but the idea is the same)” How many bunkai of BKDK have you seen taught, practiced and finally applied in a reality based adrenal stress-conditioned training environment? Oh, yeah, most BKDK training and practices never even try to incorporate the adrenal reality type exposure of which I write about here. 

Again, historical traditional practices are awesome and I have observed and occasionally participated with those types of traditionalists and found them most illuminating - illuminating as to historical honoring of ancestral origins. When they also teach and preach those ancient ways as realistic self-defense systems, combatives for military use or simply fighting (both the illegal kind and the sport kind) I have my doubts. 

Just something to mindlessly meander about in a contemplative way!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Establishing Inner Peace

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

“If you can't develop a level of inner-peace then you'll have little hope of  establishing peace with others.” - Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo

Michael Clarke Sensei stated and asked most eloquently, “Maintaining (inner) peace, like most things is more difficult than you can imagine; and yet, is this not what you tell others karate is all about?” Clarke Sensei hit it on the nose, inner peace is that something often articulated yet not actually taught. I don’t think you can teach others or learn from others how to create within yourself, “Inner Peace.” 

When I consider our modern times and our emotional immaturity as a species, i.e., we succumb to the nature of emotions rather than make constructive use of them, as if the monkey brain rules the roost while our human brains of logic just simply, “Give up.” 

To truly learn, understand and apply self-defense humans MUST look within first before they can even attempt to look elsewhere. More often conflict and its sometimes resulting violence comes from our lack of inner peach and a total lack of understanding of our emotional sides as they work with our logical side. 

The logical human brain is a fairly new evolutionary addition mother nature has provided but the more ancient monkey emotional brain is far older and far more established in the status and hierarchy of our brains functions. The monkey is not going to give up its status and it isn’t even considering the possibility of “Sharing” the functions of the brain. You have to take control and train the brain to work toward its mutual benefit and survival. 

The complexities of our modern technologically driven world make that most difficult. For instance, historically and on an evolutionary scale humans think in a linear way. I quote, From our days on the plains of the Serengeti, we’ve intuitively done linear calculations in our heads to determine the best path to escape from a charging lion. But that is not the world in which we live today.”

Our modern times with all the technology that far exceeds the very nature of human existence makes life difficult and we are struggling in a linear way to keep up when the technological social environment is non-linear and becoming more so and far more complex than nature can keep up with leaving us struggling thus achieve greater stresses and emotional dominance over our logical sides. Considering the slow evolutionary processes of nature it will be a very long time before we can evolve to the next higher level of brain function creating a brain that will be a balanced mixture of logic driven emotional state of mind. 

Another quotation of note, “Human being heretofore have developed evolutionarily to think in  a linear fashion; it’s been coded into our brain since the dawn of mankind.” 

Inner peace is being driven farther and farther from our consciousness and that leaves us little coping ability to combat the stresses that are consuming us and leaving us in an emotional tsunami that will drive us toward more and more violence to get what we want to achieve instant gratifying self-serving egoistic goals. This is the absolute opposite of our goals as humans and as karate-ka and martial artists. 

It comes down to an individual needing to be informed that inner peace is critical to all things especially in conflict and violence but then they need to find that inner peace themselves. You can lead them to methodologies that will create doors and windows open to the possibility of inner peace but each individual still has to open the doors and windows to let inner peace in then achieve a proficiency that will allow them to walk out that door to live inner peace. Only then can one achieve a way that gives meaning to the practice of any discipline but no more so than the one that comes from karate and martial arts as they are best suited for handling conflict and violence. You can look at inner peace as another sub-principle of the fundamental principles of multiple defense methodologies. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Returning Students and Responsibilities Involved

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

I understand this issue crops up a lot in modern karate and martial arts yet I feel that handling it with emphasis on ranking over a more effective approach to the black belt would have lead him to stay and re-assess/re-learn the necessary traits and principles.

Note I: Let me explain the situation that promoted this tirade of an article. A former student for what ever reasons left the dojo after achieving sho-dan. During his or her hiatus they practiced when they could alone in their garage. It appeared circumstances of life led them to stop the dojo and practice as they could in the manner they did. The practitioner returned to the dojo much later for the idea and goal of moving up to Ni-dan or second level of black belt. He had some misguided assumptions upon his return. It appeared in the story that some assumptions were also assumed by the dojo, the senpai and the sensei so that things escalated to a conflict that should not have been. It led to anger, resentment and disappointment for the returning sho-dan as well as the dojo members and leadership. It was this that lead me to the following feelings and comments. 

For instance, if he had been taught properly up to the award of sho-dan he would have returned later, as his life indicated his need for the time away, and restarted in some more appropriate way.

Second, because his journey to sho-dan was incomplete his return to the journey is expected so the response, while an attempt to be corrective, ended up aggravating and exacerbating an already poor situation that speaks more about the dojo and sensei then the student.

Remember, if a student fails, the sensei and senpai failed. They failed to instill in him or her the spirit that would have in all probability led to his remaining in the dojo over leaving for a time and just practicing in the garage.

To also criticize his attempts at maintaining his skills in the garage was inappropriate to my eyes. Criticism has its place and time while to resort to the criticism was a reflex action due to the missing teachings that should have been instilled in those early years leading up to sho-dan. It comes down to the dojo blaming the black belt for their mistakes and omissions. 

If they had done their job then the student would have returned, lined up regardless of the color of belt worn, and acted like a new student to reacquire those lost skills.

In my years I have had many who joined my dojo who were from other styles and many levels including the dan-sha and they all wore their belts without assuming said color provided them any type of status in the new dojo. I explained that to them upon entering.

The belt someone has regardless of their expertise and skills is a symbol of another sensei's confidence in that individual and therefore we as marital artists and karate-ka should hold respect for their previous achievements. 

Many who wear a black belt who have returned after a hiatus should wear it with pride while working diligently hard to reacquire those lost skills and we as sensei and senpai should not "ASSUME" anything about skills and expertise simply because we have no idea what it was when they achieve black belt nor what they may have lost during the hiatus from practice, training and study of their art or any others. 

The lesson here is patience and understanding, not criticism, disgust or some misguided way we assume is proper to Asian study of karate and Martial Arts.

The goal is to learn, study, "Understand," and practice to the benefit of all dojo members regardless of history even if it is another former member. 

If a former member returns and assumes then before criticizing take stock of why that part is missing, reevaluate the way the dojo teaches and leads and then fix the dojo first, then the teachings and finally the practitioner. 

The true arrogance was the dojo, not the student. The student followed the dojo not the other way around. 

The dojo should "Invest in the Loss," the loss of integrity and skill in teaching, leading and mentoring the student, the practitioner and the sempai to the kohai connection.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Note II: It should be expressed that I am not the consummate sensei, instructor or teacher but I have a great deal of experience, not just in the dojo, teaching, etc., to include a professional instructor for a military branch of service where I trained, taught, instructed and mentored other fledgling military into being proud military professionals. I have also about twenty years or so of experience as a sensei of karate where my flaws, omissions and mistakes have taught me the hard truth about my efforts and abilities. I have also spent a considerable time studying traits and efforts of teaching and mentoring in my work and play to include karate and martial arts so I do have some valid theories based on proper research and studies of others far more professional and valid then my mediocre experiences and education. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Karate Questions

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

Reading Michael Clarke Sensei’s post today he simply asked the following questions. I suspect he was being rhetorical in asking them but I decided to answer them anyway, the answers are for me and are mind alone. Look at it as a reflective exercise I decided to share. 
  • When you take karate out of the dojo, what are you left with? [Karate … A Dojo; a thing and a place filled with emptiness that holds no void, no meaning and no heart; a dojo with karate and a life lived where every moment is a dojo through which karate is lived, breathed, practiced and applied to life itself]
  • When you only practice in the dojo, what have you got? [Dojo practice where you cannot live and breath karate, merely a means to dance the dance; karate is taking it out of the dojo and placing it firmly in your life, your lifestyle, then seeing where that leads; if you don’t leave the dojo or don’t practice outside the dojo you are just participating in a social club but if you understand that everywhere you go and every place you visit is a dojo, you become successful]
  • When the dojo is called a studio/academy/school/club, what is going on there? [who knows, distinctions are a part of karate practice or would it be better to call it the way simply because karate is meant to be a part of you as a person, to become an intricate system in support of your beliefs; to name something is to give it power and set obstacles and restrictions on it when karate is a mystery of the universe to unleash the capacities of the  human mind to take in the myriad things that make us, us.]
  • When dojo are rented halls, where's the commitment? [commitment becomes a need to earn money and money leads toward a commercialism denigrating the karate practice of a personal nature; commitment is something one carries within their hearts, minds and spirit; once we attain that commitment then a hall rented takes on a different meaning]
  • When karate is packaged, what is it being packaged into? [something tangible like a package of product; the packaging is like a box, it contains a particular something and by its very containment does not allow one to seek knowledge and understanding that exists outside a box or any one container; it is about freedom from such trappings.]
  • When karate is sold, what are you buying? [a limited supply of what you desire rather than a means toward survival and understanding; towards a horizon that sets over the universe and instead you have just a smidgeon of its possibilities often removed from its original intent, its very essence for to package up the intangible makes it tangible and therefore a box.]
  • When karate is so easy to find, what is the point of searching for it? [search for the underlying meaning and benefit you seek underneath the covering presented to attract in case something special is hidden behind the frosting; opening the box to let the true essence fly like a bird recently pushed from the nest to take to the sky, welcome to the sky!]
  • When karate is known by so many, why do so few understand it? [it is the few who seek out more than the presented outer presentation of karate for it is that hidden that provides each person an opportunity to take it the distance, not many can, will or do; there has been and always will be those who seek out the truth through their studies and practices while all the others simply dream of the possibilities while remaining chained to the rhythms, patterns and comforts of a limited life.]
  • When belts mean skill, why can you buy them in a shop? [the ability to buy something is a telling story to one who understands karate and that makes karate a product instead of something personal; relying on a symbolic meaning from an external object relieves one of the difficulty in finding a meaning toward a greater self; the belts and thier symbolic meaning are merely the chains that bind rather than the cloth that holds up our pants and holds the jacket closed also a symbolic representation of what binds life over releasing us from those chains.]
  • When sensei means 'teacher' why are so many ignorant? [a failure to see, to hear, to remain balanced, to see and hear all sides, to find the meaning of one’s heart and mind while leading the body to greater health, fitness, well-being and spirit, a wholehearted effort few find and fewer keep close to their hearts]
  • When training is so physically demanding, why are so many karateka unfit? [a failure to see, hear and feel karate; a focus on the trappings of ego symbolized in belts, uniforms, certificates, trophies and the accolades of a self-soothing nature to hid from the conflicts and violences of life.]
  • When karate is such a challenge, why is it advertised as family friendly? [product vs. a living effort]
The above is just some of the stuff that passed through my mind (Sensei Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo) as I walked my Nagasendo [中山道] earlier today. Returning home, I wondered if anyone else ever thought of such things?

Bibliography (Click the link)

A Karate Lifestyle ...

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

The answer to this question is, “It depends.” You have to establish the reasons and goals involved in your decision to learn, practice and apply your karate. This question could be narrowed down by adding more information toward the distinction in the mind of the person asking, i.e., adding in their reasons for taking up karate such as for sport, for self-defense, for the camaraderie and social connections it can bring, etc., and is their practice and training about a philosophical aspect, one of the six fundamental principles address this aspect in a basic way, or are they looking for self-improvement, self-confidence and self-analysis toward betterment, etc. All of these would lean heavily toward an understanding of a karate-ka lifestyle. 

To me, living a karate-ka lifestyle is about that philosophical aspect toward a deeper understanding of myself where the lessons found through practice in the dojo associated by my studies outside the dojo then used to change the way I live and the egoistic-self toward becoming a better all-round person that is lived, breathed and displayed through actions and deeds over lip-service, etc., so that I become a better person in every waking moment of living seems to be a lifestyle. 

Lifestyle is about how one lives in the daily living as a way of living. It permeates every part of who we are and can be perceived through the interests one has, the opinions and behaviors one displays in every facet of their daily doings, and how they behave when alone; with others; in our culture and toward a belief system of a personal nature. It reflects a person’s attitudes and values not just when in the dojo but when the wake in the morning all through the day until they fall asleep at night. It is the forging of self creating a personal identity of moral right symbolized and projected to others and to the self.

Karate-ka lifestyle includes health, fitness, well-being, etc., toward a role in shaping one’s lifestyle. It builds on personality and creates character. It is those guiding values and principles that define their judgement which informs their actions throughout their lives. This is what I value as a karate-ka’s lifestyle. 

How you go about creating such a lifestyle matters and can be achieve in many ways where the practice of karate is but one. Karate can only become a lifestyle if you choose to reach beyond the mere physical regardless of how that is manifested in reality through a holistic wholehearted embracing of fundamental principles of, “Theory, Physiokinetics, Technique, most importantly Philosophy, Self-Defense and finally the Chemical Cocktail.” 

An important point and a cornerstone to both karate as a way and karate as a means to a philosophy to live by is the concept of yin-yang where yin is about that lifestyle while yang is that part the reaches toward its actual essence toward fighting, combatives and self-defense - its very core reason for existing. The rest is the frosting on the cake that makes it a lifestyle worth living for a lifetime. 

Bibliography (Click the link)