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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Friday, April 29, 2016

OODA Self-Defense (Karate/Martial Arts)

Hey, don’t assume this stuff is written in concrete because this is simply me trying to gain perspective and understanding to the Boyd OODA loop, patterns of conflict, so all of the following is my learning curve. Take it for what it is, an attempt at understanding. Everything that follows is simply the first step I take to reach that understanding. Rory Miller started this, because his latest article on the loop simply slapped me upside the head and I realized that my concepts and understanding were linear and mechanical, like my karate and martial arts were in my early years (still trying to break that freeze frame of understanding). 

Take this as an example, when you take up the book I recommend on Colonel Boyd’s life and experiences you will note some very specific characteristics. To start, he spent an exorbitant amount of time and effort studying this stuff. His life experiences actually set the tone and stage that led him to his life long work as a true warrior of the blue skies, a fighter pilot. 

Much like some advocate in karate and martial arts, he spent time studying those who came before as to combat and war and all that entails. He studied Sun Tzu and many others of like mind and like writings on the art of war. Like them he created his patterns of conflict in a way that it is used in all aspect of life’s conflicts be it sport, business, self-defense or war - it transcends one discipline and embraces them all. Similar to the book of five rings used as a tactical tome of the Japanese businessman. 

It is another epiphany of karate and martial arts where the current teachings are also mechanical and linear in nature, not the true intent of those disciplines. We are stuck in a mechanical linear way of teaching, learning and applying it. We say it is for self-defense, we then teach a mechanical form, i.e., your attacker does this, you perform a set or combination of often complex karate-like techniques in response and then when the adversary goes down you continue on to make them fear ever attacking you again. Very mechanical in its implementation from the teachings, very linear in that you follow a specific path to reach a goal. There is no give or room for the chaos of violence and conflict. 

I write about that mechanical linear form or model through the concept and philosophy of things like “Shin-gi-tai and Shu-ha-ri.” The mechanical and linear are the novice level teachings but to achieve real holistic wholehearted understanding and applications you have to go beyond and that apples as well to learning, understanding and applying the Boyd OODA (Patterns of Conflict as he likes to refer to it).

One note of interest when you read his story is that once he created his system he refused to shorten it, make it terse in nature and to simply provide a synopsis of his teachings and I believe it was because he naturally and instinctively understood the length of time, breadth and depth of the material as well as its understanding could only come from his six hour introduction before delving into the meat and bones of his OODA and Patterns of Conflict. 

Many karate and martial arts and self-defense disciplines end up taking shortcuts to appease the masses who pay their fees but in the end the product is not worthy of its distinctive intent and goals as a system of fighting, combatives and self-defense. This is my attempt at understanding and integrating a more complete and comprehensive understanding of OODA as well as karate, martial arts and self-defense. 

The following are my notes and attempts of making sense of a complex system, one that goes way beyond the terse simplistic symbolic reference of OODA or Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. I am looking at it as a terse goku-i of a Boyd nature that warrants a lot of study beyond the surface cover like presentation in just saying and assuming what OODA really means. Here we go: 

UNDERSTAND THIS: This is just the beginning, I expect there will be a whole lot more. It is like my studies of self-defense, like Marc MacYoung and Rory Miller would write, “It is a complex thing.” I have discovered by my studies that it is complex, deep, wide and complex - so is OODA or Patterns of Conflict by Colonel Boyd. 

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

Time-Scale: Achieve a faster tempo than your adversary; Gain a superior position and put the adversary into a inferior position simultaneously; Stay one or two steps ahead of your adversary; Operate inside your adversary’s time-scale; transition quickly from one tactic to another; Rapidly change the environment by engaging quickly, creating adversary disorientation and create adversary uncertainty; Make your rate of change faster/quicker than your adversary’s; Inhibit the adversary’s ability to adapt; Make the adversary over-react; Enter the implicit orientation phase; Know your enemy/adversary/opponent, i.e., know their cultural beliefs, genetic heritage, new information of the adversary, his previous experience and experiences, and analyze/synthesize the process of the person doing the orienting - Integration.

Non-linear Feedback System: The inherent unpredictability of the system is crucial to success with the OODA or patterns of conflict. Achieve a deep intuitive understanding of the chaotic ever-changing environment of conflict and violence. This is how we bypass parts of the OODA. It is the creation of this adaptability that provides the loops awesome power. Compress Time, the time between observing a situation and taking action. Time-compression cause the adversary’s time to be stretched out causing him to fall further behind resulting in a kind of OD trap, i.e., trying to make relevant decisions to unravel the problem. Use temporal discrepancy (fast transience) to select actions (lease-effective to disorient the adversary?). 

Shape the Environment: Use variety, rapidity, harmony, and intuitiveness to shape your environment. 

  • Variety: Use principled based multiple methodologies quickly, aggressively and intuitively.
  • Rapidity: Application of multiple principled based methodologies rapidly. Once you begin, commit, continue to apply actions quickly and relentlessly until the fight ends, it must not slow or hesitate anywhere in the process, ever (It must continue and it must accelerate). 
  • Harmony: To harmonize our efforts proactive and avoid passivity. To harmonize the multiple principled methodologies of our tactics while maintaining a cohesion of our strategies and goals.
  • Intuitiveness: Assuming a high tempo, rhythm and cadence quickly and consistently while rapidly exploiting gifts or those opportunities you create and the adversary presents to take the intuitive and press that hard, fast and with proactive effort. 

Target the adversary’s mind, not his body or his actions. The mind follows the body, the body follows the mind and when disrupted, disoriented and disabled the body freezes and so are the actions of the body. The ultimate goal in this is to so disorient and disrupt the mind-state and mind-set they fail to enter the physical realm of conflict and violence, they quit before they start.

Never let success result in a pause, hesitation or stopping until appropriate to the situation (often driven by social and legal standards in self-defense). No matter the means of the conflict and violence involved be it direct physical conflict to the more electronic predatory acts of on-line adversary’s it always, always, comes down to human involvement. Humans fight and you must get into the minds of your adversary’s!

Boyd Quotation: Shatter cohesion, produce paralysis, and bring about collapse of the adversary by generating confusion, disorder, panic, and chaos. Develop an instinctive and intuitive sense of what is going on and what is needed in ta fight or in any conflict.”

Sun Tzu’s Quotation: “Sun Tzu’s on Conflict: themes as deception, speed, fluidity of action, surprise, strength against weakness, tactics that disorient and confuse, and shaping the adversary’s perception of the world.”

Boyd Quotation: “[Periphrasis] Conflict is a fundamental part of human nature. To prevail, and especially war, we must understand  what takes place in a person’s mind.” - Colonel Boyd - In other words (my words), know your adversary! 

Temporal Discrepancy: To create a situation for your adversary when they are not ready for it. 
Time Compression: Time compression, also known as space-time or time-space compression, refers to the creation of a situation that alters the quality of and relationship between real time and perceived time, i.e., between space and time. To compress time in a conflict is to slow the adversary’s perception of time allowing you to be faster. 

Boyds Quotes: On technology in war, “Machines don’t fight wars, terrain doesn’t fight wars. Humans fight wars. You must get into the minds of humans. That is where battles are won.”

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Maintaining a Cultural Connection

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

When trying to keep culture alive, we usually talk about the things we as individuals, or communities, deem worthy of keeping alive. This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping every aspect of our cultural past alive – just those things that work in harmony with the new times or environment. For any culture to survive, it seems that it must adapt. 

I hear the words, “we must keep the culture alive”, when karate-ka are trying to maintain that cultural connection to their art. The Okinawan Karate Culture is what I think they mean but is that really what they are doing? 

Okinawa does have its own unique culture, at least at one time it did when it was dealing with other Asian nations in the 1600’s and beyond. Is that culture still alive today or have they simply assimilated so much outside cultural influences that the original culture is lost in the mists of passing time?

Lets assume for a minute that Okinawan karate is connected to the Asian culture as described in the following. In a nutshell culture is about a socially driven sometimes religious oriented and other characteristics of a group of people which contribute to the specifications of the population that make up that group or tribe like group. It comes down to the human need to be unique in relation to others will achieving a dynamic, also unique, toward the tribe or groups survival. The characteristics of a traditional Asian group or family is as follows:
  • Tendency toward a strict hierarchical structure, with the male holding the higher status and the first born son also holding such status.
  • Males holding higher value simply because of the perception that they carry on the family name, i.e., lineage.
  • Females due to a perception of less importance to the family and tribe hold a lessor role. 
  • The female role is passive and must adhere to the husband’s family, be subservient to the males, do the domestic thing and of course bear male children.
  • The male role is as a provider to the family and to the tribe or group, to be a good son; obligations to be a father and good husband second as to obligation over the duty as a son.
  • The patriarchal husband-wife relationship.
  • Respect for ancestors and the elderly who hold a special status in the family and group.
  • Loyalty beyond reproach to authority figures.
  • One way communications, i.e., adults speak to children.
  • An obligation toward collectivism with a family and group focus toward interdependence.
  • Family is central and the primary social unit, group or tribe.
  • Behavior of the individual reflects on the entire family and group where harmony is paramount.
  • The group is about discipline where shame and guilt are used for control and to train children.
  • Loyalty and honor to family while avoiding shame and embarrassment is required.
  • Problems are hidden and avoided publicly and handled within the family and group.
  • Mental issues outside the culture of harmony, loyalty, etc.s are shameful and represents failure.
  • Emotional traits are not displayed and when controlled and hidden are seen as a sign of maturity and self-control.
  • Care and concern are demonstrated by meeting physical needs.
  • Males, especially fathers, are authoritative and distant, showing hardly any emotions, and primary duties involve providing for the family and groups economic and physical needs.
  • Females, the mothers, are more responsive to offspring but with less nurturing and more verbal and physical punishments; they meet emotional needs of children and server as an intermediary with the father.
I do readily perceive that these cultural traits do influence the karate dojo because most of those cultural social norms of the Japanese or Asians are naturally and normally adhered to when in the dojo much like when they leave the home and enter into the society where social norms driven by these same cultural characteristics and beliefs will naturally be a part of that dojo. 

Now, once we here in the West began to learn and study the system of Okinawan Karate observing the rules of the dojo and the etiquette may meet some of the fundamental cultural influences but in truth you have to ask if holding on to those cultural characteristics are necessary and contribute to karate as it is passed on to other cultures and belief systems such as ours for Americans. 

In order to understand, as some karate masters asked of the American students, karate they were told they should understand the Okinawan culture but as can be seen it may not have been the fundamental cultural beliefs and perceptions as indicated, it may have been a cultural connection through the various cultural oriented way of life outside of the karate or martial arts dojo. 

So, then one must ask themselves, is there actually an Okinawan Karate Culture and if so what it it? It is apparent that their basic Asian culture of family and group are NOT conducive to keeping the culture around karate or martial arts alive or in maintaining some perceived need for a traditional karate and martial art. It comes down to us being hugely different to the Asian culture with many things and characteristics strange and a complete opposite to our own cultural belief systems. 

So, again, what are the actual cultural beliefs and characteristics that would represent Okinawan Karate culture? Can anyone truly say what they are and why they need to be preserved and how they effect training, practice, applications and their passing down to connect and maintain a cultural lineage of the system? 

I challenge everyone reading this who is involved in Okinawan Karate and other Martial Arts to provide those cultural mandates? List them out like I listed the basic Asian Cultural characteristics because if we truly mean to hold and maintain a connection to the Okinawan Culture through the same characteristics and to hold close those unique Okinawan Karate Cultural Characteristics then we first have to know of them, study them, learn them and fully understand them in all ways, right?

It comes down to this for me, I hear meme’s and quotes all the time about how we must maintain the traditions, the culture and the beliefs but few, if any, actually understand and know what that is - exactly or as close to exact as humanly possible. Do you know and understand when it means to make those statements, to say we have to maintain the culture?

I do recognize that karate is a unique characteristic of the Okinawans and it may well be truly a cultural asset is the Okinawan’s believe today. When reading an article by Sensei Charles Goodin he asserts that karate is an aspect of Okinawan cultural that has spread to many countries across the world. But I don’t perceive that as an aspect of the Okinawan culture but a representation of a discipline created by Okinawans but then again I am splitting hairs.

It is a part of the Okinawan society and simply from that association it will be influenced by and created from the Okinawan cultural beliefs if not directly then at least from influences brought into the dojo and its practices such as rei and a culturally driven form of etiquette. Maybe the Okinawan Karate Culture involves certain characteristics seen in their society derived from beliefs and influences from the ancient classics and those unique forms of etiquette used in all aspects of their society and therefore in the dojo. Then there is the uniform but consider this, that is derived from Japanese budo and created for Judo and adopted for Karate, so is it actually a part of the Okinawan culture?

Lets break it down, in truth the physical characteristics of karate and martial arts are more about fighting, combat and defense against aggression, harm and possibly death. The socially driven etiquettes and cultural assets created from the perceptions and beliefs of that social entity are not actually a required part of the practice and training since karate and martial arts don’t require them to exist and be effective as shown by their adoption around the world. If you removed any such culturally driven etiquettes, etc., would karate and martial arts simply cease to exist, not so say me. 

To hole and remember a culture is a historical documentation of the peoples themselves, not the created disciplines much like creating a clock, the clocks creation my be an artistic demonstration of the individual through their past experiences and perceptions and learnings and understandings unique to them and the social group but it is still a clock. Remove the clock from the society, its social culture and beliefs and mount it on a wall somewhere else in our world it remains a clock regardless. To maintain the culture cannot be conveyed by taking karate and martial arts classes even in the countries of origin because we are NOT Okinawans or Japanese or Chinese. We cannot become them unless born to the society and raised by its culture and beliefs.

There have been many foreigners who lived almost their entire lives in Asia and still don’t feel they understand the culture and its beliefs expect in a very academic way. They attempt to document the culture and beliefs but in truth that doesn’t allow them to remain true to it or to live it or to pass it along to those who follow us.

In the end, a Koryu Sensei who trained under a Koryu Master of his martial arts for decades in Japan immersed in the cultural side simply by living there and associating with that cultural belief system was still told by the master upon leaving, “Your are an American, teach Americans as you would teach - Americans, not as you would Japanese.” (not an exact quote)

I feel we are unable and incapable of remains true to the Okinawan or Asian culture but we can respect and pay tribute to it as best we can through study, learning and our attempts to understand the culture and beliefs but otherwise the effort is futile for no other reason then we are NOT Asian, we are Americans. 

p.s. simply visiting the culture; simply observing and enjoying aspects such as cultural historical Okinawan dance, etc.,; and participating in dojo of the Okinawans is not enough to understand and them maintain that traditional cultural characteristics. You have to live it, immerse yourself physically, mentally and spiritually in it, there is no other way otherwise your just a tourist. 

One final time, lets look at this like we would look to the various karate styles, i.e., “Isshinryu uses this kind of fist to strike; Gojuryu uses this kind of fist to strike; and Shorinryu uses this kind of fist to strike.” In truth, a strike is a strike and principles of that strike are exactly the same regardless of whether they are implemented in the Isshinryu way, the Gojuryu way or the Shorinryu way, right?

Bibliography (Click the link)

Teacher vs. Instructor vs. Sensei

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

I am going to go way out on a limb, further than I normally tend to do. I see the label for one who is trying to transmit knowledge, understanding and experiences on to others in three ways, i.e., they tend to teach or they tend to instruct or they tend to do the Sensei thing.

Teaching is about presenting ideas or principles or theories or knowledge and understanding by an authoritative means. It is a teacher who holds a certain knowledge and expertise who then provides that education to students. The teachers role varies according to cultures and their cultural belief systems. Teaching can either be formal, as in a educational institute with syllabus, lesson plans and testing to check progress, etc., or it can be informal where the teacher provides teachings in a more relaxed way without an actual syllabus or lesson plans. Teachers tend to go beyond the formalities and restrictions set down by syllabus and plans where their actions, deeds and example also convey meaning to the actual teachings involved.

Teachers, often can connect with others so that the teaching and teachings become personalized in a socially acceptable way making the process easier, palatable to all and down right fun. The connection is more conducive to a desire to learn, grow and prosper both as a teacher and as the student. 

Instructor or Instruction is different, i.e., this is a person who merely teaches something and the teaching is often about a lecture and/or demonstration while the recipients take notes and work individually or in a group to discern that instructions meaning. Instruction appears very rigid where topics are layed out and materials are presented with little to no variation. Participation is kept to the end of the lecture where questions are presented with answers given, instructing the questioner to the perceived right answer according to the instructor. 

Instructions can be about presenting specific material, demonstrating it if physical in nature one to three times, allowing the student to mimic or demonstrate that they understand the instruction and then trying to interpret and practice that material on their own. Instructors involvement tends to be business like and often corrections come sparingly or when they actually test the understanding or memory of the instruction. It is like an instructor presenting rules of a group that tend to be static and rigid so the recipients can quickly understand and adhere to the rules, etc.

Sensei, Sensei tend to be a collection, in the best of situations and all things being equal, etc., where sensei are a integrated whole of instructor, teacher, mentor and leader. All the qualities, characteristics and benefits created through their own study and understanding and experiences to create a one whole wholehearted integrated experience environment where all parties regardless of being sensei, deshi, senpai or kohai, etc., create a dynamic group cohesive and equal and balance connected social association toward learning, training, practicing and apply the skills and goals of the discipline involved. 

There are very few Sensei out there and when you encounter one, you have found one of the jewels of education, learning and applying the knowledge and understanding in life. 

The literal meaning of sensei leans toward, “Person born before another or one who comes before, etc.”, but takes on considerably more meaning when earned and applied in the dojo. It is not just the person who has lived life longer than the student but one who has taken the intestinal fortitude, attitude, discipline, diligence, etc., to not just acquire the fundamentals but the entire discipline until it becomes the very nature and intricate integrated part of the whole person. 

Outside the normal need for knowledge, experience, and proficiency the Sensei who teaches karate must have a set of "interpersonal skills" so they may interact with practitioners in a manner that is beneficial to both parties, Sensei and practitioner. They are:

- Use of technical skills.
- Communication Skills.
- Effective Body Language.
- Empathy.
- Positive Motivation.
- Feedback.
- Silence.
- Good sense of humor.
- Be reflective.
- Don't distort or filter what they hear, etc.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Understand and then be understood.
- Self-disclosure.


Interpersonal communication is the manner in which information is shared or exchanged between a small number of people, whether they are same or different from each other. These can be healthy as well as harsh. Healthy Interpersonal Skills lead to creative & effective approaches to solving problems and getting work done.

To the fullest extent possible, the task of the Sensei is to provide the practitioner with a level of support & guidance. All practitioners have strengths and through better Interpersonal skills Sensei can utilize these strengths to enhance learning.

Use of Technical Skills: The latest method used to improve interpersonal skills is the use of technical skills, i.e. the ability to work with latest teaching aids like hojo undo equipment, makiwara or other karate equipment. The ability to demonstrate both physically and mentally those attributes that must be a part of karate training and practice. An intimate knowledge of all the skills necessary to utilize both the physical acts as well as all supplemental training methods and devices to achieve the best outcome to practice as humanly possible. This particular skill is most important as it encompasses all other skills in one teaching skill most useful in guiding practitioners on the correct path of practice as well as life. This one is best said to be teaching by example, how an Sensei comports themselves with others determines the success or failure of his/her practitioners.

Communication Skills: Communication skills are most important when we talk about winning their hearts. The tone, volume, rhythm and emotions of the communicator play a vital role while dealing with practitioners. The verbal, physical, and written acts of communication must be such that confusion is limited or eliminated. Through this skill, along with others, the Sensei promotes the atmosphere of trust and understanding where practitioners feel comfortable with posing questions and receiving concise and accurate answers. Sensei must adhere to the rule of, "If you don't know it, don't know the answer, say so and find the answer for later."

Effective Body Language: Body language is a quiet, secret, and a powerful tool to maintain healthy interpersonal skills. Good verbal skills combined with effective body language create interest, long-lasting impression on the minds of practitioners, and of course their involvement in the discussion. It is a very delicate balance between leading and controlling in teaching. As a knowledgeable person conveying knowledge to others it is easy to slip into a superior attitude that does not promote free exchange of information. The Sensei must remain diligent in keeping a balance where their language, i.e. body and verbal, must promote a relationship of trust and ease of communication, both directions. How one stands, holds their hands, moves, facial expressions, etc. all relay a type of communication that is not always conscious to the recipient. Speaking one way while communicating something totally different by your body language promotes confusion so it is vitally important that Sensei master the discipline of body language.

Empathy: Sensei’ messages must convey empathy i.e. the ability to communicate care and concern along with an understanding of the practitioners problem that is, the ability to place oneself in a position to view the problem from the practitioners perspective. In old schools this would come across as "NOT" but in reality creating the type of trusting relationship is critical since this particular type of practice involves sometimes close physical, somewhat violent, contact. We need to convey accurate response to mental, physical and sometimes emotional roadblocks much like in violent attacks where emotions along with an adrenaline dump causes all three to kick in for a freak out survival mode of performance.

Positive Motivation: Good motivation usually produces learning outcomes. Some practitioners do not know why they should perform or study a particular technique/subject. We can show applications of that technique/subject in the areas in which practitioners are interested. Thus they get motivated and take interest while practicing/studying that technique/subject. If a practitioner cannot readily see, after verbal and physical instruction/demonstration, the need and purpose that benefits them then they may gloss over important aspects. Basics or fundamentals are a good example. Most want to just get them over with so they can move on to the more exciting aspects and must understand that the fundamentals are the foundation to the best and most exciting aspects of performance and application. 

Feedback: A good Sensei is genuinely interested in the practitioner’ thoughts, feelings and opinions. Feedback is one way that a Sensei can tell how you are absorbing and integrating the materials. This feedback calls upon the relationship you have developed with the practitioner. Communication is always a two way street. Active listening techniques are paramount to being a good teacher. Only when you listen actively can you provide accurate, concise, relevant and genuine feedback, etc.

Silence: The ability of a Sensei to use silence is usually effective. Silence here means giving a few more seconds to practitioners to respond to a query. Silence can help the practitioners as:

• Correctness of their response increase
• The number of “I don’t know" decreases.
• More number of answers
• Better performance by practitioners.

What you "do not say" can be even more important than what you say. In reality silence is enhanced by the body language, i.e. body, hands, and especially the facial, will convey volumes even when no words come out of your mouth. Silence is also an important communication skill.

Good Sense of humor: A Sensei needs to have a keen sense of humor in order to keep practitioners learning & motivated. A Sensei who can’t take a joke or give one, who can’t lighten up, who is too serious will not survive. Leave the strict military atmosphere in the military. Just because karate was brought to this country by military, who incorporated military discipline into their teachings, does not make it effective to a civilian oriented audience. Humor must be balanced against the need to remain in an Sensei status or leadership role but still must be a trait that allows others to see that the Sensei is human and foible. You cannot become their best buddy but you shouldn't become this person placed on a pedestal and worshipped or worse yet "feared."

Be reflective: Remember the party game where a story is started with one person and passed along to others with often humorous distortion? We all filter and distort what we hear. This concept helps a Sensei to "pay attention" and often helps the speaker stop and think about what is being said. It's also helpful sometimes to ask your listeners to paraphrase what they think you have said. This concept helps the Sensei to keep the attention of the practitioner and keep them participating in discussion. This is in truth symbiotic in nature with active listening. These techniques are used by active listeners to truly hear and understand what others say in lieu of jumping in the middle to say what you think they are alluding to only to find out you are mistaken resulting in a loss of respect and hurting the trust in the relationship.

Ask open-ended questions: Make it a goal to find out what your practitioners think, not just what they know. Ask for information using open-ended questions that begin with "How...," "What...," "When...," "Where...," and "Why." This strategy allows Sensei to help clarify a given question for both the practitioner and itself. Use this technique to get them to talk and explain until you actively hear all and are able to respond in clarification to truly understand their needs and desires. Only then attempt to respond, answer, etc.

Understand and then be understood: Most practitioners don't like being told what to do 

[Spending time to think and formulate an appropriate response is vital to communication and clarity]. 

They often want a chance to have a say in what goes on in the training facility 

[Yes, you are the Sensei but teaching and learning are a two-way street and to allow their full involvement in all aspects promotes trust and they like it] 

and a chance to prove it will work. In solving dojo problems, it is better to [actively] listen than to direct. 

[Sometimes allowing for silence and active listening brings clarity, don't assume just because you are the Sensei you are all knowing: you are not, so listen and then inspire action] 

Teams can be formed to figure out solutions to problems and Sensei can empower them to carry out the solutions. Practitioners who identify what should be done take on greater and greater responsibility for getting it done. Thus a Sensei seeks to understand the problem from the point of view of the problem solvers [a good Sensei leaves their ego at home and always remembers and reminds themselves that this is important; utilize their point of view to resolve, teach, and inspire] rather than force his own perspective on a solution to be understood. This helps to improve interpersonal skills among practitioners as well as between Sensei and practitioners.

Self-disclosure: Often sharing a relevant story of your own experiences in similar situations can prove helpful in opening meaningful dialogue. Be careful here and don't allow yourself to be too wordy. Keep stories relevant, short, concise and to the point. If you are just spouting out stories with out this in mind then you are allowing your ego to run wild. If you have a self-esteem issue you should not be teaching/instructing.

The uses of such technical skills bind the interest of practitioners in their lesson and also keep both the Sensei as well as practitioners up to date.

In addition there are some philosophical aspects that Sensei should also have: A proper attitude in life, be and remain attentive, be and remain vigilant, be a positive thinking/thinker, be an active listener, always speaks kindly, always treat others with decency, treat others as guests should be treated, always thinks twice before speaking, takes responsibility for their actions and deeds, etc., has courage, creates goodwill, conducts self properly, remains truthful and honest, remains loyal, develops self first to influence others, looks inward first before looking at others, has tolerance and remains balanced in all things.

If we look back on these skill sets we can see that teaching/instructing any subject/endeavor is a complicated but also unique way. A good teacher/Sensei should encompass as many of these skills as possible while always "trying" to acquire and live as many as they can on a continuing basis. Teaching and Instructing require continued effort, practice, learning, and performing to achieve a level of mastery, much like karate!

Presentation Skills for Sensei:

Your success is and will be determined by your ability and skill in communicating your subject, i.e. karate skills. How you present those materials is complex and a craft of the teaching field. To be effective you have to express yourself in a manner that is conducive to learning by your students.

Consider the variations of your presentation strategy such as audibility, pace/pitch/tempo, articulation and pronunciation, emphasis, pause, energy and enthusiasm, eye contact, gestures and movement, stance and confidence.

Audibility: projection of your voice; to throw it so all can hear clearly and distinctly; good diction; good articulation; enunciation; variety to aid in sending the proper message; invite practitioners to speak up if they cannot hear or understand.

Pace/pitch/tempo: monitor the basic speed or pace at which you speak; not to quickly; change pace to suit the meaning of what is said; musical quality of your voice; variability in pitch; upward inflection when sense is indefinite and downward when sense is finished; pitch change can indicate start of new thought; inflection supports meaning and for emphasis.

Articulation and pronunciation: pronounce words correctly - proper sounds, emphasis and sequence; form vowels and consonants correctly

Emphasis: for important concepts; changes to create varied and interesting presentation; verbal markers to signal things of importance that are difficult to grasp.

Pause: allow time to think; avoid vocal pauses - "hum", "you know", "like", etc.

Energy and enthusiasm: inject physical and mental energy into what is said through voice, gestures, and general commitment to what you do: active words motivate.

Eye contact: maintain it with practitioners: don't focus on one spot: allow eyes to roam the audience and look into practitioners eyes: move eyes from person to person.

Gestures and movement: using as non-verbal behaviors equal power: use naturally to assist in conveying the meaning: use to complement, not contradict, verbal communications: avoid repetitive gestures and mannerisms: move around the space: move in purposeful manner to enhance the presentation: keep movements simple unless demonstrating technique, etc.: don't be afraid to smile.

Stance and confidence: good posture: stand tall: appear in body language, dress, actions, etc. confidence

Sensei, teaching-mentoring-instructing martial systems - Three Core Traits

Teaching, instructing or mentoring requires communications and these three core traits are a must for anyone teaching-mentoring-instructing anything including martial systems. Having the communication skills is not enough, one must be genuine, one must have and display respect-acceptance-positive regard, and one must have empathy.

Genuineness: Being what one is without a front or facade. This means and requires self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-expression.

Respect (Acceptance-Positive Regard): You need to accept the person you are teaching-mentoring-instructing with out qualifications or restrictions. You must display respect for self and the other person in the way you listen, the way you look at them, the tone of your voice, the words you select and the reasoning you use. The regard you put forward in the actions and deeds you use when communicating with a person.

Empathy: This is the trait where you as Sensei demonstrate the ability to see, hear and feel another person and understand his/her from his/her perspective. 

Communications or teaching-mentoring-instructing flows with the connections one creates using these fundamental attitudes along side those specific methods and techniques for teaching-mentoring-instructing.

Teaching Ability

Teaching a person is an awesome responsibility one should not take without full understanding and comprehension as to what that entails. When you have influence over others that responsibility is daunting and important. Your influence as a teacher, i.e. sensei, means the person you influence will take to heart what you provide and allow it to change them mentally/psychologically, spiritually and physically that reaches to every facet of that persons life. 

The stone you drop in their lives will have a ripple effect on everything the do, encounter and interact with. That thought alone is daunting and can only stand second to the responsibility of a parent to a child. 

This can be explained from an Asian perspective by the many characters/ideograms that make up the word/title/term sensei. 

先生 - teacher; master; doctor; with names of teachers, etc. as an honorific
宣誓 - oath; abjuration; pledge
先聖 - ancient sage; Confucius
専制 - despotism; autocracy

When we fist put on the black belt, i.e. kuro-obi, we start to think of running our own training hall to teach what we have learned to others. This is often begun at sho-dan before one can begin/finish being mentored in the teaching methods/abilities of a senior experienced person. 

Take a look at the characters/ideograms above and take notice of words such as master, oath, pledge, sage  and honorific title/names. When such a title is awarded it should speak to the full and complete education, understanding and proficiency of the individual to take on the awesome responsibility and tasks that say sensei. 

No more is this important when teaching, training and practicing a physical combative form or system that is a martial art regardless of whetherAsian, Western or European in heritage. It all begins with a sensei with kyoiku noryoku or teaching ability. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Questions, questions and more questions …

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

Yes, I realize the questions below from the Shinseidokan Dojo blog are more or less meant to convey a point rather than being answered, at least in the direct way my article is going to go - ;-) (He is waxing philosophic, maybe :-) )

What is it about you.....
That makes you believe you're on the right path?

My Response: Difficult right out the gate! In the beginning I looked to those I respected to mirror them and to receive guidance from them and as I progressed from within I developed a sixth sense like perceptive nature that allowed me to see both the external world as well as my internal world so that I could compare, theorize, test and change, if necessary, to build a greater depth and breadth of my “self” as a karate-ka and martial artist. I also learned to rely on the kind input from others but to depend solely on my inner self to determine my path for me and me alone. 

That allows you to express opposing opinions with no sense of irony?

My Response: I don’t think I do express any type of opinion without some sense of irony in that I experienced the same things in my early years as I do now but with a bit more enlightened perceptive attentive focus toward my inner self. 

That accommodates asinine behavior because your teacher is "special"?

My Response: Ahh, in the beginning I put my teacher up pretty high and I then assigned him the label of “Human” as I gained some insight to my own training and practice. There are no special people, just practitioners who are taking the same or similar journey. 

That excuses your own behavior while remaining intolerant of others? 

My Response: I hope my egoistic prideful levels of confidence have been tempered by the time and distance I have traveled. I hope I am a tolerant person regardless of whether in the dojo or out on the street and especially at home with family, friends and tribal members. 

How come you can.....
Say one thing and do another?

My Response: But, in my defense, sooner rather than later, I noticed the disparity involved and work diligently to close the chasm such stupidity opens. 

Be a physical wreck and expect others to look after their body?

My Response: I do as I say and I say as I do - at least as best as humanly possible with the sometimes monkey antics of my brain. I at least work to see that and work diligently to put the monkey is a submissive state behind bars and with a healthy and heavy set of chains. 

Be mentally unstable yet profess to live a balanced life?

My Response: Mental stability is an oxymoron, our brains and minds and mind-states and mind-matrixes are constantly on the change morphing into new things but the goal here is to recognize the truth of this and keep a focused perceptive attentive focus on that and learn from it. 

See what's wrong with everyone except you and your friends?

My Response: I see the wrong in me, not always first but sooner or later. I work diligently to recognize the right and good then hint at any perceived wrong or bad. I use the “true, kind and necessary, rule before I speak or at least I try. 

Do you really think it's possible to....
Fix the world?

My Response: No, but influence the possibility of change and improvement, yes. 

Fix the world for others?

My Response: No, we all have to fix ourselves because others have no way to know us or our needs, wants and desires in life so when we take responsibility for ourselves completely and utterly then we can see the wrong of the world as it pertains to our inner world so when the outer world bangs us up side the head we know in repercussions, bad or good, are from us and our perceptions and our reactions to that world. It ain’t no one else’s responsibility. 

Fix your own world?

My Response: Yes, emphatically yes with a focused attentive perceptive discipline with appropriate due diligence. 

Why are you.....
Comfortable lying to yourself?

My Response: All humans lie to themselves dependent on certain unique perceptive things but we do have the potential to begin to recognize the lies and discover the truths and through trial and error validate them toward a better self. 

Living a fantasy?

My Response: There is nothing wrong with the fantasy as long as you recognize it for what it is. 

Are you.....
Really living the dream, or just dreaming of what it is to be alive?

My Response: I have been and will continue to live the dream, the dream for me is simple and unassuming with no expectations beyond those I set for myself. 

Bibliography (Click the link)


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

I intend to use this term or phrase to represent and symbolize our mind-set, our mind-states (state of mind), and the muto-dimensional aspect of such things in our existence toward things like the three dimension of the physical, the three dimensions of our mind and the three dimensions of that forth physical dimension called “Time (past, present (the moment) and future).”

The mind-matrix consists of the outer world, the inner world and the holistic world made up of the outer and inner worlds. This is that mind-matrix we train, develop, change, and interpret in ways that seem unique, mystical, inspirational and creative - our goal anyway. This is the thoughts I have when I think, meditate on and use references to mind-set and mind-state. 

The three dimensions of the physical: The three dimensional or spatial dimensions, involved are length, width, and height. The fourth dimension we discuss and separate but is in reality a part of the three dimensions is a temporal dimension (time). In our world of the mind there is the physical three dimensional aspect of our perceived real world, the objects that have form with width, height and length. Then there is the created mind-matrix perceptions that exist in memory as historical perceptions garnered from other experiences recorded and encoded by our connection to the outer world of our three dimensional physical universe/world. 

The signals from our sensory system when integrated with our perceived inner world create a three dimensional representation of those interconnected and newly created mind-matrix. The effects and influences of them all change and create those very same internal inner world perceptions where we make assumptions and distinctions based on our own mind-matrix creations.

I mean mind-matrix creations is because each instance of perception that is mixed at the cortex levels of three and four we recreate and change our previous instance of memory perceptions to  a new and often different memory perception to make up our mind-matrix. It is what makes us tick, makes up our character and achieves personality - a type of three dimensional concept of our mind-matrix.

The dimension of time is also multi-dimensional in that it has three distinct dimensions, if you will, our past, our present moment and our future as perceived and assumed by the very existence and content of our past and present moment. 

Our past in a dominant data-set of experiences perceived by our very mind-matrix with its depth, breadth and growth through a constant encounter and interface with the present outer world perceived sensory data stream. This is the foundation and core to our present moment and our abilities to perceive possible future moments. It is the largest and most comprehensive data storage of the human brain, the mind-matrix. Yes, the mind-matrix past data can be tweaked to make appropriate, sometimes inappropriate, changes so the new mind-matrix is created for the present moment and toward future conceived and fluid future moments. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Technique of No Technique

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

I read a recent article by a well know karate-ka, martial artists and Sensei that was titled, “Technique of No Technique.” I had some difficulty associating the title with the content of his article except in one very narrow way when he explains a visiting luminary and master of karate who demonstrated a technique and then went around correcting and helping everyone with their practice regardless of whether it was the demonstrated technique or some other technique. I know of this Sensei and he is well know and respected not only in the karate and martial arts communities but in the professional conflict and violence experts having taught many in both disciplines. 

I have considered this, contemplated it and spent a lot of mindless meandering on this but to no avail. I can provide you my interpretation outside of Smith Sensei’s article as a stand alone article from my views. 

Technique of no technique is a meme or Zen like short statement to contemplate toward better understanding of the differences between technique oriented training and practices toward the more principled based multiple defense methodologies with the types of forces as well as the attentive focus through our basic senses and so on. 

In order to apply the concept of technique of no technique is to accept that technique based studies and practices is better served by ignoring technique itself except as it applies through the implementation of the fundamental principle of technique(s) along with theory, physiokinetics, philosophy, self-defense and the chemical cocktail. Add in a study of the types of forces, the basic sensory signals and finally into the applications through adrenal stress-conditioned reality based training program and whalla, you have a full fledged complete and comprehensive method and model to practice karate and martial arts for any one or more distinctive interpretations be it sport or self-defense or combative. 

I am still waiting for Sensei to give me more descriptive meaning behind his article and its title and when he does I will append that addendum to this article. 

From a ken-po goku-i perspective and perception technique of no technique is about learning to apply techniques and then to forget them to progress to the level I describe above. It might better be said that one must learn technique to no technique way of empty handed self-defense. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Addendum dtd 22 April 2016 at 1051 hours: The below snapshot provides my question and Smith Sensei’s response. I am still scratching my head because although I understand that his explanation makes perfect sense to him and his students, it doesn’t to an outsider like me but alas, it is only important that his students and their students understand and learn and grow and prosper from it. 

Click for larger view and readability.