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.

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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, December 23, 2016

Honoring the Master

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

Honestly, I hold a great deal of regard for Tatsuo-san not because he created a system and not because he taught it to U.S. (pardon the pun and symbolism but he did teach us, from the U.S., right?). I hold him in high regard because he was willing to step outside the norm of his culture and society especially in the arena of Okinawan Karate. 

I hold him in high regard but I do not exalt, glorify or praise him in the manner some practitioners do then and today. Tatsuo-san earned the respect of his pears and our respect for his innovative inspiring creative mind-state that resulted in this, what we perceive as practitioners, unique way of learning, training and practicing karate - Isshinryu. 

I commend him philosophically, by word of mouth and through my writing about him in my blog articles, etc. I wish I could have met him personally but I am not young enough because by the time I was able to get stationed on his home island he had already passed away. 

Many Isshinryu’ists have placed Tatsuo-san on a pedestal and have hold him in such high regard and respect that they have transferred that belief into the how, what, when, where and why of teaching Isshinryu in a dogmatic highly restricted way (although a good many Isshinryu’ist today now enhance the teachings to include much more than originally taught by the first gen’s). 

This high regard and pedestal position put upon the memory of Tatsuo-san brings about some questions that came to me reading an article about another great American pioneer of martial arts.

  • Did it occur to those who have placed Tatsuo-san on that pedestal that he may not have wanted us to do that and that his original intent was for us to go further - much like he did in the fifties and sixties to create his system and art of Isshinryu?
  • Did anyone ask him prior to his death about holding his teachings and practices in a state of stasis, unchanging and unchanged, before assuming we all must honor him by our effort to keep Isshinryu in that state?
  • Did anyone ask him as well if he wanted the notoriety we have bestowed upon him since his death?
  • Did those who profess honoring the master consider that it may not be an honor but an obscenity to one who is unable to express their true feelings and desires especially with such a vast divide of culture and language obscuring truth, justice and the way?
  • Are those honoring the master really honoring him or is it about satisfying their own fantasies and achieving their own goals in his name?
  • Did anyone even consider that to simply, personally and privately honor his or her memory is a mark of true respect and may have been what he wanted to begin with?

Personally, I can see honoring the man who created and taught us the system/style in a personally private way during mokuso before and after each session, in our hearts - wholeheartedly. To make it a public exhibition and to broadcast it in media is pimping off his name, an obscenity.

It is interesting to note that all this came about mostly after his death and that he could not either acknowledge and approve or not acknowledge and disapprove this way of training, practice and application of HIS Isshinryu. 

Now, taking the position of advocate, it may be that someone or somehow Tatsuo-san let it be known that he wanted the notoriety, fame and accolades not just when he was alive but long after he is gone. The thing is, since he is dead and since he left no indication other than maybe the word and memory of others that I may be way off base here and all this was his intent … BUT …

  • He was known for his consistent change in even how he performed kata even in the same training session.
  • His studies and professions include referencing a few Chinese classics including the very Book of CHANGE called the I Ching.
  • His demeanor and manner as conveyed by the many who studied under him and his teaching all describe a person who, it would be perceived as a humble, honorable, quiet and private man. 
  • He was known to present not just rank certifications but a document that is or was derived from a more philosophical belief, the ken-po goku-i, so that each recipient would go beyond what Tatsuo-san and his senior students taught the individual and that I Perceive as saying, “take my teachings and take them forward in your own way using these gifts as your guide, etc.” 

It would seem from my research and studies that maybe Tatsuo-san wanted us to act this way in his name and maybe Tatsuo-san DID NOT want us to act this way in his name. But, since he is dead and with the belief systems and sources who profess this belief and way cannot be refuted by any sources from Tatsuo-san who knows if he did or did not want things the way they have come to be?

I have deviated a great deal from his original teachings as they were passed on to me and yet I have a high regard, respect and admiration for the effort, work and results of Tatsuo-san’s karate and I give him that credit willingly and respectfully … BUT …

p.s. I can also see influence principles involved here, i.e., authority, social proof, likability and a lot of scarcity. If you are curios about that perspective let me know. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Goals vs. Systems

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

“A goal is a specific objective that you either achiever or don’t. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of success in the long run. If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you are waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal.”

A technique is a goal, you expect to learn it sometime in the future. A methodology is something you do constantly and consistently regardless of the supposed techniques involved, that is a system.

Goals are a reach-it and be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life. 

Systems have no deadlines, and at any given moment you can tell if it is taking you in the right direction. Techniques as a goal have one application so when it is done it is completed even if it is not appropriate for the situation and methodologies as a system have a variety of applications not hindered or obstructed by the given moment or situation with success highly likely while techniques as goals are narrow with no ability to deviate or create as situations change. 

Systems have no limitations and are flexible to fit any situation at any time under any circumstances. Goals are specific with specific limitations and are not flexible at all. If the goal succeeds it ends and if it does not succeed, it ends so you can create another goal to end a situation. Systems are generic in nature making them a creative way to achieve any need for any situation that arises, i.e., like, but not exact, systems achieve individual inflexible goals and systems readily accept new, changed and differing goals to continue indefinitely to get things done. 

A system works consistently again and again while a goal works once and is discarded. A system works not just consistently but successfully more often than it fails and failure is not from any failure of the system but of the person using the system. 

The biggest mistake any human makes is thinking goals are a system and then blames the so-called system when it is the goal that failed. We humans, often through social conditioning and conditions, create goals while ignoring the necessary systems needed to accomplish goals. The creation of goals dominates in karate and martial arts especially for self-fense, i.e., we have a goal to earn a black belt, we have a goal to learn self-defense techniques and we have a goal to win yet we don’t recognize that to achieve all these goals we need a system to get-r-done. Sensei, commercialized programs, therefore unconsciously perceive that the goals will fail so are driven to make the goals easier and easier to achieve so they maintain attendance and income. In self-defense they leave methods out because they are systems that are not readily testable and gradable for techniques and patterns that are and live, breath and teach knowing that chances of failure in a real life situation is rare reducing the failure rate even further. 

Systems require long, diligent, consistent and constant work with sweat and blood equity along with a modicum of experiences that build on and support the systems consistently even with occasional failures natural to any good system.

Any good system with multiple methodologies that provide for any situation regardless will succeed at much higher rates of consistency over time than any goal(s). Once a goal fails, it is done; if a system fails, it is luck and viable for the next situation because systems are not tied to any one goal, situation or time. 

System: a set of interacting or interdependent components that form a whole. Every system is delineated by its spatial and temporal boundaries, surrounded and influenced by its environment, described by its structure and purpose and expressed in its functioning. Easily adjusted to work indiscriminately for the situation in that moment. A set of detailed methods, procedures and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem. ... An organized, purposeful structure that consists of interrelated and interdependent elements (components, entities, factors, members, parts etc.).

Gaol: the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result; the destination of a journey; a point marking the end of a race.

In martial arts and karate you use that system to achieve certain goals, i.e., a certain number and type of basics; kata and kumite, then those goals are set aside to use the results, set fundamentals, etc., to achieve the synthesis of a system unique to you as an individual that will be your system of fundamental principled based multiple methodologies that break out of the restrictions of goals to achieve anything possible in the chaos of conflict and violence where goals are more an obstacle rather than inspiration of creativity that makes a system viable, functional and generic. 

Systems are the way, the path that never ends and provides exits and off-ramps at every junction, every turn and every obstacle ergo why they call martial arts and karate efforts, “The Tao or The Way” Goals at the novice level give you the tools to create the system that gets you on the path and it is the resulting system that provides the “energy” to take you the distance. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

I am not a very good black belt!

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

Yea, I admit it that I am not a very good black belt. I was provided the rank of Sho-dan on or about December of 1979 while serving on the island of Okinawa as a Marine. My Sensei was also my Company First Sergeant, i.e., Warner Dean Henry. He arrived about a week after me, asked if they had karate at the Hansen gym and when I said no, said he was starting one then so I said, “Count me in First Sergeant!” 

I had some martial arts/karate background to include what one called Hawaiian karate, a bit of judo and some boxing along with various folks who claimed to know martial arts/karate and with whom I practiced to fight. 

It was about a year later when my tour at Hansen was ending that Henry Sensei did the sho-dan thing simply because I was able to learn the eight empty hand kata, three kobudo and some proficiency in fighting (note I said fighting, not kumite because Henry wanted us to be able to fight, not compete with his one caveat, we had to try to use perceived techniques of karate when we fought). 

When you consider all the variations on achieving the coveted black belt today and even a during the late seventies disregarding any other experiences one year ain’t all that long. The truth of it is that Henry Sensei told me when I left that I would find that in most dojo and with most karate-ka I will find my abilities in fighting far superior regardless of my kata, etc. Even then he alluded to such things as mere tools to get you to the fighting part. 

When I compare what most believe is criteria for black belt, and that varies a huge amount dependent on whom you talk to or what organization you ask, I can see why I am not a very good black belt. 
  1. I don’t have credentials that come from any big time org or person.
  2. I am not a first or second generation student of anyone of any fame or notoriety.
  3. I did not participate in many tournaments, seminars or other type contests, etc.
  4. I did not earn or attend a variety of systems or styles earning a variety of black belts for each.
  5. I have not amassed the many trophies that many believe indicate a great fighter. 
  6. I have not had hundreds or thousands of students and I have not promoted hundreds of black belts.
  7. I never had or ran one or more commercialized dojo, training halls or studio’s. 
  8. I don’t have a plethora of books out and there is not one video out there of me training, teaching, practicing or mentoring martial arts/karate.
  9. I don’t have any affiliations with any Asian or Okinawan karate masters of any system or styles honbu dojo. 
  10. I don’t belong to any associations or organizations recognized and not recognized by anyone or any master of my system/style of practice or of any others. 
In short, and the list does go on but ten seems to get the point across, I am not a very good black belt, now am I?  Then again, if becoming a black belt meant you had to achieve all the above and most likely more than how many black belts would there be? How long would commercially driven dojo last? What would become of the income that comes from buying, ops - paying fees, rank? As with anything in an economically driven society there is a lot of money riding on such things and for those whose purpose is commercialization that is a good thing cause that is how we all work here in the good ole USofA. 

Does any of this or lack thereof degrade or denigrate one’s achievements of black belt and beyond? Just because someone works hard outside the proverbial norm, does that mean their black belt is less or does it mean it is more? 

I have come to think of, consider and believe that a black belt earned from their respective sensei is valid, true and beneficially positive for that individual. I know of one person whose capabilities in the physical realm are much less able than more average persons and this person worked on learning three kata over a ten year period, they didn’t do any of the above bulleted accomplishments and they can’t kumite/fight/compete their way out of a wet paper bag but as to intestinal fortitude, attitude, consistency, effort and a lot of sweat equity has earned his black belt if for no other reason then honest persistence and a great moral compass. You may initially find them lacking to your perspective and perceptions of black belt but in truth his is probably of more value than yours. 

Rank, grade and such things are a very personalized thing, a thing between not all but just two human belongs, one being the sensei and presenter while the other being that individual regardless of what others may think, feel or believe. Traveling a budo road is very personal and means that meaning, substance and recognition does not come from others but from within the person themselves, it is the way. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Why Rank Matters

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

Well, in a nutshell it is about belonging, and belonging is about survival and survival depends on hierarchal systems with status and ranking within the group, group dynamics. When you start to study humans, our species, and what makes us tick while getting past all the cognizant dissonance driven tapes and movies we humans need and create we get down to our very base instincts of survival and that means procreation for both are similar to the egg and chicken - which came first. 

Our species like any other wants to survive and in order to survive we must procreate so which came first is the only question and that is totally an academic one because when it comes down to the base foundation, it is survival and procreation. Everything, and I mean everything we humans create in that endevor, is about that survival. It may have transitioned from hunting and fighting rival tribes to working hard to achieve income that presents status to others and fighting verbally, psychologically, economically and physically against others or rival employees, companies, etc., it still comes down to - wait for it - … SURVIVAL and PROCREATION!

In the dojo, in martial arts and in karate the entire system is a microcosmic form of the tribe, tribal members, status according to a hierarchal, say rank or grade, system the denotes where you stand and how others perceive you within the system. This is why we gravitate toward building such systems and then assigning them status driven symbolic titles, etc., such as senpai, kohai, sensei, soke and other such as hanshi or master or grand master and so on. Ain’t life grand. 

In the scheme of nature and its base instinct toward procreation and survival these models we humans create simply stoke the ego, give us self-soothing satisfaction and fill in all those missing components of nature’s base instinct to survival and procreation to fit the social models that evolved over time due to influence of war, violence, and revolutionary changes such as the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution and todays technological revolution. In the end, it is just a way to determine status and how well we procreate and survive. 

Ain’t Life Grand!!!

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Teaching Coherent, Comprehensive, Complete and Understandable Programs (Strong Presentations)

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

“For a kata to be perfect, the technique must show strength, the style must be accurate, and the eyes must be completely alert.” - Sakumoto Tsuguo Ryūei-ryū Karate

Yep, here I go again, ripping apart statements made in teaching karate and martial arts because I feel, from my perspective and perception, that such meme’s and quotations should be accurate. It takes a rare ability to create a meme or quote that speaks volumes and does so with accuracy and clarity of understanding even without explaining particulars. 

First, to say that one’s technique must show strength, how do you show strength while still building and using power and force? How do you show strength without sacrificing positive relaxation necessary to achieve speed and speed along with body mass movement contribute a great deal to force and power? Is the use of dynamic tensioning in practice of technique thus seeming like a display of strength actually powerful and forceful? How does showing strength, even if someone can actually define that as strength, translate into power, force and the ability to overcome adversity and adversaries of a predatory nature? 

Second, to say that one’s style must be accurate, how do you know that it is accurate and what is it accurate of? If it is accuracy toward the creation of patterns, movement and applying technique to the air then it is dancing and mostly not effective in violent situations of a predatory nature. Accuracy in performance is only one short initial step to learning martial arts and karate because to achieve some semblance of success in violent situations of a predatory nature takes more than accuracy as dependent on who, how, what, when, where and now that word is defined. Bet you can talk to about ten who have heard this and get ten different and distinct answers. 

Third, the eyes cannot physically or physiologically be alert because it is the informed, educated and trained MIND that must be completely alert. How one utilizes their eyes for visual stimuli capture, interpretation and follow-up appropriate actions is not conveyed by the misconception you are training your eyes to be alert. In addition, eyes or the visual sensory system does not work alone because it requires all the other sensory systems to input data to properly inform your mind as to what is transpiring outside your body, in the environment, etc. 

In closing, this is not to disparage Sakumoto Sensei for he spoke in his time, under his education and understanding and in the best way possible for his culture and teachings of karate. Where it all breaks down is when such meme’s or quotes are used and sensei ASSUMES that the student/practitioner fully and completely understands what was said and what was meant. 

None of this is easy but since this particular set of disciplines involves dangerous, harmful and possible death require, demand, that sensei teaching for the art of self-fense convey and teach a comprehensive, complete and understandable program for Self-fense (offense/defense model).

What stimulates these kinds of articles is the use of such meme’s and quotations in teaching while failing to convey the true meaning and intent. It is a bit like my recent article on muscle memory, a term/phrase that is inaccurate and mistaken as true when reality says it should at least refer to a deeper meaning like, “Primal Conditioned Response training and practice.” I just want to convey that sensei should think first, contemplate teachings along with words, phrases and quotes/meme’s and then make sure that all of their followers understand intent and meaning. 

Quote/Meme Re-write: “For kata to be perfect it must teach fundamentals and methodologies where its presentation appears easy and effortless, the style or system must be accurate in that teaching of fundamental principles, multiple methodologies and levels of force, and the senses must be tuned to perceive and distinguish when it is appropriate to apply these teachings.” - cejames

Note: The above quote should and shall be analyzed and then assessed toward its accuracy so that if changes are necessary the author can synthesize and appropriate version of the quote/meme. 

Note II: Think effectiveness vs. presentation; think proficiency vs. presentation; think teaching tool vs. presentation because presentation is not efficient application in the chaos of predatory violence but simply, “Dancing an ancient dance.” 

Note III: Now, as to presentation toward a kata tournament competition this aspect of kata as to strong presentation, great accuracy and seeing accurately by the presentation of movement with the eyes and head, works. 

Note IV: Where I prefer to show, demonstrate and achieve strength is through my efforts in teaching correctly; in my actions and deeds both in and out of the dojo; in the actions and deeds of my dojo mates both in the dojo and out of the dojo; in my understanding and application of fundamental principles, multiple methodologies and application of force in self-fense, etc. This is where true strength is shown in an appropriate way, i.e., the way in the dojo as in life. Strength shown and demonstrated as to honor and morality; the living demonstration of justice and courage along with mercy and politeness, honesty and sincerity, character and self-control, self-discipline and self-reliance. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Friday, December 2, 2016

Secret Technique vs. Special Technique

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

This comes to mind simply because so many manipulation experts, in karate and martial arts, use the term “Secret” to sound and be perceived as “Fascinating and Mysterious,” when in reality it is more a sales manipulative influence effort to get folks to “Sign on the dotted line.” 

If you really want to be as truthful as possible with a whole lot more accuracy the term secret should to changed to, “Special.” After all, your goal is to teach something special to your students and if that teaching is unique to you, the sensei, and your system or style then it is truly special. If it is common among other systems or styles, etc., then it is NOT special, it is Ordinary and Common. So, you lose the term and find another way to make the sale. 

Regarding anything secret, if it is truly secret then that means very, very few are privy to that information and selling it or teaching it to anyone in your dojo, style or system therefore makes it no longer secret, it is public even if only in the dojo. Secrets are not something you want made public or provided to more than those who have a need to know that secret. 

To be secret it must be a piece of knowledge that is not known by more than a select few and when outed it must not be the same, similar or close to any other thing or piece of information. Saying a certain way to punch is a secret is ludicrous unless its overall effect and influence on some thing is unique in regard to any other thing or information.

Secret: Something not know or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others such as being classified, top secret, undisclosed, unknown or private as if under wraps. It is about keeping things to oneself or about something unknown. It can also be something not properly understood; a mystery. A valid but not commonly known or recognized method of achieving or maintaining something. 

My litmus test is, if it is being advertised to the public domain in any manner or way or method then it is not a true secret. Secrets are not advertised or spoken of or written about where anyone not classified as needing to know can see, read, hear or feel that secret or inference to being secret. In short, a secret technique is about misleading and misdirecting for a person or professional agenda. To let loose a secret inappropriately makes the secret, NOT SECRET!

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)